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Brian Moore Biography

(1921–1999), Judith Hearne, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Feast of Lupercal, A Moment of Love

Irish novelist, born in Belfast, educated there at St Malachy's College. Moore emigrated to Canada in 1948, taking Canadian citizenship; he later moved to New York and thence to California, where he settled and worked on film scripts. The uprooted individual is a recurring theme in his fiction, and the confusion of values consequent on expatriation has elicited some of his most powerful and original writing. Judith Hearne (1955; US title The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, 1956), set in Belfast during the early 1940s, deals with a despairing Belfast spinster who becomes an alcoholic. Also set in Belfast during the early 1940s are Feast of Lupercal (1958; republished as A Moment of Love, 1965), about a repressed Catholic schoolmaster's infatuation with a sexually experienced Protestant girl, and The Emperor of Ice-Cream (1965), which centres on the 17-year-old Gavin, one of Moore's most sympathetic, and autobiographical, heroes. The first of his North American novels, The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1960), describes the struggles of an Irish immigrant in Montreal and his dreams of wealth and social success; An Answer from Limbo (1962) is set in New York and concerns an egoistic hack-writer and his old mother whom he brings to America. I Am Mary Dunne (1968), a first-person narration, shows Moore's sympathy with the female psyche and with the split personality, interests further developed in Fergus (1970) and The Doctor's Wife (1976). From the 1970s onwards came a change of direction from the larger-scale novel of social conflict of his earlier work to novels which could be loosely described as genre fiction. This development has not been accompanied by a diminution of the literary artistry or the intellectual range of his work. Catholics (1972), The Great Victorian Collection (1975), and Cold Heaven (1983) partake of fantasy. The Mangan Inheritance (1979) owes something to the Gothic mode and is in part based on the tragic life of the nineteenth-century Irish poet J. C. Mangan. The Temptation of Eileen Hughes (1981) returned to a concentration on the interaction of complex yet culturally conditioned people that was so notable in Moore's early work. Black Robe (1985) is a historical novel, set in what is now French Canada in the seventeenth century, and contrasts the French with their narrow proselytizing faith with the Algonquin Indians whose religion embraces communion with the dead. The Colour of Blood (1987), an account of a brave yet compromising cardinal in a communist state, has overtones of the thriller, as does Lies of Silence (1991) which returns to Belfast and concerns a hotel manager whose involvement with IRA terrorists wreaks havoc on his life. No Other Life (1993), a disturbing adventure story concerning a coup on a fictionalized Haiti, drew comparisons with Graham Greene. His last novel, The Statement (1995), is a tale of public and private morality, and crimes against humanity in post-war France.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edgar Mittelholzer Biography to Mr Norris Changes Trains