George Moore: Commentary

Snippets ...
—Lady Gregory described George Moore as looking like a ‘boiled ghost’ in her journal.
—Sarah Purser remarked: ‘Some men kiss and tell, Mr Moore tells and doesn’t kiss’.
—Robert Lynd tells of A.E. [George Russell] speaking of ‘George Moore’s apostolic mission to Ireland’.

George Russell
Lady Gregory
W. B. Yeats
James Joyce
Herbert Gorman
W. P. Ryan
Herbert Howarth
Louis MacNeice
Oliver St. J. Gogarty
Thomas Kettle
Richard Kain
Denis Donoghue
T. R. Henn
Richard Allen Cave
Frank O’Connor
Brendan Kennelly
Jacob Borg
Frank Tuohy
Stephen Gwynn
Benedict Kiely
James W. Flannery
A. N. Jeffares
Phillip Herring
Tom Paulin
M. J. MacManus
James H. Murphy
‘NB’ [TLS columnist]
Penelope Fitzgerald
Robert Welch
R. F. Foster
Terry Eagleton
Paul Johnson
Patrick Ward

F. R. Leavis (The Great Tradition, 1948; 2nd edn. 1950).

‘There is George Moore, who in the best circles, I gather (from a distance), is still held to be among the very greatest masters of prose, though I give my own limited experience for what it is worth it is very hard to find an admirer who, being pressed, will lay his hand on his heart and swear he has read one of the “beautiful” novels through. “The novelist’s problem is to evolve an orderly composition which is also a convincing picture of life” this is the way an admirer of George Moore sees it. [...] It is the same way true of the other great English novelists that their interest in their art gives them the opposite of an affinity with Pater and George Moore; it is, brought to an intense focus, an unusually developed [8] interest in life. For, far from having anything of Flaubert’s disgust or disdain or boredom, they are all distinguished by a vital capacity for experience, a kind of reverent openness before life, and a marked moral intensity.’ (p.8-9.)

George [“Æ”] Russell wrote, ‘George Moore has gone! [...] I miss him very much. For the last two Saturdays I have wandered about trying to find a way of spending my Saturday night, which for 7 years I spent with Moore.’ Frank Tuohy remarks that, with the appearance of Hail and Farewell, Russell himself was consulting lawyers.’ (See Frank Tuohy, Yeats, p.135.) See also Russell’s obituary, ‘one of the most talented and unfilial of Ireland’s children [...] he loved the land even if he did not love the nation’. (p.214; see further under Stephen Gwynn, infra.)

George Russell, writing at the death of Moore, paid tribute to him in pointing out that in being ‘remote and defiant’, he had remained true to his Irish inheritance. As ‘one of the most talented and unfilial of Ireland’s children’, he also had benefited his country in so far as his mockery made Ireland ‘admired and loved’ no less than ‘the praise of its patriots.’ (Quoted in Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce, Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972, p.25.)

Lady Gregory, expressed the fear that prolonged contact with Moore ‘might “break up the mould” of W. B. Yeats’s mind’, and remarked that ‘[t]he enthusiasm with which Moore joined the Irish Revival was short-lived.’ (Meredith Cary, ‘Yeats and Moore: An Autobiographical Conflict’, in Éire-Ireland, 4, 3, Autumn 1969, pp.94-109; p.94.) Cary remarks that in, so doing, she ‘helped drive Moore toward the work which finally constituted the most telling conflict between the two men.’ [See also Yeats's remarks on his collaboration with Moore on Diarmuid and Grainne, and his statement there of the fact that Lady Gregory expressed her fears in those terms - infra.]

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W. B. Yeats called Moore’s Hail and Farewell a ‘disfiguring glass’ (Wade, Letters, p.586); also, reflecting on their collaboration at the Irish Literary Theatre: ‘[an] was unmixed misfortune for Moore, it set him upon a pursuit of style that made barren his later years’; style became ‘his growing obsession, he would point out the errors of some silly experiment of mine, then copy it’; ‘the difficulties of modern Irish literature, from the loose, romantic, legendary stories of Standish O’Grady to James Joyce and Synge, had been in the formation of a style ... His nature, bitter, violent, discordant, did not fit him to write sentences that men murmur again and again for years. Charm and rhythm had been denied him’ (Autobiographies, pp.437-38). [Cited in Shirley Neuman, Some One Myth, Yeats’s Autobiographical Prose [New Yeats Papers XIX] (Dolmen Press 1982), p.97.] Further, ‘I saw Moore daily, we were at work on Diarmuid and Grania, Lady Gregory thought such collaboration would injure my own art, and was perhaps right. Because his mind was agumentative, abstract, diagrammatic, mine sensuous, concrete, rhythmical, we argued about words. ... Because Moore thought all drama should be about possible people set in appropriate surroundings, because he was fundamentally a realist ... he required many dull, numb words. But be put them in more often than not because he had no feeling for words in themselves, none for their historical associations. He insisted for days upon calling the Fianna “soldier[s]”. ... He made the dying Diarmuid say to Finn, “I will kick you down the stairway of the stars.” My letters to Lady Gregory show that we made peace at last, Moore accepting my judgement upon words, I his upon construction.’ (Autobiographies, pp.434-35; see also pp.423, 427, 431-34, &c.). See also ‘more mob than man’ (Autobiographies, p.431).

W. B. Yeats (quoted in Denis Donoghue, review-article on R. F. Foster, W. B. Yeats: A Life, Vol. 2, in Harper’s Magazine, Dec. 2003): ‘He had gone to Paris straight from his father’s racing stables, from a house where there was no culture, as Symons and 1 understood that word, acquired copious inaccurate French, sat among art students, young writers about to become famous, in some café, a man carved out of a turnip, looking out of astonished eyes.’ [ ‘Dramatis Personae’; Autobiographies, p.405.] Further, ‘Moore’s body was insinuating, upfiowing, circulative, curvicular, pop-eyed.’ Further, ‘He had wanted to be good as the mass of men understand goodness. In later life he wrote a long preface to prove that he had a mistress in Mayfair.’ In relation to Moore ‘s bad French Donoghue remarks: ‘Not that Yeats would have spotted the inaccuracies of Moore’s French. Symons must have told him that they were there’, and on the third quotation - his favourite, ‘though I do not feel at ease in liking it’: ‘ ‘No adjective has less than three syllables, till “pop-eye” brings the absurd show to an end. The pomp is cut adrift from any quality in Moore that would justify it.’ (HM, Dec. 2003, p.102.) [See also Donogue - as infra.]

