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I am dried up. Not in my emotions, but in their expression. I cannot write at all.... Please do not mention this, as few people know. It often makes me very unhappy. I see beauty going by and have nothing to catch it in.

—Letter to Forrest Reid, 2 February 19131

By the beginning of 1911, E. M. Forster believed that he had written himself into a corner and began to proclaim himself "dried up."2 The publication of Howards End (in October of 1910) provided Forster with his first real success.3 The novel received acclaim from both critics and readers, but despite this Forster felt that creatively he could not go on. He did not publish another novel for fourteen years; even then A Passage to India was the last to appear in his lifetime. The public view of his writing life was certainly a contrast to the bustling activity of his private one. The years between 1911 and the start of the First World War were, in fact, amongst the most productive of his writing career. So what did Forster mean by "dried up"? Throughout his life, he would return to this same metaphor. In a 1958 television interview he explained that his career as a novelist halted because "the social aspect of the world [had] changed so very much."4 In the same interview, he referred to being "dried up" on three occasions in just six minutes.

What had happened that could disturb Forster's creative rhythm so dramatically? P. N. Furbank's biography turned to Freud and his essay "Those Wrecked by Success" and found there many of his "symptoms."5 More recently, coinciding with the publication of Wendy Moffat's 2010 biography, the Sunday Times preferred the attention-grabbing headline "Sex Led to E. M. Forster's End."6 The Pink News went further with their hyperbole: "E. M. Forster 'stopped writing because he had gay sex.'"7 Jesse Matz has persuasively argued that Forster's attempt to write more truthfully about himself and his situation happened as [End Page 445] a result of the death of his lover, Mohammed-el-Adl and Forster's attempted memoir of him, but Forster's problematic relationship with his fiction was a decade old by this point.8

In tracing the role of fantastical elements in Forster's fiction, Ambreen Hai seems much closer in detecting the beginnings of Forster's estrangement from his Edwardian public sensibility at the forked road of Howards End.9 A diary entry some years after the publication of that novel (17 December 1913) enduringly explains that "Certainly only happiness is in work. How absurd, and for me how serious.... So here I am with three unfinished novels on my hands. Even mother must notice I'm played out soon."10 But the archives show that in literary terms he was both productive and experimental in this period. It was his mood that prevented him from seeing this in his work. Between 1911 and 1914 Forster managed to produce a number of short stories and articles, he began three novels (A Passage to India and Maurice he would go on to complete), and he even drafted two plays. What, then, explains this deflecting shorthand of Forster's?

When one looks at a variety of the materials that he worked on during the months and years immediately following the publication of Howards End, including some drama and two of the three novels he worked on during this short period, Forster can be seen attempting to make sense of his own fictional landscape—past, present, and future. Further, it is possible to draw from these texts a range of related themes that Forster was attempting to articulate: to find a sufficiently descriptive vocabulary for talking about something new. His literary output during this period attempts (and sometimes fails) to find a mode of writing that kneads between the binaries of sexual inversion to find other means of expression and to discover the finer contours that might exist in relations between men. The period culminates in the aesthetic triumph of a stoic and ideologically productive silence in the posthumously published Maurice. The visible surface may have "dried up" but there was still fertile ground beneath.

In the period immediately following Howards End, Forster's preoccupation with questions of gender comes sharply into focus. On two occasions before the end of 1910, he presented slightly different versions of "The Feminine Note in Literature": first to The Apostles in October, then again to Virginia Stephen's Friday Club in December.11 It would be an essay that rethought gender boundaries and relations, one that [End Page 446] showed some signs of Forster's approaching creative crisis. It is not a classic Forster essay (only finding its way into print in 2001).12 The mode of expression is often clumsy. In it we do not find the Forsterian sentence; as Judith Scherer Herz has noted, they are "lithe in their length, the short and the long, so rhythmically spaced and placed."13 He seems unsure of his persona (the numerous crossings out and rewritings on the manuscript bear witness to this) or role as speaker at the Friday Club. The argument, though fascinating in its content, is mercurially presented—substance subsumed by style. And it is precisely this facet of his work that would go on to characterize his writing over the next few years: one that was attempting to explore something for which there was not already a rich vocabulary. In terms of literary history the essay is important because it functions as a preface to the work that he was about to embark upon.14 In it he outlines the impossible task, one that envisions art as being free of social and ethical constraint, one that sees the novel as a space in which the complexity of personal relations may be faithfully explored. The essay, too, was a manifesto that planted the seed of failure for Forster. Even a casual acquaintance with the scandalous publishing history of James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, or Radclyffe Hall reveals that the early twentieth century was not a time in which authors were entirely free to express their ideas on sexual matters. So Forster turned towards a more unfamiliar dramatic form:

Jun 16th: [1911] Having sat for an hour in vain trying to write a play. Will analyze causes of my sterility.

