The Comparison of George Moore and James Joyce

Ireland is best known for its unique culture, the accent, the green beer, and the music. But it is also known for its diverse literature and writers. Over the years there have been many different writers with their own sense of styles and their personal views of Ireland. There are many writers, such as James Joyce, Roddy Doyle, Edna O’Brien, George Moore, and Frank O’Conner who all came from different places in Ireland or even moved out of Ireland.

James Joyce and George Moore are two good examples of the diverse authors. Surprisingly, there are a few things these two writers had in common, yet their writing styles were different. Despite the different styles of writing depicted by each author and their different backgrounds, George Moore did have an impact on James Joyce’s writing.

James Joyce was born in Dublin, on February 2, 1882, to John Stanislaus Joyce. His father was an impoverished gentleman, who had failed in a distillery business and tried all kinds of professions, including politics and tax collecting.

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Joyce’s mother, Mary Jane Murray, was ten years younger than her husband. She was an accomplished pianist, whose life was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In spite of their poverty, the family struggled to maintain a solid middle-class facade. From the age of six, Joyce was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (1893-97). In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin. Joyce’s first publication was an essay on Ibsen’s play “When We Dead Awaken”.

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It appeared in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. At this time he also began writing lyric poems. After graduation in 1902 the twenty-year-old Joyce went to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations under difficult financial conditions. He spent a year in France but returned when a telegram arrived saying his mother was dying.

Not long after her death, Joyce was traveling again. He left Dublin in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid who he married in 1931. Two of Joyce’s major works, “Ulysses”, written in 1922, and “Finnegan’s Wake”, written in 1939, are noted for the experimental language used in them. Joyce’s technical innovations in his novels include the use of interior monologue and the technique of the stream of the consciousness. He used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions. “Ulysses” has many good examples of this form of writing. “We are praying now for the repose of his soul. Hoping you’re well and not in hell. Nice change of air.

Out of the frying pan of life into the fire of purgatory.” (Joyce 334.) “Dubliners”, another major work for Joyce is composed of 15 stories including “The Dead”. This short story shows Joyce’s technique of using a stream of consciousness in his writing. “Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried.” (Joyce 224.) In this image, Gabriel contemplates his mortality, and how his living experience intersects with death and the dead. Snow is falling everywhere in Ireland and in Gabriel’s life.

This quote shows how Joyce technique of reproducing the chaotic manner of the world and how our minds blend themselves with the ideas and memories of our lives with unstoppable thought. This can also be seen in the last chapter of “Ulysses”, which is a soliloquy of Molly Bloom thinking about her day and her life as she lies in bed. Joyce used puns, parodies, and allusions in his works. James Joyce’s past was definitely an influence in his writing. It is interesting to see that George Moore was also a major influence in his writing as well, despite some differences in their backgrounds.

George Augustus Moore was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. Moore came from a Roman Catholic landed family. 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. George Moore uses a naturalistic style in his writing. Naturalism, in literature, is an approach that proceeds from an analysis of reality in terms of natural forces. Unlike realism that focuses on technique, naturalism implies a philosophical position. It focuses on a characters instinct, passion, and the ways in which their lives are governed by forces of heredity and environment. As a naturalistic writer, he was one of the first English language authors to really be influenced by the ideas of the French realists, and was particularly influenced by the works of Émile Zola.

According to the literary critic and biographer Richard Ellmann, his writings influenced James Joyce, and, although Moore’s work is sometimes seen as outside the mainstream of both Irish and British literature, he is often regarded as the first great modern Irish novelist. Moore’s stories incorporate loneliness, human weakness, the repressive effects of the Catholic Church on its people, and the implications of emigration, especially to the United States. In “Homesickness” James Bryden returns to Ireland from America and is dismayed at the tyrannical manner in which the local priest treats his parishioners. He gratefully returns to America and eventually marries there.

However, in his old age, he becomes homesick for Ireland. “There is an unchanging, silent life within every man that none knows but himself, and his unchanging silent life was his memory of Margaret Dirken.” (Moore 59.) In the last paragraph of “Homesickness”, it is easy to see that James Bryden was homesick for America. He chose to live in the hustle and bustle of New York to escape Irish rural life. There is also a sense of naturalism in this story as well. Bryden is driven by instinct and his own human nature. He is trying to find an environment in which he feels most at home. “Homesickness”, in a way, reflects Moore’s life. He moved away to Paris; to the hustle and bustle of a big city and away from the rural Irish life.

James Joyce and George Moore have different writing styles. But Joyce was influenced by Moore. With having such different backgrounds and different lifestyles, Moore seemed to have a major impact on Joyce and his writing. It is easy to see that Moore’s past in France and interests in philosophy influenced his naturalistic themes and way of writing. Joyce’s work was also influenced by his middle class past and his Catholic background. He wrote with puns ands many symbols; the stream of consciousness was also a major theme in his writing.

Both men, James Joyce and George Moore, grew up in Ireland in the Catholic Church. They were educated and both lived in Paris for a while. George Moore was influenced by the French philosophers. They both have many things in common; yet, there are some major differences in their works. Even though their backgrounds are similar, their writing is very unique.

Works Cited

George Moore.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 05 Mar. 2009

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The Comparison of George Moore and James Joyce. (2016, Nov 15). Retrieved from

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