- George Moore Redux
THIS IS THE THIRD VOLUME in recent years to collect essays previously given as papers at Moore conferences. Those edited by Mary S. Pierse in George Moore: Artistic Visions and Literary Worlds (2006) were originally read in 2005 at University College, Cork; those gathered by Conor Montague and Adrian Frazier in George Moore: Dublin, Paris, Hollywood (2012) were presented in 2011 at the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway; and George Moore: Across Borders contains sixteen essays derived from a conference of the same name at the Université Charles de Gaulle–Lille 3 in 2007. As we shall see, the “borders” in question—whether crossed or bridged or breached—are linguistic, artistic, musical, textual, narrative, intellectual, ideological, cultural, personal, even moral. As stated [End Page 280] in their introduction, the editors have attempted “a balanced, dispassionate re-assessment” of Moore—and have succeeded. Here is Moore at his best seen through the eyes of seasoned Moore scholars as well as younger academics: from storyteller and novelist to art connoisseur and Wagnerite.
Some essays manage to cover the same ground, yet without redundancy. Stoddard Martin, three decades after his first study, revisits Moore’s “literary Wagnerism,” this time through the influence of his friendships with Dujardin, Symons, Yeats, Maud Cunard, “Wagner-mad” Edward Martyn, and Lord Howard de Walden, “part protégé, part patron.” For their part, Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn observe that once Moore had fallen under Wagner’s spell, “the emphasis [in Moore’s fiction] shifted from the exploration of states of alienation and repression to its opposite, the expression of sensual affinities, of sensual impulses as they shape both individual characters and authorial style.” Thus, central to Evelyn Innes and Sister Teresa is “Wagnerian opera and the monumental clash of sensual desires and spiritual imperatives, of life and death drives,” and the authors examine the works in their dual functions as Wagnerian female Künstelrroman and “proto-Freudian psychological study.”
Evelyn Innes and Sister Teresa are also of interest to Christine Huguet, whose essay explores “iconographic revealers of spirituality” and the relationship between art and reality. She concludes that “the narrative’s emphasis on presentiments and epiphanic spots of time is the most remarkable consequence of Moore’s sophisticated apprehension of inner reality” during this period—this despite Moore having overreached himself by making his characters “stand for, and literally embody and hypostatize, the concept of Art too neatly.” Moore’s engagement with art is also taken up by Fabienne Gaspari, who analyses the complex interrelationship of painting and writing—“the two poles of Moore’s artistic career”—in Confessions of a Young Man, Lewis Seymour and Some Women, and A Drama in Muslin to show how Moore has adapted Pater’s formula, “All art should aspire to the condition of music and of painting.”
Moore knew everyone, it seems, and although he did not get along with everybody, in the end he held no grudges. Beerbohm, Whistler, and Yeats are cases in point. Marie-Claire Hamard examines how Beerbohm, “crossing the boundaries of friendship,” caricatured Moore, sometimes mercilessly, from 1896 to 1956. And yet in 1912, Moore could write that “Max and others have caricatured me out of all human resemblance [End Page 281] but I never objected.” Although Hamard notes that reproduction of all the Beerbohm works surveyed would have proved too expensive, this interesting but too-brief essay—one hopes for a full-length study one day—includes four splendid color illustrations. Moore had a more conflicted relationship with Whistler, as Isabelle Enaud-Lechien shows, admitting that part of the problem was Moore’s “incomprehension of post-Impressionist painting” and lack of “in-depth analysis based on soundly argued aesthetic principles.” Still, antipathies and disagreements notwithstanding, Moore encouraged the National Gallery to acquire Whistler’s paintings and was indignant when, despite his efforts, Whistler’s portrait of his mother was sold to the French government. And a few years later, in 1895, the temperamental Whistler went so far as to challenge Moore to a duel...