Be the first to review this item Amazon Bestsellers Rank: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. I have not read all of the stories, so my responses to the violence, sexual content, and narration do not necessarily apply across the board. I have enjoyed what I've read so far.
It is not always easy to obtain good readable French literature for the Kindle. I appreciate being able to read de Maupassant at very little cost. Love the author, found a few gems I had not read before which really helped get "inside his head". A la feuille de rose: Maison turque Paris, Editions and Collections Contes et nouvelles Paris: Librairie de France, Romans , edited by Albert-Marie Schmidt Paris: Cercle du Bibliophile, Contes et nouvelles , 2 volumes, edited by Louis Forestier Paris: Chroniques , 3 volumes, edited by Hubert Juin Paris: Romans , edited by Forestier Paris: Play Productions A la feuille de rose.
Letters Correspondance , 3 volumes, edited by Jacques Suffel Evreux: Acknowledged throughout 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, six novels, three travel journals, and many chronicles. However, he clearly excelled in the short-story form, and the remarkable ease with which he manipulated this genre can be measured by the fact that he produced some three hundred short stories in the single decade from to , a period during which he also produced most of his other works.
Maupassant himself would have preferred fame as a novelist, and his publications chronology confirms a growing obsession with the longer form: Indeed, he doubtless would have benefited from greater critical attention had he cultivated the novel even more. Although various labels have been affixed to him "realist," "naturalist" , he steadfastly refused identification with any literary movement. Nourished by his reading of Arthur Schopenhauer and tutored in the writer's art by Flaubert, Maupassant took as his primary goal the realistic portrayal of everyday life.
He wrote about what he knew best: Both during his lifetime and throughout the twentieth century, writers and critics have been unanimous in their praise of Maupassant. His mentor Flaubert, who died just as his disciple's career was being launched, had high hopes for him, and his faith was not unfounded. Such luminaries as Leo Tolstoy and Anatole France also recognized his genius. His stories were seen as masterpieces of economy and clarity, classical in their formal simplicity, uncommonly varied in their themes, and keenly evocative in their descriptions.
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His originality was believed to lie not in his subjects in fact, Maupassant himself avowed readily that he lacked inspiration and found the seeds for his narratives in anecdotes recounted by friends or in newspapers but in his style. His sobriety of expression, his masterful control, and his remarkable ability to suggest character with one deft stroke of the pen--a single phrase, a couple of well-chosen verbs--have been considered particularly noteworthy.
However, many early critics found his dispassionate narration, devoid of commentary or judgment, deeply troubling, and they were quick to criticize what they saw as a lack of moral fiber on the part of the author. James, in Partial Portraits , referred to him as a "lion in the path" of critics with ethical concerns because of the erotic nature of so many of the anecdotes on which his stories were based.
For James, the sexual impulse was "the wire that moves almost all Monsieur de Maupassant's puppets. Tolstoy in particular took issue with his representation of the working class. Others pointed to Flaubert's influence, or to the autobiographical aspects of Maupassant's work. In fact, for many early critics, his life held considerably more fascination than his work, with the result that biographies were for a long time more plentiful than critical studies.
Whatever the critical reception may have been, Maupassant appealed from the start to readers throughout the world, and his works have been widely translated. English translations of the stories did not respect the integrity of the original collections and appeared most often arranged as so-called complete works or selected stories. The earliest American edition of the complete works, published by the St. Dunstan Society in , includes some sixty stories falsely attributed to Maupassant.
Furthermore, fanciful translations make this edition highly unreliable. Fortunately, today's Anglophone has an excellent selection of trustworthy translations from which to choose. The household in which the young Maupassant was raised was not a happy one. Laure was difficult, prone to neuroses, and often ill-tempered, while Gustave sought relief in the arms of other women.
The situation did not breed harmony, and the impressionable child witnessed frequent disputes, both verbal and physical, between his parents. In his later years, one of Maupassant's most haunting memories was his brother's mental collapse and subsequent internment. When Maupassant was twelve years old, his parents separated. Placed in his mother's custody, he remained in frequent contact with his playboy father, treating him with a certain condescension, but feeling none of his mother's resentment toward him.
