In Brief

The "Moore" mentioned often in Ulysses without a given name is George Moore, a major Irish novelist whose career was well advanced in 1904. Although he spent much of his adult life either in Paris or London, he lived in Dublin from 1901 to 1911. Joyce admired his writing but included him in the novel only as a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival circle that gathered often at his townhouse. Stephen Dedalus feels excluded from this group, but Buck Mulligan is a regular, prized by Moore just as his real-life inspiration Gogarty was.

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Moore was born into a landed Catholic family in County Mayo in 1852, thirty years before Joyce. Wanting to paint, he moved to Paris in 1873 to study art and befriended artists like Manet, Degas, Monet, and Pissarro, later writing discerning art criticism that helped make the Impressionists popular in England. He wrote poems in the 1870s and 80s and published a memoir titled Confessions of a Young Man (1886) about his bohemian experiences. His early novels, starting with A Modern Lover (1883), A Mummer's Wife (1885), and A Drama in Muslin (1886), were inspired by the realistic writing of Émile Zola and antagonized the morality police by representing same-sex love, extramarital love, and prostitution. Readers of James Joyce will hear affinities in this summary: a move to Paris just after college, early writing of verse, an autobiography "of a Young Man," realist fiction, sexual frankness. Joyce must have been inspired by Moore. In his biography Richard Ellmann writes that "Joyce could be as distrustful as he liked of the directions that Yeats and Moore were taking, but in English there was no one writing verse or fiction whom he admired more" (98).

In 1901, spurred by a telegram from his friend Edward Martyn that read, "The sceptre of the intellect has passed from London to Dublin," Moore moved to Dublin and became a central player in the Literary Revival, setting new novels and stories in Ireland and writing two plays for the Irish Literary Theatre. The Bending of the Bough (1900) brought realism into Irish drama (not to mention literature) and sounded nationalist critiques of Irish political life. The story collection The Untilled Field (1903), published by the Gaelic League in a facing-page Irish translation and later in an English-language edition, initiated an Irish short-story tradition that soon was swelled by Joyce's Dubliners and is still going strong in the 21st century. After leaving Dublin, Moore published three volumes of a tell-all memoir titled Hail and Farewell (1911, 1912, 1914) that angered many of his former friends. He said, "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." Ulysses had a very similar effect.

While living in Paris, Moore participated in the artists' and writers' salon that met at the Nouvelle Athènes café. Manet told him, "No Frenchman occupies in London the position you do in Paris." In Dublin he moved into a large Georgian house on Ely Place, a little east of St. Stephen's Green, and started a literary salon there. Yeats and Russell (A.E.) were frequent visitors. Yeats's father John called Moore "the most stimulating mind I ever met."

Also in regular attendance was Oliver St. John Gogarty, whom Moore immediately liked when he met him as a college student. Gogarty's biographer Ulick O'Connor quotes Moore's description of him as "the Arch Mocker, the youngest of my friends, the author of all the jokes that enable us to live in Dublin, of the Limericks of the Golden Age" (53). He notes that "Moore, who had a poor memory, was fascinated by Gogarty's ability to quote at will from various sources. Often the young man recited whole ballads to Mooore as they went on walks" (54). Both men had a facility for witty mockery and dazzling conversation. O'Connor writes that "Moore had the rare experience of being brilliantly out-talked in his own house.... Gogarty frequently had a new ballade or limerick with him when he arrived at Moore's. These were given to Yeats, A.E., and Moore with the injunction that they were to be locked away, though A.E. thought the precaution unnecessary as the verses were so ingenious even the victims must laugh at them...." (54-55).

Scylla and Charybdis evokes the gatherings at Ely Place by alluding repeatedly to one planned for the evening of June 16. John Eglinton asks A.E., "Shall we see you at Moore's tonight?"and A.E. replies doubtfully. Stephen listens to someone  saying, "I hope you’ll be able to come tonight. Malachi Mulligan is coming too. Moore asked him to bring Haines." And Eglinton says to Mulligan, "We shall see you tonight... Notre ami  Moore says Malachi Mulligan must be there." Although Moore does not appear in this chapter, or anywhere else in Ulysses, he is characterized by various small details. In the snippets of conversation that Stephen overhears, someone opines that "Moore is the man" to write Ireland's as-yet-unwritten "national epic." Stephen, the one who may in fact write this great work, is not included in the conversation or invited to the salon. Someone else asks, "Did you hear Miss Mitchell’s joke about Moore and Martyn? That Moore is Martyn’s wild oats?" The joke alludes to Moore's reputation for sexual license, which Mulligan later affirms by punning on an expression for condoms: "Monsieur Moore, he said, lecturer on French letters to the youth of Ireland. I’ll be there."

Eglinton alludes to the author's penchant for dropping French phrases: "Que voulez-vous? Moore would say" ("What do you want?"). In his reference to the great man as "Notre ami Moore" ("our friend Moore") Slote detects an allusion to Edward Martyn's joking attack on his friend's bilingual patter, recorded in Denis Gwynn's 1930 book Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival: "'Mon ami Moore yearns to be le génie de l'amitié [master of friendship], but unfortunately he can never be looked upon as a friend. For he suffers from [...] a perennial condition of mental diarrhoea" (33). Interestingly, Gogarty made a similar observation in As I Was Going Down Sackville Street. Writing long after Moore left Dublin, he remarked that "It was impossible to be a friend of his, because he was incapable of gratitude." Gogarty might well have said the same of Joyce, but it is telling that he so judged the older, famous writer who so affirmed his worth.

Mulligan does indeed attend the soirée. In Oxen of the Sun, some eight hours after the eager anticipations of Scylla, he is called "a gentleman’s gentleman that had but come from Mr Moore’s the writer’s (that was a papish but is now, folk say, a good Williamite)." "Williamite," a word suited to the late 17th century style of this section of the chapter, refers to England's King William, revered by Irish Protestants for his victory over the Catholic King James II in 1690. The larger reference is to Moore's announcement, in a 1903 letter to the Irish Times,  that he was leaving the Catholic faith to become a Protestant. The conversion apparently was sparked by an argument with his brother, and there had been other Protestants in Moore's family, but one effect must have been to align him even more comfortably with the other writers of the Revival, many of whom (Yeats, Russell, Hyde, Synge, Gregory) had been raised Protestant, most of them in families of the Anglo-Irish gentry. The Catholic Gogarty would not have been dismayed by this desertion, having thrived in the Protestant environs of Trinity College, but Moore's change of faith represents one more way in which Stephen Dedalus does not belong.

French letters cross paths with French words once more in Oxen when, in a passage peppered with gallicisms and double entendres, Mulligan refers to "my friend Monsieur Moore, that most accomplished traveller (I have just cracked a half bottle avec lui in a circle of the best wits of the town)." Avec lui, means "with him."

JH 2022
1879 pastel on canvas portrait of George Moore by Édouard Manet.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph of Moore taken in 1888 or earlier. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
No. 4 Upper Ely Place, where Moore lived in Dublin, in a 2009 photograph by Hohenloh. Source: Wikimedia Commons.