March 24, 2014


Irish novelist and man of letters best known for his novel Esther Waters (1894) and for his autobiographical trilogy Hail and Farewell (1911-14).

When he was 18, he who came from a family of Irish landholders left Ireland for France to become a painter. In Paris he became friendly with the avant-garde Impressionist group and particularly with Édouard Manet. Moore recorded his years in Paris in his first autobiography Confessions of a Young Man (1888).

Deciding that he had no talent for painting he returned to London in 1882 to write. His first novels A Modern Lover (1883) and A Mummer´s Wife (1885) introduced to the Victorian novel a new note of French Naturalism and he later adopted the realistic techniques of Flaubert and Balzac. Esther Waters his best novel is a story of hardship and humiliation illumined by the novelist´s compassion. It was an immediate success and he followed it with two works written in a similar vein Evelynn Innes (1898) and Sister Teresa (1901).

In 1901 Moore moved to Dublin where he contributed notably to the planning of the Abbey Theatre. He also produced a volume of short stories The Untilled Field (1903) and a short poetic novel The Lake (1905).

The real fruits of Moore´s life in Ireland came with Hail and Farewell (Ave 1911, Salve 1912, Vale 1914). It is both a carefully studied piece of self-revelation and an acute (though not always reliable) portrait gallery of his Irish acquaintance which included W.B. Yeats, AE and Lady Gregory.

The increasing narrowness of the Irish mind, politics and clericalism had sent Moore back to England in 1911.

After Hail and Farewell he made another literary departure, aiming at epic effect he produced The Brook Kerith (1916) an elaborate stylish retelling of the Gospel story that is surprisingly effective despite some dul patches. He continued his attempts to find a prose style worthy of epic theme in Héloïse and Abélard (1921). Later works included A Story-Teller´s Holiday (1918), a blend of autobiography, anecdote, Irish legend and satire, Conversations in Ebury Street (1924), autobiography, The Pastoral Loves of Daphnis and Chloe (1924) and Ulick and Soracha (1926) an Irish legendary romance.

From 1911 until his death he lived on Ebury Street a legendary figure though as the years went by perhaps a slightly neglected one.

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