Twenty-First-Century Readings of E. M. Forster's 'Maurice'

BookTwenty-First-Century Readings of E. M. Forster's 'Maurice'

Twenty-First-Century Readings of E. M. Forster's 'Maurice'

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 83


March 26th, 2020

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This is the first book-length study of Forster’s posthumously-published novel. Nine essays focus exclusively on Maurice and its dynamic afterlives in literature, film and new media during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Begun in 1913 and revised over almost fifty years, Maurice became a defining text in Forster’s work and a canonical example of queer fiction. Yet the critical tendency to read Maurice primarily as a ‘revelation’ of Forster’s homosexuality has obscured important biographical, political and aesthetic contexts for this novel. 

This collection places Maurice among early twentieth-century debates about politics, philosophy, religion, gender, Aestheticism and allegory. Essays explore how the novel interacts with literary predecessors and contemporaries including John Bunyan, Oscar Wilde, Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter, and how it was shaped by personal relationships such as Forster’s friendship with Florence Barger. They close-read the textual variants of Forster’s manuscripts and examine the novel’s genesis and revisions. They consider the volatility of its reception, analysing how it galvanizes subsequent generations of writers and artists including Christopher Isherwood, Alan Hollinghurst, Damon Galgut, James Ivory and twenty-first-century online fanfiction writers. What emerges from the volume is the complexity of the novel, as a text and as a cultural phenomenon.


'Twenty-First-Century Readings of E.M. Forster's Maurice is a smart and wide-ranging collection of essays on a critically neglected novel whose time is very much now. Exploring the novel’s queer politics, historical contexts, and aesthetic afterlives, the contributors elevate it in the Forster canon and establish its vital relevance to contemporary LGBT life.'
Benjamin Bateman, University of Edinburgh

'I would absolutely recommend the book. Twenty-First-Century Readings not only encapsulates and expands the present state of research concerning Maurice but above all, it invites and creates space for further Maurice related discussions... A real treat for the fans of Maurice and its author.'
Anna Kwiatkowska, Polish Journal of English Studies

'The scholarly ambition and intellectual range of the essays collected in Emma Sutton and Tsung-Han Tsai’s new volume suggest that scholarly work on E.M. Forster retains a pleasing energy and vibrancy in the author’s anniversary year... a deeply satisfying collection... It will undoubtedly send readers to the greenwood afresh, copies of Maurice in hand.'
Fraser Riddell, Language and Literary Studies of Warsaw

Author Information

Emma Sutton is Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Tsung-Han Tsai is an independent scholar.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures9
List of Abbreviations10
Introduction: Maurice through Time13
I Forebears and Friends35
1. ‘An unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort’: E. M. Forster, Maurice and the Legacy of Aestheticism37
2. Women In and Out: Forster, Social Purity and Florence Barger64
3. The Master and the Pupil: E. M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood and the Forging of a Queer Aesthetic87
II Contemporary Contexts111
4. ‘Flat pieces of cardboard stamped with a conventional design’: Women and Narrative Exclusion in E. M Forster's Maurice113
5. Maurice: Beyond Body and Soul139
6. Maurice and Religion166
III Afterlives187
7. ‘A man embedded in society’: Homosexuality and the ‘Social Fabric’ in Maurice and Hollinghurst’s The189
8. Sexuality, Allegory and Interpretation: E. M. Forster’s Maurice and Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer215
9. Maurice without Ending: From Forster’s Palimpsest to Fan-Text241
Notes on Contributors280