  1. 1. Inattention to health—curable.

  2. 2. Weariness of the subject that I both can and may treat—the love of men for women and vice versa. Passion and money are the two main strings of action (not of existence) and I can only write of the fruit of that imperfectly. Growing interest in religion does not help me.

  3. 3. Depressing and enervating surroundings. My life's work is to live with a person who thinks nothing worthwhile.15

The play that he was working on was not, and never has been, published. Consisting of thirty-or-so pages, its first mention appears in Forster's diaries some seven months after the completion of his Friday Club paper. As a cure for writer's block, The Heart of Bosnia could not have been a worse experience for Forster. It is rarely referred to in Forster scholarship perhaps because it is seen as a work of theatrical juvenilia, a poor effort in a form in which he was neither comfortable nor adept. Forster had throughout his career dabbled in the [End Page 447] short story, and during this period he would repeatedly turn to it as a means of literary play, but he was still a novice in drama. His turn to such an unfamiliar form may be seen as an expression of crisis in his relationship with the novel genre. But none of his contemporaries liked it and neither did he. In itself it is not an important work, but it does, nonetheless, demonstrate a great deal about Forster's aesthetic turning point and his complicated, even dysfunctional relationships with imperial, sexual and racial ideologies. The play also signals the beginning of a period of experimentation on a theme that would occupy Forster for at least the next twenty years—and as such is an ideological precursor to A Passage to India.

The play is set in the Bosnian British Consulate. It is the morning after a celebratory ball given by the consul, his wife and his daughter—Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, and Fanny. It transpires that the previous evening Fanny had made a success of flirting with and seducing two of her Bosnian dancing partners:

Mr Stevens:

As far as I can judge it was a success. A well organized ball, carefully thought out. I think it did create a good impression.... our guests ... seemed to be civil. My concern was to bring us into contact with the people of this country, to understand them, to help my countrymen to understand them.


I say father, I've made a conquest. Good morning, dear.

Mr Stevens:

... almost impossible, so dissimilar to ours are their customs and perhaps so superior....


For information about natives, apply to me.

Mr Stevens:

What's this? A conquest? A conquest over what? I have not understood.


No doubt it had some profound political or commercial meaning, but during that ball the son of the local butcher, or it may be milkman, flung himself (in every sense) at your daughter's feet. In other words, I made a conquest.

Mr Stevens:

You—you suggest that one of your partners became intimate with you?...

Mrs Stevens:

The servants say that it is not the custom here to have milk with coffee.


Bother their customs.... My conquest? Dear father whatever do you suppose will come of it?

Mr Stevens:

I have no idea, and am therefore seriously concerned.

Mrs Stevens:

Charles, this is a storm in a tea cup. You seem to have lost your balance ever since you came here. What has happened to you? [End Page 448] (silence) You told me yourself that the natives are very chivalrous—almost mediaeval. So why be alarmed?16

From the outset, the connections with A Passage to India are noticeable. The Stevenses' ball where the "concern was to bring us into contact with the people of this country, to understand them, to help my countrymen to understand them" seems to echo the naïveté of the intentions behind the "Bridge Party" in A Passage to India. Both sets of characters seem to learn just as little about their fellow countrymen in both cases.

The initial exchanges in the play set up carefully coded lines of division between Englishness and foreignness, even Mrs. Stevens's use of the metaphor "storm in a tea cup" is suggestive of that very English kind of muddle that Forster loved so. Fanny's illiberal approach to the local custom of black coffee with "Bother their customs" is a comic synecdoche for imperial power. The imperial theme dovetails throughout the piece: Fanny's impassioned remembrance of her evening's entertainment derives not from the flirtatious excitement of having met some dashing young men, but from the fact that she has made a "conquest." She is a young, bold Britannia and the men are Bosnia. The title comes from one of the play's central liberal ideas: the impossibility of truly knowing another culture. Fanny's father warns her against playing games with the passions of these men, as none could possibly understand "that unknown quantity—the heart of Bosnia."17

The key failure of the play is Forster's inability to develop complexity in his characterization. Fanny is swathed in melodramatic gesture and demonstrates none of the nuance or intricacy of a Lucy, Margaret, Helen, or Adela. More importantly, his Bosnian men are robotic in their adherence to social codes. The play's philosophy demands that these two central figures be not unknowable but complex and strange. Only in this way can Mr. Stevens's statement be borne out: that the "other" is unquantifiable. Instead, Forster's men are allied to strict modes of behavior and rigidly conform to them regardless of the outcome.

