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A 1879 portrait of George Moore by Édouard Manet.

George Augustus Moore (24 February 1852 – 21 January 1933) was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. Moore came from a Roman Catholic landed family. He originally wanted to be a painter, and studied art in Paris during the 1870s. There, he befriended many of the leading French artists and writers of the day.

As a naturalistic writer, he was amongst the first English-language authors to absorb the lessons of the French realists, and was particularly influenced by the works of Émile Zola.[1] His writings influenced James Joyce, according to the literary critic and biographer Richard Ellmann,[2] and, although Moore's work is sometimes seen as outside the mainstream of both Irish and British literature, he is as often regarded as the first great modern Irish novelist.




Early life

George Moore was born in Moore Hall, near Lough Carra, County Mayo.[3] The house was built by his paternal great-grandfather—also called George Moore—who had made his fortune as a wine merchant in Alicante.[4] The novelist's grandfather was a friend of Maria Edgeworth, and author of An Historical Memoir of the French Revolution.[5] His great-uncle, John Moore, was president of the short-lived Republic of Connaught[6] during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The novelist's father, George Henry Moore, sold his stable and hunting interests during the Great Irish Famine, and from 1847–1857, served as an Independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Mayo in the British House of Commons.[7] George Henry was renowned as a fair landlord, fought to uphold the rights of tenants,[8] and was a founder of the Catholic Defence Association. His estate consisted of 5000 ha (50 km²) in Mayo, with a further 40 ha in County Roscommon.

As a child, Moore enjoyed the novels of Walter Scott, which his father read to him.[9] He spent a good deal of time outdoors with his brother Maurice, and also became friendly with the young Willie and Oscar Wilde, who spent their summer holidays at nearby Moytura. Oscar was to later quip of Moore: "He conducts his education in public".[10] His father had again turned his attention to horse breeding and in 1861 brought his champion horse, Croagh Patrick, to England for a successful racing season, together with his wife and nine-year old son. For a while George was left at Cliff's stables until his father decided to send George to his alma mater facilitated by his winnings. Moore's formal education started at St. Mary's College, Oscott, a catholic boarding school near Birmingham where he was the youngest of 150 boys. He spent all of 1864 at home, having contracted a lung infection brought about by a breakdown in his health. His academic performance was poor while he was hungry and unhappy. In January 1865, he returned to St. Mary's College with his brother Maurice, where he refused to study as instructed and spent time reading novels and poems.[11] That December the principal, Spencer Northcote, wrote a report that: "he hardly knew what to say about George." By the summer of 1867 he was expelled, for (in his own words) 'idleness and general worthlessness', and returned to Mayo. His father once remarked, about George and his brother Maurice: "I fear those two redheaded boys are stupid", an observation which proved untrue for all four boys.[12]

London and Paris

A drawing of George Moore in Paris by Édouard Manet.

In 1868, Moore's father was again elected MP for Mayo and the family moved to London the following year. Here, Moore senior tried, unsuccessfully, to have his son follow a career in the military though, prior to this, he attended the School of Art in the South Kensington Museum where his achievements were no better. He was freed from any burden of education when his father died in 1870.[12] Moore, though still a minor, inherited the family estate that was valued at £3,596. He handed it over to his brother Maurice to manage and in 1873, on attaining his majority, moved to Paris to study art. It took him several attempts to find an artist who would accept him as a pupil. Monsieur Jullian, who had previously been a shepherd and circus masked man, took him on for 40 francs a month.[13] At Académie Jullian he met Lewis Weldon Hawkins who became Moore's flat-mate and whose trait, as a failed artist, show up in Moore's own characters.[12] He met many of the key artists and writers of the time, including Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Daudet, Mallarmé, Turgenev and, above all, Zola, who was to prove an influential figure in Moore's subsequent development as a writer.

