Spring 2001, Volume 37, No. 2

Contents

FEATURE
Lives of a Saint

SPECIAL SECTION
Altruism 101
Reach Out!
Venture Catalysts
Sagehens in Paradise

DEPARTMENTS
-Pomona Forum-
Altruism 101
-News Print-
Professor's Philosophy of Life Unshaken

-Pomona Today-
Professor of the Year
Inside the Power Crunch
Rite of Passage
Top Five
Frats with a Difference
Bridge Over the Pacific

-New Knowledge-
The Secrets of the Hydra
-Sports Report-
Dynamic Duos
-Bookshelf-
Getting On
Threshholding
George Moore

-Campaign Update-
American Dreams

ALUMNI VOICES
-Parlor Talk-
Traditions
-Family Tree-
Allen-Lee-Kingman-McDonald
-Alumni Profile-
Casey Trupin '95
-Alumni Puzzler-
Inside-Out
-Back Cover-
Pilgrims' Progress



 

George Moore, the subject of Adrian Frazier's excellent biography, has been one of the forgotten figures of literary history. Overshadowed by his Irish modernist contemporaries William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and James Joyce, and unable to achieve the literary status of English novelists such as Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad, Moore has fallen into relative obscurity and is usually considered a "minor" author rather than one of the first rank.
   Moore published works in a number of genres, including poems, plays, novels, short stories, memoirs, and critical articles and reviews, but his best-known works are probably the novel Esther Waters (1894), and the fictionalized autobiography Confessions of a Young Man (1888). Though he was considered during his lifetime to be one of the most important novelists writing in English, and one of the most accomplished all-around "men of letters" of his day, the vast majority of his work is now out of print, and his books are rarely taught or discussed.
   We can only hope that this thoroughly researched and engagingly written biography will help to resurrect the reputation of one of the most fascinating figures of Anglo-Irish modernism. Not only did Moore have one of the longest and most prolific careers of any writer of his time; but he lived an extraordinarily active life, the details of which are entertaining in themselves. Moore's career spanned the period from the Victorian era to the age of modernism: his first book was published in 1877, and his last in 1933.
   Though Frazier does a good job of tracing Moore’s development as a writer, this is not exclusively a "literary" life: much of the biography concerns his relationships with various individuals, many of whom were among the most important artists, writers, and cultural figures of his day. These include Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Emile Zola, and Stephane Mallarmé (all of whom Moore met during his stay in Paris in the 1870s), Yeats and Lady Gregory (with whom he worked on the Irish Literary Theatre), and novelists like Joyce, Edmond Gosse, and Henry James. For those interested in the cultural life of the period, and particularly in the crosscurrents of literary and artistic culture between England, France, and Ireland, this book is rich in information. Moore’s involvement with the changing currents of artistic thought--from Impressionism to Naturalism to Irish Nationalism—is a fascinating story in itself of an artist’s quest for an adequate mode of expression.
   Moore was, as Frazier suggests, "an artist in self-invention," a writer who "took himself on errands to witness what was dramatic, sowed the seeds of conflict among friends and took notes on the result, turned literary collaborators into affairs and romantic affairs into literary collaborations." Moore's most tempestuous love affair was with Maud Burke, a young American heiress who was to become Lady Cunard and whose daughter Nancy, later part of the avant-garde scene in Paris, may have been Moore's child.
   Moore's life is also an interesting study in gender and sexuality: obsessed with sex but for the most part an unsuccessful lover, Moore was attracted to both men and women, remained uncertain of his sexual identity and attempted to deal more honestly with sexual relationships in his writings than most of his contemporaries.  --Christopher Beach '81 teaches literature at the University of California, Irvine and the Claremont Graduate University. He has published several books in the field of American poetry.