21.6 x 13.8 cm xvi, 329 pp. 1981
Always an ambitious novelist, George Moore realised early in the composition of his third novel, A Drama in Muslin, how his chosen subject – the sentimental education of five girls born into the gentry of the West of Ireland – could be extended to encompass a study of the prevailing social conditions of the Irish people, who were desperate for political change and growth.
Written in the mid 1880s, the novel reflects the unease of the times when the activities of the Land League began increasingly to jeopardise the security of the landlords and expose the artificiality and moral inadequacies of their way of life, centred on the annual Dublin seasons and receptions at the Castle. Fresh from their convent school, Alice and Olive Barton, with the aid of their mother (one of Moore’s most brilliant portraits), are set in quest of their identities and in pursuit of a husband, for as Mrs Barton asserts 'Marriage gives a girl liberty, gives her admiration, gives her success, a woman’s whole position depends upon it’. Alice, the more observant and intelligent of the two, quickly appreciates how completely their choices in life are conditioned by the social tensions of the age, which render words like ‘liberty’ and ‘success’ meaningless. Her growth in sensibility is everywhere matched by developing moral insights and discriminations about her class which compel her finally to renounce her background. Moore himself came of the Mayo gentry but his sympathies, like his father’s before him, were Nationalist and liberal.
As Professor Jeffares shows in his stimulating introduction, Moore’s own shocked awakening to the real nature of his financial position (which in fact compelled him to become a novelist) exactly mirrors Alice Barton’s: he knew, as she comes to know, the difficulty in their particular condition of balancing private and social obligations which is the essence of integrity, yet the necessity of doing so is felt on their very nerve ends. Moore analyses the plight of the landlords from within and, though a prophetic note of doom is sustained throughout, his personal involvement in their cause ensures that criticism is matched with sympathy; for all the moral anger that shapes the book, Moore never simplifies the issues he explores. In later life Moore considered A Drama in Muslin had one of the best subjects he had ever conceived; and as Professor Jeffares concludes, it remains ‘with its mixture of satire and sympathy, objectivity and panoramic range of vision one of its creator’s most intelligent insights into, human life’.
A. Norman Jeffares was Professor of English at the University of Stirling, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain and Life-President of the International Association for the study of Anglo-Irish Literature. His literary interests include Commonwealth and American Literature; he edited Restoration Drama for the Folio Society, but he is best known in Ireland for his work on such authors as Swift, Congreve, Farquhar, Goldsmith, Sheridan, Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, Lever, George Moore and W. B. Yeats.More info →
21.6 x 13.8 cm. xxxiv, 225 pp. 1903, and revised by Moore in 1926, and 1931.
This edition first published in 2000
Bubbling with enthusiasm for the revival of Gaelic in Ireland, George Moore suggested to the Gaelic League that it should publish a translation of a modern work that children might study in school and that artists might imitate and so begin a new tradition of Gaelic Literature. It was a sensible idea that was delayed at first for want of agreement within the League over a suitable text. Spurred on by his friends, Moore himself then set about writing some tales of Irish life for this end. They were translated by Taidgh O’Donohue and published in 1902 in the New Ireland Review. Later a collection of these and more stories appeared under the title An T-Úr-Gort, Sgéalta; a version of this, reworked by Moore in English as The Untilled Field, followed in 1903. It proved subsequently the one of his works that pleased Moore best for its affectionate portraits of Irish rural life.
Though modelled initially on Turgenev’s Tales of a Sportsman, the stories soon became original inspirations woven out of Moore’s memories of the peasants who lived and worked on his family estate in Mayo. Moore took as his theme the pathos of their existence: the bleakness; the imaginative, cultural and emotional austerity that compelled many, often whole parishes, to emigrate and leave their homes in ruins; the indefatigable resilience of those who stayed and endured; and the fragile consolations offered by their religion. The painfulness of his subjects he offset by the gentle humour of his treatment. Moore’s antipathy to the Catholic clergy was soon to become notorious but the tragi-comic plight of the parish priest who finds his power and moral authority undermined by the poverty of his parishioners and the cunning they develop in order to survive provokes in these tales some barbed satire but much compassion and amusement. The delicacy of discrimination, the emotional control that reveals Moore’s understanding and pity through a technique of powerful understatement is unusual in his work and unusual too in the tradition of Irish fiction.
Moore once wrote of The Untilled Field: ‘It is a dry book and does not claim the affections at once.’ But Moore was wrong: level and dispassionate in tone it may be, but the book is one of the richest and most perfectly written of his works and the depth of feeling that went into its composition is evident throughout.
This new printing of the text of the 1931 edition also contains the texts of ‘In the Clay’ and ‘The Way Back’ which Moore omitted from that edition. It has an Introduction by Richard Allen Cave.More info →
21.6 x 13.8 cm. xii, 274 pp. 1980
The Lake is George Moore’s most poetic and perfectly crafted novel. It tells of a priest’s loss not of faith, but of commitment to the principles fostered in him during his training and his discovery of a more fulfilling religion that celebrates instinct as being, if rightly understood, man’s true mode of communion with his soul. Father Gogarty’s parish is in a remote district of Mayo beside Lough Carra and his new philosophy is worked out during his long walks and rides round the lake where he learns how the changing quality of his perceptions of the landscape about him can reveal the fluctuating moods of that ‘underlife’ of his psyche that shapes his being.