W. B. Yeats, ‘A Discussion of Style’, in New Republic (7 April 1936)

I saw George Moore daily, we were at work on Diarmuid and Grania. Lady Gregory thought such collaboration would injure my own art and was perhaps right. Because his mind was argumentative, abstract, diagrammatic, mine sensuous, concrete, rhythmical and we argued about words. In later years through a knowledge of the stage, and through the exfoliation of my own style, I learned that occasional prosaic words gave the impression of an active man speaking. In dream poetry, in “Kubla Khan,” in “The Stream Secret,” every line, every word, can carry its unanalyzable, rich associations; but if we dramatize some possible singer or speaker we remember that he is moved by one thing at a time, certain words must be numb and dry. Here and there in correcting my early poems I have introduced such numbness and dryness, turned, for instance, “the curd, pale moon” into the “brilliant moon,” that all might seem, as it were, remembered with indifference, except some one vivid image. When I began to rehearse a play I had the defects of my early poetry; I insisted upon obvious all-pervading rhythm. Later on I found myself saying that only in those lines or words where the beauty of the passage came to its climax, must rhythm be obvious. Because Moore thought all drama should be about possible people set in their appropriate surroundings, because he was fundamentally a realist (“Who are his people?” he said after a performance of Russell’s Deirdre, “ours were cattle merchants”), he required many dry, numb words. But he put them in more often than not because he had no feeling for words in themselves, none for their historical association. He insisted for days upon calling the Fianna “soldiers.” In The Story-Teller’s Holiday he makes a young man in the thirteenth century go to the “salons” of “the fashionable ladies” in Paris; in his last story men and women of the Homeric age read books.

Our worst quarrels, however, were when he tried to be poetical, to write in what he considered my style. He made the dying Diarmuid say to Fionn: “I will kick you down the stairway of the stars.” My letters to Lady Gregory show that we made peace at last, Moore accepting my judgment upon words, I his upon construction. To that he would sacrifice what he had thought the day before not only his best scene, “the best scene in any modern play,” and without regret: all must receive its being from the central idea; nothing be in itself anything. He would have been a master of construction, but that his practice as a novelist made him long for descriptions and reminiscences. If “Diarmuid and Grania” failed in performance, and I am not sure that it did, it failed because the second act, instead of moving swiftly from incident to incident, was reminiscent and descriptive; almost a new first act. I had written enough poetical drama to know this and point it out to Moore. After the performance and just before our final quarrel the letters speak of an agreement to rewrite this act. I had sent Moore a scenario.

When in later years some play after months of work grew more and more incoherent, I blamed those two years’ collaboration. But whatever effect it had on me it was unmixed misfortune for Moore, it set him upon a pursuit of style that made barren his later years. I no longer underrate him, I know that he had written, or was about to write, five great novels. The Mummer’s Wife, Esther Waters, Sister Teresa (everything is there of the convent, a priest said to me, but the religious life), Muslin, The Lake, these two Irish in theme, gained nothing from their style. I may speak later of the books he was to write under what seems to me a misunderstanding of his powers.

England had turned from style, as it has been understood from the translators of the Bible to Walter Pater, and sought mere clarity in statement and debate, a journalistic effectiveness, at the moment when Irish men of letters began to quote the saying of Sainte-Beuve, “There is nothing immortal in literature except style.” Style was his growing obsession, he would point out all the errors of some silly experiment of mine. It was from some such experiment that he learned those long flaccid structureless sentences, “and, and and, and and”; there is one of twenty-eight lines in Muslin. Sometimes he rebelled: “Yeats, I have a deep distrust of any man who has a style,” but it was generally I who tried to stop the obsession. “Moore, if you ever get a style,” I said, “it will ruin you. It is colored glass and you need a plate-glass window.” When he formed his own circle he found no escape; the difficulties of modern Irish literature, from the loose, romantic, legendary stories of Standish O’Grady to James Joyce and Synge, had been in the formation of a style. He heard those difficulties discussed, all his life he had learned from conversation, not from books. His nature, bitter, violent, discordant, did not fit him to write the sentences men murmur again and again for years. Charm and rhythm had been denied him. Improvement makes straight roads; he pumice-stoned every surface because will had to do the work for nature. “You work so hard that like the Lancelot of Tennyson, you will almost see the Grail.” But now, his finished work before me, I am convinced that he was denied even that “almost.”


 Moore had inherited a large Mayo estate, and no Mayo country gentleman had ever dressed the part so well. He lacked manners, but had manner; he could enter a room so as to draw your attention without seeming to, his French, his knowledge of painting, suggested travel and leisure. Yet nature had denied to him the final touch: he had a coarse palate. Edward Martyn alone suspected it. When Moore abused the waiter or the cook, he had thought, “I know what he is hiding.” In a London restaurant on a night when the soup was particularly good, just when Moore had the spoon at his lip, he said: “Do you mean to say you are going to drink that?” Moore tasted the soup, then called the waiter, and ran through the usual performance; Martyn did not undeceive him, content to chuckle in solitude. Moore had taken a house in Upper Ely Place; he spent a week at our principal hotel while his furniture was moving in: he denounced the food to the waiter, to the manager, went down to the kitchen and denounced it to the cook. “He has written to the proprietress,” said the manager, “that the steak is like brown paper. How can you believe a word such a man would say, a steak cannot be like brown paper.” He had his own bread sent in from the baker and said on the day he left: “How can these people endure it.” “Because,” said the admiring headwaiter, “they are not comme il faut.” A little later I stayed with him and wrote to Lady Gregory: “He is boisterously enduring the sixth cook.” Then from Sligo a few days later: “Moore dismissed the sixth cook the day I left - six in three weeks. One brought in a policeman, Moore had made so much noise. Moore dragged the policeman into the dining room and said: “Is here a law in this country to compel me to eat this abominable omelette?” [...]

See full-text version in RICORSO Library > Irish Classics - via index or as attached.

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Edward Martyn: ‘Mon ami Moore learns to be le gènie de l’amite, but unfortunately he can never be looked opon as a friend. For he suffers from [...] a perennial condition of mental diarrhoea.’ (Quoted in Edward Gwynn, Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival, p.33.) Note: The phrase ‘notre ami’ is applied to Moore by John Eglinton in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) - chap. 9 [“Scylla and Charybdis”; all quoted by Sam Slote, ed. & annot., Ulysses, Alma Classics [Calder] 2015; p.647n., 15.)

James Joyce, The Day of the Rabblement (15 Oct. 1901): ‘Mr. Martyn and Mr. Moore are not writers of much originality. Mr. Martyn, disabled as he is by an incorrigible style, has none of the fierce hysterical power of Strindberg, whome he suggests at times; and with him one is conscious of a lack of bradth and distinction which outweighs the nobility of certain passages. Mr. Moore, however, has wonderful mimetic ability, and some years ago his books might have entitled him to the place of honour among English novelists. But though Vain Fortune (perhaps one should add some of Esther Waters) is fine, original work, Mr. Moore is really struggling in the backwash of that tide which has advanced from Flaubert through Jakobsen to D’Annunzio: for two entire eras lie between Madame Bovary and Il Fuoco. It is is plain from Celibates and the later novels that Mr. Moore is beginning to draw upon his literary account, and the question of a new impulse may explain his recent startling conversion. Converts are in the movement now, and Mr. Moore and his island have been fitly admired. But however frankly Mr. Moore may misquote Pater and Turgenieff to defend himself, his new impulse has no kind of relation to the future of the art.’ (Critical Writings of James Joyce, ed. Ellsworth Mason & Richard Ellmann, 1957, NY: Viking Press 1959; 1966, p.71; quoted [in part] in Eileen Kennedy, ‘Moore’s Untilled Field and Joyce’s Dubliners’, in Éire-Ireland, 5, 3, Autumn 1970, pp.81-89; p.82.) Cf. “Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages”: ‘[...] the novelist George Moore, an intellectual oasis in the Sahara of the false spiritualistic, Messianic, and detective writings whose name is legion in England [...].’ (Critical Writings, NY: Viking 1966, p.173.)

