Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Alms-Giving" and "So He Fares" by George Moore

"Alms Giving" (1903, 12 pages, included in The Untilled Field)
"So He Fares" (1903, 15 pages, included in The Untilled Field)

The Irish Quarter-March 11 to July 1
A Celebration of the Irish Short Story

A Few Days with George Moore

Please consider joining us for The Irish Quarter,  Year Two.   Everything you need to participate is in the resources page, including links to 1000s of short stories, from brand new ones to stories now in the public domain.   Guests posts are also welcome.

This will be my last post during The Irish Quarter Year Two on stories included by George Moore in his great work, The Untilled Field.   There are thirteen items in the collection, three of them are over sixty pages and I will for sure come back to this collection and read them at some point in the future.   I am very close to adding George Moore to The Reading Life list of Great Short Story Writers of All Time.   I plan to read very soon his consensus best novel, Esther Moore and as many of his shorter works as I can find online.   I have praised Moore highly in my other posts on him and here I am just going to briefly remark on two of the shorter works in the collection.   

"Alms Giving" is a very interesting story about the relationship of a man of at least comfortable financial status and a blind beggar.  I think the greatness in this story is the way Moore shows how the richer man comes to see the humanity in the beggar, to see him as a person in many ways surprisingly like himself.   He begins to give the beggar every day a very small to him donation, placing a coin of the lowest denomination in the box in front of the beggar.   He sees the beggar suffers the terrible cold and deprivation and he begins to wonder if it would be better to give him nothing so he will die sooner or even push him in the river.   Then he begins to talk to the beggar, something no one else ever does.  He finds the beggar lost his eyesight to small pox years ago, and that he has a wife and a son.  His son drops him off at his spot every morning and picks him up at night.  The beggar tells him he can get almost two days worth of food from the small coins the man gives him.  I have not done justice to this great story and I hope some will one day read it.

"So He Fares" is another great story that I cannot imagine anyone reading and not loving it.   The story cover about thirteen years of the life of a may who ran away from home at age ten and returned thirteen years later.   The story is told in the third person and starts out telling us about a boy who mother has forbidden him from wandering the roads or playing with other children from his neighborhood.   His father is in the army and wears a red coat. (There is three hundred years of history in that coat.)  His mother is, in the ten year old boy's mind, very harsh with him.   There is a commercial boat canal very near their home and he has been given strict orders never to go near the ships.  Like any ten year old boy, he has to do all these forbidden things.   One day his mother catches him near the boat canal so she puts a bee into his shirt and laughs as he cries in pain.   Telescoping a bit, he runs away and ends up for three years at the home of a very loving motherly widow who takes him in and treats him with great kindness.   She dies when he is thirteen and he ends up working for ten years on boats that circumnavigate  all the ports of Ireland.   We learn he lived a rough life in this years, it is just a sign of the genius of Moore that he can put so much in just a sentence.   He decides to go home.  I just do not want to tell the rest of this story as it is just amazing.

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Mel u

1 comment:

@parridhlantern said...

Another writer that has flown below my radar, thanks for the intro.