Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Edition of a Great Novel, 21 July 2009
This review is from: Maurice (Abinger Edition of E.M. Forster) (Hardcover)
E M Forster's "Maurice" is a classic of the gay novel but regardless of being a classic it still remains an interesting and engaging work of literature. However, we had to wait almost thirty years for a critical edition but the book seems to have been destined for delays from the moment it was conceived. Although the writer completed the first draft in just a few months by 1913, it took him another 46 years of correcting and amending the text before he decided to leave it alone for another decade in a folder marked "Publishable, but is it worth it?". The novel appeared for the first time in 1971, a year after its author's death. Rather in a hurry to get the last unknown Forster's novel, the editors apparently did not pay sufficient attention to variants of the text. Still the edition remained in print for another twenty-eight years before this corrected edition finally appeared on the market.
An average reader may find this volume a bit too much to handle - over fifty pages of detailed introduction and almost a hundred pages of textual notes. Still the text of the novel is worth the money (just as the introduction) even if the extended notes (the editors apparently decided against publishing a separate volume of "Manuscripts" as they did in case of "A Passage to India" and two other novels) are addressed only to few specialists.
A perfect gift for anybody interested in history of gay literature or Forster. Even if they already have a copy of "Maurice" this is so much more than another reprint they will be happy to have it.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Jul 2012 15:32:39 BDT
Claire says:
For anyone with a deep interest in Forster's Maurice, the 1999 Abinger Edition (edited by Philip Gardner, who has done a brilliant job) is, beyond doubt, the best edition. For readers whose interest extends to the history of Maurice's evolution as a text, and its reception among Forster's circle during its non-public decades, it's the essential choice.

I must disagree that: `An average reader may find this volume a bit too much ... the extended notes ... are addressed only to few specialists.' Why? Because the changes Forster made to Maurice during its unpublished decades were more significant and revealing than Forster himself tended to claim or than most readers realise - and, with no separate volume publishing his (surviving) earlier manuscripts of Maurice in full, Gardner's `almost 100 pages' of notes are the only published place where readers can discover these changes. And, for my money, the changes Forster made between his 1913-14 first draft (which, from the account given by Gardner, seems not to have survived) and Maurice as eventually published posthumously in 1971 (which was, we learn, not finalised until the 1950s) are a revelation. What Gardner's notes do is to compare the surviving manuscripts of Maurice (dating from 1914, two slightly different scripts from 1932, then the published version finalised during the 1950s) and record every difference. The 1914 manuscript emerges as significantly different from the published novel - most markedly so in Part IV, the Maurice and Alec section of the story. And these are not just small differences of phrasing or nuance, but changes to characterisation, dialogue, tone and plot that I personally found fascinating (and, at times, more emotional and erotic than the published novel). I don't want to spoiler the reading experience - but for those willing to engage with the notes, there are real surprises in store. Read very carefully and you may start to wonder what Forster might have cut, too...
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Ford Ka
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