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An update to my earlier post/promise over at the mr_edna_may comm

My (1999) Abinger Edition of Maurice arrived this week! For anyone who really loves and cares about the book or film, I can't recommend it highly enough. (Emeritus Professor) Philip Gardner, who did all the painstaking work comparing the surviving manuscripts – 1914, 1932 x 2, 1959, odd scraps of paper, then carefully analysing and recording all the differences in the comprehensive endnotes – is God. No praise is too high for the work that must have gone into this. I'd been getting by for decades with my old Penguin copy. The Abinger edition is a revelation, and so worth the higher price:

It also means some corrections to my original post:

1) I wrote in good faith (based on Wendy Moffat's new 2010 biography of Forster, which has a very high reputation) that Forster "originally had Alec actually emigrate to Argentina". WRONG!

Yes, the boathouse ending was added in 1959. As was Maurice/Alec's night in the 'strange hotel' near the British Museum. But (as far as I can see from Gardner's notes) Alec missed his boat consistently from the 1914 drafts onwards. And, from 1914 onwards, Maurice went to Southampton to see Alec off – Alec wasn't there – Maurice knew he'd missed the boat, and knew exactly what that meant.  But (until the 1959 version) Maurice was left to find Alec (in England) without the reader knowing how!

This must (I think) also explain the (original) importance of Forster's post-WW1 woodcutters Epilogue: it must have served as the only way for readers to know that Maurice and Alec *were* (re-)united and remained together.

2) My comment about Maurice's 'clunky' refusal to go with Alec to the hotel (1914–) was based on some quoted dialogue in an academic paper. But, from the Abinger edition, it turns out this isn't the full 1914 dialogue. When read as a whole, Forster's 1914 draft from the British Museum to Maurice and Alec's extended goodbye before Argentina (in London, in the rain) is *so* much more detailed (especially about the class issue, and Alec's emotions) than either the published novel *or* the hotel scene Forster added much later. Far from being a cop-out that they don't go to the hotel, I found this version incredibly moving, sad, and adorable in its detail.

3) Most of the above also applies to Forster's (earliest surviving) 1914 attempt to write Maurice and Alec's night together in the Russet Room and the morning after. A little clunky, yes – but also real and enlightening.

More to follow. But the big question for me now is: why does Forster (in his 1960 'Notes on Maurice') give the impression that his later drafts *developed* the Maurice/Alec relationship, and Alec as a person, more than the earliest drafts? Because that's not the impression I'm getting from the wonderful Abinger Edition. All sorts of details were more explicit in 1914 than by 1971 (including, but not only, sexually...)

Date: 2012-02-13 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rusty-armour.livejournal.com
Thanks for posting what you discovered in the Abinger Edition. The differences between the various stages of Forster's manuscript are fascinating. I especially liked what you had to say about the 1914 draft's version of Maurice and Alec's goodbye before Argentina, given its detail and the issues it deals with.

I'm looking forward to your future posts on this subject.

Date: 2012-02-13 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exponential63.livejournal.com
Thanks! It may take a little while. I hope my rec gives a boost to this edition of the book, too (even the main text has been more carefully edited than the Penguin edition). Some little tasters:

'"I'm afraid I've been rough," he said, shy but unashamed: each word, like his silence, fell perfect.'
(The Russet Room, 1914 m/s)

'He too was in white flannels, and their looseness made him look like a gentleman or anyone else.'
(Cricket match, 1932, 1959, 1971)

'He too was in white flannels, and strode obvious under them. The lame lady had to turn her head away in case she admired him.' (Cricket match, 1914 m/s. Ooo-er. The 'lame lady' = 'lady at cricket match' in the film; so, yes, this is Helena B-C.)

'Alec was in the next room, crouched against the Parthenon frieze, and his high colouring stood out against the heroes, perfect but bloodless, who had never known indignity. He had bitten his lip, his eyes were red too; face and body were cramped with pain.
"Alec – "
"Alec am I?"
"I'm sorry I used that other name of yours."
"Don't speak to me," he growled, "let me go, you calling me Alec when I –"
"Did you give me away then on purpose?"
"You're correct."
"Was it to get money – or only to do me harm?"
"I couldn't say."
"Come, let's get away where we can finish our talk."
"What? What do you say?"
"Come along, Alec."
"Do you call me that still?"'
(British Museum, 1914 m/s)

'"Come just for a little to me."
"If I came it would be for ever."
"Ever's the best."
"Why man, you sail Thursday."
Alec found no answer.'
(Outside the British Museum, 1914 m/s)

Edited Date: 2012-02-13 03:42 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-13 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rusty-armour.livejournal.com
Ooooh! Thanks again! I love the little tasters, especially that second last bit of dialogue where Alec is leaning against the Parthenon frieze. :-) It's great to hear them discuss Alec's attempt at blackmail some more, as well as the whole first name issue.
Edited Date: 2012-02-13 04:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-13 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exponential63.livejournal.com
Thanks! My image of this scene is that Alec is crouched in a ball, trying not to cry, in a very public place. Awwww.

