Guy De Maupassant Essay, Research Paper
Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant is acknowledged through the world as one of the masters of the short story; Guy de Maupassant was also the author of a collection of poetry, a volume of plays, three travel journals, six novels, and many chronicles. He produced some three hundred short stories in the single decade from 1880 to 1890; a period during which he produced most of his other works. Five of his six novels were published during the second half of the decade. “His short fiction has been compared to that of Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James.” (Encyclopedia Britanica 1012)
Maupassant took as his primary goal the realistic portrayal of everyday life. He wrote about what he knew best, and that is as a peasant of his native home of Normandy, the war of 1870, the lives of government employees and Parisian high society, and his own fears and hallucinations. “His short stories were seen as masterpieces of economy, clarity, and classical in their formal simplicity, uncommonly varied in their theme was and keenly evocative in their descriptions.” (Marx 303)
Guy de Maupassant is otherwise known as Henri Rene Albert, Joseph Prunier, Guy de Valmont, or even Maufrigneuese. He was born on August 5, 1850, in Chateau de Miromesnil, near tourville-sur Argues, Normandy, France. Maupassant, the first child of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant. Records show a discrepancy as to his birthplace, some scholars maintain it was Decamp, but the official view, supported by his birth certificate, is that he first saw the light of day at the Chateau de Miromesnil.
Maupassant died on July 6, 1893, of complications resulting from syphilis, in a sanitarium in Paris. He attended Lycee de Roven, where he earned a bachelors letter in 1869, prot?g? of French novelist Gustave Flaubert. Maupassant by nationality was French, he was a storywriter, novelist, journalist, poet, dramatist, and a traveler.
His hobbies ranged from boating, swimming, to traveling all over. Maupassant is considered one of the finest short story writers of all time and a champion of the realistic approach to writing. “To the realists ideal of scrupulous diction Maupassant added an economy of language and created a narrative style noted for its austere power, simplicity, and vivid sensuousness.” (Gale Group)
Maupassant was born in Normandy from wealthy parents, and both the setting and character of his childhood are clearly reflected in his fiction. The household in which the young Maupassant was raised was not a pleasant one. When he was six years old, his mother gave birth to a second son, Herve, who was somewhat, dull-witted, and who shared his mother’s nervous constitution. Maupassant haunting memories was his brother’s mental collapse and subsequent internment. Herve died in 1889. Frequent disputes, both verbal and physical, between his parents. After a bitter and unhappy life together, Maupassant parents separated when he was twelve years old, and he was placed in his mother’s custody. He remained in frequent constant with his father.
Maupassant’s mother became the basis for his characterization of slighted and overbearing women, who appeared in many of his stories. He attended the Lycee Napoleon in Paris and the Lycee de Rouen and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in letters. “Boule de suif,” which was his first published story, was part of a collaborative effort, Les Soirees de Medan, which included the work of several young French naturalists under the influence and direction of Zola. “Maupassant shared with his mentor a severe pessimism toward life and disdain for bourgeois values, both of which are reflected throughout his work.” (Donaldson-Evans 123)
Maupassant who had gone to Paris to study law, enlisted in the army immediately. The monotony of his work was relieved by outdoor pursuits, particularly excursions in the country and canoe trips down the Seine, and by women, most often prostitutes and one night stands picked up at his favorite dive, La Grenouillere, made famous by Pierre Augueste Renoir’s celebrating painting. The symptoms of first stage syphilis appeared in 1877, and since it was that time there was no cure for the disease. “It followed its relentless course throughout the rest of his life, causing him migraine, headaches, paralysis of the ocular muscle, hallucinations, and other factors ending when the infection progressed to the central nervous system and the brain, with madness.” (Wallace 200)
Maupassant was devoting a great deal of his time to writing, and he had turned to the theater, which allowed him to indulge his taste for farce. His first play, an obscene comedy entitled A La Feuifle de Rose.
Maupassant spent several years on the staffs of two Parisian newspapers, the Gil- Blas and the Gaulois, often working under pseudonyms. From 1880 to 1890 he published nearly 300 short stories and six novels, a prodigious literary feat, by constantly reshaping and reworking existing stories and duplicating scenes, descriptions, and vignettes from his newspaper pieces. By the end of May 1880, just weeks after Flaubert’s death, Maupassant had become a regular contributor to a respected Paris newspaper, the Gaulois. His first publications were stories written in the 1870s and reworked for the occasion under the global title of Les Dimanches d’un bourgeois de Paris, the Sundays of a Parisian Bourgeois.