One of the men, Nicolai, is supposedly all-consumed by passion. He boasts of the value of his name and lineage: "none stand higher and none equals it—excepting always the family of my friend. I will protect this house till death. (Drawing a knife from his belt, he lays it naked on the table)."18 He swears to guard the house against all possible enemies whilst Fanny's parents conveniently and inexplicably go out: [End Page 449]


Do not touch that knife.


Why not?


Because it is a man's knife.


I am not afraid of a man's knife.


Please put it down.


Certainly, if you wish it. I have no wish to touch your knife. [Nicolai makes declarations of love....]


That is my knife.


I know. What do you do with it?


I kill.


What do you kill?


We will not talk of death.


I choose to talk of death. I choose to play with your knife, though you tell me not to.... Now, answer my question. Have you ever killed a man?


(crossing himself) Never.


But you have wanted to?




I did not expect such an answer from a Bosnian.


Why should I kill anyone? If he dies, his son kills me, and is killed by my son if I have one. A murder is not childless in our country. Whole families die, all our race was slipping over a precipice, and we have had to stop ourselves.... Lie on my heart. Flesh on my flesh, be healed.19

The scene makes for awkward reading. The knife, the phallus of male potency, is toyed with by Fanny, mistakenly believing that the imperial power is hers until the phallus draws blood and her virginity is symbolically lost. That would normally be enough for fifteen lines of dialogue, but Nicolai goes on to explain that murder is all but a national pastime. Like a desire that runs in Bosnian veins, the will to murder nearly wiped out their entire "race." For all of Forster's humanist intentions, his depiction of both characters is reductive and simplistic. It is as if the poles of heterosexuality have calcified in Forster's imagination to become the two caricatures that we see here.

The situation is complicated with the arrival of another suitor Fanny had also flirted with the night before, Mirko, Nicolai's greatest friend. They are left alone with each other and they discuss the loves that they have found. Fanny returns and decides that what these foreigners need is a good talking-to from an intellectually superior Englishwoman. [End Page 450] What follows, the longest speech in the play, is one in which she tells the men that they "need educating," and in a symbolic emasculation she confiscates their knives and again leaves the room.20 The two men are in shock but decide to renew their loyalty with a "kiss of blood."21 They embrace, combining the blood that has been spilt between them.

There is a mixture here of the kinds of homosocial bonds (founded upon misogyny) that are a figure in practically all of Forster's work in this period. The female characters (Fanny and her mother) in the play are ineffective lovers, mothers, wives, and are an offense to the symbolic order. The desire between the two men is not only privileged in a number of ways, but it has also been triangulated through the woman, literally through her blood. By Fanny's interference in their homosocial bond their "manhood" has been "degraded."22 The solution to reinvigorate their fading masculinity is astonishing, even for a novelist who was so interested in shocking or surprising the reader, and the conclusion to the play is quite fantastic: they agree to murder her.

Fanny's parents arrive back and can hear her screams. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens beg the servants to help but they look on impassively: "no business of mine.... she came between Mirko and Nicolai—it is natural.... Mirko and Nicolai must kill her, or she would part them. We are sorry for you, you who did not know our custom, but we can do nothing."23 Forster reduces the act of murdering Fanny to a mere foreign custom that the Consul and his family were unlucky enough not to have foreknowledge of. This act of misogynistic violence committed upon Fanny is also what forges the bond between the two men. An act of murder then is reintegrated into the homosocial relationship as nothing more than a catalyst that enables them to remain pure, to restore their honor and their manhood. Standing back a little from this violent triangulation, the full misogynistic valence of the trope comes into focus. There is an essay on Our Mutual Friend in Eve Sedgwick's Between Men in which she comments on the etymology and social significances of Jenny Wren's original name (the doll's dressmaker) mentioned only once in the novel, Fanny Cleaver.24 Seen in this way, womanhood is absurdly reduced to a genital signifier and ultimately destroyed by the men. To some extent, what lies behind this violence is Forster's attempt to show the unknowability of the "other," but in doing so all is laid at the feet of the women in the play. One of the last lines of the play is spoken by the second servant: "It is also our custom that a woman should not have two lovers."25 The knives of the two men are cleansed of guilt. [End Page 451]

