Guy de Maupassant


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Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), French author of the naturalistic school who is generally considered the greatest French short story writer.

Guy de Maupassant was probably born at the Château de Miromesniel, Dieppe on August 5, 1850. In 1869 Maupassant started to study law in Paris, but soon, at the age of 20, he volunteered to serve in the army during the Franco-Prussian War. Between the years 1872 and 1880 Maupassant was a civil servant, first at the ministry of maritime affairs, then at the ministry of education.

As a poet Maupassant made his debut with Des Vers (1880). In the same year he published in the anthology Soirées de Medan (1880), edited by E. Zola, his masterpiece, "Boule De Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880). During the 1880s Maupassant created some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. In tone, his tales were marked by objectivity, highly controlled style, and sometimes by sheer comedy. Usually they were built around simple episodes from everyday life, which revealed the hidden sides of people. Among Maupassant's best-known books are Une Vie (A Woman's Life, 1883), about the frustrating existence of a Norman wife and Bel-Ami (1885), which depicts an unscrupulous journalist. Pierre Et Jean (1888) was a psychological study of two brothers. Maupassant's most upsetting horror story, Le Horla (1887), was about madness and suicide.

Maupassant had suffered from his 20s from syphilis. The disease later caused increasing mental disorder - also seen in his nightmarish stories, which have much in common with Edgar Allan Poe's supernatural visions. Critics have charted Maupassant's developing illness through his semi-autobiographical stories of abnormal psychology, but the theme of mental disorder is present even in his first collection, La Maison Tellier (1881), published at the height of his health.

On January 2, in 1892, Maupassant tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat and was committed to the celebrated private asylum of Dr. Esprit Blanche at Passy, in Paris, where he died on July 6, 1893.

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Recent Forum Posts on Guy de Maupassant

First Read of Maupassant Short Stories - Unimpressed

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 Two Friends Madame Tellier's Establishment Madamoiselle Fifi Claire de Lune Miss Harriet The Necklace Madammoiselle Pearl The Piece of String Madame Husson's 'Rosier' That Pig of a Morin Useless Beauty The Other Orchard A Sale Love Two Little Soldiers Happiness 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.


De Maupassant Collection Recommendation

Okay, so if I were to buy just one collection of De Mauppasant's short stories, what should it be? I can get them all free on my Kindle, but I really like getting actual book forms of classics (and I'm on a actual-book kick at the moment). The choice of what to get is kind of divisive going by Amazon reviews.


Help with a De Maupassant story

I have been looking for this story, which unfortunately is out of print in the sole greek edition it appears to have been part of. Its title should be something like "Little Rok" which is the name of one of the characters. I tried searching for it, both in english and french, but didnt find anything. Perhaps someone knows of the story (is the title different in the original version?) and can direct me to an etext of it? Anyway thanks for the help :)


Little Rok

Does anyone know where i could find an etext in english of the story "Little Rok" by Guy De Maupassant? Unfortunately the only edition i know of in greek which had it has been out of print for years. But i would love to read the story :)


Short story about statues?

I remember reading a story about a man who is going mad and believes statues are flying over his bed at night. I think it's Guy de Maupassant, but it could be somebody like Zola or even Kafka. Does this sound familiar?


at sea, help

i just read the short story "at sea" and im a little confused about it. im told that there is irony in the story but i dont seem to see it. what is the irony and what was guy trying to say when he wrote this? can anyone give me a short analysis of the story? so i have a total of three questions: 1) what is the irony 2)what was he trying to get accross when he wrote "at sea" 3)if anyone can write a short analysis of the story thank you


In The Wood

I just finished reading this story and I really enjoyed it. I rather like Maupassant's writing and it seems in many ways we are of a same mind in our views about human society and the human psychology. Out of what little I have read so far In The Wood was a bit more upbeat than his other works though it was still a touch bittersweet in nature. It was quite a charming little story while still touched in sadness. Like his other works (from what I have read) it seems to have an important message to impart to us. How indeed sometimes we get too caught up in the things that appear important, the materialism, that we neglect the things that are truly important until it passes us by before we even notice and then we attempt to recapture those fleeting moments feeling regret for all the time we have let ourselves live without them. I think that the lessons of this story are turly timeless and I think many can relate. It also refelcts that no matter what. No matter how much time has passed and what has happend the passion never really dies. It is still there even if perhaps it has gown dormat.


Short Story Recomendations

Someone recomended the works of Guy de Maupassant to me but I have no idea where I should begin. So I am open to suggestions and recomendations.


help finding story about man who pays wife for sex

I remember reading a story where the husband is kind of a prick and mistreats his wife by cheating on her. She eventually won't spend anytime unless he pays for it. Can someone please, if you know, tell me the story's name. I have been randomly guessing the title and opening various stories. With over 300, this hasn't worked. Thanks, mramon


Maupassant: Best Editions/Translations?

I need suggestions from those of you who have read him more than I have. I had the older Selected Stories Penguin edition translated by Colet. The swooshy arrow logo bookseller lists various translations of selected works, but I am after Collected stories... It does not look like any larger contemporary literary publisher has tried to re-issue his collected works or his novels. I am after all his stories and his novel, Bel Ami I have a VERY old tattered 1905 ed NY books hardcover of what appears to be most of his stories. I am not sure of the quality of the english translation. I am picky about translation versions. To you experts out there, do older, english idiom translations butcher his prose? There are a couple of paperback "Collected Stories" edditons listed but they don't even list the translator so I am leary...


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