1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 120 and 121: Howard’s End and Maurice, by E. M. Forester

I recently lost somebody very special to me. My Uncle Ron. He was a wonderful person and left behind a lovely woman I know as Aunt Sheila. My Aunt Sheila was kind enough to allow me to go through some of the books that my Uncle Ron left behind and whilst looking through his collection I noticed that he had a collection of three E. M. Forester books bound in a single volume. The novels in the collection were; A Room With A View, Howard’s End, and Maurice. I had already read A Room With a View, and already owned a copy of Howard’s End which I had planned on reading soon, but did not have a copy of Maurice. When I opened the book I found that my uncle had left a book mark at the end of A Room With A View. He had apparently read the same book I had read and left off in the volume at the exact same spot where I would have been. So I decided that I would finish off the volume where my uncle had left off.

Howard’s End was more than a little laborious to read. In it is woven a feminist tale that draws out the social hypocrisies that men project on women, and if one were to write a feminist term paper, this book would offer much material to get an academic through a twenty pages of an essay. Forester creates characters whose portraits could be aligned with a variety of views on suffrage and feminist theory, and subtly makes reference to Mary Richardson’s assault on a piece of art in one passage, which I myself have done in the novella I’m currently working on. Though the book is ripe for academics to pick from, the narrative itself is dry and not very compelling and I simply didn’t enjoy reading it.

Maurice on the other had was a pleasure to read, though the first 70 pages or so were a bit of a chore. It is one part Portrait Of An Artist As a Young Man, one part, A Single Man and one part Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It tells the story of a young man who struggles to come to terms with his own homosexuality and how he came to be able to share his love with another man, only to have his soul mate embrace what he refers to as a normal life. Homosexuality being illegal in England at the time, Maurice, the protagonist, struggles with his natural inclinations and seeks help from doctors. Tortured by this internal struggle he projects to his one time lover, and to all who will hear, that he wishes to be married, but when Clive, his former lover congratulates him, the reader is very much aware of the inner pain Maurice is feeling despite the pleasant front he puts on for those around him. A chance encounter with Clive’s own game keeper offers Maurice his last chance at love, though the inter-class nature of the relationship offers as many road blocks to the success of the potential relationship as does the fact that the love the share would land them both in prison if made public, but a sacrifice made on the part of the games keeper allows Maurice to embrace himself. Through the narrative Maurice treats those around him badly as his internal struggle makes it impossible for him to develop a positive relationship with almost anybody, but by the end of the novel he has made strides to both accept himself and be kind to others. The novel was written in 1913, but was not published until 1971, a year after E. M. Forester’s death. Clearly this was an important piece of work to Forester, but one he did not feel the public would accept either when it was written, nor even during the 1960’s when he wrote Terminal Note that accompanies the narrative. It is a brave, bold and heart warming narrative and was well worth the read.

Words I thought I’d look up:

 

 

Apotheosis: An ideal example or higher power.

Anathema: Object of loathing.

Peccadillo: Minor offence.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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