While still in Paris his first book, a collection of lyric poems called The Flowers of Passion, was self-published in 1877. The poems were derivative, maliciously reviewed by the critics who were offended by some of the depravities in store for moralistic readers and was withdrawn by Moore.[14][15] He was forced to return to Ireland in 1880 to raise £3,000 to pay debts incurred on the family estate due to his tenants refusing to pay their rent and the drop in agricultural prices.[15] During his time back in Mayo, he gained a reputation as a fair landlord, continuing the family tradition of not evicting tenants and refusing to carry firearms when travelling round the estate. While in Ireland, he decided to abandon art and move to London to become a professional writer. There he published his second poetry collection, Pagan Poems, in 1881. These early poems reflect his interest in French symbolism and are now almost entirely neglected. In 1886 Moore published Confessions of a Young Man, a lively and energetic memoir about his 20s spent in Paris and London among bohemian artists.[16] It contains a substantial amount of literary criticism for which it has received a fair amount of praise,[16][17] for instance The Modern Library chose it in 1917 to be included in the series as "one of the most significant documents of the passionate revolt of English literature against the Victorian tradition."[17]

Controversy in England

Charcoal drawing of George Moore.

During the 1880s, Moore began work on a series of novels in a realist style. His first novel, A Modern Lover (1883) was a three-volume work, as preferred by the circulating libraries, and deals with the art scene of the 1870s and 1880s in which many characters are identifiably real.[18] The circulating libraries in England banned the book because of its explicit portrayal of the amorous pursuits of its hero. At this time the British circulating libraries, such as Mudie's Select Library, controlled the market for fiction and the public, who paid fees to borrow their books, expected them to guarantee the morality of the novels available.[19] His next book, A Mummers Wife (1885) is widely recognised as the first major English language novel in the realist style. This too was regarded as unsuitable by Mudie's and W H Smith refused to stock it on their news-stalls. Despite this, during its first year of publication the book was in its fourteenth edition mainly due to the publicity garnered by its opponents.[20] As with A Modern Lover, his two next novels, A Mummers Wife and A Drama in Muslin, were banned by Mudie's and Smith's. In response Moore declared war on the circulating libraries by publishing two provocative pamphlets; Literature at Nurse and Circulating Morals. In these, he complained that the libraries profit from salacious popular fiction while refusing to stock serious literary fiction.

Moore's publisher Henry Vizetelly began to issue unabridged mass-market translations of French realist novels that endangered the moral and commercial influence of the circulating libraries around this time. In 1888, the circulating libraries fought back by encouraging the House of Commons to implement laws to stop 'the rapid spread of demoralising literature in this country'. However, Vizetelly was brought to court by the National Vigilance Association (NVA) for 'obscene libel'. The charge arose due to the publication of the English translation of Zola's La Terre. A second case was brought the following year in order to force implementation of the original judgement and to remove all of Zola's works. This led to the 70-year-old publisher becoming a cause célèbre for the literary cause.[21] Throughout Moore stayed loyal to Zola's publisher, and on 22 September 1888, about a month before the trial, wrote a letter that appeared in the St. James Gazette. In it Moore suggested it was improper that Vizetelly's fate be determined by a jury of twelve tradesmen, explaining it would be preferable to be judged by three novelists. Moore pointed out that the NVA could make the same claims against such books as Madame Bovary and Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin, as their morals are equivalent to Zola's, though their literary merits might differ.[22]

Because of his willingness to tackle such issues as prostitution, extramarital sex and lesbianism, Moore's novels were initially met with disapprobation. However, as the public's taste for realist fiction grew, this subsided. Moore began to find success as an art critic with the publication of books such as Impressions and Opinions (1891) and Modern Painting (1893)—which was the first significant attempt to introduce the Impressionists to an English audience. By this time Moore was first able to live from the proceeds of his literary work.

Other realist novels by Moore from this period include A Drama in Muslin (1886), a satiric story of the marriage trade in Anglo-Irish society that hints at same-sex relationships among the unmarried daughters of the gentry, and Esther Waters (1894), the story of an unmarried housemaid who becomes pregnant and is abandoned by her footman lover. Both of these books have remained almost constantly in print since their first publication. His 1887 novel A Mere Accident is an attempt to merge his symbolist and realist influences. He also published a collection of short stories: Celibates (1895).

