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Essay on 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, protégé 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....
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