James Joyce (letter to Stanislaus Joyce, 19 Nov. 1904): ‘I have read Moore’s Untilled Field in Tauchnitz. Damned stupid. A woman alludes to her husband in the confession box as “Ned”. Ned thinks, &c.! A lady who has been living for three years on the line between Bray and Dublin is told by her husband that there is a meeting in Dublin at which he must be present. She looks up the table to see the hours of the trains. This on D and WR where the trains go regularly: this after three years. Isn’t that rather stupid of Moore. And the punctuation! Madonna!’ (Letters of James Joyce, 1966, Vol. 2, Ellmann, ed., p.71; quoted [in part] in Kennedy, op. cit., p.81.) Further, Joyce tells Stanislaus that he has read ‘that silly, wretched book of Moore’s The Untilled Field which the Americans found so remarkable for its “craftsmanship”. O, dear me! It is very dull and flat, indeed: and ill written.’ (Letter to Stanislaus, 24 Sept. 1905 [end]; Ellmann, ed., Letters of James Joyce, 1966, Vol. 2, p.111; quoted [in part] in Kennedy, op. cit., p.81.) Note: Kennedy writes, ‘[E]xternal evidence does exist that Joyce read Moore’s book [Untilled Field] - and read it carefully.’ For Moore’s views on Joyce, see Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (OUP 1956 [rev. edn. 1965]).

James Joyce (Letter to Stanislaus Joyce, 31 Aug. 1906) ‘I bought and read The Lake: and will send it when I know where to send it so that you may tell me what you think of it. The Times calls it a prose poem. You know the plot. She writes long letters to Father Oliver Gogarty about Wagner and the Ring and Bayreuth (memories of my youth!) and about Italy where everyone is so happy (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and where they drink nice wine and not that horrid black porter (O poor Lady Ardilaun over whose lily-like hand he lingered some years back): and then she goes (in all senses of the word) with a literary man named Ellis - one of Moore’s literary men, you can imagine what, silent second cousin of that terribly knowing fellow, Harding’ - and Father Oliver Gogarty goes out to the lake to plunge in by moonlight, before which the moon shines opportunely on “firm erect frame and grey buttocks”: and on the steamer he reflects that every man has a lake in his heart and must ungird his loins for the crossing. Preface written in French to a French friend [Eduard Dujardin] who cannot read or write English (intelligent artist, however, no doubt) and George Moore, out of George Henry Moore and a Ballyglass lady, explains that he only does it “because, I(dear friend), you cannot read me in my own language”, Eh?’

James Joyce (Letter to Stanislaus, 18-20 Sept. 1906) - further: ‘Yerra, what’s good in the end of The Lake? I see nothing. And what is to be said about the “lithery” [literary] man, Ellis, and all that talk about pictures and music. Now, tell the God’s truth, isn’t it bloody tiresome? To me it is. As for “Rev Oliver Gogarty” It think that may either have been laughingly suggested by O. St Jesus for his greater glory or hawk-eyedly intended by Moore to put Jesus in an embarras. If the latter O St Jesus has risen nobly to the situation. I violate the sanctity of this office by laughing. I remember Moore’s legend about Mrs. Caraigie. Thanks be to Christ they amuse us anyhow. [...]’ (In Selected Letters, ed. Richard Ellmann, 1975, p.106-07.) Note: Joyce translated “Mildred Lawson”, which Nora also read, remarking afterwards that Moore ‘didn’t know how to finish a story.’ (Sel. Letters, Faber 1975, p.51.)

James Joyce called Vain Fortune (1891), ‘a fine, original work’ and adapted its ending for “The Dead”. Note that Richard Ellmann unveils the resemblance between the two at some length in James Joyce, OUP 1965, pp.259-60 - observing that Joyce evidently read it in preparation since his copy of Vain Fortune in Yale Univ. Library bears the date ‘March 1907’. (Quoted in Jacqueline Quigley, ‘A Consideration of George Moore’s The Untilled Field and James Joyce’s Dubliners as examples of realistic writing in the 1900s’; UUC, MA Diss. 2007.)

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Herbert Gorman, James Joyce: His First Forty Years (London: Geoffrey Blis [1924]): ‘Joyce is the first Irish realist and this statement is made with all due comprehension of the existence of Mr. George Moore. Dubliners is the first volume in which Irish realism reaches a perceptible plane of excellence.’ (p.63.)

W. P. Ryan, The Pope’s Green Island (1912) characterises Moore facetiously as “The Playboy of the Eastern World” and ‘one great Irish Protestant’ (p.46ff). Ryan quotes extensively from Susan Mitchell’s Aids to Immortality &c,: ‘I have puffed the Irish Language, / I have puffed the Irish soap; / I have tried them - on my nephew, with the best results, I hope, / But with this older, dirtier George, / I have no heart to cope.’

Also, ‘Come, little Papist maids, and sit on my converted knee, / Bid me to live and I will live, your Protestant to be.’ Further: ‘O Eire, he was false to you, you[r] big and artless child; / His pink-and-white simplicity by Sasenach defiled!’

Herbert Howarth calls Moore Joyce’s Irish precursor and claims that The Untilled Field is the first chapter of the moral history that Joyce claimed for Dubliners.’ (The Irish Writers 1880-1940, London 1958.) Note also: Howarth calls Hail and Farewell ‘a prophet’s book’, writing: ‘Moore believes that he not only diagnoses the evils of Ireland but also prescribes the medicine. He preaches personality. It has been said that Ireland, being deprived of all else by England, was left with nothing but personality to cultivate.’ (The Irish Writers, London: Rockliff 1958, p.70; quoted in Catherine O’Doherty, MA Essay, UU 2005.)

Louis MacNeice (The Poetry of W. B. Yeats, 1941) quotes Yeats’s riposte on Moore’s spiteful account of the Irish National theatre - ‘a revolutionary in revolt against the ignorant Catholicism of Mayo, he chose for master Zola as another might have chosen Karl Marx’ - and gives his own account of Moore: ‘Moore, for all the realism of his early novels, was essentially a child of the Aesthetic movement. Following its tenets more logically than Yeats, he was a walking example of its ultimate sterility. Plumping for beauty without regard to other criteria he was, quite logically, an eclectic dilettante, a flaneur, a proof of the paradox that those who follow beauty alone will miss her ... In so far as he had any consistent outlook, it was dictated by snobbery and by dislikes, for example dislike of Christianity. ... the fact is that Moore had no creed which was not affectation and Yeats perceived this. [89] ... Irish material for him was copy and nothing more.’ [90]

Oliver St. John Gogarty writes in (It Isn’t This Time of Year At All (1954, 1983): ‘I have not forgiven Moore for his attempt at wit when my mother called on him to object to the use of my name in his novel, The Lake; Further, Moore said to Gogarty’s mother: “Madame, if you can find me a name which is composed of two dactyls, like the name of your son Oliver, I will substitute it for Oliver Gogarty.”’ [q.pp.]

