Brian Moore Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Consider the role that fantasy plays in Brian Moore’s fiction.

What significance does setting have in his novels?

Moore’s work seems to defy convenient categories. Nevertheless, what fictional traditions inform his oeuvre?

Consider the theme of loneliness in a number of Moore’s novels.

Moore was raised as a Roman Catholic. What role does Catholicism play in his works?

Analyze his treatment of the crisis of faith in his fiction.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Brian Moore wrote a travel book, Canada, with the editors of Life magazine in 1963. A number of his works were regarded by Moore himself as hackwork, written to support his serious fiction; these include romances and mysteries, some published under the pseudonym Michael Bryan. His dozens of short stories appeared in a wide range of periodicals, from Weekend Review to The Atlantic, and in anthologies including The Irish Genius, edited by Devin A. Garrity (1960); Canadian Writing Today, edited by Mordecai Richler (1970); and The Best American Short Stories, 1967 (1967), edited by Martha Foley and David Burnett. Throughout his writing career, he published many articles and reviews. Several of Moore’s books have been adapted for films and television, and he wrote screenplays and teleplays produced in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Brian Moore’s first novel, published both as Judith Hearne and as The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, established him as a contemporary novelist of the first order. He has appealed to many readers as a novelist who writes without embarrassment in the realistic tradition of the Victorians about distinctively modern topics: spiritual and erotic crises, the reality of the objective world, ethnic conflict, relationships between men and women, and the place of women in the societies of the old world and the new. Modern themes of alienation and estrangement are rooted firmly in Moore’s work by a sense of place and of time. His evocation of Montreal in The Luck of Ginger Coffey has been compared to James Joyce’s portrayal of Dublin on “Bloomsday.” The bleak urban environment of Belfast of the earlier works and the windswept Irish coast of The Mangan Inheritance strike responsive chords in readers conditioned to the blank landscapes of much modernist literature.

Just as Moore’s geographical terrain changes, however, so do his characters and his stylistic formats. From the almost naturalistic treatment of the unfortunate Judith Hearne to the ghostly dialogues of Fergus and the magical creation of The Great Victorian Collection, from the Jesuit missionaries in Black Robe to the terrorists in Lies of Silence, Moore’s unpredictable inventiveness and his sure hand in storytelling and character development kept him in the forward ranks of late twentieth century novelists.

Among the honors Moore received were a Guggenheim Fellowship, an award from the American National Institute of Arts and Letters, a Canada Council Fellowship, the Author’s Club of Great Britain First Novel Award, the Governor-General Award of Canada for fiction, and honorary literature degrees from Queens University, Belfast (1989) and National University of Ireland, Dublin (1991). He was three times short-listed for the Booker Prize, for The Doctor’s Wife, The Color of Blood, and Lies of Silence. Catholics won the W. H. Smith Award in 1973, and The Great Victorian Collection won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1975. Black Robe was given the Heinemann Award from the Royal Society of Literature in 1986.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Dahlie, Hallvard. Brian Moore. Boston: Twayne, 1981. This comprehensive study of Moore discusses his short stories and nonfiction as well as his novels. Addresses the metaphysical dilemmas presented in those of Moore’s characters who struggle for identity and meaning. Selected bibliography and chronology.

Flood, Jeanne A. “Black Robe: Brian Moore’s Appropriation of History.” Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies 25, no. 4 (1990): 40-55. Considers Moore’s appropriations of history as attempts to explore the dynamics of “power and submission, desire and fear, the ancient impasse between father and son.” The novel furthermore is seen as a refutation of an antiquated book on the Jesuits and their mission in the New World.

Flood, Jeanne A. Brian Moore. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1974. Covers Moore’s work until 1973, with some emphasis on Catholics. Each chapter looks at a different position the novelist takes. This slim volume is a solid if stolid piece of criticism and contains much insight into Moore’s narrative technique and purpose. Chronology and bibliography.

Gindin, James. “Brian Moore.” In Contemporary Novelists, edited by James Vinson. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982. An overview of Moore’s work that spans his first novel, The...

(The entire section is 410 words.)