Guy de Maupassant  

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"The horror-tales of the powerful and cynical Guy de Maupassant, written as his final madness gradually overtook him, present individualities of their own; being rather the morbid outpourings of a realistic mind in a pathological state than the healthy imaginative products of a vision naturally disposed toward phantasy and sensitive to the normal illusions of the unseen. Nevertheless they are of the keenest interest and poignancy; suggesting with marvelous force the imminence of nameless terrors, and the relentless dogging of al ill-starred individual by hideous and menacing representatives of the outer blackness. Of these stories "The Horla" is generally regarded as the masterpiece. Relating the advent to France of an invisible being who lives on water and milk, sways the minds of others, and seems to be the vanguard of a horde of extra-terrestrial organisms arrived on earth to subjugate and overwhelm mankind, this tense narrative is perhaps without a peer in its particular department; notwithstanding its indebtedness to a tale by American Fitz-James O'Brien for details in describing the actual presence of the unseen monster. Other potently dark creations of de Maupassant are "Who Knows?", "The Spectre", "He?", "The Diary of a Madman", "The White Wolf", "On the River", and the grisly verses entitled "Horror"." --"Supernatural Horror in Literature", H. P. Lovecraft


J'ai la vérole ! Enfin ! La vraie !

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (August 5 1850July 6 1893) was a popular 19th-century French writer. He is one of the fathers of the modern short story. A protégé of Flaubert, Maupassant's short stories are characterized by their economy of style and their efficient effortless dénouement. He also wrote six short novels. A number of his stories often denote the futility of war and the innocent civilians who get crushed in it - many are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s.

Contents

Significance

Maupassant is one of the fathers of the modern short story. He delighted in clever plotting, and served as a model for Somerset Maugham and O. Henry in this respect. His stories about real or fake jewels ("La Parure", "Les Bijoux") are imitated with a twist by Maugham ("Mr Know-All", "A String of Beads"), Henry James as well as a short story The Necklace.

Taking his cue from Balzac, Maupassant wrote comfortably in both the high-Realist and fantastic modes; stories and novels such as "L'Héritage" and Bel-Ami aim to recreate Third Republic France in a realistic way, whereas many of the short stories (notably "Le Horla", cited as an inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu", and "Qui sait?") describe apparently supernatural phenomena.

The supernatural in Maupassant, however, is often implicitly a symptom of the protagonists' troubled minds; Maupassant was fascinated by the burgeoning discipline of psychiatry, and attended the public lectures of Jean-Martin Charcot between 1885 and 1886 (see Pierre Bayard, Maupassant, juste avant Freud (Paris: Minuit, 1998). This interest is reflected in his fiction.

Bibliography

Novels

Short story collections

Liste des nouvelles de Guy de Maupassant

Travel writing

Poetry

See also

Une partie de campagne, publié en 1881
Le moyen de Roger, nouvelle publiée en 1883
L'ami Patience, publié en 1883
Au bord du lit, publié en 1883
Imprudence, conte publié en 1885
À la Feuille de Rose, Maison turque, pièce de théâtre jouée en 1875, éditée en 1945
Allouma, publié en 1889
Mouche, nouvelle publiée en 1890
Les Caresses



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