Thomas [Tom] Kettle: Kettle hought Moore was ‘suffering from the sick imagination of the growing boy.’ (The Ways of War, prefatory “Memoir by Mary Kettle”, 1917, p.46.)

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Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972): ‘There are amusing anecdotes, of course, which arise from the ignorance and naïveté of the Gaelic converts. [...] George Moore is the butt of many of these tales, sometimes with his own acquiescence. He and Yeats reached such an impasse in collaborating on the play Diarmuid and Grania that Moore, in exasperation. suggested that he write it in French, and Lady Gregory or Yeats translate it into English, after which it could be translated into Gaelic and thence to English again! Moore’s stories of The Untilled Field first appeared in Irish translations, a year before the retranslated English version, which the author found much improved after the “bath in Irish.” Three years earlier, in London, Moore had reflected it was strange [45] that his country had produced no literature, “for there is a pathos in Ireland, in its people, in its landscapes, and in its ruins.” To him the idea of a serious theatre in Dublin seemed “like giving a mule a holiday,” and as for the language, he “thought nobody did anything in Irish except bring turf from the bog and say prayers.” Very well, then, he would bring culture to Ireland. He made Wildean pronouncements: “I came to give Ireland back her language.” He sentimentalized over Breton sailors on the quays. When he asked one whether it didn’t “seem odd to hear Celtic speech while you are climbing the ship’s rigging high above the stormy seas of Cape Horn”’ he was somewhat deflated by the common-sense answer, “Not at all, sir; all of us are Bretons.” He had the effrontery to entitle his volume of short stories about Ireland The Untilled Field (1903), although, to give the devil his due, they are very fine stories. Learning the language was another matter. No doubt it is difficult; Stephen MacKenna admitted gracefully, “I always swore I’d die a fluent speaker of bad Irish.” But when Moore, following in Hyde’s footsteps, publicly proclaimed the future of the language, then lamely admitted that he would not learn it himself but would recommend it to his nephews, the satirist Susan Mitchell found her cue. In her delightful verses, “George Moore Comes to Ireland,” she impersonates the novelist’s swaggering egotism: / I’ve puffed the Irish language, and puffed the Irish soap; / I’ve used them-on my nephew-with the best results, I hope; / For with this older, dirtier George, I have no heart to cope. / [46] And so on, for several pages. We are also treated to comparable odes on Moore’s joining the Church of Ireland, becoming a high sheriff (”hangin’ men and women down in Ballaghadereen’), and announcing himself “The priest of Aphrodite.” Her volume of satires lives up to the promise of its title: Aids to the Immortality of Certain Persons in Ireland, Charitably Administered (1905).’ (pp.45-47.)

Denis Donoghue (of Yeats in 1914): ‘Moore had still to be punished for Ave (1911), Salve (1912) and especially for an insolent account of Yeats, Lady Gregory and Synge which he published itn eh English Review in January-February 1914 and again, with just enough alteration to deflect Lady’s Gregory’s threat of law, in Vale (1914). Yeats wrote two “poems of hatred” on that occasion, placing one of them “Notoreity”, as the closing rhyme of responsibilities (1914): till all my priceless things / Are but a post the dogs defile.’ John Butler Yeats told his son that Moore “was not worth powder and shot” (Letters to his Son, p.174), but the poet was not put off by that consideration. In the event, however, his public reply to Moore “more mob than man ”, did not come, except for “Notoreity”, until Dramatis Personae in 1935.’ (Introduction, W. B. Yeats: Memoir, Macmillan 1972, p.13.)

T. R. Henn, Foreword to The Untilled Field (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1976): ‘The main subjects are the life of the countryside in North Mayo and in the neighbourhood of Dublin, in the 1880s. There is much autobiographical material; his boyhood at Moore Hall, and his early pride in his horsemanship; his detested English School and army crammer. His model, he tells us, was Turgenev’s Tales of a Sportsman: but the background and method is wholly different. Turgenev went among the people of his own estates and those of his neighbours on innumerable shooting expeditions: out of which came a special relationship to his tenants and serfs, and, above all, to the Russian countryside. Moore has little nature description and, except for his early interest in his own and his brother’s horsemanship, does not use the wild [vi] sports of Ireland to attain any intimate bond with the countryside and its people. His unit is, in the main, the country parish; dominated, for good or evil by its priest. The landlords are usually remote, and in the main Protestant; the sole Catholic who is depicted is not remarkable for his intelligence. The Big House, often in ruins, is in the remote background. It is the land that is desolate. Poverty is almost universal; ruins are everywhere, and they are more often the cottages of the peasant than the castles or the houses of the landlords. [Quotes “And I noticed that though the land was good, there seemed to be few people on it, and what was more significant than the untilled fields were the ruins [...] I said: “It wasn’t the Landlord who evicted those people.” / “Ah, it’s the landlord who would be glad to have them back, but there’s no getting them back. ... &c.] The people have no alternative but emigration to America - the fabulous land where a priest may go to collect money for his ruinous church ] - or to England to seek work and freedom from the arranged marriages, or from an unhappy love affair. Of Moore’s anti-clericalism much has been written, and its most obsessional aspects are in Hail and Farewell (p.vii.) [Cont.]

T. R. Henn, Foreword to The Untilled Field (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1976) - cont.: ‘Moore claimed that The Untilled Field was modelled on Turgenev; and, rather outrageously, that he himself had helped Synge to forge his peculiar dramatic style. (This is linked with an attack on Lady Gregory’s “Kiltartanese”.) His own style has a peculiar quality, not very easy to define. It is lean and muscular, the product of a fairly extensive knowledge of French, but far more of slow and scrupulous revision; erasing, as it were, all that does not tell. To this effect his characteristic technique of dialogue seems to contribute. One aspect is the peculiar level quality of the prose: few polysyllabic words are used, and the biblical in fluence - perhaps at its best in The Brook Kerith - contributes to the impression of evenness of tone. The punctuation is light. There is little care for the periods that so many of [xi] Moore’s contemporaries took from Pater, and there is no attempt at the high style, still less at what he calls “the undulating cadences of Yeats”. Later, in The Story-Teller’s Holiday , he used a more erudite and heavier style.’ ([... &c., xii; See full text in Ricorso Library / Criticism, infra - incl. footnotes omitted here.)