Dublin and the Celtic Revival

In 1901, Moore returned to Ireland to live in Dublin at the suggestion of his cousin and friend, Edward Martyn. Martyn had been involved in Ireland's cultural and dramatic movements for some years, and was working with Lady Gregory and William Butler Yeats to establish the Irish Literary Theatre. Moore soon became deeply involved in this project and in the broader Irish Literary Revival. He had already written a play, The Strike at Arlingford (1893), which was produced by the Independent Theatre. The play was the result of a challenge between Moore and George Robert Sims over Moore's criticism of all contemporary playwrights in Impressions and Opinions. Moore won the one hundred pound bet made by Sims for a stall to witness an "unconventional" play by Moore, though Moore insisted the word "unconventional" be excised.[23]

The Irish Literary Theatre staged his satirical comedy The Bending of the Bough (1900), adapted from Martyn's The Tale of a Town, originally rejected by the theatre but unselfishly given to Moore for revision, and Martyn's Maeve. Staged by the company who would later become the Abbey Theatre, The Bending of the Bough was a historically important play and introduced realism into Irish literature. Lady Gregory wrote that it: "hits impartially all round".[24] The play was satire on Irish political life, and as it was unexpectedly nationalist, was considered the first to deal with a vital question that had appeared in Irish life.[24] Diarmuid and Grania, a poetic play in prose co-written with Yeats in 1901, was also staged by the theatre,[25] with incidental music by Elgar.[26] After this production Moore took up pamphleteering on behalf of the Abbey, and parted company with the dramatic movement.[24]

Moore published two books of prose fiction set in Ireland around this time; a second book of short stories, The Untilled Field (1903) and a novel, The Lake (1905). The Untilled Field deal with themes of clerical interference in the daily lives of the Irish peasantry, and of the issue of emigration. The stories were originally written for translation into Irish, in order to serve as models for other writers working in the language. Three of the translations were published in the New Ireland Review, but publication was then paused due to a perceived anti-clerical sentiment. In 1902 the entire collection was translated by Tadhg Ó Donnchadha and Pádraig Ó Súilleabháin, and published in a parallel-text edition by the Gaelic League as An-tÚr-Ghort. Moore later revised the texts for the English edition. These stories were influenced by Turgenev's A Sportsman's Sketches, a book recommended to Moore by W.K. Magee. Magee was a sub-librarian of the National Library of Ireland, and had earlier suggested that Moore "was best suited to become Ireland's Turgenev".[27] The tales are recognised by some as representing the birth of the Irish short story as a literary genre.[2] They can further be viewed as forerunners of Joyce's Dubliners collection, which is concerned with similarly quotidian themes, although in an urban setting.

In 1903, following a disagreement with his brother Maurice over the religious upbringing of his nephews, Moore declared himself to be Protestant. His conversion was announced in a letter to the Irish Times newspaper.[28] Moore remained in Dublin until 1911. In 1914, he published a gossipy, three-volume memoir of his time there under the collective title Hail and Farewell, which entertained its readers but infuriated former friends. Moore himself said of these memoirs, "Dublin is now divided into two sets; one half is afraid it will be in the book, and the other is afraid that it won't".[29]

Later life

Moore returned to London, where, with the exception of frequent trips to France, he was to spend the rest of his life. In 1913, he travelled to Jerusalem to research for his next novel The Brook Kerith (1916).[30] This book saw Moore once again embroiled in controversy, as it was based on the supposition that a non-divine Christ did not die on the cross but instead was nursed back to health. In the The Brook Kerith, Jesus eventually travelled to India to find wisdom. Other books from this period include a further collection of short-stories called A Storyteller's Holiday (1918), a collection of essays called Conversations in Ebury Street (1924) and a play, The Making of an Immortal (1927). Moore also spent considerable time revising and preparing his earlier writings for a uniform edition.

