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Novel InstitutionsAnachronism, Irish Novels and Nineteenth-Century Realism$
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Mary L. Mullen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474453240

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474453240.001.0001

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George Moore’s Untimely Bildung

George Moore’s Untimely Bildung

(p.175) Chapter 5 George Moore’s Untimely Bildung
Novel Institutions

Mary L. Mullen

Edinburgh University Press

Writing at the end of the nineteenth century, George Moore’s realist experiments both consolidated a realist movement in England and actively challenged institutions like circulating libraries that shaped the development of mid-century realism. But despite Moore’s importance to the institutionalisation of realism in England and the flourishing of naturalism in Ireland, he remains woefully understudied in part because of his performative, often comic, refusal of institutions. This chapter takes this performance seriously as it focuses on his revisions to the realist Bildungsroman in the ‘English’ Esther Waters (1894) and the ‘Irish’ A Drama in Muslin (1886). In both of these novels of development, Moore claims that public institutions and private growth are at odds. A Drama in Muslin adopts an explicitly anachronistic narrative temporality that refuses to allow the protagonist’s individual development to represent national development while Esther Waters validates the protagonist’s stasis over time – her illiteracy despite education. Combining an anti-institutional impulse with an anachronistic narrative temporality, Moore questions the institutionalised assumptions of what constitutes proper growth.

Keywords:   George Moore, Bildungsroman, Untimely development, Institution, Naturalism, Ireland

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