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[personal profile] expo63
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...)

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May 2012


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