Partly due to Maurice Moore's pro-treaty activity, Moore Hall was burnt by anti-treaty forces in 1923, during the final months of the Irish Civil War.[31] Moore eventually received compensation of £7,000 from the government of the Irish Free State. By this time George and Maurice had become estranged, mainly because of an unflattering portrait of the latter which appeared in Hail and Farewell. Tension also arose as a result of Maurice's active support of the Roman Catholic Church, to whom he frequently made donations from estate funds.[32] Moore later sold a large part of the estate to the Irish Land Commission for £25,000.

Moore was friendly with many members of the expatriate artistic communities in London and Paris, and conducted a long-lasting affair with Lady Maud Cunard. Moore took a special interest in the education of Maud's daughter, the well-known publisher and art patron, Nancy Cunard,[33] and it has been suggested that Moore, rather than Maud's husband, Sir Bache Cunard, was Nancy's father.[34] Gertrude Stein mentions Moore in her The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), describing him as 'a very prosperous Mellon's Food baby'.

Moore's last novel, Aphroditis in Aulis, was published in 1930. He contracted uraemia and died at his home at Ebury Street in the London district of Pimlico. When he died, he left a fortune of £80,000, none of which was left to his brother. He was cremated in London and an urn containing his ashes was interred on Castle Island in Lough Carra in view of the ruins of Moore Hall.


  • Flowers of Passion London: Provost & Company, 1878
  • Martin Luther: A Tragedy in Five Acts London: Remington & Company, 1879
  • Pagan Poems London: Newman & Company, 1881
  • A Modern Lover London: Tinsley Brothers, 1883
  • A Mummer's Wife London: Vizetelly & Company, 1885
  • Literature at Nurse London: Vizetelly & Company, 1885
  • A Drama in Muslin London: Vizetelly & Company, 1886
  • Confessions of a Young Man Swan Sonnershein Lowrey & Company, 1886
  • A Mere Accident London: Vizetelly & Company, 1887
  • Parnell and His Island London; Swan Sonnershein Lowrey & Company, 1887
  • Spring Days London: Vizetelly & Company, 1888
  • Mike Fletcher London: Ward & Downey, 1889
  • Impressions and Opinions London; David Nutt, 1891
  • Vain Fortune London: Henry & Company, 1891
  • Modern Painting London: Walter Scott, 1893
  • The Strike at Arlingford London: Walter Scott, 1893
  • Esther Waters London: Walter Scott, 1894
  • Celibates London: Walter Scott, 1895
  • Evelyn Innes London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1898
  • The Bending of the Bough London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1900
  • Sister Theresa London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1901
  • The Untilled Field London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1903
  • The Lake London: William Heinemann, 1905
  • Memoirs of My Dead Life London: William Heinemann, 1906
  • The Apostle: A Drama in Three Acts Dublin: Maunsel & Company, 1911
  • Hail and Farewell London: William Heinemann, 1911, 1912, 1914
  • The Apostle: A Drama in Three Acts Dublin: Maunsel & Company, 1911
  • Elizabeth Cooper Dublin: Maunsel & Company, 1913
  • Muslin London: William Heinemann, 1915
  • The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story London: T. Warner Laurie, 1916
  • Lewis Seymour and Some Women New York: Brentano's, 1917
  • A Story-Teller's Holiday London: Cumann Sean-eolais na hEireann (privately printed), 1918
  • Avowals London: Cumann Sean-eolais na hEireann (privately printed), 1919
  • The Coming of Gabrielle London: Cumann Sean-eolais na hEireann (privately printed), 1920
  • Heloise and Abelard London: Cumann Sean-eolais na hEireann (privately printed), 1921
  • In Single Strictness London: William Heinemann, 1922
  • Conversations in Ebury Street London: William Heinemann, 1924
  • Pure Poetry: An Anthology London: Nonesuch Press, 1924
  • The Pastoral Loves of Daphnis and Chloe London: William Heinemann, 1924
  • Daphnis and Chloe, Peronnik the Fool New York: Boni & Liveright, 1924
  • Ulick and Soracha London: Nonesuch Press, 1926
  • Celibate Lives London: William Heinemann, 1927
  • The Making of an Immortal New York: Bowling Green Press, 1927
  • The Passing of the Essenes: A Drama in Three Acts London: William Heinemann, 1930
  • Aphrodite in Aulis New York: Fountain Press, 1930
  • A Communication to My Friends London: Nonesuch Press, 1933
  • Diarmuid and Grania: A Play in Three Acts Co-written with W.B. Yeats, Edited by Anthony Farrow, Chicago: De Paul, 1974