Harvard published Maupassant’s first collection of stories. Approximately half of the stories had appeared in print previously. Maupassant had been working intermittently since 1877, that of his first novel. He interrupted his writing, first to travel to Algeria as a reporter for the Gaulois. Then to continue to write stories for the periodical press.
The death of Turgenev, one of Maupassant’s most ardent admirers, who had played an important role in promoting the Frenchman’s work in his native Russia. Maupassant’s extraordinary productivity during this time, he was contributing one to two stories weekly to newspapers, in addition to chronicles on various topics, is all the more remarkable when one considers that he was suffering from debilitating migraines that prevented him from working for hours, sometimes days, at a time. “The progressive phases of his illness have been decried by the Belgian Francois Tassart, among others, whom he hired as his valet de chambre in November 1883 and who were to remain with him until he was interned in Dr. Emile Blanche’s sanitarium in 1892.” (Wallace 265)
There is some irony; perhaps poignancy would be a better word, in the fact that Maupassant was also a consummate cynic with regard to the possibility of finding “true love.” Despite his legendary sexual prowess and countless mistresses, despite his
fathering three children by the same woman, a spa employee named Josephine Litzelmann, Maupassant never married and, with the exception of his mother, to whom he was deeply attached, never knew lasting love for women. “A story often interpreted autobiographically, in which a downtrodden alcoholic explains that his despair originated when, as a child, he witnessed a fight between his parents.” (Lindquist 95-97)
In earlier years Maupassant turned out stories as quickly as he could relying on his earnings to meet day-to-day expenses of Parisian life, haggling with his editors for every last franc. At this juncture, however, he began to show a preference for longer narratives Maupassant’s health continued to deteriorate, and some disturbing new mental symptoms, a strange sensation of having a double, a nebulous sense of his own identity, together with continued physical suffering, led him to seek a cure at one of the popular thermal stations, Chatelguyon, in the Massif Central. (Donaldson 103) The subject of mental pathologies is treated in this negative register throughout Maupassant’s work, whether he focuses on magnetism, hallucinations, phobias, or neuroses. To draw a parallel between Maupassant’s degenerating physical health and his preoccupation with insanity, the fact that the latter is most often figured as a ,creature from beyond,” who literally eats away at the fiber of human being does suggest a connection between the two phenomena. This was, after all, the period of the bacteriological revolution, when the discovery of microscopic organisms that could wreak havoc on the body gave new meaning to the concept of the invisible enemy. In his personal fife, meanwhile, there was much distress. Herve’s mental condition was increasingly unstable, causing Maupassant considerable anxiety, and his own suffering was unremitting. Maupassant was overwhelmed with fear for the future. In particular, he was haunted by the terrifying insanity that preceded Herve’s internment, and by his brother’s ominous words, as he was led away by the doctors. The following is a list of books that Guy de Maupassant wrote. The first one is The Piece of String, the critic is Sirnon Baker, and basically what he says about The Piece of String is, collected in Les Soeurs Rondoli in 1884, is a classic example of Maupassant’s technique, style, and theme. The bare outline of the plot is commonplace enough. When a peasant, Maitre Hauchecome, picks up a piece of string on the road, his enemy, Maitre Maladain, accuses him of finding a lost purse. After the purse is found and returned, people still doubt his innocence. Finally, he dies of worry and indignation, with his last breath proclaiming his innocence. The story’s strength derives from the sense of a whole community behind Hauchecome. His cunning thrift is reflected throughout the entire Norman peasantry, which is why his innocence is not believed. (Baker 109) “The Piece of String” begins with an unusual long and informative example of such a farce. The scenes on the road and in the market square of Goderville, both thronging with local peasant intent on buying and selling their wares, wares are reminiscent of the panoramic crowded paintings of Pieter Breugel, “The Procession to Calvary” and “the Battle Between Carnival and Lent”, being the most obvious examples. Hauchecome returned home ashamed and indignant, choking with anger and embarrassment, all the more upset in that he was quite capable, of doing what he was accused of having done, and even of gloating about it. He direfully realized that it was impossible to prove his innocence, and the injustice of the suspicion cut to the quick. “A Piece of String” presents human behavior at its worst. Although I mentioned Bruegel earlier, perhaps the closer resemblance is to Meronymous Bosch, the story relating to “The Garden of Earthly Delights” brought to free; vanity transformed into absurdity, worldly ambition reduced to facile farce. (Baker 234) The Critic