“Ah, a man of taste!”
“He was talking about me!”

agent-mika-weston  asked:

I just recently read and watch Maurice and I have one question that won't leave me alone,we know that Clive and Maurice are the same age, they were in the same grade so probably no more than a years difference, but I got the feeling Scudder was younger than the other two by at least two or three years. So now i'm kinda here reading between lines cause I don't think its mentioned but I'm left wondering if Alec is younger than Maurice. Sorry about the weird sudden question.

Hi! :) Thanks for your Ask. I think a lot of us form this impression that Alec is younger because of the film’s casting and because of the powerful impression Rupert Graves makes as Alec. <33  (At the date Maurice was shot, James Wilby was 28 – though he looks years younger – Hugh Grant 26, and Rupert 23.) Forster’s novel is precise about Maurice’s birthdate and Clive’s age – but, as you say, not Alec’s. And you’re definitely not the first person to ponder this question…

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agent-mika-weston  asked:

Thanks for the info. I'll have to check out that time line. It is intesting how little Foster actually describes Alec in appearance, I guess thats why as a fandom we kinda go with the movie look for him.

If you look back at the posts listed in my Maurice 1914 Masterpost, it’s also interesting how Forster’s attempts to write Alec are quite unstable: they evolve a lot from his early drafts to the more pared-down published novel. (There’s a recent discussion about this between me and @fermencja, who writes very elegantly about these changes.)

Early-draft Alec is all masterful dubcon in some scenes (‘in he came, a big darkness … once in the room, the servant proved unmanageable’), then adorably shy or weepy and emotional in others. I LOVE these early versions, but I also agree with @fermencja​’s argument re. why Forster reined this in. By writing Alec more minimally, he leaves important space for the reader’s own imagination – and fantasy. That approach also fits with Forster’s idea that Alec must ‘loom from nothing until he is everything’.

It’s interesting how even Maurice’s first sighting of Alec is described in double-negative terms (‘…the girls were damned ugly, which the man wasn’t’) – while his growing attraction to Alec is expressed through flowers and fruit and nature imagery, not by describing Alec’s appearance:

‘A delicate scent of fruit perfumed the air; it had further to be feared that the young man had stolen an apricot. Scents were everywhere that night, despite the cold, and Maurice returned via the shrubbery, that he might inhale the evening primroses.’

Then, moments before Alec comes through the window:

‘Penge, instead of numbing, seemed more stimulating than most places. How vivid, if complex, were its impressions, how the tangle of flowers and fruit wreathed his brain!’

I think there are good reasons why book!Alec doesn’t have a defined look – he ‘stimulates’ all the senses, not just sight, and he’s inseparable from nature. But, in film, there’s unavoidably a physical person, face and body up there on the screen – and, as co-screenwriter Kit Hesketh Harvey said in The Story of Maurice interviews, ‘if … you get an actor as striking as Rupert Graves lurking in the back of shot, your antennae go up at once.’ ;D