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 →