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.
Stoddard Martin - Wilde and Moore: Décadents
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Wilde and Moore: Décadents
Oscar Wilde spent his honeymoon in his much-beloved Paris. There, the event of the season in the literary world was publication of Huysmans’s À Rebours. Wilde acquired it, read it and, when interviewed about his trip, lauded the book as ‘one of the best I have ever seen’.1 Back in London, George Moore, making much of Parisian apprenticeship and connections, could not let a French novel of such moment escape his attention, so he reviewed it in the St James’s Gazette.2 At that time, still a promoter of Zola, he was bemused by Huysmans’s move away from that master towards art for art’s sake, eschewal of ‘the humanitarian dimension’ and adoption of unabashed inwardness.3 However, in the words of Adrian Frazier, the book ‘began the disturbance of Moore’s commitment to naturalism’.4 Many also regard it, along with Pater’s The Renaissance, as the influential work on Wilde’s mature oeuvre, especially his sole novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. ← 113 | 114 →
Parallels are many in the impact of French writers, and of Huysmans in particular, on this pair of Irishmen who had been acquainted since boyhood and would be rivals in championing the décadence in literary London from this point in the mid-1880s until their flight from it, for disparate reasons, in the waning 1890s. Scholarship on the topic stretches back to A. J. Farmer’s 1931 Le Mouvement esthétique et décadent en Angleterre, 1873...
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