  • Moore Versus Harris Detroit: privately printed, 1921
  • Letters to Dujardin New York: Crosby Gaige, 1929
  • Letters of George Moore Bournemouth: Sydenham, 1942
  • Letters to Lady Cunard Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1957
  • George Moore in Transition Ed. Helmut E. Gerber, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1968


  1. ^ Moran, Maureen, (2006), Victorian Literature And Culture p. 145. ISBN 0-8264-8883-8
  2. ^ a b Gilcher, Edwin (September 2004; online edn, May 2006), "Moore, George Augustus (1852–1933)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press), doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35089,, retrieved 2008-01-07  (Subscription required)
  3. ^ Frazier (2000), p. 11.
  4. ^ Coyne, Kevin. "The Moores of Moorehal". Mayo Ireland Ltd.. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  5. ^ Bowen, Elizabeth (1950). "Collected Impressions". Longmans Green. p. 163. ISBN 0-4042-0033-8
  6. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 1–5.
  7. ^ Jeffares (1965), p. 7.
  8. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 1–2.
  9. ^ Jernigan, Jay. "The Forgotten Serial Version of George Moore's Esther Waters". Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 23, No. 1, June, 1968. pp. 99-103.
  10. ^ Schwab, Arnold T. Review of "George Moore: A Reconsideration", by Brown, Malcolm. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 10, No. 4, March, 1956. pp. 310-314.
  11. ^ Frazier (2002), pp. 14–16.
  12. ^ a b c Farrow (1978), pp. 11-14.
  13. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 28–29.
  14. ^ Farrow (1978), p. 22.
  15. ^ a b Jeffares (1965), pp. 8–9.
  16. ^ a b Arnold Bennett. Fame and fiction. G. Richards, 1901. Page 236+
  17. ^ a b Quote by Flyod Dell in "Introduction" to Confessions of a Young Man by George Moore. The Modern Library, 1917.
  18. ^ Farrow (1978), p. 31.
  19. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 48–49.
  20. ^ Peck (1898), pp. 90–95.
  21. ^ Sloan (2003), pp. 92–93.
  22. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 173–174.
  23. ^ Morris, Lloyd R., (1917), p. 113.
  24. ^ a b c Morris (1917), pp. 114–115.
  25. ^ Morris (1917), p. 92.
  26. ^ Moore, Jerrold N. Edward Elgar: a creative life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 178 ISBN 0193154471
  27. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 306, 326.
  28. ^ Frazier (2000), p. 331.
  29. ^ Galbraith (1908-06-27). "LITERARY LONDON'S CURRENT GOSSIP; George Moore's Book of Criticisms of Irish Affairs -- Literary Women and the Suffrage.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  30. ^ "The Brook Kerith by George Moore". Retrieved on 03 November 2007.
  31. ^ Frazier (2000), p. 434.
  32. ^ Frazier (2000), pp. 331, 360–363, 382–389.
  33. ^ "Nancy Cunard, 1896-1965: Biographical Sketch". Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. 30 June 1990. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  34. ^ "George Moore: Life". Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco).,George/life.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 


