Thursday, December 12, 2019

Is Maurice a Hopelessly Flawed Text free essay sample

Is â€Å"Maurice† a hopelessly flawed text, or a thoughtful adaptation of the novel form to the subject matter and a strong intervention in debates of the time? E. M Forster dedicated his novel â€Å"Maurice† to a â€Å"happier year†, affirming his intention of the novel’s purpose as an insight into the future evolution of sexual desire and relationships, leading some to attach significance to the text as a protagonist of controversial debate of the time . Forster delayed publication of Maurice for 57 years waiting for a time where wider concepts of desire could be explored without recrimination . Indeed, it has been argued that the novel was self-prophetic in predicting experiences Forster had not had himself, who later described his own sex life within the framework that Maurice had provided . Forster’s autobiographical parallels with Maurice has fuelled debate as to whether the novel was significant as â€Å"a strong intervention in debates of the time† or alternatively a â€Å"hopelessly flawed† text. It is submitted at the outset that neither dogmatic view is entirely authoritative regarding the significance of Maurice and this analysis explore the premise that perhaps the flaws associated with Maurice were a necessary evil in presenting E. M. Forester’s gay ideology. Forster’s self proclaimed significance of the novel as a symbol of the future is juxtaposed with Maurice reflecting on the past . In the â€Å"Terminal note† to the novel, Forster asserts that Maurice’s escape with his lover in the ending â€Å"belongs to an England where it was still possible to get lost. It belongs to the last moment of the greenwood. † The juxtaposition is further highlighted by the fact that whilst Maurice is set in Georgian England, the lovers apparently disappear to an England of the past, however the irony here is that they escape to an escape that was not possible in 1913 . Forster justified this on the basis that a happy ending was imperative, â€Å"I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, because in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood. † However, searching for a world of the past and waiting for â€Å"a happier year† was not realistically possible and therefore â€Å"Maurice and Alec inhabit a novel twisted in the grip of time †. As such, it has been argued that these contradictions are Maurice’s flaws, leading some commentators to assert that â€Å"they result from self-hatred and indecision, from escapism and self-indulgence and have therefore disappointed readers of all kinds †. Conversely, this literal interpretation of Forster’s â€Å"flawed† narrative can also be viewed as meritorious in propagating strong debate at the time. For example, Maurice’s dedications to the past are symptomatic of the complexities of any relationship whether heterosexual or homosexual and it is possible to read Maurice’s conclusion as a symbol of â€Å"experimental temporality †. For example, the selfhood is reflected through a corresponding narrative, which defies traditional convention of sequence and tense, which results in a â€Å"healthy circle† of time and narrative . It is this very structure that characterises Forster’s writing through Maurice which has been utilised to assert Forster’s ingenuity in groundbreaking literary work. Similarly, whilst the actual concept of looking to a past that doesn’t exist may theoretically be flawed, it is arguable that it this very â€Å"flaw† is essential to communicating Forster’s intentions in Maurice. In Utopian fiction, it is common to describe an ideal past to highlight the possibilities in an ideal future on the presumption as Maurice propounds that a â€Å"happier year† will come when past possibilities that never materialised can return without recrimination . This view has distinct parallels with Edward Carpenter, described as â€Å"the first great theorist of homogenic love, who inspired Forster and many others with his justifications of the â€Å"Love of Comrades. † Indeed, Maurice was â€Å"the direct result of a visit to Edward Carpenter at Millthorpe† . Carpenter’s work â€Å"Homogenic Love† (1894) justifies a homophillic future through reference to the role played by homosexual bonds in civilisations of the past which clearly influences the stance in Maurice that homosexuality will have the greatest acceptance â€Å"if refracted through cultural nostalgia , which is symbolised through reference to the English greenwood . Moreover, the depiction of a homosexual future as a return from an idealistic past arguably produces a â€Å"charming pastoral eclogue †, which in turn is Forster’s method of fusing criminal and mainstream desire to bolster the defence against claims of perversion. However , Maurice clearly has implications for homosexuality beyond this. The past/future syndrome