Authors: George Moore

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Irish novelist, playwright, critic, and memoirist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

A Modern Lover, 1883

A Mummer’s Wife, 1884

A Drama in Muslin, 1886

A Mere Accident, 1887

Spring Days, 1888

Mike Fletcher, 1889

Vain Fortune, 1891

Esther Waters, 1894

Evelyn Innes, 1898

Sister Teresa, 1901

The Lake, 1905

Muslin, 1915

The Brook Kerith, 1916

Lewis Seymour and Some Women, 1917

Héloise and Abélard, 1921

Ulick and Soracha, 1926

Aphrodite in Aulis, 1930

Short Fiction:

Parnell and His Island, 1887

Celibates, 1895

The Untilled Field, 1903

Memoirs of My Dead Life, 1906

A Story-Teller’s Holiday, 1918

In Single Strictness, 1922

Peronnik the Fool, 1924

A Flood, 1930

Drama:

Martin Luther, pb. 1879 (with Bernard Lopez)

The Strike at Arlingford, pr., pb. 1893

The Bending of the Bough, pr., pb. 1900

Diarmuid and Grania, pr. 1901 (with W. B. Yeats)

The Apostle, pb. 1911

Esther Waters, pr. 1911

Elizabeth Cooper, pr., pb. 1913

The Making of Immortal, pb. 1927

The Passing of the Essenes, pr., pb. 1930 (revision of The Apostle)

Poetry:

Flowers of Passion, 1878

Pagan Poems, 1881

Nonfiction:

Confessions of a Young Man, 1888

Impressions and Opinions, 1891

Modern Painting, 1893

Hail and Farewell: A Trilogy, 1911-1914 (Ave, 1911; Salve, 1912; Vale, 1914)

Avowals, 1919

Conversations in Ebury Street, 1924

Letters from George Moore to Edouard Dujardin, 1886-1922, 1929

The Talking Pine, 1931

A Communication to My Friends, 1933

Letters of George Moore, 1942

Letters to Lady Cunard, 1957 (Rupert Hart-Davis, editor)

George Moore in Transition: Letters to T. Fisher Unwin and Lena Milman, 1894-1910, 1968 (Helmut E. Gerber, editor)

Translation:

Daphnis and Chloë, 1924 (of Longus)

Biography

The long and chameleonic career of George Moore is unified only by a constant dedication to the aesthetics of literature, to the perfection of his style. Born at Moore Hall, in County Mayo, on February 24, 1852, the eldest son of a wealthy Irish landowner, horse breeder, and member of Parliament dedicated to the nationalist cause, Moore led a rowdy boyhood in West Ireland before his family moved to London in 1869. There Moore showed his first interest in literature and art.{$I[AN]9810000105}{$I[A]Moore, George}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Moore, George}{$I[geo]IRELAND;Moore, George}{$I[tim]1852;Moore, George}

George Moore

(Library of Congress)

In 1873, on a small inherited income, Moore went to Paris (whereÉdouard Manet painted a famous portrait of him) to continue his studies in art. Discovering that his bent was toward the literary rather than the plastic arts, he wrote two books of Baudelairian verse, Flowers of Passion and Pagan Poems, before financial reverses forced his return to slum quarters in London. There he switched to prose and wrote a series of eight realistic novels beginning with A Modern Lover, an unusually frank (for the time) story of a painter’s sexual life in London and Paris, and A Mummer’s Wife, a portrayal of a shopkeeper’s wife who elopes with the manager of a traveling troupe of actors. In 1894 this phase of his career culminated in a major work, Esther Waters, the carefully disciplined, objective story of a young servant girl’s seduction and struggle to rear her son to manhood.

Celibates, Evelyn Innes, and Sister Teresa make up an intermediate period of fiction concerning neurotic heroes, Wagnerites, and religious sensualists, all of whom reveal Moore’s responsiveness to current ideas and his readiness to experiment; eventually he expunged these works from the canon. In 1901, outraged by Lord Kitchener’s brutalities in the Boer War, Moore left England and for ten years was an active figure in the Irish Literary Renaissance. His enthusiastic experiences with the Abbey Theatre and with such coworkers as William Butler Yeats, John Millington Synge, Lady Gregory, and others, are freely (if sometimes maliciously) recounted in his autobiographical trilogy Hail and Farewell. Moore’s slim fictional output during this phase, representing a break with naturalism and an affinity for the style of Ivan Turgenev and Walter Pater, consisted of a beautiful volume of Irish stories, The Untilled Field; a novel, The Lake, about a young priest’s escape from “the prison of Catholicism”; and the semi-autobiographical and ingenious Memoirs of My Dead Life.