is Christopher smith. “La Parure” (”The Necklace”) is rightly one of the most famous of all Maupassant’s short stories. In just a few pages it vividly evokes a situation with which every reader-especially female Parisian readers at the time of the Third “Republic towards the end of the 19th century and then there is a conclusion rich in ambiguities that has the force and heart-breaking irony of tragedy.” (Smith 234) And this Maupassant recounts vividly. Monsieur Loisel is a minor clerk in the Ministry of Instruction Oust as Maupassant himself had been a couple of years before writing this story), and things are beginning to go reasonably well for him in their modest way. He has little money put aside and is promising himself a few hunting trips with his friends next summer. That does not mean however, that he is anything but very happy to be home, in his little flat in Paris where his very young pretty wife, Mathilde, always waits for him after his day’s routine work with an economical but tasty meal. One evening he arrives home in particularly good spirits because he is sure he has achieved something that will delight his wife: he has managed to get an invitation for them both to attend an official reception at the Ministry. On the way home from the reception, disaster strikes. Somehow, somewhere, the clasp of the diamond necklace must have come undone. Mathilde and her husband search everywhere desperately and make inquiries in all the right places, but all in vein. Rather than face the disgrace of going and telling Madame Forestier of the loss, they buy a replacement. The price is enormous. All Monsieur Loisel’s savings, including a small inheritance, have to be paid over, and he contracts debts with a number of his friends. Now begins a desperate race against time to pay off everything.
The Critic is Donald Adamson, ‘The Necklace’ is one of the most famous of Maupassant’s short stories but also one of the most enigmatic. Its crux is the loss of a diamond necklace borrowed by the wife of a low-ranking official in the Education Ministry, who wears it at a ball given by her husband’s employers. Madame Loisel is poor but an honest woman. She is determined to return an identical-or practically identical- piece of jewelry to Madame Forestier, the wealthy school friend from whom she had borrowed it. The price of a similar necklace is 36,000 francs. Monsieur Loisel already has half that sum; he borrows the remainder. Husband and wife spend the next ten years in poverty until they finally paid off their debt. One day, not long after the last loan repayment has been made, Madame Loisel happens to meet Madame Forestier again. In the course of conversation she relates the tribulations she has been through since borrowing the necklace. Madame Forestier explains that those glittering gems were mere costume jewelry. The first feature of “The Necklace” that is also characteristics of so many of Maupassant’s other short stories is that it deals with the genteel poor. He excels in the description of low-ranking civil servants, having been one himself for eight years. No writer has known better than he did how such men struggle to keep up appearances while living on the breadline has. It is a prospect that seems to have no end until death. In his emphasis upon shabby gentility and dreary routine, no writer has known better how to describe such lives. Into this static situation, a terrible crisis suddenly erupts: the necklace vanishes. The rest of “The Necklace” is concerned with the inexorable working-out of the crisis. This is the second characteristic feature of Maupassant’s approach to the short- story form. Crises, in Maupassant’s short stories, are either single or two fold. “The Necklace’ relates a twofold crisis: the loss of the necklace is but the prelude to the discovery, much later on, that the necklace was a fake.” (Adamson 87)
A third feature of “The Necklace”, characteristic not only of Maupassant but also perhaps of his “naturals’, is that the narrator does not overtly look into the minds of his characters. The characters in “The Necklace’, and there are only three, are viewed extendedly, being as it were characters in a drama rather than a prose fiction.
The Critic is Francis Steegmuller. In the following excerpt, Steegmuller maintains that the shock ending of “The Necklace” is the highlight of the story, condemning Maupassant’s portrayal of relationships as “vague and unconvincing” and his plot as improbable. Steegmuller also asserts that while Maupassant has a reputation as a specialist in surprise endings, only a few of his stories actually conclude in this manner. (Steegmuller 99)
In “La Parure” a poor young woman, under “social” stress, the need of making an
appearance on an important occasion, borrows from an old school friend, now much richer than herself, a pearl necklace, which she has the appalling misfortune to lose by some mischance never afterwards cleared up. “effort by effort, sacrifice by sacrifice, with specious pretexts, excuses, and a rage of desperate explanation of their future to restore the missing object. They finally obliterate-all to find that their whole consciousness and life have been convulsed and deformed in vain, that the pearls were but highly artful “imitation” and that their passionate penance has ruined them for nothing.
