Artistic Experiment and the Reevaluation of the Prima Donna in George Moore’s <i>Evelyn Innes</i>

Grace Kehler

in The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195365870
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932054 | DOI:
Artistic Experiment and the Reevaluation of the Prima Donna in George Moore’s Evelyn Innes

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This chapter explores George Moore’s Evelyn Innes (1898). Through extended treatment of his troubled heroine—a dutiful daughter turned internationally acclaimed operatic soprano—Moore seems to reinscribe Victorian gender stereotypes: though he celebrates her female artistry, he pathologizes her fluid subjectivity as symptomatic of hysteria, allowing male authority figures to subjugate her into silence. Of the characters Evelyn embodies either on- or offstage, Kundry, the role she never performs publicly, remains the most significant in the book. This chapter’s perspective on the novel is potentially recuperative: it cites Darwin’s construction of nature and the individual in a constant state of flux, alongside Wagner’s aspirations for a psychologically imbued aesthetic, to contextualize and emphasize Moore’s deliberate deployment of the prima donna as a site for literary experimentation—specifically, the first example of stream-of-consciousness prose by a British writer.

Keywords: George Moore; Evelyn Innes; gender; stereotypes; hysteria; Kundry; Wagner; Darwin

Chapter.  10611 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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