The Heart of Bosnia represents a twofold dramatization of failed connection for Forster, both thematically and in terms of the unpublishability, and consequently the unperformability of the text itself. It works to make and break the connections that it is engaged in. The liberal-humanist message of the irreducibility of the foreign "other" is entirely subsumed into a homosocial bond that exists between the Bosnian "brothers." Their relationship becomes so privileged that its only outcome must be the subjection and destruction of the gendered other. An ideological line may be drawn back to Forster's "The Feminine Note in Literature" (from a few months before). He had previously argued that the diminishing "feminine note" (one not necessarily tied to the sex of the author) was a "preoccupation with personal worthiness," where characters "try not so much to be good as to be worthy of one of the other characters."26 The Heart of Bosnia, however, strikes a solid ostinato in the masculine key, being one that exercises its dramatic ambition through the characters committing themselves to an abstract idea. While it could be seen as a critique of blindly adhering to destructive and myopic codes of behavior, the characterization of Fanny clearly interpellates her as in some way being the deserving victim of their violence. Masculine values are forged and endorsed at the expense of all others.

In Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory, Lee Edelman outlines two ways that gay identity has been formed, read and reworked in contemporary culture.27 "Homographesis" marks and attempts to describe the point where "the homosexual" is put into writing and in turn the figure becomes a text that is inscribed upon. For Edelman, the effect is twofold: like Foucault's reverse discourse, representations of gay identity can be seen as both oppressive and resistant. Oppressive in that conservative and dominant ideological strategies actually transform the body of the homosexual: "The construction of homosexuality as a subject of discourse, as a cultural category about which one can think or speak or write, coincides ... with the process whereby the homosexual subject is represented as being, even more than inhabiting, a body that always demands to be read, a body on which his 'sexuality' is always inscribed."28 The resistant effect of homographesis, Edelman suggests, is one "intent on de-scribing the identities that [the dominant ideology] has so oppressively inscribed."29 It is this second aspect of Forster's writing that is so troubling. In his work [End Page 452] we can repeatedly witness attempts to not-say, to disassociate himself from, or to find other ways of speaking or representing male desire that were not plagiarized from the more traditional and conservative inscribed body of homosexuality. Forster's writer's block is characterized by a persistent attempt to write sexuality between the lines, to explore modes of sexual being for which there are no names, to slip away from society's deeply rooted ideas about what constitutes the homosexual body. But these were ideas for which there were few existing taxonomies to draw upon and with no socially permitted way of doing so.

This deadlock in Forster's writing, to some extent represented in The Heart of Bosnia (and its retreat into melodramatic and formulaic representations of gender difference), was given a more loquacious outing in the only novel in this period that he did not go on to complete, Arctic Summer.30

Beginning with the Britisher abroad (a familiar theme to Forster), the novel opens with Martin Whitby, his wife, and his mother-in-law Lady Borlase (the wife of a Master of a Cambridge college), all of whom find frustration in the many and varied un-English ways encountered when traveling. In a near-fatal accident, Martin is saved from falling under a train carriage by Clesant March. The novel then recounts how these two men, Martin (the aesthete) and Clesant (the chivalric warrior), negotiate a difficult friendship founded almost entirely upon difference. The pair's courtly dance of hetero-affection is deftly conducted under Forster's guidance—the novel demonstrates considerable promise; its incompletion is a substantial loss to Forster's canon. But unlike the other fiction that he would eventually go on to complete, Arctic Summer comes to an absolute impasse. In much the same way as Sir Gawain has to accept and embrace the broken shards of his once-loved chivalric system, Clesant is profoundly disappointed by the conduct of one of his Cambridge brethren (in a hint towards other things medieval, he is called Lance).31 The fragment ends with Lance's suicide (due, it is suggested, to the ferocity of Clesant's upbraiding of him).

