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By Manuel Betancourt
By William di Canzio
When it debuted, E.M. Forster’s “Maurice” offered a rarefied view of queer possibility: a happy ending for gay men, with the book’s protagonist, the wealthy and well-educated stockbroker Maurice Hall, finding love with the young groundskeeper Alec Scudder. The book was originally written in 1913 and 1914, but Forster tinkered with the manuscript for decades until it was eventually published posthumously in 1971. Thus, he watched his initially contemporary novel age into an embalmed period piece about the crippling, self-cannibalizing anxieties that homosexual men lived with in early-20th-century England. But, as he wrote in a 1960 “Terminal Note” that serves as an addendum to his manuscript, sketching out a happy ending was always an imperative for the book: “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, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood.”
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