~ The Untilled Field ~

by GEORGE MOORE (Also available: Albert Nobbs, Esther Waters)


The Untilled Field is one of the key works in the canon of Irish literature, but also one of the most neglected. George Moore’s stories of a downtrodden, priest-ridden peasantry at the turn of the nineteenth century were inspired by Turgenev and Dostoevsky and went on to influence James Joyce’s Dubliners. Women are coerced into arranged marriages, the poor are used as forced labour in return for charity and the clergy clamp down on any behaviour they deem sinful. The only hope is of escape to America. Moore treats these themes with wit, anger and compassion, and with the skill of a storyteller steeped as much in the folk tradition of Ireland as in the works of the Russian masters.

  • Based on the text published in 1903, this is a new digital edition of The Untilled Field
  • Edited and corrected text
  • Embedded explanatory notes and Links to Further Reading


“I examined the fields as we passed them. They were scanty fields, drifting from thin grass into bog, and from bog into thin grass again, and in the distance there was a rim of melancholy mountains, and the peasants I saw along the road seemed a counterpart of the landscape. “The land has made them,” I said, “according to its own image and likeness,” and I tried to find words to define the yearning that I read in their eyes as we drove past. But I could find no words that satisfied me.”


The Untilled Field is important because it demonstrates the art of composing a number of stories into a unified pattern . . . a practice to be repeated, more famously, by Joyce in Dubliners and Samuel Beckett inMore Pricks Than Kicks.’ – Seamus DeaneA Short History of Irish Literature

“It is right that Moore should get the credit which at present goes to his unruly disciple Joyce, for though as the work of the two men developed, it showed great differences . . . the early stories in Dubliners derive much from Moore.” – Frank O’Connor, “The Lonely Voice”

“In The Untilled Field Moore began to examine a certain sickness at the very heart of Irish society which Joyce later examined in greater depth.” – Brendan Kennelly


Irish novelist and short story writer George Moore (1852–1933) was born at Moore Hall in County Mayo. Among his many works are Esther Waters and Albert Nobbs, both of which are available from Swift Editions.

Purchase The Untilled Field.

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