First review! I hope I’ve figured it all out and this doesn’t look completely terrible. Also, I’m not fully sure yet how I’ll use the rating system, so there might be adjustments in the future.
To the book:
A friend has recommended this to me, I’ve seen bits of the movie on TV, but I mostly only remember how ridiculously beautiful young Hugh Grant was. I’m definitely planning on seeing the whole film now, because the book is something else.
While reading it, I quickly saw why this was never meant to be published when it was written in 1913 and was very happy that it was published in 1971 after all. It’s surprising how explicit the story of Maurice Hall and Clive Durham is, who fall in love as students at Cambridge and then navigate their relationship and feelings in the next years. I don’t mean explicit as in erotica, there’s nothing of the likes, but there is no homosexual subtext, the homosexuality is the text.
It’s about Maurice discovering love, the happiness, the intellectual sides of it, the lust, the social stigma and the fear that comes with it. He isn’t a particularly likeable main character, the book goes out of its way to say so too, but his journey is an immensely relatable one, even if you’re straight (I’d assume). Same goes for Clive’s side of the story, in a way I liked the shifts to his perspective in the earlier parts better. The “reveal” when he remembers his nurse was oddly touching and as a woman, it really made me think about how I perceive attraction.
When the story changes the focus back to Maurice it becomes clear just how different their personalities are, what they want in life and yeah, how they want to experience and live love. They both are terribly snobby upper-class British people of course, the book is a good commentary on class too, I don’t know if it was meant to be, but it gives a great contemporary insight into what the ruling classes thought of the plebs in the early 20th century (and probably still think today). There’s a good glance at the misogyny in these circles too, especially from Maurice, the misogyny he perpetuates as a gay man and I weirdly enough really liked that. It’s presented without judgement, just as an aspect of his (flawed, jealous, pompous) character and it felt very honest.
The ending is a bit rushed, but it’s a hopeful one, another thing you sadly don’t really expect from gay literature from the 1910s. It’s a relatively quick read, my version had annotations that helped with all the references you wouldn’t get today and I can highly recommend.