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.
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...
(The entire section is 648 words.)