George Moore, Drama in Muslin [1886], revised as Muslin (1915 Edn.)

Characters: Alice, May, Violet, Olive (Aliceís sister); Capt Hibert; Mr Lynch; Lord Dungory; Mrs Lawler; Miss Brennan, Cullens, Gores. Pagination, infra, from orig. copy of 1915 Edn.

PREFACE: ĎA soul searcher, if ever there was one [...] whose desire to write well is apparent on every page, a headlong, eager, uncertain style [...] a young hound yelping at every trace of scent but if we look beneath the style we catch sight of the manís true self, a real interest in religious questions and a hatred as lively as Ibsenís of the social conventions that drive woman into the marriage market. [...]

Since Nora slammed the door [in A Dollís House] the practice of acquiring a share in a womanís life, rather than insisting on the whole of it, has caught such a firm root in our civilisation that it is no exaggeration to say that every married woman today will admit she could manage two men better than her husband could manage two wives. [...] if polygamy thrives in Mohommedanism in the East, polyandry has settled down in the West with Christianity [xiii] (For full-text version of the Preface, see attached.)

Catholic convert [1] performing Alice’s Cophetua; the Bishop crossed his legs and took snuff methodically a tableau of Annunciation; Girls together; Brookfield [big house] [4]

Cecilia, love was never anxious; She had always been intensely conscious of how grotesque the contradiction between a creed like that of the Christian, and having dancing and French lessons, and goint to garden parties - yes, and making wreathes and decorations and Christmas time.


The peasants came into the church, coughing and grunting with monotonous, animal-like voices; and the sour odour of cabin-smoked frieze arose [...] whiffs of unclean leather mingled with the smell of a sick child [the ladies] drew forth cambric pocket-handkerchiefs [71]

prey to gross superstition [71]

They lived in one of those boxlike mansions, so many of which were built in Ireland under the Georges. On either side trees had been planted, and they had stretched to the right and the left like the wings of a theatre. In the front there was a green lawn; at the back a sloppy stableyard. [chez Goulds] [75]

Mrs Barton, If they can’t make a good marriage let them make a bad marriage, for believe me, it is for better to be minding your own children than your sister’s or your brother’s children. [82]

Those poor people staring in at the windows [92] Sir Charles might ‘emigrate his family’ ‘that dreadful woman, Mrs Lawler [112]

Chap. XIII
[In this Chap. Mr Barton negotiates with his tenants outside the window while Mrs Barton puts of Hibbert inside; It makes a fine tandem effecting, condensing the thmes of rural economy and matrimonial principles in the space of a single unified image; see 126-38]

Mrs Barton, ‘A husband is better than talent [...] marriage gives a girl liberty, gives her admiration, gives her success; a woman’s whole position depends on in [147]

whereas if you were free [from engagement to Capt. Hibbert] you would be the season’s beauty [148]

[Alice] shuddered inwardly and wished she might stay at home in Galway and be spared the disgrace of the marriage-market [155]

at the couterie, Mrs Symonds [169]

Note the set piece on SHOULDERS at St Patrick’s Hall [180-01]

[Query. why a thundercrash for Violet? 185]

[ALICE] had begun to experience the very worst horrors of the Castle ball. She was sick of pity for those around her, and her lofty spirits resented the insult that was being offered to her sex. [205]

woman brings a loftier reverence to the shrine of man [...] seeing, as she now does, in him the incarnation of the freedom of which she is vaguely conscious and which she is perceptibly acquiring [...] but beneath the great feminine [?] there is an undercurrent of hatred [...] a revolt [...] the abasement of her sex have been [...] sexual intercourse

[NOTE, the grammar and sense of this pasage goes off the rails, but it is a powerful conception of the movement in gender roles - possible inspired by Neitsxche’s Gay Science (Froliche Gewissenschaft)]

Mrs Barton, twenty years of elegant harlotry [216]

Love’s deepest delight is the ineffable consciousness of our own wekaness [232]

Alice writes - and publishes - her ‘Diary of a Plain Girl’ [241]

In the 17th c. people lived in Ireland naked and speaking Latin habitually - without furniture or tapestries or paintings or baths. [...] Ireland had had few chroniclers; Phoenix Park Murders [252] May’s pregnancy [265-278]

Mrs Barton knew but one set of tricks [283]

[Olive meets Mrs Lawler 296-97] We think we are getting the first of it when we are only getting someone else’s leavings [297] We are all alike, the same blood runs in our veins [...] we must have our sweethearts, get them how we may [296]

Alive views Cpt. Hibbert ‘architecturally’ [303]

cottage fever [313]

for the first time [...] speaking and acting in her [Alice’s] own individual right [...] almost a physical pleasure [327]

May, ‘the circumstances we girls live under are not just’ [331-32]

low-lying, swampy fields, and between them and the road-side a few miserable poplars with cabins sunk below the dung-heaps, and the meagre potato-plots lying about them [...] here and there a dismantled cottage, one wall still black with the chimney’s smoke, uttering to those who know the country a tale fo eviction. Beyond these, beautiful plantation[s] sweep along the crest of the hills, the pillars of a Georgian house showing at the end of a vista [big house]

typical England [...] honest materialism [?]

Nothing lasts in Ireland but the priests. And now let us forget Ireland, as many have done before us [Note references to this text in William Bence-Jones, on Moore (The Twilight of the Ascendancy, 1987).


Additional extracts (Further, Drama in Muslin; rep. edn. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1981),

Mrs. Barton: ‘In the great matrimonial hunts women have to hunt in packs’ (p.157.)

‘Keep on trying, that is my advice to all young ladies: try to make yourself agreeable, try to learn how to amuse men. Flatter them; that is the great secret; nineteen out of twenty will believe you, and the one that doesnít canít but think it delightful. Donít waste your time thinking of your books, your painting, your accomplishments; if you were Jane Austins, George Eliots, and Rosa Bonheurs, it would be of no use if you werenít married. A husband is better than talent, better even than fortune - without a husband a woman is nothing; with a husband she may rise to any height. Marriage gives a girl liberty, gives her admiration, gives her success; a woman’s whole position depends upon it. (p.137.)

[Both of the foregoing in 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.30-31.)]

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