contained in Maurice’s temporal nature conveys a broader vision of the relationship between sexuality, identity and time . As Gregory Bredbeck has observed the intertwinement of these three categories have created â€Å"alternative subjectivity of the â€Å"Urning† †. This practice underpins the indivisibility of being and therefore the impossibility of distinct identity, which Forster utilises as a unifying concept justifying all love. Eve Sedgwick notes that â€Å"there currently exists no framework in which to ask about the origins of development of individual gay identity that is not already structured by an implicit, trans-individual Western project or fantasy of eradicating that identity †. Accordingly, Forster’s â€Å"dis-identification † through refusal of time is arguably instrumental in the development of individual gay identity. Furthermore, it is propounded that the connection between gay subjectivity and the refusal of time forms the foundation for Maurice’s origins, with the â€Å"dissentions into past and future, Maurice stops time’s flow, and does part of what is necessary to open up a homosexual life that is not just another version of heterosexual identity† . This therefore begs the question as to why Forster would want to deny identity. One view is that Forster’s compromise between identity and conventional narrative was perhaps necessary for the time as Forster would have known that â€Å"what first made a homosexual identity out of incoherent homosexual acts was a force both hostile and repressive . † On this basis, the denial of identity was necessary for Maurice to succeed in creating empathy for the portrayal of love within a homosexual framework as opposed to the focus on homosexual acts, which had defined identity . As such, it has been argued that only â€Å"time could fight that force insofar as a reversal of the transformation of acts into identity would disperse identity out of temporal linearity †. However the difficulty with this perspective is that it intrinsically leans towards a flawed narrative within the novel format and if â€Å"Maurice aims at such a temporal dispersal, can it express its aim in plot, which by definition orders events in much the way identity orders acts? † It is argued that contemporary portrayals of temporality centre on â€Å"moments, map mystical states of being, and seek to simulate duration or the anachrony of true tale-telling; they try to reveal time’s perceived disorder†, which opens up a flourishing narrative. However, Maurice’s time shifts, block time and the narrative â€Å"without freeing the flux that fiction enjoys †. Whilst this may render Maurice a peculiar piece of fictional narrative, the time-shift reversals arguably heighten the plight of Maurice’s escape with his lover, which is central to the plot development and Forster’s purpose. Nevertheless, Maurice’s structure contradicts the chronological narrative, thereby highlighting the symbolism of homosexuality creating chaos in the â€Å"natural order† . In failing to confirm to conventional narrative, the awkward discourse shapes snatched moments of masculine love restricted by social taboo. This creates an internal paradox and begs the question as to whether Maurice’s structure in fact results in â€Å"an expression of homosexuality that is incompatible with narrative discourse † and as such incompatible with Maurice itself. Alternatively, it is suggested that interpretation of Maurice needs to be viewed in relation to â€Å"postures of a truly alternate sexuality †, which redeem the flaws and Forster’s place in gay writing, by propagating the â€Å"gay outlaw †. On this line of reasoning, Forster’s contradiction of the â€Å"law of narrative† is not flawed but â€Å"rather a function of qualified obedience, † underlining the incompatibility between narrative form and homosexual desire. As such, it is arguable that Maurice does in fact operate as a â€Å"strong intervention in debates of the time† by breaking convention and resulting in what some critics have termed â€Å"hetero-narrativity† , which in turn conveys Forster’s depictions of homosexual love. In Forster’s Aspects of the novel , he asserts that â€Å"time, all the way through, is to be our enemy† as the problem of literary history. Furthermore, Forster concedes that through the narrative â€Å"the time sequence cannot be destroyed without carrying in its ruin all that should have taken its place† . The use of â€Å"should† would suggest that Forster would prefer something did replace the concept of â€Å"time† within the narrative . The express conflict between Forster’s preference and simultaneous acknowledgement of its futility underpins Forster’s justification for breaking with the conventional narrative . In Aspects of the Novel , Forster also contrasts â€Å"life in time† which is described as inexorable and oppressive with â€Å"life by