Guy de Maupassant, one of France’s most prolific writers of the 19th century, is also the father of the modern short story, for good reason. He wrote over three hundred short stories throughout his career, with most of them being written during the 1880s. While most of these dealt with mundane occurrences, some of them were quite strange.
Maupassant’s style is much more approachable than a lot of other Victorian-era authors. Each of his short stories immediately grab your attention and make you wonder where exactly he is going with it. Oftentimes, the ending is not the climax of the story; there doesn’t even seem to be a climax in some of them. Maupassant did not write mere stories. He wrote about occurrences that otherwise would not be noticed or remembered and strove to find a deeper meaning behind them. While the stories chosen for this collection are juicier than his others, this element is still to be found in them.
Also included is my essay, “The Demise of Maupassant.” It focuses on the last years of his life and his not-so-slow descent into insanity. I have found that there are some discrepancies in the details of the events leading up to his internment in an asylum amongst his biographies. I have pieced this together drawing from an assortment of sources, including newspaper accounts published within days of the events, documented interviews with his valet who was present during them, and other scholarly works. I believe that the timeline I have constructed is an accurate description of Maupassant’s eventual confinement.
All of the stories used in this anthology are based upon the first English translations. However, I have retranslated small portions of them myself after comparing them with the original French first editions, in order to make them flow closer to the original—namely “The Tomb” and “Le Horla.” In instances where the original publications were not available for comparison, I did update the more awkward wordings from the Victorian English; overall, the changes are very mild (I want them to retain the flavor of the 19th century), ease of readability being the sole factor in deciding where to apply them.
Table of Contents:
The Diary of a Madman
Was it a Dream?
Appendix: The Demise of Maupassant
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Approx. 111 pages or 29,576 words long.
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