After his return to England in 1911, Moore undertook a new and final phase, considered by many critics his best, giving the impression he had at last achieved a goal toward which he had been moving all his life. In a powerful reaction against the religious kitsch art of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, he wrote The Brook Kerith and Héloise and Abélard. The former is a fantasy based on the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross but rather was revived by Joseph and led the life of a Palestinian shepherd. In a strange yet effective climax, he encounters Paul, who has been preaching Jesus’ resurrection and divinity. For background material Moore traveled to Palestine and studied details of landscape and setting. Regardless of his careful artistry in this work, there was a considerable outcry against its irreverence. Héloise and Abélard is a richly detailed historical novel about the famous lovers up to the moment they are separated and about to begin their celebrated letters.

In his last years, Moore heavily revised much of his earlier work and practiced his art as an individual, not in association with any particular movement. His works were welcomed by an elite readership of a few thousand; his closest friends were the English Impressionist painters who lived in nearby Chelsea. Apart from his poems and novels, he wrote nine plays, seven volumes of reminiscence, and nine books of essays and belles-lettres. He died in London on January 21, 1933.

BibliographyAverill, Deborah. The Irish Short Story from George Moore to Frank O’Connor. New York: University Press of America, 2002. A study of the Irish short story, with a historical and critical introduction and a chapter devoted to Moore.Burkhart, Charles. “The Short Stories of George Moore.” In The Man of Wax: Critical Essays on George Moore, edited by Douglas A. Hughes. New York: New York University Press, 1971. A clear and sensible discussion of the short stories in general terms without academic jargon. A good way to look at the entire list in the context of his other work. There is also an essay by Enid Starkie on Moore and French naturalism, which helps immensely in understanding the movement and how Moore adapted it to his work.Dunleavy, Gareth W. “George Moore’s Medievalism: A Modern Triptych.” In George Moore in Perspective, edited by Janet Dunleavy. Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 1983. Moore used medieval themes in both his novels and short stories. This is a straightforward discussion of this kind of story, with A Story-Teller’s Holiday receiving special attention. This volume also contains an interesting discussion, written by Melvin J. Friedman, of the similarities between Moore and Samuel Beckett, which also brings the short stories into consideration.Dunleavy, Janet Egleson. George Moore: The Artist’s Vision, the Storyteller’s Art. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1973. A review of Moore’s work as an artist, presented in chronological form. Particularly useful commentary on his earlier novels.Dunleavy, Janet Egleson, ed. George Moore in Perspective. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1983. A compilation of critical essays on Moore and his work from a variety of perspectives: his Irish background and the Irish Literary Renaissance, his connections with Samuel Beckett, and his relationship to James Joyce. The appendix includes a bibliographical essay by Edwin Gilcher. A valuable contribution to the criticism on Moore.Farrow, Anthony. George Moore. Boston: Twayne, 1978. A helpful study of Moore for the beginning reader, but somewhat restricted in format. An appreciative approach to Moore that places him at a high level of literary distinction, despite the fact that his novels remain largely unread. Includes a selected bibliography.Fratantaro, Sal. The Methodology of G.E. Moore. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1998. Part of the Avebury Series in Philosophy, this volume examines Moore’s contributions to long fiction in methodology.Frazier, Adrian. George Moore, 1852-1933. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000. A thorough biography, drawing on much previously unpublished material and emphasizing Moore’s historical and cultural context.Gray, Tony. A Peculiar Man: A Life of George Moore. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996. A good, updated biography of Moore that takes into account his different vocations, such as art critic and landowner. Includes a short bibliography.Grubgeld, Elizabeth. George Moore and the Autogenous Self: The Autobiography and Fiction. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1994. As Grubgeld’s title suggests, she explores the interdependence of Moore’s fiction and autobiography. See especially her discussion of narrating and remembering. Includes detailed notes and extensive bibliography.Jeffares, A. Norman. George Moore. London: Longmans, 1965. One of the British Council series and the best short introduction to the author and his work, including his short stories. A good place to start.Seinfelt, Frederick W. George Moore: Ireland’s Unconventional Realist. Philadelphia: Dorrance and Company, 1975. A discussion of Moore’s women; includes comment upon his use of women in the short stories.
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