Maurice

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Name: Maurice
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: E.M. Forster
Date(s): 1971 (film: 1987)
Medium: novel, film
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
External Links: Wikipedia
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Maurice is a novel by E.M. Forster which has a small-to-medium-sized rarelit fandom. Set in England in the Edwardian/pre-War era, it tells of the coming of age of the middle-class Maurice Hall via his love for two very different men: Clive Durham, an upper-middle-class landowner who is unable to act on his homosexual feelings, and Alec Scudder, a sexually liberated gamekeeper on Clive's estate. The novel was first drafted by Forster in 1913-14 before the First World War, with no expectation that he would be able to publish it at a time when male homosexuality remained illegal and imprisonable in England. It was circulated privately among Forster's close friends, but not published until 1971 after his death, in a revised form which he had continued to rework up until 1960. Maurice is unique for its era in having a happy ending for the gay couple. It is widely regarded as a classic work of the queer canon (see eg [1][2][3]).

Adaptation

The novel was adapted into a popular 1987 film by Merchant Ivory Productions (Indian-born producer Ismail Merchant and American director James Ivory, who were personal as well as professional partners for more than 40 years) with James Wilby as Maurice, Hugh Grant as Clive and Rupert Graves as Alec. The film's adaptation process and production were complicated and fraught, resulting in around 30 minutes of alternate and deleted scenes (some book-canon, some not) which have added to the film's cult appeal - but the released cut is reasonably faithful to the novel, though with several points of divergence. The naturalness and frankness of the film's sexual portrayals, along with the astonishing beauty of the three leads (who were all cast as young unknowns), have probably contributed to the novel's following.

Fannish Opinion

Seminal work of queer lit, surprisingly hilarious and only somewhat tragic for 1/3 of the main characters. (moetushie)[2]
Like the landmark E.M. Forster novel on which it's based, the film Maurice (1987) is about a young man learning to accept his true nature, whatever the cost. It is both genuinely moving and romantic, a universal tale of self-discovery and love which appeals to many audiences. I know both straight and gay people who have wept openly watching, and re-watching, this beautifully-made and heartfelt picture. ... Maurice still offers insight into the complex nature of homophobia, which is key to understanding the same-sex issues which are so prominent today.

First, there is Forster's resonant story. ... Although Maurice is profoundly concerned with gay experience, and is set in a very specific milieu (Edwardian England), the scope of its themes and the richness of its emotions are universal. ...

Part of Maurice’s effectiveness springs from its sharp focus on the title character, as well as its affection for this gay everyman who, rather than being some paragon of virtue and intellect, has what Forster affectionately called a "suburban soul." We connect with Maurice so deeply because we see every step of his growth, whether confused, painful or just plain silly. (into_the_greenwood/Jim Clark)[3]
...the whole point of Maurice is that Maurice/Alec are not an ‘affair’ – they’re a lifelong OTP, the first gay happy ending in fiction history! (expo63)[4]

Fandom

Maurice has a small-to-medium-sized rarelit fandom, based on both novel and film, which are often treated interchangeably. mr_edna_may, the earliest livejournal for the fandom, was founded in June 2004 by marauderthesn. Discussion topics include Clive's sexuality, the novel's timeline, revisions made to the novel over Forster's lifetime, differences between the novel and the film, and the application of "slash" to a canonically gay source.

Fanfiction is one common fan activity. The earliest publicly accessible online story indexed by the mauriceficlist masterlist was posted to FanFiction.Net in April 2004.[5] Fanfiction might have been published as early as 2002 by Daisy Gamgee.[6] The mr_edna_may journal hosted fanfiction from the outset, and works have also been posted to the rarelitslash community since 2005. Maurice has been intermittently represented at Yuletide since 2008.

Fanfiction is unsurprisingly dominated by m/m slash with the canonical couples, especially Maurice/Alec. Futurefic addressing Maurice & Alec's life together after the novel is the most common scenario, with some stories set during the First World War. There are also gapfillers and backstories for the three men. Occasional stories feature Clive's wife, Anne, or Maurice's sister, Kitty, often though not invariably in the context of their reaction to the m/m couples. Anne is occasionally portrayed as asexual,[7] and at least one story portrays Kitty as lesbian (also hinted by Forster in his own abandoned 1914 Epilogue to the novel).[8] Crossovers have been written with fandoms of a broadly contemporary setting including The Charioteer, Jeeves & Wooster & the Lord Peter Wimsey series, as well as Doctor Who & Sherlock (in which Graves plays Lestrade).

Some fan art has been created, including both canonical m/m couples, as well as individual portraits. It is often, but not always, based on the film. Icon/wallpaper-making is a common activity.

Miss Morland recommended Maurice on Crack Van in 2009; other recommenders include chasingriversong & Espresso Addict.

Example Fanworks

Fanfiction

  • Alfriston Gardens by marauderthesn/Marauder. Gapfiller; perhaps the earliest online story (2004)
  • Somewhere to Begin by Geoviki. Futurefic; one of the most popular stories in the Miscellaneous Books section of Skyehawke. Miss Morland writes Longer than your average Maurice fanfic and more satisfying than most ... The deft use of original characters and the vivid writing make this story a pleasure to read.[9] (2006)
  • Coldly Separate Stillness by athousandwinds. Clive/Anne futurefic. Miss Morland writes this short fic from Clive's perspective offers not only an impressive amount of insight into a character it can be hard to understand, let alone sympathise with; it also captures Forster's style beautifully, subtly showing us Clive's delusions as well as his underlying unhappiness.[1] (2007)
  • A Mirror Distorted by Shirasade. The first Yuletide story. Miss Morland writes Short, subtle and plausible, A Mirror Distorted explores Clive's reactions as he happens to spot a familiar face during his visit to a hospital camp for wounded soldiers during WWI.[10] (2008)
  • The Test by Miss Morland. Character study of a young Clive struggling to reconcile his homosexual thoughts with his Christian faith. More sympathetic to Clive than much fanfiction (2009)
  • The Home Front by Kindkit. Espresso Addict writes Sharp characterisation of an older Scudder. His perspectives on class & patriotism are particularly interesting[11] (2009)
  • Crackle and Burn, or Thursday Night and Friday Morning by 12XU. Explicit Maurice/Alec fill, set during the novel. chasingriversong writes (on this and another work by 12XU) fabulous, deliciously sexual pieces that recreate the tone of the original book and film while taking it much further[12] (2011)

Fan art

Communities

Livejournal

  • mr_edna_may, first livejournal for the fandom; discussion & fanfiction

Dreamwidth

Tumblr

Archives & Masterlists

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 crack_van: Coldly Separate Stillness by Angharad (G) (accessed 4 September 2014)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Comment by moetushie in yuletide: Promote your fandoms! (accessed 4 September 2014)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jim's Reviews: Maurice (accessed 4 September 2014)
  4. expo63: Untitled (accessed 4 September 2014)
  5. Alfriston Gardens by marauderthesn/Marauder; posted 5 April 2004
  6. In the fiction journal without_fail; now locked
  7. For example, Alec by Basingstoke, written in 2013 for Yuletide
  8. Vale of friendship by queen_ypolita, written in 2013 for Queer Fest
  9. crack_van: Somewhere to Begin by Geoviki (G) (accessed 4 September 2014)
  10. crack_van: A Mirror Distorted by Shirasade (PG) (accessed 4 September 2014)
  11. Espresso Recommendations: EM Forster (accessed 4 September 2014)
  12. chasingriversong: Fic Rec: ‘Make You Sorry For It’ (E.M. Forster’s Maurice) (accessed 4 September 2014)