Shelves: classic , book I started reading Albert Nobbs when I stumbled upon it and recognized that it was cheap, short and a recent movie. After reading the intro, a lovely one by Glenn Close did you know she played Albert in NYC as one of her first characters ever? As head waiter at a prestigious restaurant she uses her secret identity as a man to grow a nice nest-egg for herself. She understands that it is this identity that enables her I started reading Albert Nobbs when I stumbled upon it and recognized that it was cheap, short and a recent movie. That is until she is forced to bunk with a man named Hubert and a flea threatens to ruin her secret.
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From October 3rd-5th, the important biennial symposium at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco will be entirely devoted to the Irish writer George Moore It is a happy coincidence that celebration of this very remarkable Mayo literary man will take place in a venue that celebrates the Mayo ancestry and artistic legacy of Princess Grace.
Moore, often better known as GM, still needs introduction to a wider public. Born in Carnacun, near Claremorris, Co Mayo, in , the eldest son of Irish Party MP George Henry Moore , he spent significant periods of his life in Paris and Dublin, and died in London in — and the importance of each of those locations resounds repeatedly in his writings. He was the author of a truly massive oeuvre: 65 titles include prose, drama and early poetry but many exist in multiple editions for he was a perfectionist and a tireless reviser.
Literary historians credit him with playing the key role in bringing French literary modernism to English readers, especially in the s and s. In the light of his acknowledged excellence and ground-breaking achievements, why is his name less widely recognised than that of someone like JM Synge, whose Complete Poems and Plays constitute but a single small volume?
It is an interesting story, one now very easily understood in an era when Ireland can uncover the prejudice, prurience and scandals of its Victorian past and the pressure of its early independent existence.
Like his childhood friend, Oscar Wilde , GM was loudly and irritably articulate on the subject of English hypocrisy. Moore was appreciably influenced by his residence in France in the s when he became friends with Degas and Manet three of whose portraits of GM still exist , and where he initiated a collaboration with Zola in international naturalism. From that time on, GM was always very much more a European artist than one identifiably limited to one geographical or literary heritage.
He wanted to be recognised for the quality of his books, but only so long as he did not have to compromise with the public in any respect whatsoever. So, just as the English often regarded Moore as never quite respectable too French, too Irish, too Catholic, and too daring , bourgeois Ireland followed that pattern, with the variation that Moore was not considered sufficiently Irish or Catholic. Literary envy and jealousy also played a part in influencing how his persona and oeuvre would be viewed.
The breadth of study can only be described as spectacular: it encompasses French influences, visual art, music, gender studies, politics, classical Greek literature, biblical study, family history, religion and comparative literary examination.
The symposium in Monaco will surely ask why George Moore is so pertinent today. It can be suggested that it is because, a century ago, he contended that the Irish Catholic Church had stepped into the place vacated by the Ascendancy after the Land War — that the church became the ultimate and extra-constitutional authority in the land and the priesthood assumed a kind of personal rule, and assumed with it the character faults of a tyrannical class.
In addition, GM was a visionary of a post-national phase of civilisation, believing that nations often demand too much compliance and thereby diminish the development of personality and freedom. GM always asserted that human sexuality is a matter of boundless complexity, and hence that normative expectations of individuals can prove very cruel; he believed marriage, or at least nineteenth-century marriage, was an institution in which many could not find a happy home.
Each of those attitudes displayed considerable honesty and prescience. GM treated the novel as a form of philosophical enquiry, a way of shaping a personal view of life. If this was difficult and threatening a century ago, the twenty-first century reader is ready to view novels as speculative instruments, not just as mirrors of social reality.
With typical Moorian unpredictability — or maybe ongoing political conservatism — Verdi was rejected, consigned to audiences of a lower order, and compared to Dickens!
As a correspondent, GM was prolific, whether with publishers, producers, family, friends, acquaintances, or literary collaborators.
That latter category included significant numbers of women from Olive Schreiner and Eleanor Marx on and his relationships with women were complex and interesting. Personally an abstemious drinker, his generous Dublin hospitality, complete with wine and cigars, was much sought after.
His religious beliefs? When scrutinised close up rather than through the prism of artistic envy or rivalry, the portrait of Moore reveals a man of keen intelligence, dignity and integrity.
It is a profile that provides a vital and authoritative counterbalance to negative personal assessments and to oft-repeated, simplistic jibes. While at various times Moore was condemned for honesty, innovation and daring, those very qualities are likely to be appreciated today. It is more than time to forgive him for shocking a timorous public of a certain period, just as Beckett and Joyce have been absolved.
He should now be embraced as a trail-blazer who sought self-clarification outside Ireland, and not in England but rather in France. Mary Pierse is the director of the George Moore Symposium.
George Moore (novelist)
Although biologically female, Albert has spent the last 30 years living as a man. He has also been secretly saving money to buy a tobacconist shop to gain some measure of freedom and independence. Recently unemployed Joe Mackins arrives at the hotel and cons his way into a boilerman job. He and a maid there, Helen Dawes, become lovers. He reveals to Albert that he is keeping the same secret about himself, living as a man after escaping an abusive husband. Albert tells Hubert the story of his life: born illegitimate and then abandoned, Albert was adopted by a Mrs Nobbs and educated in a convent before being expelled after his mother died. One night, aged 14 and still living as a girl, Albert was brutally gang-raped and beaten by a group of men.
From October 3rd-5th, the important biennial symposium at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco will be entirely devoted to the Irish writer George Moore It is a happy coincidence that celebration of this very remarkable Mayo literary man will take place in a venue that celebrates the Mayo ancestry and artistic legacy of Princess Grace. Moore, often better known as GM, still needs introduction to a wider public. Born in Carnacun, near Claremorris, Co Mayo, in , the eldest son of Irish Party MP George Henry Moore , he spent significant periods of his life in Paris and Dublin, and died in London in — and the importance of each of those locations resounds repeatedly in his writings. He was the author of a truly massive oeuvre: 65 titles include prose, drama and early poetry but many exist in multiple editions for he was a perfectionist and a tireless reviser.