George Moore Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

ph_0111201581-Moore.jpg George Moore Published by Salem Press, Inc.

George Moore began his career as a poet with Flowers of Passion (1878) and was to go on to write dramas and several novels, the most enduring and accomplished being Esther Waters (1894). He also wrote art criticism, such as Modern Painting (1893), and autobiography, the best known being Hail and Farewell: A Trilogy (1911-1914; Ave, 1911; Salve, 1912; Vale, 1914).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

One of the most prolific of the Irish writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, George Moore published seventeen books, which included several novels, books of literary and art criticism, poetry, autobiography, and social criticism. On his eightieth birthday the London Times praised his contribution to literature in an article, signed by many of the major writers of the day, which recognized his long and serious service to literature, and his contribution, in particular, to the art of narrative. The Irish Academy was founded in 1932, and Moore was included in the first list of members.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

George Moore was a man of letters rather than purely a novelist. He published seven collections of short fiction, and all but the first of his eight plays were produced in London or Dublin. He published two volumes of poetry in 1877 and 1881. Moore published numerous nonfictional works, and more than one thousand of his periodical writings have been located in English, Irish, French, and American journals. In addition, he published a notable translation of Longus’s Daphnis and Chloë in 1924.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

George Moore’s fiction was at all times innovative and influential. Amid much controversy in the early 1880’s, he adapted the methods of French realism to the English novel. His earliest goals were to liberate the novel from Victorianconventions of subject and treatment and from commercial constraints imposed by a monopolistic book trade.

By the middle 1880’s, Moore began to turn from realism to aestheticism. Under the influence of his friend Walter Pater and the rising Symbolist poets of France, Moore anticipated the “decadence” of the 1890’s by eschewing the conflict between realism and popular Romanticism that had formerly absorbed him. He realized that these schools of writing were generally organized and evaluated on moral and social grounds. In regard to prosenarrative, Moore’s increasing and then sole preoccupation became literary art.

As an aesthete in the early 1890’s, he composed his masterpiece Esther Waters. He also wrote some of the short stories that later contributed to his reputation as an inventor of modern Irish fiction. The large income generated by his books allowed him to quit his second career as one of England’s leading art critics. He cofounded the Independent Theatre and Irish Literary Theatre and by the turn of the century he became a leading polemicist of the Irish revival.

The major achievement of Moore’s Irish involvement was the composition of Hail and Farewell: A Trilogy (1911-1914). In the tradition of Laurence Sterne, Thomas De Quincey, and George Borrow, Moore wrote the story of his life using the conceptual framework of fiction rather than history. The trilogy contains an account of artistic movements of the late Victorian era, but attention is concentrated on the intellectual life of Dublin in the early years of the twentieth century.

During the 1910’s and 1920’s, Moore retreated from the popular literary market to the composition of prose epics. Biblical history in The Brook Kerith, medieval history in Héloise and Abélard, and classical history in Aphrodite in Aulis offered structural premises for a new exploration of human problems and for the development of a modern, rarefied aestheticism. Reviewers greeted the novels as exemplars of composition and elevated Moore to the status of Ireland’s senior man of letters.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Averill, Deborah. The Irish Short Story from George Moore to Frank O’Connor. New York: University Press of America, 2002. A study of the Irish short story, with a historical and critical introduction and a chapter devoted to Moore.

Burkhart, Charles. “The Short Stories of George Moore.” In The Man of Wax: Critical Essays on George Moore, edited by Douglas A. Hughes. New York: New York University Press, 1971. A clear and sensible discussion of the short stories in general terms without academic jargon. A good way to look at the entire list in the context of his other work. There is also an essay by Enid Starkie on Moore and French naturalism, which helps immensely in understanding the movement and how Moore adapted it to his work.

Dunleavy, Gareth W. “George Moore’s Medievalism: A Modern Triptych.” In George Moore in Perspective, edited by Janet Dunleavy. Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 1983. Moore used medieval themes in both his novels and short stories. This is a straightforward discussion of this kind of story, with A Story-Teller’s Holiday receiving special attention. This volume also contains an interesting discussion, written by Melvin J. Friedman, of the similarities between Moore and Samuel Beckett, which also brings the short stories into consideration.

Dunleavy, Janet...

(The entire section is 562 words.)