Moore, George 1852-1933
(Full name George Augustus Moore) Irish short story writer, novelist, autobiographer, essayist, critic, dramatist, poet, biographer, and editor.
Moore has been praised for the accuracy and insight with which he realistically portrayed the life of his native Ireland. Distinguished by their style and objectivity, his short stories have been commended for their sensitive psychological studies of human weakness and loneliness. Critics have widely discussed the influence of his short fiction on several significant English and Irish writers, in particular James Joyce, Arnold Bennett, Frank O'Connor, Mary Lavin, and D. H. Lawrence.
Moore was born at Moore Hall, County Mayo, Ireland, to a wealthy, well-respected family. When his father was elected to Parliament in 1868, Moore and his family relocated to London. After the death of his father in 1870, he moved to Paris to study painting and painters, meeting Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, and others. He also made the acquaintance of many prominent French writers, and his inclinations toward painting, never very devoted or promising, were channeled into literature. During this time, Moore met the French novelist Émile Zola and was impressed with his naturalist approach to fiction, an approach he would incorporate into his own novels and short stories. He returned to London in 1880 and began his career as a writer. Throughout his career he published his short fiction in several well-respected periodicals in Ireland, England, and the United States. Moore remained in England for twenty-one years then moved to Dublin in order to help establish the Irish Literary Theatre. In 1911 he returned once again to London, where he lived until his death in 1933.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Moore's best-known and critically acclaimed short story collection, The Untitled Field, realistically depicts turnof-the-century Ireland and its people. Thematically, the stories exhibit loneliness, human weakness, the repressive effects of the Catholic church on its people, and the implications of emigration, especially to the United States. In "Homesickness" James Bryden returns to Ireland from America and is dismayed at the tyrannical manner in which the local priest treats his parishioners. He gratefully returns to America and eventually marries there. However, in his old age, he becomes homesick for Ireland. "In the Clay" is concerned with a talented young Irish sculptor, Rodney, who earns his living designing and creating religious decorations. When he uses a beautiful young village girl as a nude model for a sculpture for the Madonna and Child, the local priest recognizes the young girl and informs her family of her relationship with Rodney. The artwork causes much debate and consternation and is eventually destroyed by her brothers. Rodney, disheartened by the destruction of his work, prepares to leave Ireland for the more tolerant environs of Europe.
Although Moore is often remembered more as a novelist and memoirist, his vivid portrayal of turn-of-the-century Ireland and its people in his short stories garnered critical attention and provided a model emulated by many English language writers in the first half of the twentieth century. Moore's profound influence on short fiction writers, especially James Joyce, is widely acknowledged and discussed by literary historians.