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Richard Allen Cave accredits both Moore and Joyce with the use of a type of epiphany, and believes that this technique served them because ‘details of their [characters’] active life ... would depict by implication the play of forces within their consciousness that inner destiny which constitutes selfhood’ (A Study of the Novels of George Moore (1978 p.133).

Richard Allen Cave, “Afterword” to The Lake [1905] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), pp.181-239.: […] The Untilled Field was one of the few works Moore undertook (at least initially) in the spirit of a commission. Moore had tried to persuade the Gaelic League to publish a work of fiction as a [196] textbook to foster students’ engagement with the language. While the idea had appealed, his recommendation of The Arabian Nights for the purpose had caused a scandal since not only was it not the work of an Irishman but, worse still, its author did not appear to hold chastity in particularly high esteem. Father Tom Finlay S.J., it prominent member of the League and founder of The New Ireland Review, urged Moore to write some stories himself which could be translated into Gaelic for publication in his magazine; as it Commissioner of National Primary Education he would then get the collection accepted for reissue as a textbook by the Interinediate Board of Education. The first six stories translated by Padraic O’Sullivan found their way into print in this manner, appearing in one volume in 1902 as An T-úr-Gort, Sgialta [sic]. (For longer extract in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Various Critics”, via index, or direct.)

Frank O’Connor, The Lonely Voice (Cleveland: World Pub. Co. 1963): ‘Where are the successors of The Lake [by George Moore] and how have they developed on and superseded their model? Most Irish novels still tend to end as The Lake itself ends by the hero's getting out of the country as fast as he can. The only Irish novel that compares with it for excellence - Daniel Corkery’s The Threshold of Quiet - ends with the heroine’s going into a convent, which is only the same conclusion seen through a veil of resignation.’ ( p.206; quoted in Patrick Sheeran, “The Novels of Liam O’Flaherty: A Study in Romantic Realism” [ Ph.D. Diss.], UCG 1972, p.133.)

Frank O’Connor, The Irish Short Story from Moore to O’Connor (Washington UP 1982), writes that Moore’s portrayal of Ireland contains ‘in psychological matters ... an unremitting honesty’ (p.39).

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Brendan Kennelly writes that ‘In The Untilled Field Moore began to examine a certain sickness at the very heart of Irish society which Joyce later examined in greater depth’ ( ‘George Moore’s Lonely Voices’, in George Moore’s Mind and Art, ed. Owens (Edin. 1968, p.159);

Jacob Borg, reviewing George Moore, In Minor Keys: The Uncollected Short Stories of George Moore, ed. David B. Eakin & Helmut E. Gerber (Syracuse UP 1985), in Nineteenth-century Fiction, 41, 1 (1986), remarks that these stories, written between 1882 to 1927, though in few ways consistent with each other, closer in tone ot Dubliners than the stories of The Untilled Field. (pp.121-24.)

Frank Tuohy, Yeats (1976), quotes Oscar Wilde on Moore: ‘Moore is always conducting his education in public’ (p.92.) Further, quotes Moore himself: ‘One of Ireland’s many tricks is to fade away into a little speck down on the horizon of our lives, and then to return suddenly in tremendous bulk, frightening us.’ (idem.) Quotes from Confessions of a Young Man to illustrate ‘oddly provincial’ world-weariness (p.92.) Moore bought a python and baptised it ‘Jack’; general banter of Hail and Farewell suppressed his initial admiration for Yeats (p.93.) Quotes Moore: ‘Ireland, so it seems to me, has had no poet who compares for a moment with the great poet of whom it is my honour to speak tonight ... I believe that in the author of The countess Cathleen, Ireland has discovered her ancient voice’ (works spoken at dinner given by Dublin Daily Express in 1899; here p.93.) Moore was called by Yeats ‘a man carved out of a turnip, looking out on the world with astonished eyes’. Yeats tells narrative of Moore sitting on front of mouse-hole with loaded gun.

Stephen Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama in the English Language (London: Nelson 1936), quotes Moore speaking of ‘[t]wo dominant notes in my character - an original hatred of my native country, and a brutal loathing of the religion I was brought up in. All the aspects of my native country are violently disagreeable to me, and I cannot think of the place I was born in without a feeling akin to nausea ... The English I love, and with a love that is foolish - mad, limitless; I love them better than the French, but I am not so near to them. Dear sweet Protestant England ... England is Protestantism, Protestantism is England. Protestantism is strong, clean and Westernly, Catholicism is eunuch-like, dirty and Oriental.’ (Confessions of A Young Man, 1888; Gwynn, op. cit., p.150).

Stephen Gwynn (Irish Literature and Drama, 1936): ‘Moore was perpetually discussing in his novels the effects of religion on life. The Ireland that he say was a country where men and women, in unusual proportion to the population, took vows of celibacy; conflict between religion and sexual instinct, he held, must therefore be frequent; and in The Lake he sets out to show us how religion is assailed, not by gross sensual desire but by woman’s subtler effect on the adventurous mind and the passion for beauty. Unfortunately, an Irish reader, though well aware that many an Irish priest has succombed to sexual temptation, will almost certainly say that neither such a priest nor such a school-mistress as Moore depicts ever drew breath in the province of Connaught. [...] What literature owes to his stay in Ireland during those years is a masterly sketch of the leading persons of the movement, which preserves his own quality as a talker. (Gwynn, op. cit., p.169).

Stephen Gwynn (Irish Literature and Drama, 1936): cites AE’s funeral oration over Moore: ‘However he warred on the ideals of his nation, he knew it was his Irish ancestry gave him the faculties which made him one of the most talented and unfilial of Ireland’s children. His ironic spirit would have been pleased at this urn-burial in this lonely lake island, so that he might be to ireland in death what he had been in life, remote and defiant of its faiths and movements. He loved the land even if he did not love the nation. Yet his enmities even made his nation to be as admired and loves as the priase of its patriots. [...] [I]t is possible that the artist’s love of earth, rock, water, and sky is an act of worship. It is possible that faithfulness to art is an acceptible service. That worship, that service, is his[, i]f any would condemn him for [a] creed of their[s] he had assailed let them be certain first that they laboured for the ideals as faithfully as he did for his.’ (Gwynn, op. cit., p.229.)

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Benedict Kiely, ‘Moore of Moor Hall’, in “Reassessments” - 2 [column], in The Irish Times (14 Jan. 1971), p.12: ‘[...] Irish critical opinion re-accepted the Moores of Moore Hall, or some of .them, and the local I.R.A., of some vintage or other, put up, a plaque on the wall of the blackened burnt-out shell above Lough Cerra to commemorate that hapless John Moore who, under Humbert, was the first President of the republic of of Connaught and who died sadly in jail from the effect of his presidential dignity. That plaque, those words of John Kelly, some serious and valuable comment and tribute from Austin Clarke, and Susan Mitchell’s little book, which on a fifth or so reading seems a lot more wise and a lot less catty, than it did on a first, add up to about all we have had to say about our second-greatest novelist. There is, of course, the standard biography by J. M. Hone. There are the jokes about Moore, that mostly seem to have .been made up by himself; and there were the words of an old lady of the Fitzgerald Kenny family who, when asked what she thought of George Moore, replied that he was no better and no worse than any other man she had ever met. [...]’ (Cont.)