values†, which alternatively is richer as a principle of order . Forster asserts that â€Å"Artists but also â€Å"lovers† enjoy partial deliverance from the tyranny of the former into the grace of the latter †. This personification of Maurice’s discourse of examining â€Å"life in time† and â€Å"life in values† in unconventional ways further fuels the debate regarding the plight of homosexuality and the changing face of masculine love . However, this sits uneasily with â€Å"correct† fiction as â€Å"in the novel there is always a clock† . Accordingly, the reality of â€Å"life in time† is not always possible for the novelist according to Forster, who asserts this distinction â€Å"with implicit pessimism about the hopes for Maurice and the subculture for which it would speak †. Indeed Forster himself would appear to acknowledge this intrinsic flaw within the narrative of Maurice when he observes that â€Å"it is always possible for you or me in daily life to deny that time exists and to act accordingly even if we are sent by our fellow citizens to what they choose to call a lunatic asylum. But it is never possible for the novelist to defy time inside the fabric of his novel †. Accordingly, it would appear that the very â€Å"flaws† in Maurice are justified on the value of fighting time and Forster comments that â€Å"the life in time is obviously base and inferior† and he demands â€Å"cannot the novelist abolish it rom his work, even as the mystic asserts he has abolished it from his experience, and install its radiant alternative alone ? † Whilst the rationale behind the break with narrative convention and defiance of time is central to the theme of homosexual identity in Maurice, it contradicts Forster’s own claim that the central purpose of a novel is to deliver a story. As such, the narrative in Maurice appears to undermine Forster’s own distinction between story and plot. Forster further asserts that â€Å"narrative happens in the movement from story to plot, as causality gives a further turn to the screw of temporal order †. However Maurice’s time inversion, clearly results in reversal. Alternatively, Maurice’s subversion of the traditional sequence emphasises the moment, forcing the reader to pause and consider Forster’s depiction of masculine love. This alternative experience through unconventional discourse creates a sense of timelessness within the â€Å"life by value† theme, which also characterises Forster’s ideal of homosexual life unmapped by identity . Forster’s depiction of homosexual equality as a possibility in this manner has been described as being â€Å"tenselessness †, as â€Å"the novel’s effort to find a tenseless form for homosexual desire †. This argument is developed further with claims that â€Å"Forster uses linearity to convey irony in time†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦. Sorting through various alternatives to the life-in-time; and how he ends just where Aspects of the Novel sees all novelists perpetually at work: in the British Museum, where Maurice and his lover learn to live- happily never after? In Maurice’s temporality †. From the perspective of the â€Å"tenselessness† ideology, it would seem to further explain Maurice’s attempts to deny life in time to promote possibility of acceptance of homosexual desire . Moreover, this interpretation of the narrative in Maurice further supports the view that the novel acted as strong intervention in debates, not only in sexuality but in the evolution of modernist accounts of time where â€Å"it is becoming that enjoys association with innovation, experiential accuracy, and higher truth †, in contrast to conventional views of time which â€Å"tend to suffer association with conventionality, falsity and insensitivity †. On this basis, the concept of â€Å"tenselessness† reverses the conventional associations of time towards a notion of â€Å"pure† becoming within identity, which is part of Forster’s temporality . Furthermore, the contravention of conventional time concepts explains Forster’s â€Å"peculiar combination of the conventional and unconventional, † which is utilised to foil the conventional heterosexual myth of passage . It is argued that Maurice’s unconventional discourse does not go as far as complete subversion, but instead â€Å"expresses a tenselessness will to have different cultural moments simultaneously †. It has been propounded that the homosexual fantasy in Maurice utilises philosophical realism to enable reversal of narrative categories between story and plot . As such, Maurice’s sharp pace and brisk narrative asserts an ironic undertone to a subliminal counter story. The linear discourse follows a chronological path, which is juxtaposed with the narrative discourse which through its intrinsic â€Å"flaw† emphasises the true story of time reflected through homosexual love . Maurice is arguably most successful in expressing