Joseph Bristow argues that queer desire is consistently present in Arctic Summer, particularly in the "Lance" episode that he persuasively suggests was Forster's first attempt at narrating a queer sex scandal.32 Up until this point in Forster's writing career, this was as close as he had gotten to writing—what would have been publicly had Arctic Summer been completed—about homosexual relations, but Forster knew that he had left himself nowhere to go, all the more frustrating with such an original beginning to the fragment. [End Page 453]

Forster's reasons for the novel's failure were given in his notes for the 1951 reading at the Aldeburgh Festival: "I had got my antithesis all right.... But I had not settled what is going to happen and this is why the novel remains a fragment.... The novel might have ended with the two companions in defeat. But such an ending doesn't interest me."33

What did interest Forster, by implication, was the coming together of the two men, but not in any clear or straightforward way. The absence of the two men's destinies in the fragment, the inability of Forster to resolve their fate, to say it, to explain it, is inherently queer. What are the politics of such a silence? The power of the dominant ideology is effective in closing off the connection that may have evolved between Martin and Clesant, but the silence still speaks—the fragment remains. Its presence articulates the possibility of something other. The novel remains one that withdraws from the shallow binaries of hetero and homo. As such, it refuses to be drawn into a repressive discourse. In its withholding of an explanation, it refuses to present the homosexual body as safely and definitively fixed in its sexuality.

The fragment, though, may also be seen as a signifier of the attenuation of Forster's creative vocabulary. Many of the texts from this period are characterized by an authorial attempt to find new modes of expression for writing about male desire. The public face of this struggle finds Forster explaining that he had "dried up." Or, as he later noted in May 1958 in his Commonplace Book, he found himself irritated by "the swish of the skirts" and the "non-sexual embraces."34 Or, of course, as he wrote in the famous 16 June 1911 entry in "The Locked Journal": "weariness of the subject that I both can and may treat—the love of men for women and vice versa." From such an angle, Arctic Summer may be seen as an aesthetic failure, one in which the silence could not be filled in any meaningful way so was left as a vacant space. In Forster's next novel, he would take this idea of silence and transform it into a kind of queer ecology, a sexuality that celebrates its silence in returning to the earth.

Dec 6th [1913] Since Sep 13th have been happy and disinclined to open this book.... now happiness weakens ... my novel goes slower.... Dickinson is grieved and shocked by my short story [the beginnings of "The Other Boat"], Meredith wasn't. How dependent on approval? But I have learnt that happiness is only for the strong, and why I have had so little of it the last few years.35 [End Page 454]

By the end of 1913, Forster had three unfinished novels on his hands and had begun to write erotic stories as a distraction from the strains of failed-novel writing. Only Arctic Summer would remain a fragment; the other two were eventually completed to become A Passage to India and Maurice.36 And in these, sexuality can be seen to have become increasingly associated with place in Forster's aesthetic vision. The relationship between space, place and sexuality has been explored numerous times in Forster scholarship, almost exclusively in a postcolonial context.37 Instead, this section addresses how Forster mobilizes ideas of place as inherently conservative and heterocentric and looks at how he transformed the absent closure of Arctic Summer into a different form of articulate silence in Maurice.

Since long before its publication Maurice has been critically written off. In the wave of poststructuralist and queer theory in the eighties and nineties there were a number of revaluations of the novel, but still as recently as 2009 Frank Kermode felt the need to sweep it "aside" as an "inferior" novel.38 When published, David Lodge announced that it "is not a very good novel," and blamed the theme for its shortcomings of "complexity, interest, humor, and rhetorical skill."39 Such qualitative assessments stir suspicions that other heterocentric aesthetic criteria were being deployed—how can a wish-fulfillment romance novel between men be taken seriously or indeed called high art? Seen from such a coign of vantage, the novel turns to two well-established forms: romance and bildungsroman—but neither genre is exercised in a straightforward manner in the novel.40 Moreover, in the critical haste to see the novel structurally, the complexity of Maurice's ideology, the ways that it engages with notions of sexuality, space, place, or nature, was (perhaps deliberately) missed. What had begun as writer's block, where the fictions that Forster was working on ended up as being incomplete, unperformable, or unpublishable, this "block" or silence is powerfully transformed in Maurice into one that is capable of questioning the moral and social order as it exists in the teens of the twentieth century, and ironically one that questions the novel's first critics at the end of that century. It gestures towards the possibility of finding a language for something that does not yet exist. And sees in that possibility a way of being that lies outside of lineage, history, fixity and certainty. Maurice and Alec represent the rejection of ancestry and of a repressive social order; their escape into the greenwood, to a life outside investments and good marriages, does not represent the opposites of these facets, but their complete absence. [End Page 455]