Benedict Kiely (‘Moore of Moor Hall’, in The Irish Times, 14 Jan. 1971) - cont.: ‘[...] In Ireland as he built up the extraordinary edifice of Hail and Farewell the homework was largely done for him by the characters. When he called the priest in The Lake Oliver Gogarty, and when, the owner of the name protested, Moore in bland melodic line asked Gogarty where he could get a better name. Susan Mitchell said the use of the name was a trial run in nomenclature. / He was helped in his homework, too, by the “acoustic qualities” of Dublin - which we have all enjoyed and from which we have all suffered. In spite of his much repeated wish to detach himself from the land of his birth, in spite of his play-acting pretence of ignorance of the background of his rearing, a playacting of which his comic Ptotestantism was a provocative part, he was very much part of the scene. Those who were indignant at has portraiture of other people, even of his friends and of his relation, dear cousin Edward, forgot that Hail and Farewell was also a portrait, deliberate and critical, of himself, That is what autobiography, even touched-up a autobiography, is about, and, in those three volumes and Memoirs of My Dead Life he did that sort of thing as well as anybody has ever done it anywhere. Even his criticism in Avowals and in Conversation in Ebury Street can be an excellent exercise in self portraiture.’ (For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Patrick Sheeran, “The Novels of Liam O’Flaherty: A Study in Romantic Realism” [Ph.D. Diss.] (UCG 1972): ‘George Moore is, increasingly, being acknowledged as the key figure of the period. He wrote poetry in French in the manner of Baudelaire, novels in English in the manner of Zola, a collection of short stories translated under his supervision into Irish that owed a large debt to Pater’s prose: More generally he was heir to the two conflicting tendencies within French literature of the day, the impulse towards realism and the contrary impulse towards aesthetic symbolism. We might think of A Mummer’s Wife as embodying the first and his poetic novel of Irish life The Lake as embodying the second. There is, however, a rich diversity in Moore’s work that precludes any easy classification [quotes Graham Hough, as listed supra]. We might mark off the changed meaning with which we must invest the work “romance” from this point forward in our discussion of Anglo-Irish prose fiction by considering Moore’s first “novel” of Irish life A Drama in Muslin as against The Lake. The first, though much more densely realistic than anything that had gone before (Moore, we remember, was a disciple of Zola) still leans to the illustrative mode in traditional ways - his theme is the old political one of an Ireland torn between landlord and tenant. The Lake on the other hand is something new to Anglo-Irish and to English fiction - “[...] the beauty, harmony and integrity of the words on the page are a more important consideration than their efficacy in representing an outer reality” (Ibid., p.204.) Moore, in fact, opened the way for Joyce and faced before him the dual allegiance, at once to [190] “realism” and “beauty”. The Lake was also of the first importance - as has been pointed out earlier in the words of Frank O’Connor [see note] - in establishing a pattern for half a century to come. In its symbolic quality (“There is a lake in every man’s heart”), its concentration on a solitary hero (“lonesomeness being our national failing”), its questing for the meaning of existence (“my quest is life”) this work gave a new meaning and a new dimension to the romance strain in Anglo-Irish fiction.’ (pp.190-91; for full text, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, via index, or direct.]

James W. Flannery, Yeats and the Idea of a Theatre: The Early Abbey Theatre in Theory and Practice (Yale UP 1976), pp.57ff., quotes Moore as writing that he had cast London and the Independent Theatre adrift because ‘there were not 1,500 people who cared [...] to pay one guinea a year to save dramatic writing from the grave into which it was slipping’, and that art must find ‘another small nation, one which has not yet achieved its destination – a nation such as Greece before Marathon, such as England before the Armada, and again before Trafalgar. In the Western Hemisphere Ireland is the only place which seems to fulfil these conditions.’ (Moore, Pref. to Edward Martyn, The Heather Field and Maeve, Duckworth 1899, p.viii.) Further quotations: ‘If a story be told three or four times by different people it becomes folk.’ (Ave, p.142.) ‘[H]eroes are dependent upon chroniclers and Ireland has never produced any, only a few rather foolish bards.’ (Ave, p.5.) ‘All races are the same; none much better than another; merely blowing dust; the dust higher up the road no better than the dust lower down’ (Ave, p.153.) ‘A literary movement consists of five or six people who live in the same town and hate each other cordially.’ (Vale, pp.348-49.)

A. N. Jeffares, ‘Teaching Anglo-Irish Literature,’ in Hermathena, CXXIX (Winter 1980): ‘Moore moved from the realism of his early, jaundiced view of peasant life in The Untilled Field to the melodic line and the exploration of the priest’s thoughts in The Lake, rather as Joyce moved from the realism, the meanness of Dubliners to the epiphanies and the stream of consciousness ... in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, avery different Dublin to the one Joyce chloroformed in Ulysses. Both men kept developing; they moved to free their imaginations further, in the Brook Kerith and Finnegans Wake.’

Phillip Herring, ‘Joyce and Rimbaud: An Introductory Essay’, in James Joyce: An Joyce International Perspective, ed. Suheil Bushrui & Benstock (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1982): ‘Although Symons’ book was hailed as the first real introduction of the French Symbolists in English, the first mention of Rimbaud in print probably came in a newspaper article by George Moore, where he was lumped together with LaForgue. Moore had it reprinted in 1891 in a volume of essays entitled Impressions and Opinions. Since Joyce knew of Moore quite early, either his article or Les Poètes Maudits was perhaps his first source of information on Rimbaud. If the source was Moore, the introduction could hardly have been more misleading. The impression it gives is of a frail, etherial boy dragged across Europe by a lecherous old Verlaine, who supposedly stabbed the boy in a drunken frenzy. Rimbaud is said to have lain “hovering between life and death” for several weeks in a Brussels hospital.’

Tom Paulin, Ireland and the English Question (Bloodaxe 1984), p.102, notes that Moore’s grandfather, the historian (see Hail and Farewell) is a character in Thomas Flanagan’s Year of the French: [Paulin quotes,] ‘when James and William, the two kings, faced each other at the Boyne, the game was Europe, and Ireland but the board on which the wagers were placed.’ Note, however, that the relative in question must be the great-grandfather, the father being the owner of Corunna, and the grandfather the President of Ireland.]