  • Farrow, Anthony (1978). George Moore. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-6685-5. 
  • Frazier, Adrian (2000). George Moore, 1852–1933. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-3000-8245-2. 
  • Hone, Joseph (1936). The Life of George Moore. London: Victor Gollancz. 
  • Igoe (1994). A Literary Guide to Dublin. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-4136-9120-9. 
  • Jeffares, A. Norman (1965). George Moore. London: The British Council & National Book League. 
  • Morris, Lloyd R. (1917). The Celtic Dawn: A Survey of the Renascence in Ireland 1889–1916. New York: The Macmillan Company. 
  • Peck, Harry Thurston (1898). The Personal Equation. New York & London: Harper & Brothers Publishers. 
  • Sloan, John (2003). Oscar Wilde. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-1928-4064-9. 
  • Lacey, Brian (2008). Queer Creatures: A History of Homosexuality in Ireland. Dublin: Wordwell Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-905569-23-6. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I will admit that an artist may be great and limited; by one word he may light up an abyss of soul; but there must be this one magical and unique word.

George Augustus Moore (1852-02-241933-01-21) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist.



  • The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.
    • Impressions and Opinions (1891): "Balzac"
  • Acting is therefore the lowest of the arts, if it is an art at all.
    • Impressions and Opinions (1891): "Mummer-Worship"
  • The public will accept a masterpiece, but it will not accept an attempt to write a masterpiece.
  • I have always noticed that when a fellow wants to finish a play, the only way to do it is to go away to the country and leave no address.
    • Vain Fortune, Chapter 1
  • He must put his shoulder to the wheel and get it right; one more push, that was all that was wanted.
    • Vain Fortune, Chapter 2
  • Faith goes out of the window when beauty comes in at the door.
    • The Lake (1905) [Appleton, 2005, digitized edition], ch. IX (p. 169)
  • The mind petrifies if a circle be drawn around it, and it can hardly be denied that dogma draws a circle round the mind.
    • Hail and Farewell (1912), vol. 2: Salve, [Kessinger Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-417-93272-4], ch. XV (p. 36)
  • A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
  • A great artist is always before his time or behind it.
    • As quoted in Conversations with George Moore (1929) by Geraint Goodwin, p. 123
  • The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it... you and you alone make me feel that I am alive... Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.
    • Letter to Lady Emerald Cunard, quoted in The Everything Wedding Vows Book : Anything and Everything You Could Possibly Say at the Altar, and then Some. (2001) by Janet Anastasio and Michelle Bevilacqua, p. 97

Confessions of a Young Man (1886)

