Book explores “how a stunning novel of gay love became a classic of queer film”
Professor David Greven’s latest book, Maurice, is hot off the press (September 2023) from the Queer Film Classics Series at McGill-Queen’s University Press. The book contests the long disparagement of this 1987 Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E. M. Forster’s 1971 novel, providing a detailed reading of the novel along with careful analyses of Ivory’s directorial style, Richard Robbins’ score, and performances by James Wilby, Hugh Grant, and Rupert Graves. Greven champions the film as an exuberant expression of Ivory’s distinctive visual style. His book is a veritable manifesto for Maurice as an indelible work of sympathetic adaptation, “offer[ing] insight into how a stunning novel of gay love became a classic of queer film” (to quote from the Press’s promotional blurb).
Of special note is the volume’s recounting of Greven’s personal relationship with the film. The author describes his lonely journey to the theater when Maurice first came out and what it was like to find a kind of “refuge” in its treatment of isolation and the search for an affirmative queer love. From this personal appreciation of a work that he suggests sparked his own intellectual interests, Greven constructs a case for the reconsideration of this misunderstood film as essential viewing. His argument is grounded in a first-person’s view but nonetheless honors the specificity of his object of study, bringing to bear a wide body of theoretical and critical approaches. The book in this way makes a case for “the queer ways in which films can transmit our meanings, our stories, and our dreams.”
Maurice is Professor Greven’s thirteenth book. Accolades for it have begun to pour in:
“Greven succeeds in restoring Maurice to an honored place among significant movies that feature a gay protagonist. The concluding chapter is sophisticated yet accessible to a broad audience. Greven writes with a clarity that will likely appeal to general audiences and film scholars alike.” Library Journal.
“The writing is the greatest joy of this book – in its daring and originality, its clarity and avoidance of academic stuffiness, its freshness and nimble erudition, Greven's Maurice is witty, deeply moving, superbly literate, and erotically tactile, like the movie he praises. In naming Merchant Ivory's Maurice a classic, Greven has created a classic of his own. Long may it be read.” Will Aitken, author of Death in Venice: A Queer Film Classic.