On September 13 (from which he dated his recent happiness in 1913) Forster had been to visit Edward Carpenter and his lover, George Merrill, at Melthorp, and the "conception" of Maurice there has been well documented, even by Forster himself.41 John Fletcher's essay saw in this moment, and in the writing of the novel that followed, a timid repression of the radical power that the novel evoked by identifying Forster with Clive (the figure who for reasons of social necessity opts for heterosexual marriage and public respectability). Richard Dellamora later remarked that it was an error to see Forster's primal scene in terms of only one of the novel's characters, reminding us of the "mobile identifications" that take place between author/character.42 Dellamora's argument also succeeded in attempting to rescue the novel from the "timorous" internalized repression of Fletcher's reading, where he went so far as to say that some aspects of the novel were "embarrassing."43 Howard J. Booth also seeks to look beyond the "repressive" argument by seeing in Maurice an attempt to look through the binary models of sexual inversion that were so prevalent in the early twentieth century.44 He notices that Fletcher had focused upon the return to Clive's viewpoint at the end of the novel, oddly situating him as the focalizer of the text (rather than the eponymous Maurice). Booth goes on to consider the novel's rejected epilogue (included as an appendix to the Abinger edition).45 Maurice and Alec having escaped into the greenwood are seen years later by Maurice's sister, Kitty. Booth explains:

There may have been practical problems that led Forster to drop this ending, not least the fact that it seems he no longer had a copy of it. The effect of the First World War on the main characters would need to be explained, and it was clearly difficult to imagine and represent the future of the Maurice-Alec relationship. The extra chapter tells us more about Kitty than it does about the two lovers. In the final version of the text, the return to Clive can be seen in terms of a different kind of loss than Fletcher suggests. It perhaps constitutes the return of the possibility of love between those with similar class backgrounds.46

It is an interesting point, one that engages with one of the central themes of the novel, and indeed Forster's fiction more broadly; namely, that connection and personal relations should move across and through the fiercely defended borderlines of class. There is, though, another way of seeing the return of focus to Clive and the rejection of the ending where Kitty sees her brother (the "man" of the house).

Where Forster's other fictions from this period all mark different kinds of silence (his unpublished homoerotic stories, his unperformed [End Page 456] play, or the incomplete novel Arctic Summer), the silence in Maurice is an altogether more proactive one:

They were his last words, because Maurice had disappeared thereabouts.... To the end of his life, Clive was not sure of the exact moment of departure, and with the approach of old age, he grew uncertain whether the moment had yet occurred.... Out of some eternal Cambridge his friend began beckoning to him, clothed in the sun, and shaking out the scents and sounds of the May Term.47

Where Arctic Summer had reached an ideological dead end, where what lay beyond was either cliché, retreat, or scandal, Maurice uses the silence politically. The shift of focus to Clive at the end of the novel can be seen as a commentary on what it is possible to see, understand, or indeed speak about. What lies beyond the end of the novel are, as Maurice earlier speculates, "spaces no science could reach."48 The lives of the two men who exist outside of society function as part of a wider commentary on the generic possibilities of fiction and of discourse itself. By shifting focus to Clive, the novel moves to narrate that which can be said, and it is only made sense of by the past and its "scents and sounds of the May Term," not by its possibilities or its future. Clive does not speculate about the future of the couple, how they might live, but on his Cambridge past with Maurice.

Maurice and Alec transcend the heterocentric logic that named and strove to subject the homosexual. Theirs is a renunciation of self and a denial of the symbolic order: Maurice and Alec stop being brothers, sons, uncles, breadwinners; their expected futures in fatherhood, grandfatherhood in traditionally acceptable terms are gone, too. They are liberated to explore outside their class and their geography in a way that marrying heterosexuals, like Clive, are not permitted to do.

It is Alec who rebels most keenly against the middle-class conventions of his society. Forster's use of slang in Alec's speech attacks the bourgeois lexis of his employers and that of all other characters in the Forster canon. A short time before he and Maurice will disappear into the greenwood, Alec is happy to transgress and does not care what name society might have for him: "'Fuck yer name!'" he says of Clive's mother, Mrs. Durham, who signifies the England that has repressed them.49

Regardless of Forster's reasons for dismissing it, this is also why the epilogue would not be quite right—aesthetically. It would be one that attempts to articulate the silence and absence that the novel seems to require. But even in doing so, the epilogue focuses almost entirely, not [End Page 457] on Maurice or Alec's interiority, but on them being "seen." Like Clive in the published ending, Kitty is the focalizer of the unpublished ending. The glimpse of them by Kitty is a means by which their lives might be momentarily brought back into the sight line of bourgeois, heterocentric ideology. But they are in society's crosshairs only for a second, and then they are gone, disappearing once again into the greenwood—a place where family, history, and nationhood all cease to exist.