The particular brilliance with which “La Parure” is written triumphs over a number of improbabilities. (The lack of insurance on the necklace, sometimes mentioned by critics, is not among then: insurance of jewelry in France began to be common only a few years later.) But even a halfway careful reading of the famous tale shows the relationships between the two women and between the heroine and her husband to be vague and unconvincing; and the purchase and successful substitution of the new necklace are of dubious verisimilitude.
The Critic Gregory Weston. The story begins with a poor abused girl, who is kinder and prettier, then her stepsisters, but because of poor circumstances, her beauty goes unrecognized. The story’s happy end occurs when the prince finds Cinderella’s feet fit the glass slipper, realizes that poor Cinderella is the beauty he danced at the bar with, and then takes her away to marry him. In other words: unrecognized virtue is finally rewarded. Maupassant takes this Cinderella story, puts it in a more believable Third Republic setting, and by making Mathilde slightly less perfect then the improbable Cinderella, he makes Mathilde more sympathetic and realistic character. In the story it seems as if this more realistic Cinderella story was just about over, but Maupassant is not satisfied yet. He takes a trivial detail, Mathilde losing her necklace, and uses it to yank her from her new, happier life, to a horrible life of poverty. A world where any tiny, innocent mistake can ruin your life is certainly a malevolent world, and it is that world that Maupassant cynically tries to show we five in.
The Critic is Paul Marx. This story is formed very well it has good structure. it tells about all the people in the story. The people in the story are great people with great bring up and a good background. Basically the story, stated toward the end, is that the one who sparks up and who sparks up and goes out of her way, to stand out will be the most thoughtful person. Indeed, the ladies become even more scornful and “they would have liked to Hi her, or throw her and her drinking cup, her basket, and her provisions out of the coach into the snow of the road below.” Nevertheless they do partake of their food and drink. The Prussian officer who lives at the hotel wants Ball of Fat to go to bed with him but she will have nothing to do with an officer of the enemy. When the journey is resumed, the pillars of society cannot allow themselves to be grateful to the prostitute; instead, their scorn is greater than ever. (Marx 65)
Arthur Symons: “His appeal is genuine, and his skill, of its kind, incontestable. He attracts, as certain men do, by a warm and blunt plausibility. He is so frank, and seems so broad- and is so skillful, and seems so living. We can now be assured that among the stories of Maupassant there are at least twenty or thirty that will not perish.” (Lindquist 9)
The Critic is Albert H. Wallace. Guy de Maupassant’s literary apprenticeship ended in 1880 with the appearance of ‘Boule de suif’ (’Ball of Fat’). About eight years Maupassant dedicated himself totally to his work, a tribute to Flaubert’s influence, and also possibly because of a premonition of how especially desperate was his own race with time. The great stream of stories, novels, travel accounts, and essays that flowed from his pen in astonishing for its high quality. He has attracted a large and appreciative audience among general readers and critics with his highly developed powers of observation. He is saying that real virtue is something people have; it is not something they talk about. Women characters in Maupassant’s stories monopolize heroic efforts. It was evident to him that conventional morality was shaped in such as to suppress the female in favor of the male. He depicts the situation of the unhappy and undutiful married woman. In his personal life he had the reputation for being a misogynist. Most of his characters are Normandy peasants. Subject to autoscopic hallucinations, pathological loneliness, and suicidal tendencies, reflect some of the pain of struggle with fatal malady. He is continually troubling himself with the question of why mind was given dominion over its own futility, just as the hero of the masterpiece, Pierre and Jean, troubles himself over the absurdity of being forced to accept the unacceptable. Such, for Maupassant, was the profit of giving thought to the meaning of life. That is why he preferred to observe and present what could be seen with the eye. (Wallace 199)
The “Madame Tellier’s Establishment”, is critiqued by Dylan Blackman. And in his review of the story he states the following. Maupassant is regarded as one of the best short story writers of all time; a reputation based on his gift for detailed observation, his sinful prose style, and his incisive characterization. “Madame Tellier’s Establishment’ features a juxtaposition of apparently incongruous elements common in Maupassant’s fiction in this case, prostitution and religion. Although this story is similar to the earlier, much respected “Boule de Suif ‘in its use of prostitutes as characters, “Madame Tellier’s Establishment” is farcical in intent and lighthearted in tone. Nevertheless, it provides a revealing glimpse into human nature in a relatively nonjudgmental portrayal. The story is also distinguished for its revealing depiction of the landscape and people of Normandy, the region of France in which Maupassant was born and raised and for which he retained a lasting roundness. Madame Tellier is the cheerful, popular proprietor of a small-town brothel. Perfectly virtuous herself, she inherited the establishment from an uncle and now runs it with competence and dignity. (Blackman 44)
What I thought about the story was the following. The story begins in the town of Decamp in the French region of Normandy. There the good-natured, virtuous Madeline Tellier operates a popular brothel; its ground floor contains a kind of saloon to accommodate the cruder, more raucous customers, and its upper level is reserved for more sophisticated patrons. The five prostitutes employed by Madame Tellier are each supposed to embody a different female type, so that all of the brothel’s customers may attain their ideal women. There is Fernande, Raphaelle, Louise, Flora, and Rosa la Rosse.
