Memoirs of My Dead Life, by George Moore

I read another of George Moore’s autobiographical works; – but of course, nobody is interested or cares, since nobody else is in the slightest bit interested in George Moore (aside from maybe Esther Waters, which they deliberately read to get the wrong impression). Even I myself read this book quite badly; I started it so long ago, I don’t even remember the beginning.

The book is a series of sketches, memories, seemingly random, having little to do with one another, save perhaps for theme, which consists of two things, love and death. In general a narrator George Moore is wandering about at an unspecified later time, and the things he sees reminds him of things in the past, which he then recalls – and these things in the past often remind him of other things in the past – and so on. It is not clear what time sequence the events of the book fall into, but then I don’t suppose it matters either, just I suppose that one notices no particular development of the character George Moore. Each sketch is to do with a relationship with a woman, sometimes sexual, sometimes not, sometimes brief, sometimes lifelong.

The final sketch, entitled Resurgam, sees George Moore going back to his country estate in Ireland because his mother has died. He is to an extent upset by the death of his mother, but spends the majority of the time considering the nature of death and how he intends to arrange his own funeral. (It reminded me a lot of the song St James Infirmary). Everything he sees naturally reminds him of some memory.

I’d like to compare Moore’s work to Proust, but to do so it would help if I’d read a bit more Proust (I did, at one time, reading this, start on it – but decided perhaps I was reading a bit too much to embark on a 2000+ page narrative). I do find myself wondering though whether Proust might have read Moore: Moore did like hanging round Paris (actually, come to think of it, most of the stories in this book are set in France) with French symbolists and the like (he was great friends with Dujardin), and was more famous back around that time (this book was published in 1906).

Anyway, he’s a marvellous stylist and raconteur.


2 thoughts on “Memoirs of My Dead Life, by George Moore

  1. Good lord, I am listening to Louis Armstrong do “St. James Infirmary” right now, how strange, although a different version than the one you link. That comparison is, for me, a high recommendation.

    In general an over time, you have made me highly interested in Moore and killed any curiosity about Esther Waters.

  2. Esther Waters is much like Zola, except far less extreme and a lot more boring.

    I meant to say that the other thing this reminded me of (perhaps just because I’m reading it at the same time) is Krudy’s The Adventures of Sindbad – it has the same basic structure, a man revisiting his past loves – although in this he’s not dead and doesn’t actually go back as a ghost.

    I was trying to find a different version of the Armstrong. I’m sure there’s a version which contains the next verse too (Armstrong feels he has to elucidate the point around there being 8 women going to the funeral and only 7 going back). But I couldn’t find it on youtube.

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