Exploring Moore’s early years in Paris and his ongoing engagement with the experimental modernity of his French models, these essays offer new insights into this cosmopolitan writer’s work. Moore emerges as a turn-of-the-century European artist whose eclectic writings reflect the complex evolution of literature from Naturalism to Modernism through Symbolism and Decadence.
Melanie Grundmann - ‘The Great Purifying Influence’: Théophile Gautier and George Moore
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‘The Great Purifying Influence’: Théophile Gautier and George Moore
George Moore was much influenced by France and French culture, especially in his youth. In his first autobiography, Confessions of a Young Man1 (1888), Moore detects in himself an early ‘instinctive liking for Frenchmen’.2 He went to Paris to study art as soon as he attained his majority in 1873. Within due time Moore recreated himself ‘in the womb of a new nationality’ and shook himself ‘free from race and language […] assuming its [France’s] ideals, its morals, and its modes of thought’.3 On his involuntary return to England in 1880 Moore claimed of being loaded with ‘dangerous ideas, and an impossible style’, while his writing was ‘rotten with French idiom’.4 He proudly declared ‘French wit was in my brain, French sentiment was in my heart; of the English soul I knew nothing’.5
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