Let me first just say that I'm quite passed the stage in my life where I in any way think my opinion is an accurate judgement of the actual worth of a piece of art. That being said, I can't change what I like and what I don't like, and after reading a collection of short stories by Guy de Maupassant, I have to say I didn't really like them. Here's the list of stories I read (from the Wordsworth Classics edition):
Boule de Suif
Madame Tellier's Establishment
Claire de Lune
The Piece of String
Madame Husson's 'Rosier'
That Pig of a Morin
The Other Orchard
Two Little Soldiers
Of these stories, the only ones I rally enjoyed were "Boule de Suif," "The Piece of String," and "The Other Orchard."
The biggest problem I had with the stories and most of them were so damn depressing. I'm not usually one to shy away from dark tones in literature--I actually prefer them--but so many of these stories just end on complete downers, even the ones I like. The bad guys go unpunished, the good guy gets screwed, etc. It just got old. I get that that's a realistic way of telling stories, and it'd be equally as boring if they all ended happily, but a bit of justice now and then would have been nice. And the depressing endings weren't really my main issue; it's that the endings were usually completely uninteresting. So many times the stories would end in such an obvious way--it's like Maupassant didn't even try to think of an interesting ending. Some of the stories didn't even seem to have an ending at all, they just petered out. I don't want some twist ending every time but, come on, give me something.
Maybe my expectations were set too high p, though I don't think that's unjustified as all I've heard about Maupassant is that he's one of, if not the, best short story writer of all time. These stories left me completely unimpressed. I know there was a lot of symbolism that I didn't pick up on (I could of, but I wasn't reading analytically--I rarely do when reading on my own for pleasure), so maybe reading from that perspective would've helped. It could have also been the translator (I've looked everywhere and can't find who it is in my rather cheap edition), but even a bad translation won't change the plot.
Oh well, maybe I'll have better luck with O. Henry.