Maurice

We are back, after a month off, in which many of us went to see Armistead Maupin at the Tyneside cinema.  There were ten of us at the meeting this month and before we talked about the book we looked at options for future months.  Once we agreed on a shortlist, we choose six (listed below) which should take us all the way through to June 2018.

As i’m sure everyone was fed up with my voice (plus i didn’t finish the book) Paul Attinello took over hosting duties for discussing the book, which this month was Maurice by E M Forster.  A lot of the discussion was based around the circumstances of how the book came to be written and, eventually published.  He originally wrote the book without intending it to be published, in 1913/14.  If he had tried to publisha book about homosexual love at that time, it would have been the end of his career, at the very least.  It was revised several times over the years. These revisions were partially based onn the suggestion of his friend Christopher Isherwood and included the addition of a sexual scene and the removal of a ‘happy ever after’ epilogue. The book was eventually published in 1971 after Forsters death.

In discussing the book itself, some felt parts of it, particularly the romance with Alec, felt rushed, it was also suggested that while the quality of the writing was good, it could have been edited better.  As it serves as a reflection of what life was like at the time, the question was asked is the book ‘good’ or is it ‘important’.  Comparisons were made with other novels including lady Chatterleys lover and Mr Clive & Mr Page.

As the book is primarily set in the world of the upper middle classes, the conversation went on to discuss how much of an issue homosexuality was for the different classes.  Was it something only the middle classes worried about?  There does not seem to be a great deal of books about homosexuality in the working classes of the time.  Was that because they were generally illiterate and therefore nothing was written?  The final average score was 7 out of 10.

The books for the coming months are…

Dec Brokeback Mountain Annie Proulx
Jan Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Fannie Flagg
Feb The Song of Achilles Madeline Miller
March Call Me By Your Name Andre Aciman
April Carol Patricia Highsmith
May Giovanni’s Room James Baldwin and Caryl Phillips
June Christodora Tim Murphy