Critical Context

Although written in 1913-1914 at the height of Forster’s creative powers, Maurice is more thesis-ridden and simplistic than are his other novels of this period. It lacks the complexities and resonances of his longer and better-known works. At the time it was written, Forster believed that it was unpublishable because of the homosexual content and because it might hurt his mother. By the late 1950’s, he believed that the book was publishable, but questioned whether it was worth it to his reputation as a novelist. Thus, what would have been a serious and trailblazing work when it was originally written, appeared in the 1970’s as an almost gentle fantasy romance, no more a shocker than the novel would have been to the Bloomsbury group of which Forster was a member when the novel was first written.

Yet since Forster tends to use the same themes and techniques in most of his novels, Maurice is a welcome addition to his canon. Historically, the novel also establishes the presence of a voice other than D. H. Lawrence’s speaking openly and honestly about the importance and significance of the body and of sexuality. Maurice follows in composition such long-accepted classics as The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howard’s End (1910) but will never be ranked with them. In turn, none of these earlier novels is comparable to Forster’s universally acclaimed masterpiece, A Passage to India (1924).