24PearlStreet Workshops and Events

Books That Matter:
Alexander Chee
On Maurice, E. M. Forster’s Posthumous Gay Novel Fiction June 18, 2024 Price: Regular Rate: $75.00 Teacher/Student Rate: $40.00
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LIVE via ZOOM: 6pm-7:30pm (Eastern Time)

In preparing for my essay about Forster and Maurice in The New Republic a few years ago, I dove deep into the novel’s history, but have since learned even more I’d like to share in this presentation. Please join me for a talk and a discussion about this novel and its legacy.

Here’s a preview:

In 1970, the writer E. M. Forster shocked his readers by releasing a novel after his death that was also his way of coming out to them. He had stopped publishing fiction after his novel A Passage To India, in 1924, and while he published his lectures on fiction writing–Aspects of the Novel–he never seemed to have another idea for a novel again. Lionel Trilling, who wrote an entire volume of criticism about his novels, even speculated about if and when he might return to writing and publishing fiction. He had seemed on a path to being one of the century’s most important British novelists, and then… nothing. But behind the scenes, his friends knew of his unpublished gay novel, Maurice, written in 1913 and to them, an open secret. He allowed friends to spend a night with the manuscript in a lodgings near him at Oxford and once even sent it to Christopher Isherwood, traveling from London to Los Angeles and carried friend to friend so as to avoid the mail and the possibility of it being seized by censors in the US or the UK. In the 56 years in between the writing of it and the posthumous publication, it was read perhaps by hundreds of gay men, a select audience of writers and artists. But when it was published, it was greeted with either vituperative condemnation or dismissal, and treated as a lesser novel, an aberration apart from the rest of his works, and the novel’s public reception would go on to affect generations of gay writers, whether they read the novel or not.

Recommended reading:

Maurice by E. M. Forster

The Afterlives of E. M. Forster” by Alexander Chee

Supplemental reading:

A Great Unrecorded History by Wendy Moffatt


Click here to purchase tickets to all four Books That Matter events at a discounted rate


Alexander Chee is the bestselling author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, as well as the essay collection How To Write An Autobiographical Novel. A contributing editor at The New Republic, his essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, The Sewanee Review, and he is the editor of Best American Essays 2022. He is a 2021 United States Artists Fellow, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, and the recipient of a Whiting Award and a NEA Fellowship. He teaches as an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.






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