Forster’s homosexuality through this implicit ironic relation between discourse and story . The first few chapters adopt a regular narrative, which have been described as â€Å"almost unreadable†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦.. erse and uncomplicated descriptions, an iterative verbal mode that flattens temporal distinctions†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦ between chapters give the beginning of Maurice an absurd linearity†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦. Which reflects the falsity of tense, and favours, through irony, a tenseless reality †. For example, in the first few chapters after the description of the outing, Forster abruptly shifts t o the present â€Å"From this to the boys† . The bare simplicity in language and explanation of events is almost bored with itself and weak, making no transition . When we are introduced to Maurice, his description reflects the tone of the narrative to that point: â€Å"he was a plump, pretty lad, not in any way remarkable. In this he resembled his father, who had passed in the procession twenty-five years before, vanished into a public school, married, begotten a son and two daughters, and recently died of pneumonia †. This description highlights the bleak nature of Maurice’s future as though a predetermined certainty. Forster utilises this seemingly plot-less protagonist to highlight the contrast with the â€Å"way homosexuality will save both protagonist and plot †. As such, the structure of Maurice refutes tense and narrative, leaving the field open for alternatives to the life in time . The pre-existing societal models of family dictate that Maurice will â€Å"grow up to be like his dear father in every way† . This ironic assertion is dramatised from the reader’s perspective in knowing from the outset that he will not and the expectation is that Maurice will discover another way to live in time, which will unfold through the narrative. The reader’s knowledge is contrasted with the â€Å"large elliptical gaps that come between them. Spaces separate the early chapters of Maurice’s life, much the way that gap disallow real becoming in the plot of the life of his father †. The ellipsis emphasises that if Maurice’s life continues in initial mode, it will contradict Forster’s tenselessnesss . However, the ellipsis is extremely effective in serving the dual role of seeming to doom Maurice whilst simultaneously breaking the chain of convention , which heightens the suspense from the reader’s perspective on how the plot will unfold. The irony of Maurice’s conventional â€Å"life in time† portrays a subdued view of homosexuality’s â€Å"available temporality †. Robert K Martin observes that Maurice propounds two versions of homosexuality, claiming the first half dominated by Plato and indirectly the proponents of â€Å"Greek Love† and the second dominated by Edward Carpenter . The two versions unfold in a gradual progression from Maurice’s conventional life to the Greek alternative, which results in â€Å"another version of the same, and it is only in the novel’s â€Å"second half† that the truly different temporality emerges †. From this perspective, Clive can be viewed as the protagonist of Greek love, living by a homosexual ideology that seeks â€Å"intense present moments† justified with reference to the Greeks, but â€Å"doomed to die with decadence †. Maurice’s first lover effectively turns out to be another limb of convention, living for the present, which destroys the moment. Clive’s subsequent betrayal through â€Å"conversion† to heterosexuality isolates Maurice to find another version of homosexuality within Forster’s temporal ideal. Forster permits this though the temporal structure of the novel itself, which is purposely detached to focus on the moment . Clive unwittingly raises Maurice’s awareness of his heterosexual side, which is effective in reminding the reader of â€Å"temporal connections that rouse convention †. In focusing on the present, Clive prevented the development of homosexual identity that may have grown according to the principles of Forster’s gay ideology. This is further evidenced when Clive and Maurice have â€Å"one long day in the light and in the wind† and they break school rules and are describe as being â€Å"beyond humanity, and death, had it come, would only have continued their pursuit of a retreating horizon . This statement is central to Maurice’s development in the novel and the reference to death highlights the tension between the â€Å"boy’s certainty of going on and the narrator’s refusal to believe that time works that way †. Moreover, the usage of anticipatory rhetoric asserts the temporary nature of this kind of homosexual happiness, which creates irony within the portrayal of the Greek love version of homosexuality . The conversion of Clive further suggests at this point