- George Moore on the Margins
Most of the sixteen essays in this volume—whose catchy title is misleading—are reincarnated from papers given at the Fifth International George Moore Conference (3-6 June 2011) at the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, where the book was launched on 28 November 2012. The exceptions are the last two essays: Adrian Frazier's unpublished introduction to a 2004 reprint (the series was cancelled) of Celibate Lives and the brief piece by actress Glenn Close on the thirty-year genesis of the 2012 film Albert Nobbs, based on Moore's 1895 novella of the same name. Like those collected by Mary S. Pierse for George Moore: Artistic Visions and Literary Worlds (2006)—reviewed in ELT, 50.4 (2007), 474-77—which also began as conference papers (given in 2005 at University College, Cork), these essays cover a wide range of works and topics, attesting to an ongoing fascination with Moore's personality, oeuvre and influence.
The opening essay by Mark Llewellyn situates Moore in relation to the current "credit crunch and cultural economics" and takes as its starting point the embittered "conclusion" to Parnell and His Island (1887) to show how Moore's "presentation of permissiveness, moral value, financial jeopardy, and human interaction is relevant to much of his subsequent fiction." Thus Moore's works can act as a lens through which to consider the lives of individuals and communities similar to our own "in terms of crisis, economic trauma, and social discontent." One example is "Albert Nobbs," whose protagonist embodies "desire ... mixed with consumerist fixations on property." Llewellyn concludes that "the fragility of fiscality, and the problems of credit at emotional, psychological, political and social levels" provide "a new edge to Moore's tale."
Moore père is the subject of the next two essays. In the first, Fiona White surveys George Henry Moore's management of Moore Hall during the Great Famine of the 1840s: he chaired two relief committees, was involved in managing relief measures, and gave generously to charities. But gambling debts and "low and often non-existing rents," among other reasons, took their toll (it was destroyed by fire in 1923) and saddled George Augustus "with a debt that remained a burden most of his life." Haim Goren then examines George Henry in relation to the exploration of the Jordan Rift and the Euphrates Valley in the [End Page 536] 1830s and his role in "two related and connected processes, the establishing of the Dead Sea level and the British routes to India."
In "The Metamorphosis of George Moore," Margaretta D'Arcy looks at Moore's contribution to the anti-Imperial cause and the background to some of his "declarations of visceral revulsion" against the Boer War (he wrote strident letters to the press criticizing Queen Victoria's proposed visit to Ireland in 1900), the Catholic Church, and even his own people, the Irish: those "degenerate aborigines"!
Moore's charge that Lady Gregory, while she and Yeats were collecting fairy legends, was also proselytizing is examined by Lucy McDiarmid, who offers an interesting reconsideration of Lady Gregory's activities in light of "the external, almost theatrical similarities between gathering folklore and gathering souls—they entail the same clothing, gestures, actions, and space."
Michel Brunet revisits Moore's pseudonymous, polemical article, "Stage Management in the Irish National Theatre," published in Dana (September 1904), and answers his essay's subtitle, "A Plea for an Irish Théâtre Libre?" in the affirmative. In addition to being a diatribe against the style of theatre being promoted by the Irish Revival movement, Moore's article, as Brunet convincingly demonstrates, is also "a sort of manifesto propounding acting principles directly derived from André Antoine's Théâtre Libre."
Mary S. Pierse asks whether Moore's "presentation of potentially controversial subject matter" in works written during his residence in Dublin (1901-1911) measures up to those of his Dublin contemporaries Padraic Colum, Pádraic Ó Conaire, Edward Martyn, James Stephens and Susan Langstaff Mitchell. She finds that it does.