So, in , when Lucy Honeychurch breaks her engagement to Cecil Vyse in order to marry George Emerson, the man to whom she is attracted, she is not simply doing what she likes.
Rather, she is heeding the moral imperative voiced by George’s father: “Yes, for we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. ” The problem, reading Forster today, is that we are no longer much in need of this kind of valor.
In full unison was Love born, flame of the flame, flushing the dark river beneath him and the virgin snows above.
His wings were infinite, his youth eternal; the sun was a jewel on his finger as he passed it in benediction over the world. Was he greater than either—the touch of a man on a woman?
It may be that Samuel Butler’s bold novelistic call for religious liberation, the kind of sexual freedom that Forster championed, in these early novels, is not really what he cared about at all?
That is the thesis of Moffat’s book, which can be read as an attempt to renew Forster’s pertinence by recasting him as a fighter in a different liberation struggle, one that has not yet won complete success.
Yet it is true that Forster never “came out” in the modern sense, and people who knew him only as a writer or public figure did not necessarily know he was gay.
Only friends who had been welcomed into Forster’s full confidence were allowed to read the manuscript of , his only novel about homosexuality, which he finished in 1914 but never published.
This is hard to credit, but Forster himself said so.
In her new biography of Forster, Wendy Moffat quotes from what he called his “Sex Diary,” now in the library of King’s College, Cambridge, where the novelist reviewed the landmarks in his sexual development from childhood on.