I find it interesting that the 'first name issue' upsets Alec in 1914, but Maurice in the final draft. Here, Alec seems to find it painful that Maurice persists in using his first name (because he loves him, but also a means of control) in the face of Alec's evident attempted betrayal. A little later, Maurice uses the word 'love' and Alec replies: 'You can't - Sir, you couldn't'. Maurice persists, and within seconds Alec finally uses Maurice's first name and calls him an 'angel'. (You see what I mean by more romantic than the published version!)

The full 1914 museum-to-street-to-goodbye dialogue is several pages long. It takes in:

• Class. (Maurice: "...If you were a gentleman, I'd take you this minute to my home." This made me want to scream: 'Just take Alec home with you! RIGHT NOW! Smuggle him in up the drainpipe and lock the bedroom door!')

• Marriage and children. Maurice, very poignantly, urges Alec to go for both in Argentina if he has the chance, but never to forget him.

• And, earlier, a one-sentence summary of Alec's whole back-story (an immediate 1914 deletion by Forster) that I found very intriguing. 'Then he described his apprenticeship, Clive's cousin, his makeshifts with women...' *Clive's cousin???* Presumably, the same married cousin Clive fell in love with during his teenage breakdown? I couldn't find anything in the earlier chapters to clarify what Forster might have had in mind here - but this detail looks ripe for fic-cing to me...

Date: 2012-02-13 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spatza-camino.livejournal.com
I do believe the earlier manuscripts (and epilogue) are more beautiful. Thanks for sharing your lovely discovery with the Abinger Edition. :3

Date: 2012-02-13 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exponential63.livejournal.com
Pleased that you enjoyed it!

Date: 2012-02-13 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fengirl88.livejournal.com
I've only read the Penguin version, and it's exciting to hear about this - squee indeed!

thank you very much for posting this and the update.

Date: 2012-02-14 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exponential63.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'd been getting by with the Penguin version for ... decades. I'm now feeling a bit slow/guilty that I didn't buy this edition before now.

Date: 2012-03-18 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] majs-majs.livejournal.com
Hi! Short time lurker here, but lurker none the less. Just wanted to say that I've enjoyed reading your (want to say fangirl squee, but that sound a bit wrong) entousiasm over the 1999 edition of Maurice. I don't own that many books, and read most digitally - and wanted to do the same with Maurice... that is until all your writing about this abinger edition. Yeah, I blame you for wanting the book.

The thing is that I know I can buy it via the amazon link (and will probably end up doing it that way), but for now I also look for it whenever I come by a bookstore with a good collection of English books (I'm from Denmark, and there's many book stores with English books - the problem is that they are usually fantasy books or by Jane Austen). I've tried to find out how it looks, but when I google the isbn numbers (or whatever they are called) from amazon, I never find a link with a picture. Sure I find the book on over online stores, but never with a picture. Strange. Is it really so horrible, that it can't be shown?

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I'm going to the capital on Tuesday, and I'm certain that if I'm going to find the book in this country in a normal bookstore it's gonna be there. Crosses my fingers, and thanks again for your wonderful reviews of the book!

Date: 2012-04-22 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exponential63.livejournal.com
Hi! Lovely to hear from you and thanks for your interest! I'm really, really sorry about the slo-ow reply. I knew I owed you one, but then couldn't locate the right post! It doesn't help that I'm going through some RL eye problems and unpleasant hospital treatment every few weeks...

Anyway – did you have any luck finding the book in Denmark? The detail of information on the Abinger edition available online isn't great - and, as you say, no image of the book jacket. (I've now scanned it for you to see, so I'll post that shortly.) It's quite a fat hardback (3cm spine), with a rust/orange-coloured jacket, and white and dark-green text. The front cover has a green-framed black-and-white drawing or etching of Forster in a jacket, eyes slightly downcast, hands on his lap. The back cover is plain orange. Even in the UK, I bought it online...

Further posts on here to follow...

Edited Date: 2012-04-22 04:14 pm (UTC)

May 2012


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