M. J. MacManus, Adventures of an Irish Bookman, ed. by Francis MacManus(Dublin: Talbot Press 1952), [Chap.] ‘The Playboy of the Irish Literary Revival’, includes comments on Susan Mitchell, giving an account of her study of George Moore [122-26]; discusses his abandonment of Catholicism because the clergy of Maynooth had paid honour to Edward VII [in decorating with his racing colours]; recounts the farce of the omelette cook and the policeman; cites Mitchell’s comment on his use of the names of his friends ‘for the purposes of fiction with a complete disregard for their feelings, marvelling only that they should prefer immortality in any other form than that he had chosen for them’; concludes that ‘for all its maliciousness, there is a quality in the Trilogy that keeps it, and is likely to keep it, obstinately alive. ... there is more than playboyism ... it lives, and out of it one can conjure a faithful picture of the Dublin of the time and its literary personalities’; MacManus considers ‘some of the portraits ... save or mercilessly cruel’, and holds the portrait of Hyde to be ‘unpardonable’, and that of Edward Martyn, ‘very false, though amusingly so.’ [126]

James H. Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (Conn: Greenwood Press 1997), Part I: ‘Upper Middle-Class Fiction 1873-1890’, pp.29-31: notes that Moore attacks the values of the Irish upper-middle class in A Drama in Muslin (1886), characterising the ideal of marriage as a market in which the supply of marriageable young girls exceeded the demand from wealthy bachelors (p.30); A Drama in Muslin was part of George Moore’s advocacy of modernity. It was an attack both on victorian social an dnovelistic conventions in themslves and on the craven deference to them of the Catholic upper middle class … an assault upon victorianism in a specifically Irish context.’ (… &c.; p.31.) Murphy call it an irony that Moore failed to ‘eradicate all the conventions of the Victorian romantic comedy’ in resolving his plot by having Alice meet her husband nursing at a friend’s bedside. (p.31); see also further remarks, ending: ‘[…] Moore’s novel evinces a disdain for the gentry and the peasantry alike. But then a solution to the land question is not a particular concern of A Drama in Muslin.’ (p.45).

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NB’ [column by DS] in Times Literary Supplement comments facetiously on the mind and art of George Moore, in connection with the series of that name, that it was a strong candidate for Kingsley Amis’s list of very short books, along with great Marxist humanitarians [22 Oct. 1993].

Penelope Fitzgerald, reviewing of John Gray, A Peculiar Man [1996], in Times Literary Supplement, April 26, 1996), remarks that Walter Sickert saw Moore as ‘an intoxicated mummy’ while Manet, who did three portraits of him, thought he ‘had the look of a broken egg-yolk’. Gertrude Atherton thought him a ‘codfish crossed by a satyr’; (TLS, p.22.)

Robert Welch, The Abbey Theatre 1899-1999 (OUP 1999): ‘1902-1910 “Screeching in a straightened waistcoat” [Chap 2]: ‘Although [Moore] settled in Dublin in 1901, in order the more effectively to participate in the intellectual, cultural, and linguistic movement he believed to be under way in Ireland, his association with Yeats and Lady Gregory was soon to end. Relentless in his enthusiasm, which he always seems to have prosecuted with an undercurrent of mischief, he arranged for a performance, in his garden in Upper Ely Place, of a play in Irish, An Tincéar agus an tSídheóg, on 9 May 1902. Directed by himself, it had Douglas Hyde its author in the leading part, and Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin (later Eamon de Valera’s wife) was also in the cast. W. B. Yeats was there, and his father John B. Yeats, as well as Russell, Edward Martyn, and Alice Milligan. Yeats’s father described the scene: there had been a storm in the morning, but fortunately rain held off until nearly the end of the play when umbrellas went up amidst the large crowd of perhaps two hundred people. / Around this time Yeats and Moore, strangely enough, given their difficult working relationship on Diarmuid and Grania, discussed another collaboration, this time on a theme to do with a religious zealot who rejects ordinary life, tries to reform the practices of belief, and is eventually rejected by his society. Moore and Yeats met at the feis near Coole at which Yeats was overwhelmed by the sean-nós singer, who influenced his thinking about declamation and the psaltery. By now he had accepted the presidency of the Irish National Dramatic Society at the request of its secretary, Fred Ryan, and told Moore that he had to commit himself to the furtherance of its interests and that his own development as a dramatist was crucial to this responsibility. Soon after this meeting Moore seems to have sent a telegram to Yeats saying that he would get an injunction against him if Yeats made use of the plot about the problems of belief which Moore claimed he had devised. Angered and keen to protect his interests, as he saw them, Yeats with Lady Gregory’s help wrote Where There is Nothing in a fortnight at Coole, and published it as a supplement to Arthur Griffith United Irishman, thinking that Moore would not dare to prosecute a nationalist newspaper, for fear he would get his windows smashed. Afterwards John Quinn, an American lawyer friend of Yeats’s, and Arthur Symons, the London man of letters, tried to bring Moore and Yeats together again, but Yeats walked out of Symons’s flat, refusing to shake Moore’s hand. Moore took his revenge later, in Hail and Farewell [...]’ (p.18.)

Roy Foster, ‘The Moore the Merrier’, review of Adrian Frazier, George Moore 1852-1933, in The Irish Times (19 June 2000), speaks of ‘the lacerating realism of A Mummer’s Wife, the Wagnerian grandeurs of Evelyn Innes, the strangeness of The Book Kerith, the modernity of The Lake’; quotes, ‘The dullness of the great writer is not the dullness of the ordinary; it is deeper, more intense, and often more persistent’; quotes Frazier on the Irish ‘distancing’ from England which pervades Esther Waters; also quotes Frazier on Drama in Muslin ( ‘harsh, brilliant, experimental’) and Celibate Lives: ‘achieves a full treatment of themes uniquely Moore’s own - the poignant, strange destinies of those for whom fulfilment is imposisble in a heterosexual marrying society, and the secret workings of sex in those who don’t have sex’; calls the latter the key to the life as well as the works; Moore a lver of many women but simultaneously and sometimes mischievously conscious of his own homoerotic inclinations; cites transatlantic corresppondence with Laura Lanza, novelist; introduced to [Ibsen’s] A Doll’s House by Eleanor Marx; Paris in the 1870s his ‘university’; speaks of Joyce’s eulogy in the 1920s: ‘By then Moore had been through several lives [...] Around this time he told a would-be biographer: “the story you have to tell is not of a man who wrote this book or that [...] Your story is of a man who made himself becase he imagined himself.” Only after determined effort did “his imagination pair with his nature”. The ambiguities riddling his life were not just sexual: a rich Catholic landlord, liberated by his father’s death, fleeing his mother but sending her extraoridnarily frank and confiding letters, a believer in the Land Acts, a London-dwelling Francophile who famously rejected England at the time of the Boer War but returned to Ireland only to make Dublin too hot to hold him, instituting a hilarious and deliberate sequence of relationships gone awry, unforgiveable jokes and public confrontations.’ Of Hail and Farewell: ‘In it he immortally ridicules Yeats, “dances around” Edward Martyn’s homosexuality - in Frazier’s words - “like a mincing banderillo around a stumbling bull”, travesties Augusta Gregory as a prosletysing landlord, claims Synge is an invention, and outs Hugh (“Petticoat”) Lane as a cross-dresser. At the same time the atmosphere of Dublin in its Edwardian Indian summer was never better captured.’ Foster gives an account of Moore’s relationship with Maud Cunard, whom he met when she was 22, quoting Frazier: ‘The real loss of his lover did not come at once, with her marriage or with the arrival of [Sir Thomas] Beecham on the scene, but again and again, a long slow defeated yearning, in which he never gave up and she never gave in. They were linked by a desire he would not let die, a past she did not wish to recall, and a daughter [Nancy] she did not acknowledge as his.’]

