As time goes by, it's a sad fate for any cultural figure to have had a commonly occurring name. If you're Percy Bysshe Shelley in life, you probably won't be confused with dozens of other Percy Bysshe Shelleys in decades to come: the name's still yours. If you are George Moore, though, the novelist and artist manqué born in 1852, you have to contend with some 35 others also claiming your name at Wikipedia: the three-cushion billiards champion, the 18th-century Archdeacon of Cornwall, the botanist, the admiral, the fictitious philosopher in Stoppard's play Jumpers, and a whole slew of others.

Pissarro, Children on a Farm (1887)

This is perhaps why George Augustus Moore (1852-1933), though one of Ireland's greatest modern novelists, is not better known today. But we can hope that Matthew Creasy's new edition of his novel Confessions of a Young Man (1888) will ameliorate that. Aside from its more straightforward virtues as a novel — one thought bracingly modern in its day — the Confessions are also a portrait of the Parisian art world at the rise of Impressionism.

Though by the 1880s he had returned to Ireland, Moore had spent much of the 1870s as an art student in Paris himself, and had met a string of cultural big names. (Émile Zola, for example, another writer who drew a luckier lottery ticket in the matter of distinctive surnames.) Moore was to take a certain pride in having been among the first to call out Manet, Degas, Monet and Pissarro as major talents. As he later said of these passages of the Confessions, the reader 'will find himself unable to deny that time has vindicated them all splendidly.'

Our new edition of the Confessions will be volume 5 in the MHRA's acclaimed Jewelled Tortoise series of decadent, or fin-de-siècle, texts.

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