This was an unhappy but richly productive period for E. M. Forster in which his work is characterized by a persistent attempt to write sexuality between the lines, to explore modes of sexual being for which there are no names, to slip away from society's deeply rooted ideas about what constitutes the homosexual body. The silence seems either to mark a point where Forster's authorial loquacity breaks down, or it creates an epistemological fault line over which it refuses to cross. His writing in these "inferior" fictions by a "dried up" writer is marked by a desire to think in a more explorative manner, to find a way to see beyond the boundaries of hetero- and homosexuality. By looking at these texts down the telescope of one hundred years (Maurice was begun in 1913), they look like they are by a writer who outgrew the form. Given the circumstances of its creation, and its spatial relationship with the short stories, essays, and plays around it, Maurice begins to look like a novel that we are only beginning to understand what it does and does not say.

The novel's refusal to step across the fault line and move into that ecological space that exists somewhere is reminiscent of the closing lines of Forster's last novel. A Passage to India ends with a poignantly bleak vision for the future of a kind of desire that early twentieth-century discourse could not make sense of:

"and then," he concluded, half kissing him, "you and I shall be friends."

"Why can't we be friends now?" said the other, holding him affectionately. "It's what I want. It's what you want."

But the horses didn't want it—they swerved apart; the earth didn't want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single-file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, "No, not yet," and the sky said, "No, not there."50 [End Page 458]

Vybarr Cregan-Reid
University of Kent


1. Selected Letters of E. M. Forster. Volume One, 1879-1920, Mary Lago and P. N. Furbank eds. (London: Arena, 1983), 187.

2. Elsewhere he complained of being "through at last—and others begin to suspect it" (31 December 1911), E. M. Forster, "The Locked Journal," in The Papers of Edward Morgan Forster (Cambridge: King's College: Modern Archives, 1858-1967).

3. E. M. Forster, Howards End, Oliver Stallybrass, ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975).

4. "Monitor—E. M. Forster (www.bbc.co.uk/archive/writers/12202.shtml)." There is also the letter to Forrest Reid in 1913, used here as an epigraph. In the 1960s he was still referring to himself as being "dried up." See E. M. Forster to Wilfred Stone, 18 February 1966, in Selected Letters of E. M. Forster, 1921-1970, Mary Lago and P. N. Furbank eds. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), II: 289.

5. From Sigmund Freud's "Some Character-Types Met with in Psycho-analytic Work," The Complete Psychological Works, Vol. 14. Quoted in P. N. Furbank's E. M. Forster: A Life (London: Secker and Warburg, 1977), I: 193.

6. Wendy Moffat, E. M. Forster: A New Life (London: Bloomsbury, 2010); Richard Brooks, "Sex Led to E. M. Forster's End," The Sunday Times, 6 June 2010. (www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article7144850.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084).

8. Jesse Matz, "'You Must Join My Dead': E. M. Forster and the Death of the Novel," Modernism/Modernity, 9.2 (2002), 303-17.

9. Ambreen Hai, "Forster and the Fantastic: The Covert Politics of The Celestial Omnibus," Twentieth Century Literature, 54.2 (2008), 217-46.

10. Forster, "The Locked Journal."

11. Peter Stansky, On or About December 1910: Early Bloomsbury and Its Intimate World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), 149. See also W. L. Courtney, The Feminine Note in Fiction (London: Chapman & Hall, 1904). Virginia Stephen also knew Courtney's work; she had reviewed it for the Guardian on 25 January 1905.

12. E. M. Forster, The Feminine Note in Literature, George Piggford, ed. (London: Cecil Woolf, 2001).

13. Judith Scherer Herz, "Forster's Sentences," ELT, 1880-1920, 55.1 (2012), 4.

14. But may also be seen a little like Wordsworth's "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" appearing first after the major work that it was a preface to. Numerous aspects of "The Feminine Note in Literature" make sense of Howards End. For example, the sex-shifting narrator, or the "emancipated" first Mrs. Wilcox who in a rejection of all forms of patriarchy thinks "it is wiser to leave action and discussion to men.... I am only too thankful not to have a vote myself" (87).

15. Forster, "The Locked Journal." Forster here is referring to his mother who never really recovered from the death of her own mother around this time. See Furbank, E. M. Forster, 195.

16. E. M. Forster, The Heart of Bosnia in The Papers of Edward Morgan Forster (Cambridge: King's College: Modern Archives, 1911), 2-5.

