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145 TURGENEV AND GEORGE MOORE'S THE UNTILLED FIELD By Eileen Kennedy (Kean College of New Jersey) To what extent did Turgenev, especially his Sportsman's Sketches, influence George Moore in The Untilled Field? An important part of that larger literary problem, Turgenev*s total impact on Moore's oeuvre, will be examined here. The Untilled Field (1902) is significant not only because of its intrinsic literary value and the new direction it set for the Irish short story, but also because the book, as studies have documented,1 paved the way for Joyce's Dubliners, the decisive force in shaping the modern short story. To understand the debt of Moore, his sometimes steady, sometimes wavering devotion to Turgenev must be traced. In this broken line of influence, Moore's Celibates (I895) needs scrutiny. Moore, in the late eighties, began to move away from Zola and the naturalists to assess Turgenev's achievement. First published in Fortnightly Review (1 February 1888), Moore's "Turgueneff was reprinted with small changes in Impressions and Opinions (1891).2 That article opens with an anecdote, true or not, in which Moore, over a drink with Turgenev, discusses Zola. Speaking of Gervaise in Zola's novel, L'Assommoir. Turgenev asks, What difference does it make if the girl sweats in the middle of her back or under her arms? Turgenev*s point, Moore observes, is that the novelist should describe how people think, not how they perspire. Though Turgenev believes Gervaise is a "true" woman, Zola's method is "vicious" because of his emphasis on physical sensation (IAO. p. 67). Moore comments thet some attention should be paid to physical detail, but the novelist 's job is to show the spiritual element penetrating the physical. How to convey the spiritual is difficult: should the writer be explicit and obtrusive, or implicit and suggestive? Ultimately, it is a matter of method, and Moore begs the question when he says all methods are good. (He is also shaping a defense for himself because his own technique, at this point, veers in both directions.) Rejecting relentless documentary of life as the business of the novel, Moore asserts that fact must be tempered by value, and therefore novelists can be divided into the "fact" school and the "thought" school (IAO. p. 68). The second part of the essay is devoted to extensive plot summary of four of Turgenev·s works : Fumée. Les Eaux Printaniëres. Pires et Enfants, and Terres Vierges, with some incidental criticism of Les Récits d'un Chasseur and Etranges Histoires. Applying the techniques of biographical criticism, Moore reads Turgenev·s fiction as expressions of the Russian's philosophy« we should not become embittered because life is painful and cruel. Though life is meaningless, and we turn and turn as in 146 a circle, nevertheless, we must have kindness and pity. "Obey nature's laws, be simple and obey» it is the best you can do'" (IAO. p. 73). Analyzing Turgenev's method, Moore points out that the Russian uses the artistis technique of "indication," the portrayal, by suggestion, of an object, thus giving it a charm the complete painting cannot have. Turgenev, through his choice of detail, indicates or hints at the mind of the character ι he does not provide full-blown exposition (IAO. p. 76). He also employs a method Moore likens to "instrumentation," that is, "the introduction of physical phenomena, used either in alternate or combined effect with the theme of suffering or joy which the characters are uttering" (IAQ. p. 82). In Flaubert, Moore observes, instrumentation seems contrived and forced» in Turgenev, it is subtle and intrinsic. Ever the craftsman, Moore stores up these techniques as possibilities for himself and will use, for example, an indication in "The Clerk's Quest" and instrumentation in "The Window," two of the best stores in The Untilled Field. Moore actually says little about the stories in A. Sportsman's Sketches. He praises "Kassyan of Fair Springs" for its marvelous quality, a kind of magic, because a simple incident, the Sportsman* s meeting with a dwarf and then with a little girl who looks strangely like the dwarf, suggests unfathomable mysteries. He praises, too...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 145-159
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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