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Brian Moore: An Appreciation

January 17, 1999|FINTAN O'TOOLE | Fintan O'Toole is the author of "A Traitor's Kiss," a biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. He is a critic for the New York Daily News and a columnist for the Irish Times

Editor's Note: Brian Moore died last week in Malibu at the age of 77. In 1994, he was given the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement by The Times for his many novels. To mark his passing, Book Review asked several colleagues and friends to comment on his life and work.

Brian Moore was both a wonderful writer and, in his own way, a great political exemplar. He knew the circumstances of Northern Ireland intimately and thoroughly, and no writer has captured Belfast as brilliantly as he did in his early novels. His work is saturated with Catholicism. Yet he was able to take those intimate attachments and transform them into something open, generous and elegant. He found metaphors for his own experiences in distant times and places. He brought a much bigger world to bear on Irish Catholicism at a time when it was locked into a vicious and inward-looking conflict. The good thing is that he lived long enough to see something similar happening in the real world of Northern Ireland.

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