Note: Foster calls Moore ‘devious, uncontrollable, unable to resist a demonic sense of humour.’ (Quoted by Thomas Flanagan in review of The Apprentice Mage, 1996, in NY Times Book Review, 6 April 1997, p.10.)

Terry Eagleton: ‘[In Moore] style becomes a kind of willed repression or amnesia, a scrupulously externalising medium which sets its face against portentous metaphysical depth and operates as suavely ironic detachment from historical reality.’ ( ‘The Anglo-Irish Novel’, p.216; quoted in Patrick Ward, Exile, Emigration and Irish Writing, Dublin IAP 2002 [as infra], p.231.)

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Paul Johnson, review of Adrian Frazier, George Moore, in Times Literary Supplement (2 June 2000), pp.3-4, cites portraits by Edouard Manet, Henry Tonks; Walter Sickert; 7,000 acre estate at Moore Hall; studied at Académie Julian, Paris; member of Boodles; Johnson gives an account of Moore’s persistent attempt to draw the teeth of the National Vigilance Association, animated by W. T. Stead (Pall Mall Gazette) and abetted by W. H. Smith; his ‘incredible industry’ as a novelist remarked by Shaw, who was initially misled by his pretended dilettantism; Johnson regards some of his publications as slap-dash; quotes with implied derision Frazier’s ‘baffling’ remark that Moore ‘did not behave like that middle-class thing, an English gentleman: he acted according to the broader licence of an Irish landlord’, and cites incident in which Moore, denied sex by Pearl Craigie (later partner to Lord Curzon), kicked her bottom in Hyde Park; Moore describes his relation with Maud Cunard as that of ‘two ships lying side by side in a harbour but each destined for other ports’; writes of occasion when elderly Moore requests [her sg.] Nancy Cunard to stand naked before him, recounted by Moore in Ulick and Soracha; gives as his last words indignant remarks to Magee (John Eglinton) on Conrad’s supposed style: ‘What! Style you call it? Why it is nothing but the wreckage of Robert Louis Stephenson floating in the slops of Henry James.’ Notes that Moore’s writings [i.e., bibliography] approach 3,000 items.

Patrick Ward, ‘Exile, Art and Alienation: George Moore’s Irish Writings’, in Exile, Emigration and Irish Writing (Dublin IAP 2002), pp.182-231, writes: ‘Moore with his aptitude for excess became a triple “exile”, alienated from Ireland, France and England, displaying and living out all the characteristics of Said’s intellectual exile. He existed in a metaphorical exile as an “outsider”, one who never fully adjusted to the trappings of “accommodation and national well-being”. He was restless, unsettled, one who succeeded in unsettling others and one who could not return “home”. He was an artist for whom writing became a place to live. Moore’s art was predicated on dissatisfaction, on “the idea of unhappiness” and duality of vision, a hybrid and dialogic presupposition of comparison and conflict between Ireland, France and England, between the quotidian and the élite.’ (p.231.)

Rolf & Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), p.: ‘Ireland saw another type of collapse of the social order in the nineteenth century when the role of the Ascendancy in Irish society diminished and shifted towards literary engagement. The rise of Ascendancy writers took place under worsening economic and social conditions for their classes, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century when their minority position in Irish society started to lose its economic hegemony. Seamus Deane has remarked that “Irish culture became the new property of those who were losing their grip on Irish land”, which constituted “a strategic retreat from political to cultural supremacy”. (‘Heroic Styles: The Tradition of an Idea’, cited in Perspective on Irish Nationalism, ed. T.E. Hachey & L. T. McCaffrey, Lexington, KY, 1989, p. 77; Deane, Short History, p.74 ) We will show in Section V that an increase of authorship by the Irish gentry, both Protestant and Catholic, and by ministers of the Church of Ireland and their children took place during the nineteenth century. For instance, George Moore, a scion of the Moores of Moore Hall in Co. Mayo, realized in 1879 that as a result of estate mismanagement and poor harvests and rent failures, he would have to leave Ireland to earn a living as an author. Most of these Irish authors had not been trained for any profession and traditionally saw trade and physical work as beneath their status, and therefore turned to writing instead, this new occupation being acceptable to their station in life. A few of the gentry, notably women authors such as Maria Edgeworth, Edith Somerville, and Dorothea Conyers were able to keep up their country house establishments only by their literary earnings, and incorporated many local aspects and characters of their country house world in their writings. [58] In fact, the gentry who stayed in Ireland, in contrast to those who left, contributed more to literature with an Irish content. [59] However, their numbers appear to have decreased at the beginning of the twentieth century. In their place came a solid foundation of middle-class authors, often from a Catholic background, a movement that began during the second half of the nineteenth century. (p.lix; cites T[erence] Dooley, The Decline of the Big House in Ireland: A study of Irish Landed Families 1800-1960, Dublin, 2001, passim; R. Loeber & M. Stouthamer-Loeber, ‘Literary absentees: Irish women authors in nineteenth-century England’ in The Irish Novel in the Nineteenth Century, ed. J[acqueline] Belanger, Dublin, 2005, pp.167-86.)

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘The year 1886 saw the publication of […] George Moore’s A Drama in Muslin. […] His first novel, A Modern Lover (1883), fared poorly in Mudie’s circulating library, whose monopoly on the purchase of fiction Moore denounced in his celebrated 1884 article “Censorship” and in its extended version, the 1886 pamphlet Literature at Nurse; or Circulating Morals. His second novel, A Mummer’s Wife (1885), even more directly challenged contemporary social mores, and also, as Adrian Frazier argues, introduced the Flaubertian art-novel to English fiction. (Adrian Frazier, George Moore: 1852-1933, Yale University Press, 2000, pp.xiii, 106-16, 151-53.) Partly as a response to the strictures of the contemporary publishing trade, Moore chose to publish A Mummer’s Wife and A Drama in Muslin with the controversial Vizetelly firm, and each appeared as a single novel rather than in the conventional, and significantly more expensive, three-decker form. This first decade of Moore’s writing career also saw the publication of his autobiographical Confessions of a Young Man (1888) and the essay collection Parnell and his Island (1887) a series of satires on Irish society, many of which had been published previously in the French journal Figaro. The outrage generated by these scathing portraits of the Irish privileged [482] classes, together with the negative reaction accorded to Drama in Muslin, ended Moore’s literary engagement with Ireland for the following twelve years.’ [...; extensive remarks on Drama in Muslin ensue.] Further: ‘Moore’s depiction of contemporary Dublin society is one of the novel’s most memorable features, ranking with Le Fanu’s historical depictions in the power of its urban scenes.’ (p.484.) [For full text see RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, via index, or direct.’

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