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Thursday, 10 January 2013

A man of opinion

Monday, January 10th., London.

Moore by Manet

Today I lunched with George Moore at 121 Ebury Street. Nice London house, with fine pictures. A marvellous Claude Monet and ditto Constable. I said "So you have two Manet's." He said "I am the only man in London who has two Manet's." Not true of course. The house was very neat and well kept; but in the nicely furnished embrasure on the half-landing, I saw a collection of hat boxes etc. hidden in a corner.

Moore's novel "The Mummer's Wife" (1885) was an inspiration to me, set as it is in the Potteries and in realistic style. It 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. His next novel, A Drama in Muslin, was also 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 said that even I used French words sometimes in writing, and that he objected to it. I said I never did. He cited the word "flair". I told him it had become English. He wouldn't have that. He was curious about the financial side of letters. Like other people, he could not believe I can't get my plays produced.

He said that when Bernstein had a play on the stocks he went to a manager and said to the manager: "The play will be finished on such a date. You will pay me so much. I shall have so much for scenery etc. I shall be allowed to engage artistes up to so much weekly. I shall conduct the rehearsals. You will be permitted to come to the last three rehearsals." He assured me this was true, and that the manager would (at any rate officially) know nothing about the play until the end.

Bernstein, Henri (1876-1953). French dramatist who dominated the Parisian stage between 1900 and 1917 and continued to enjoy success until his death with his portraits of a grasping, materialist society. His heroes are treacherous and his heroines equally immoral. A Dreyfus supporter and himself a Jew, he treated the problem of Jewishness in Israël (1908) and Judith (1922).

Moore had no use for Hardy or Conrad. He spoke of "Hardy the Villager, Conrad the Sailor," etc.

Moore in 1921

George Augustus Moore (1852 – 1933) was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. Moore came from a Roman Catholic landed family who lived at Moore Hall in Carra, County Mayo. 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. His writings influenced James Joyce, according to the literary critic and biographer Richard Ellmann, 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.

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