in novel that the intense bliss of the present will not be repeated. Whilst some have argued that Clive’s conversion is merely a superficial retreat into the closet, it is submitted that the â€Å"double structure of Maurice should compel us to see the change as a failure of the homosexuality available to him †. This is further demonstrated by Forster’s rhetoric within Maurice which depicts the ease with which Clive converts as opposed to succumbing to any perceived pressure to conform: â€Å"Ada was the compromise between memory and desire, she was the quiet evening Greece had never known. No arguments could touch her because she was tenderness, who reconciles present with past †. The adjectives depicting Ada replace Greek passion for domestic heterosexual bliss. However, it is too simplistic a view to merely assert that this portrayal of Clive renders Maurice a hopelessly flawed text. Conversely, Forster’s portrayal exposes the flaws in perceptions of homosexuality, which Forster hoped to exploit in presenting his version of gay ideology. For example, whilst Clive wants to now â€Å"go quietly ahead†, Maurice symbolises an escape from the present, furthering the evolution of the two heads of homosexuality. Forster emphasises this through irony with his extended metaphor portraying Maurice’s epiphany as a â€Å"thunderbolt that dispels the clouds. The storm had been working up not for three days as he supposed, but for six years. It had brewed in the obscurities of being where no eye pierces, his surroundings had thickened it. It had burst and he had not died. The brilliancy of the day was about him, he stood upon the mountain range that overshadows youth. He saw. † This extended metaphor depicts a conversion that enjoys more control. The other conversion occurs when Maurice loses Clive in a world where â€Å"one must marry or decay† , leaving Maurice to seek a solution. At this point, he is awakened by his encounter with Scudder: â€Å"he struck against corduroys, and was held for a moment by both elbows; it had been Scudder escaping from Mr Borenius. Released, he continued his dreaming† . The development of Maurice’s relationship with Scudder takes a turbulent passage, culminating in the â€Å"happy ending†. When Maurice and Scudder meet in London, Scudder’s blackmail threat and subsequent confrontation with Maurice at the British Museum results in intimacy; â€Å"wandering from room to room as if in search of something†. Whilst Scudder and Maurice then leave the narrative, â€Å"the narrative from this point slips more and more into the structure of the Museum † which as an established institution contrasts with the spirit of sexual rebellion. However, it is questionable whether Forster’s discourse can constitute a â€Å"subversion† of narrative structures and it appears that the â€Å"attack on linearity only happens through irony †. As submitted at the outset, it is too simplistic a view to assert that Maurice is either a hopelessly flawed text or alternatively a thoughtful adaptation provoking strong debate. Whilst intrinsically flawed as regards the narrative structure and concept of time, it is precisely this flaw which renders Maurice a thoughtful adaptation fuelling strong debate at the time. Like many novels, the narrative in Maurice resists closure but does not leave the narrative open ended. The ending is actually conclusive in running to the end of Clive’s life and the lack of closure derives from defiance of the ending itself : â€Å"The narrative line does not simply end, it frays, which cannot give us Maurice’s disappearance, and if it were to try, and to try to make narrative as a whole expressive of the implications of that disappearance, fraying would run all the way up the line† . Maurice’s tenseleness and lack of presence further asserts the attainment of Forster’s gay ideology. Whilst the time reversal bears relation to sexuality in producing interesting narrative results, it highlights the falsity of conventional heterosexual life as the established ideal through irony , whilst balancing the presentation of homosexuality through aesthetical homosexuality and exposes the dangers in its insufficient different temporality . This enables Maurice to realise his passion as a viable option only when he escapes the narrative, contradicting conventional plot models . However, it is precisely this break with conventional narrative through subtle modes, which render the portrayal of unconventional desire so effective . The move towards subversion reflects the central themes of Maurice and character development. Furthermore, whilst ending with a conventional â€Å"happy life† through Maurice’s escape, the focus on Clive who is left behind follows the subversion, which in turn results in the ultimate attainment of Forster’s vision of homosexualit.

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