Maurice is born into a privileged way of life, conforming to social conventions, yet he finds himself increasingly attracted to his own sex. Through Clive, a Cambridge friend, and Alec, the gamekeeper, he experiences a sexual awakening.
©2010 E.M. Forster (P)2010 BBC WW
I had an old recording of Maurice on cassette many years ago and adored it. Finally, this intelligent and moving novel is available again at Audible, and I couldn't be more satisfied with this new recording.
Maurice is a very literate and thoroughly enjoyable novel concerning same-sex love among an intolerant and hypocritical society. The rather poetic descriptions of Maurice's inner life as he stumbles about in self-discovery are just as accurate and appropriate today as ever.
The scathing humor in Forster's more famous novels is properly not as apparent in Maurice, as its subject matter was obviously a more personal one for the author. The fact that the book wasn't published until after Forster's death lends a definite eloquence to the story. During his lifetime, the novel was shared only among his closest friends.
Peter Firth, a great actor, gives a measured performance that is perfectly suited to Forster's style. The romantic aspect of the story is that much more powerful because the narration is restrained. Forster is so honest and matter-of-fact, purposely dry because his subject is so very affecting.
As an Audible Editor I listen for a living! British classics, YA novels, speculative fiction, and anything quirky, fascinating, or heart-wrenching.
In the wake of the recent overturn of DOMA and Prop 8, I occasionally came across articles and social media posts referencing one of E.M. Forster’s lesser-known classics, Maurice. Having never read or listened to it before I thought this was an appropriate time to pick it up.
Due to the fact that that homosexuality was illegal in England for much of Forster’s life – and that Forster himself was a closeted gay man – the author requested that the novel not be published until his death. But the themes and subject matter may be the least shocking thing about Maurice (especially to contemporary ears). And indeed, as is often noted by Maurice’s first love, Clive Durham, the Greeks wrote about homosexual love quite rapturously. No, the most intriguing thing about Maurice – and here is the spoiler alert – is that this story has a happy ending. One is so prepared to expect tragedy from such a premise. But the fact that Forster could imagine two men finding happiness, if not societal acceptance, in pre-WW1 Britain, was remarkably forward thinking for his time. However the two men have to literally disappear into the ether, and the story ends that way - with a true vanishing - giving one the sense that Forster was unable to conjure up a viable realistic circumstance in which a relationship such as this could flourish. But he writes with such exhilaration for a possible future that Maurice ultimately serves as a hopeful and wonderful last testament from the grave.
Peter Firth’s reading is elegant, and perfectly captures the various levels of social strata through which Maurice travels, lending credence to the impossibility of the situation that a modern reader might struggle to grasp otherwise. He illuminates the desperation and anxiety with which Maurice faces his predicament and his clarity of tone helps the listener hear and feel the story beneath some of the heavier, more intellectual monologues that Forster peppers throughout. This definitely falls into my list of classics that are better heard than read.
Maurice is the intimate story of one man's coming to terms with his sexuality and his desires contrasted by his struggles of living in a suppressive culture and the binding social expectations set by class standards. Bold by the standards of the time that it was written, I found Maurice to be both sad and beautiful. Sad because of the frustration of defeat and the ensuing heartbreak Maurice endures. But beautiful because of the hope and determination that rises from the courage Maurice finds to live his life fulfilled as his heart commands. Peter Firth's narration is really very good; his voice is cultured and rich and he has the emotional power to carry the story to the end. I know that I will listen to Maurice again and again, it's that good.
First off, one has to be a fan of Forster, that's easy. I came about him through the movies made from his writings. I loved the movie Maurice, that is until I listened to Peter's narration of the original. Suddenly the movie treatment was horrid. They manipulated the movie to suit their media as movie-makers often do. The book was far better than the movie, more insightful. The ending left me speechless and hopeful that Forster might have written a sequel. I so did wish to know how Mr. Hall and Mr. Scudder got along later in life. Of course there is no such book, sadly. Anyway, have a listen to this. You won't be disappointed!
I will listen to this book again. The performance was really good and I enjoy good gay fiction that isn't heavy on the sex. In this book intimacy is mentioned without sounding vulgar.
As much as I liked Maurice because he reminded me of myself, I like Alec and his part of the story. Alec really took the story to a new level.
I loved the meeting at the museum between Maurice and Alec. I found myself getting anxious and emotional from about this point on in the story.
I would have loved to have taken half a day to listen to the story all at once. If I had been reading the words myself, I might have read all in one sitting. As it was, I enjoyed the performance and wish it was longer.
If you like gay fiction and television series like Upstairs Downstairs, you will enjoy this book!
Normally, I shy away from the classics on audio since many of those who read them are boring. Peter Firth brought this book to life for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you loved the movie, you will thoroughly enjoy the audio book.
The narrator is speaking in a British accent much too quickly. It's hard enough to follow what he is saying, let alone have any time for reflection.
"Important Text...Badly Delivered"
I understand the importance of this text, as a piece of LGBT literature, and I'm usually a fan of E.M. Forster's work (being most familiar with Howards End). I found the part of this I listened to incredibly monotonous and dry, and was disappointed. I think I'll try reading the book instead.
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