The Lake is a novel about self-discovery through guilt (Gogarty fears he has brought about the death of a parishioner through vigorously denouncing her way of life from the altar) and atonement in renouncing a creed which demands that a man continually repress his capacity for joy. But it is also a novel about the satisfactions of living close to nature in Ireland; the atmosphere of the Mayo countryside, the play of light on mountain, wood and lake, the rich historical associations in every church, castle or abbey ruin and farmstead are evoked with a rare skill, subtly illuminating the relationship that Moore takes as his theme between place and the Irish personality. If in studying the motives that compel his priest to the decision, ‘Non Serviam’, Moore is establishing a pattern in Irish fiction that Joyce will elaborate with his Portrait of an Artist, then in his poetic rendering of consciousness as the sum of a character’s perceptions, Moore is anticipating the technique of Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen.
Published in 1905, The Lake underwent considerable revision in two further editions before Moore was satisfied with its complex form and the disciplined style that form exacted. (The present edition reprints the last revised text of 1921.) In an Afterword, Professor Richard Allen Cave of Royal Holloway, University of London, examines the nature of this discipline, the influence of Zola and of Dujardin on Moore’s choice of a structure: and the ways first the composition and later the revision of The Lake were made easier by the writing of the stories in The Untilled Field (1903) and the autobiography, Hail and Farewell! (1911-1914). Significantly, all three works – each a masterpiece of its kind and, viewed together, the triumph of Moore’s career – were the product of the novelist’s return to his native land to champion the cause of the Irish renaissance. With them Moore gave to Irish fiction a new method and a new voice and, before Joyce and Beckett, set exacting standards of scruple and dedication in the pursuit of a finished artistry in prose.
Richard Allen Cave, Emeritus Professor of Drama and Theatre Arts at Royal Holloway in the University of London, has published extensively in the fields of renaissance drama (Jonson, Webster, Brome), modern English and Irish theatre (Wilde, Yeats, Pinter, Beckett, Friel, Mc Guinness), dance (Ninette de Valois, Robert Helpmann), stage design (Charles Ricketts, Robert Gregory) and direction (Terence Gray). Most recently, he devised and was General Editor of an AHRC-funded project to create an online edition of The Collected Plays of Richard Brome (2010), and published the monograph, Collaborations: Ninette de Valois and William Butler Yeats (2011). The Collected Brome is soon to be published in a more traditional book-format by Oxford University Press (2020). He has also edited the plays of Wilde, Yeats and T.C. Murray; and the manuscript versions of Yeats’s The King of the Great Clock Tower and A Full Moon in March. Professor Cave is a trained Feldenkrais practitioner who works on vocal techniques with professional actors and on extending movement skills with performers in physical theatre.More info →
21.6 x 13.8 cm. 774 pp. with four illustrations by Grace Plunkett
Hail and Farewell! can be considered George Moore’s masterpiece. Since it was first published, it has coloured many people’s view of the Irish Literary Revival and its members – W.B.Yeats, Lady Gregory, George W. Russell (AE), Edward Martyn, Sir Horace Plunkett, and J.M.Synge.
It is a prodigious work, containing Moore’s assessment of the Irish Literary Revival, the Abbey Theatre and its predecessors, as well as remarkable insights not only into the literature and tastes in painting (particularly French Impressionism) and music (the influence of Wagner and the revival of polyphony) at the beginning of the twentieth century, but into the social and religious background to the Irish scene at that time – all viewed through his eyes, the eyes not only of an Irish country gentleman, but of a European man of letters. First published 1911-14, Moore revised it for the second edition (1925), and the text remained the same for the Uniform (1933) and Ebury (1937) Editions. This is the first edition to appear since then, and uses the most recent text.
At the time of its first publication most of the references were readily understood by George Moore’s readers, but they are now obscure: much is lost to the modern reader as a result of a lack of intimate knowledge of the people and their times. Professor Cave has tracked down all the points and references that would be obscure today, often even to the student of that period, and has produced detailed notes on them. Thus the reader is able to understand all Moore’s references and his modifications of the truth and chronological sequences. Light is also thrown on many obscure pseudonyms and passages in the text through more than 600 notes and a comprehensive index provided by Professor Cave.
Many critics have considered that of all the works of Anglo-Irish Literature that deserve to be kept permanently in print, their first choice would be Hail and Farewell!. This edition of such a monumental work is therefore is of the greatest interest and use to scholar and general reader alike.
Richard Allen Cave, Emeritus Professor of Drama and Theatre Arts at Royal Holloway in the University of London, has published extensively in the fields of renaissance drama (Jonson, Webster, Brome), modern English and Irish theatre (Wilde, Yeats, Pinter, Beckett, Friel, McGuinness), dance (Ninette de Valois, Robert Helpmann), stage design (Charles Ricketts, Robert Gregory) and direction (Terence Gray). Most recently, he devised and was General Editor of an AHRC-funded project to create an online edition of The Collected Plays of Richard Brome (2010), and published the monograph, Collaborations: Ninette de Valois and William Butler Yeats (2011). The Collected Brome is soon to be published in a more traditional book-format by Oxford University Press (2020). He has also edited the plays of Wilde, Yeats and T.C. Murray; and the manuscript versions of Yeats’s The King of the Great Clock Tower and A Full Moon in March. Professor Cave is a trained Feldenkrais practitioner who works on vocal techniques with professional actors and on extending movement skills with performers in physical theatre.More info →