In Virville the group meets Madame’s brother, Monsieur Rivet, who transports them to his home in a rickety wagon. The regular customers of Madame Tellier’s establishment include the most prominent citizens of Decamp, such as Monsieur Poulin, the town’s former mayor, Monsieur Tournevay, a fish-curer, the tax collector, Monsieur Pimpesse, and Monsieur Philippe, the son of a prominent banker. Monsieur Vasse is a judge whose platonic relationship with Madame Tellier has, by the end of the story, transformed into something more. The Critic Morgan Fishstone, states the following. Praised for his observant eye, clear, powerful prose, skillful use of irony, and insightful characterizations, Maupassant is recognized as one of the finest short story writers of all time. Originally published in a collection of anti-war stories by six young writers that was sponsored by such French naturalist writers as Emile Zola, “Boule de Suif’ immediately established its author as a major talent. Its historical context tends the story drama and thematic resonance as well as authenticity, for Maupassant himself served in the Franco-Prussian war, the experience is said to have destroyed his youthful idealism and awakened him to the waste and degradation of war. In juxtaposing the socially condemned practice of position with the glorified ideal of patriotism, Maupassant exposes the shallowness and hypocrisy of those who claim to love their country but behave selfishly and hypocritically when confronted with a difficult situation. Initially controversial for its element of eroticism, “Boule de Suif’ continues to be lauded as a portrait of a turbulent period of French history and as a universally compelling glimpse into human behavior. (Fishstone 5)
The story, which takes place in French during the Franco-Prussian War 1870- 1871, begins with the passage of bedraggled; defeated French troops through the town of Rouen. Soon a great number of Prussian troops arrive and take control of Rouen. The focus then shifts to a group of residents, three married couples, two nuns, a single man named Cornudet, and a prostitute, Elizabeth Rousset, who is called “Boule de Suif,” ball of fat because of her plumpness. The trip takes longer than expected and the passengers grow increasingly hungry, but it seems that no one has thought to bring food. Eventually Boule de Suif unpacks a basket of food she has stowed beneath her seat; she shares it with her fellow travelers.
The title character’s name is actually Elizabeth Rousset, she is known by the nickname Boule de Suif, reinforcing the concept that she is judged by her appearance and occupation rather than by her real worth. She is short and fat but healthy, looking and attractive, with a ruddy, shiny face, dark eyes, and a sensuous mouth. Boule de Suif also reveals her basic kindness and generosity when she shares the sumptuous contents of her food basket with her fellow passengers, which seems to win their approval.
On the night of January 2, 1892, Maupassant made an unsuccessful attempt at taking his own life. On the 7th of January he was interned at Dr. Blanche’s mental hospital in Passy, near his beloved Seine. Maupassant captured in his art the timeless joys and tragedies of human existing work have received the imprimatur of the French literary establishment, publication in the prestigious Pleiades edition. Maupassant captured in his art the timeless joys and tragedies of human existence, and his characters, as recognizable today as they were one hundred years ago, have withstood the test of timeistence, the test of time ten months. He knew a terrifying succession of hallucination, seizures, convulsions, and attacks of delirium. He died on July 6, 1893, at the age of forty-two, of third-stage syphilis.
Its creative life was cut short by a degenerative condition stemming from syphilis, which he had contracted as a young man. The disease led to recurrent problems with emotional collapse. Struggling with bouts of debilitating mental illness, Maupassant attempted suicide in 1892 and was subsequently confined to a sanatorium in Passy, where he died.
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