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Twenty-First-Century Readings of E.M. Forster's 'Maurice'$
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Emma Sutton and Tsung-Han Tsai

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621808

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621808.001.0001

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Maurice without Ending

Maurice without Ending

From Forster’s Palimpsest to Fan-Text

(p.229) Chapter Nine Maurice without Ending
Twenty-First-Century Readings of E.M. Forster's 'Maurice'

Claire Monk

Liverpool University Press

During their ongoing lives, both Forster’s Maurice and Merchant Ivory Productions’ 1987 film adaptation have suffered parallel forms of critical dismissal and misrecognition which deny their cultural, political or affective significance. In the twenty-first century, however, such responses are challenged by the enduring and profound impact of both novel and film on readers/audiences, vividly evident in post-2000 Web 2.0 participatory culture. This chapter connects Maurice’s evolution across three phases of its (trans)textual history. First, the palimpsestic history of Maurice ‘the’ novel, shaped by multiple ‘peer reviewers’, divergent manuscripts and protracted textual revisions. Second, the 1987 film adaptation, which was the product of a comparably complicated, contestatory genesis and significant structural reworking. Third, Maurice’s still-unfolding public life as manifested in its twenty-first-century popular reception and further (re-)adaptations, sequels and paratexts, including fanworks. Since 2004, more than 170 Maurice fanfictions have been published online in English alone. These are of interest for the work done by fans in extending Forster’s sexual politics, utopian vision and the Maurice/Alec pairing into ‘the for ever and ever that fiction allows’ and for their solutions to perceived difficulties or limitations within the novel and/or film, conversely prompting reflection on the ‘fannishness’ of Maurice itself.

Keywords:   Adaptation Studies, Film Adaptation, Fan Fiction, Reception Studies, Participatory Culture, James Ivory, Merchant Ivory Productions, Queer Narratives

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