  • My soul, so far as I understand it, has very kindly taken colour and form from the many various modes of life that self-will and an impetuous temperament have forced me to indulge in. Therefore I may say that I am free from original qualities, defects, tastes, etc. What is mine I have acquired, or, to speak more exactly, chance bestowed, and still bestows, upon me. I came into the world apparently with a nature like a smooth sheet of wax, bearing no impress, but capable of receiving any; of being moulded into all shapes.
    • Ch. 1
  • Terrible is the day when each sees his soul naked, stripped of all veil; that dear soul which he cannot change or discard, and which is so irreparably his.
    • Ch. 1
  • But if you want to be a painter you must go to France — France is the only school of Art.
    • Ch. 1
  • Never could I interest myself in a book if it were not the exact diet my mind required at the time, or in the very immediate future. The mind asked, received, and digested. So much was assimilated, so much expelled; then, after a season, similar demands were made, the same processes were repeated out of sight, below consciousness, as is the case in a well-ordered stomach.
    • Ch. 2
  • Ugliness is trivial, the monstrous is terrible.
    • Ch. 3
  • It does not matter how badly you paint so long as you don't paint badly like other people.
    • Ch. 6
  • The world is dying of machinery; that is the great disease, that is the plague that will sweep away and destroy civilization; man will have to rise against it sooner or later.
    • Ch. 7
  • Love — but not marriage. Marriage means a four-post bed and papa and mamma between eleven and twelve. Love is aspiration: transparencies, colour, light, a sense of the unreal. But a wife — you know all about her — who her father was, who her mother was, what she thinks of you and her opinion of the neighbours over the way. Where, then, is the dream?
    • Ch. 9
  • Injustice we worship; all that lifts us out of the miseries of life is the sublime fruit of injustice. Every immortal deed was an act of fearful injustice; the world of grandeur, of triumph, of courage, of lofty aspiration, was built up on injustice. Man would not be man but for injustice.
    • Ch. 10
  • It is said that young men of genius come to London with great poems and dramas in their pockets and find every door closed against them. Chatterton's death perpetuated this legend. But when I, George Moore, came to London in search of literary adventure, I found a ready welcome. Possibly I should not have been accorded any welcome had I been anything but an ordinary person.
    • Ch. 12
  • I will admit that an artist may be great and limited; by one word he may light up an abyss of soul; but there must be this one magical and unique word. Shakespeare gives us the word, Balzac, sometimes, after pages of vain striving, gives us the word, Tourgueneff gives it with miraculous certainty; but Henry James, no; a hundred times he flutters about it; his whole book is one long flutter near to the one magical and unique word, but the word is not spoken; and for want of the word his characters are never resolved out of the haze of nebulae. You are on a bowing acquaintance with them; they pass you in the street, they stop and speak to you, you know how they are dressed, you watch the colour of their eyes.
    • Ch. 12
  • One thing that cannot be denied to the realists: a constant and intense desire to write well, to write artistically. When I think of what they have done in the matter of the use of words, of the myriad verbal effects they have discovered, of the thousand forms of composition they have created, how they have remodelled and refashioned the language in their untiring striving for intensity of expression for the very osmazome of art, I am lost in ultimate wonder and admiration.
    • Ch. 13
  • We all want notoriety; our desires on this point, as upon others, are not noble, but the human is very despicable vermin and only tolerable when it tends to the brute, and away from the evangelical.
    • Ch. 16
  • Humanity is a pigsty, where lions, hypocrites, and the obscene in spirit congregate.
    • Ch. 16

The Bending of the Bough (1900)

  • After all there is but one race — humanity.
    • Act III
  • The difficulty in life is the choice.
    • Act IV
  • The wrong way always seems the more reasonable.
    • Act IV

Memoirs of My Dead Life (1906)

  • It would appear that practical morality consists in making the meeting of men and women as casual as that of animals.
    • Apologia Pro Scriptis Meis
  • I am filled with pride when I think of the noble and exalted world that must have existed before Christian doctrine caused men to look upon women with suspicion and bade them to think of angels instead.
    • Apologia Pro Scriptis Meis
  • One must be in London to see the spring.
    • Ch. 1: Spring in London
  • We humans are more complicated than animals, and we love through the imagination.
    • Ch. 6: Spent Loves
  • Self is man's main business; all outside of self is uncertain, all comes from self, all returns to self.
    • Ch. 12: Sunday Evening in London

Quotes about Moore

  • George Moore had a ceaseless preoccupation with painting and the theatre, within certain limits a technical understanding of both; whatever idea possessed him, courage and explosive power; but sacrificed all that seemed to other men good breeding, honour, friendship, in pursuit of what he called the root facts of life.
    • William Butler Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats (1926) [Macmillan, 1965, ISBN 0-02-055580-6]: "Dramatis Personae, 1986 - 1902," ch. 7 (p. 269)
  • I told him that he was more mob than man, always an enthusiastic listener or noisy interrupter. Yet I admired him and found myself his advocate. I wrote to Lady Gregory: "He is constantly so likeable that one can believe no evil of him, and then in a moment a kind of a devil takes hold of him, his voice changes, his look changes, and he becomes hateful... It is so hard not to trust him, and yet he is quite untrustworthy. He has what Talleyrand calls 'the terrible gift of familiarity.'"
    • William Butler Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats (1926): "Dramatis Personae, 1986 - 1902," ch. 14 (p. 289)
  • I can't tell you how urbane and sprightly the old poll parrot was; and (this is what I think using the brain does for one), not a pocket, not a crevice, of pomp, humbug, respectability in him: he was fresh as a daisy.

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