17. Ibid., 12.

18. Ibid., 13.

19. Ibid., 15-18.

20. Ibid., 29.

21. Ibid., 31.

22. Ibid., 31.

23. Ibid., 33.

24. Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, Adrian Poole, ed. (London: Penguin, 1997); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University [End Page 459] Press, 1985). See "Homophobia, Misogyny, and Capital: The Example of Our Mutual Friend," 161-79.

25. Forster, The Heart of Bosnia, 33.

26. E. M. Forster, "The Feminine Note in Literature," in The Papers of Edward Morgan Forster (Cambridge: King's College: Modern Archives, 1910), 130.

27. Lee Edelman, Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory (New York: Routledge, 1994), 3-23.

28. Ibid., 10.

29. Ibid.

30. E. M. Forster, Arctic Summer and Other Fiction (London: Edward Arnold, 1980).

31. The Gawain-Poet, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, A. C. Cawley and J. J. Anderson, eds. (Rutland: J. M. Dent, 1991), 167-277.

32. Joseph Bristow, "Fratrum Societati: Forster's Apostolic Dedications," in Queer Forster, Robert K. Martin and George Piggford, eds. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 113-36.

33. Forster, Arctic Summer, 162.

34. E. M. Forster, Commonplace Book, Philip Gardner, ed. (Aldershot: Wildwood, 1987), 203-204. Forster also seems to dislike the stultifying heterosexuality of the novels' men—suggested by the fact that in the same entry, he lists those amongst his characters that he likes or admires (none from Howards End), all of whom are male objects of desire in one form or another, except for A Room with a View's Lucy. The last may be read as a gay wish-fulfillment novel, one in which Forster (in the guise of Lucy) may be seen to "come out" with the discovery of her real sexuality to the varied and occasional disapproval of her immediate society. See also Judith Scherer Herz, "A Room with a View," in The Cambridge Companion to E. M. Forster, David Bradshaw, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Jeffrey Meyers, whose essay was written before the publication of Maurice, ""Vacant Heart and Hand and Eye': The Homosexual Theme in A Room with a View," ELT, 1880-1920, 13.2 (1970), 181-92. See also Judith Scherer Herz, "The Double Nature of Forster's Fiction: A Room with a View and The Longest Journey," ELT, 1880-1920, 21.3 (1978), 254-65; James Buzard, "Forster's Trespasses: Tourism and Cultural Politics" (1988), repr. in E. M. Forster, Jeremy Tambling, ed. (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 1995), 14-29, who examines how Forster "investigate[s] existence within the state of tourism," arguing that "as a homosexual man seeking some sanctioned vehicle for his own desires ... he is unable to free himself from the tourist state" (18-19).

35. Forster, "The Locked Journal."

36. E. M. Forster, Maurice, Phillip Gardner, ed., The Abinger Edition (London: Andre Deutsch, 1999). In the posthumously published story "The Other Boat" (which was also briefly begun as a novel in this period) this idea of the possibility of the malleability or plasticity of sexuality is exercised by setting its action somewhere at sea between India and England. E. M. Forster, The Life to Come, and Other Stories, Oliver Stallybrass, ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), 166-97.

37. Yonatan Touval, "Colonial Queer Something," in Queer Forster, 237-54. Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 2003). 244, 371.

38. Frank Kermode, Concerning E. M. Forster (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009), 80.

39. David Lodge, "Before the Deluge—'Tablet'—23rd October, 1971," in E. M. Forster: The Critical Heritage, Philip Gardner, ed. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971), 473-74.

40. For Howard J. Booth Maurice represents "a new departure for the novel" genre, as in it "Forster had to meet the technical challenge of writing a Bildungsroman where the result of the protagonist's engagement with society is the decision to live outside it." See Howard J. Booth, "Maurice," in The Cambridge Companion to E. M. Forster, 173.

41. See "Terminal Note" in Forster, Maurice, 215-20; Furbank, E. M. Forster, 256-57; John Fletcher, "Forster's Self-Erasure: Maurice and the Scene of Masculine Love," in Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing, ed. Joseph Bristow (New York: Routledge, 1992); Sheila Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (London: Verso, 2008).

42. Richard Dellamora, "Textual Politics / Sexual Politics," in The Uses of Literary History, Marshall Brown, ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 152.

43. Fletcher, "Forster's Self-Erasure," 65, 82. [End Page 460]

44. Booth, "Maurice," 182.

45. Forster, Maurice, 221-24.

46. Forster, Maurice, 214.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid., 165.

49. Ibid., 199.

50. E. M. Forster, A Passage to India, 316. [End Page 461]