Olive Moore

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Olive Moore was the pseudonym taken by the English journalist Constance Vaughan. Between 1929 and 1934 (between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-nine) she published four remarkable books that earned her a reputation as an enfant terrible of British literature. After 1934, however, she disappeared without a trace and is thought to have died around 1970. This edition of her complete works will introduce lovers of modernist fiction to a brilliant writer too long neglected. Her stories are vigorously drawn but with the finest of lines; her poetic style is beautiful, yet it bites.

CELESTIAL SERAGLIO (first published in 1929) is a largely autobiographical novel about the lives of schoolgirls confined to a Belgian convent. It explores the progress of their relationships, charting adolescent fervors that swing between piety and cynicism. SPLEEN (published in Britain as REPENTANCE AT LEISURE, 1930) tells the story of a young English woman, Ruth, who settles alone on a Mediterranean island with her physically and mentally deformed son.

In stream-of-consciousness fashion the story unfolds, describing her past twenty years in this strange and isolated place. Ruth has been preparing her thoughts, it would seem, for her eventual return to England. FUGUE (1932) paints a portrait of Lavinia Reade, an intelligent and sympathetic journalist who has had many love affairs. Now she is trying to understand her love for Sebastian, whom she is losing, and whose child she is carrying. The story is a dark exploration of love, friendship and independence, perceptive and beautifully written.

Finally, those bitten by her fiction will revel in the acid wit of Olive Moore’s short observations on life, literature, and art in THE APPLE IS BITTEN AGAIN.