Frank O'Connors in The Lonely Voice: A Study in the Short Story ranks George Moore's (1852 to 1933, County Mayo, Ireland) collection of short stories, The Untilled Field as one of the greatest collections of short stories of all times. Recently I had something to do that involved going somewhere and waiting around a couple of hours so I took William Trevor's The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories with me and read Moore's "Albert Nobbs" while I was waiting. I admit somehow I thought maybe this story would not stand the test of time but I was completely shocked by what a totally great story it was. I got an even bigger shock when I just now Googled "Albert Nobbs" and found out a movie staring the great actress Glenn Close will be premiering world wide in less than a week. (It has already opened in some venues.) I wish so much George Moore could be here to see this movie and reap the rewards.
"Albert Nobbs" really goes beyond mere story telling into total brilliance. Ford Madox Ford famously said of Moore that he would be better regarded if he had not had such an arrogant personality (of course leaving aside the question of Ford's own case!).
Moore is, I think, considered the first great Irish novelist. He was a hugely prolific writer, his collection of short stories comes to nearly 2000 pages and he wrote at least thirty books ranging from novels, to dramas, to art criticism and political reflections. (There is a good article on him here)
There are all ready a number of outtakes from the movie posted on the net so you can easily get the basic idea of the story from these videos if you like but you really need to read this story first. I do not care to spoil any of the plot of this wonderful story.
I admit I was shocked by the secret in this story. The character of Albert Nobbs is just so brilliant. His life as a waiter in a hotel is perfectly done. I know I praise a lot of the stories I read but "Albert Nobbs" is truly amazing. As I read it I wondered if it should be seen as a GLBT story or not and I think others will have the same question.
This is a heartbreaking story. It is perfect.
You can down load it from Gutenburg.org under the title Celibate Lives.
George Moore will be one of the writers I will focus on during Irish Short Stories Week Year II. I plan to post then on his perhaps most famous story, "Home Sickness". I have also read the first story from his collection The Untilled Field and I may post on that soon as it was also amazing.
Please share your experience with George Moore with us and please suggest other writers whose work is now in the public domain that might be good choices for Irish Short Story Week II which will be from March 12 to March 22 with St. Patrick's Day in the middle on March 17.
Everyone is invited to join in for this event-details to come but all you have to do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment with a link to your post so I can do a master post. Last year there were posts on 57 stories by people from all over the world. There are 100s and 100s of stories you can read online or download for free if you like. I will do a resource page for the challenge before it begins.