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Brian Moore, The Great Victorian Collection

Just what is it that we see outside our window?

In his 1975 novel, The Great Victorian Collection , Brian Moore endeavors to answer this question. In the novel, Moore plays with the query by challenging human perceptions-- how people turn to reason for an explanation, forfeiting the possibility of improbable wonder. He expands upon this idea in this recorded reading and conversation with Charles Ruas, explaining and showing how Victorian objects in the novel are a paradigm of our past, a link to history where science began to triumph over divinity. He wonders, what has been lost to logic? What external experiences have informed that logic?

After reading from his text, Moore discusses his practice as a writer. Quoting Borges, he states that “we are all the same writer, writing one book.” With this concept in mind, he asserts that creatives are not equipped for success and as a result, they often create their own fictitious successes. He admits that he prefers to identify with the “losers” of society, because they forgo these nominal pressures. Moore's effort to live through this guise is manifest in his novels' characters. Anthony, the book's protagonist, dreams that the parking lot outside his hotel window is filled with antique objects, there for his taking.

Irish-Canadian novelist and screenwriter, Brian Moore (1920-1999), has been celebrated for his prolific body of work. From writing thrillers under pen names to co-writing the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, he has been referred to as an "albatross" and a "chameleon" writer. He was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1975 for The Great Victorian Collection . His other published works include: Judith Hearne (1955), The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1960), The Doctor's Wife (1976), Lies of Silence (1990), and The Magician's Wife (1997).


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.