Nevertheless, his cynicism with regard to marriage, an attitude that permeates his work, dates from this early age. Before separating, his parents had purchased a villa, Les Verguies, in Etretat. Her elder son, who was particularly sensitive to literature, reminded her of her brother Alfred Le Poittevin, a good friend of Flaubert and a poet in his own right, who had died prematurely in Thanks partly to this resemblance, Flaubert later took an interest in the young Maupassant.
Dividing his time between lessons at home and escapades on the beaches and cliffs of Etretat, Maupassant was scarcely a model student. However, the discipline and piety of a Catholic boarding school were inimical to the temperament of this robust, cynical thirteen-year-old, and after a few months of forced subservience, he began to incite the other students to mischief. One such poem, discovered by the administrators, brought upon him the ultimate punishment: There followed a joyous reunion with his mother, who was not unhappy to have him at home once again.
The vigorous adolescent took advantage of his newly won freedom to court the opposite sex, losing his innocence at the age of sixteen, a fact that is not insignificant, since his apparently insatiable sexual appetite and his renowned promiscuity were to prove devastating to his health. The young Maupassant was deeply impressed by the perversity of these two eccentrics, who gave him, as a souvenir of their encounter, a mummified hand.
Continuing to compose poetry, he was quick to attract the attention of his instructors, and his mother further encouraged him by putting him in touch with the poet and dramatist Louis Bouilhet, who had been one of her childhood friends. During one of his visits to Bouilhet, Maupassant first met Flaubert, who subsequently invited him to his retreat at Croisset. If Bouilhet sought to refine Maupassant's talent as a poet, Flaubert felt instinctively that the young man was meant to be a prose artist, and it was not long before their master-disciple relationship became firmly established.
With Bouilhet's death in , Flaubert's influence became predominant, although it would be some time before Maupassant abandoned his poetic aspirations. The Franco-Prussian War, which broke out in July , was further instrumental in forming the young writer. Maupassant, who had gone to Paris to study law, enlisted in the army immediately, so eager was he to participate in a victory he felt to be imminent. He was bitterly disappointed by the devastating outcome, and the civil war that followed nourished his pessimism, destroying the last of his beliefs in the power and grandeur of France. His experience was to bear fruit a decade later in "Boule de Suif" "Ball-of-Tallow," , the first of many war stories and the one that made him an overnight celebrity.
During this period he came to know--and to despise--the tedious life of a civil servant, another vein that he was to exploit in his stories. One of his encounters was to prove fatal: Trop de putains, trop de canotage, trop d'exercice! Too many prostitutes, too much canoeing, too much exercise!
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 feuille de rose.
Guy de Maupassant
Maison turque Turkish Brothel , coauthored by his friend Robert Pinchon, was presented in and earned the disgust of Edmond de Goncourt , while Flaubert quite enjoyed its scatological humor. Although they were more respectable than his first effort, it soon became apparent that Maupassant's talent as a playwright was limited. Furthermore, his poetic endeavors still failed to impress Flaubert, although the latter persisted in encouraging his young friend and in trying to find a publisher for his work. One of his poems, "Au bord de l'eau" At the Water's Side, , concerns the dangers of excessive sensuality.
Republished as "Une Fille" A Prostitute under the pseudonym of Guy de Valmont in , the poem nearly caused judicial problems for him because of its allegedly pornographic content. Flaubert, who had himself undergone the ordeal of the trial of Madame Bovary ; translated, , rallied to his disciple's cause and prevented the case from being heard in court. Nevertheless, the publicity that surrounded the case served Maupassant well at a time when the publisher Georges Charpentier was preparing his collected poetry for publication.
In the meantime, however, he took full advantage of the fame that he acquired as soon as the collection appeared. The critics were unanimous in their praise of his contribution, "Boule de Suif," which was widely regarded as the best of the collection. The jubilant Flaubert hailed it as a masterpiece. With the publication of this single story, Maupassant's career was brilliantly launched.
Today "Boule de Suif" remains one of Maupassant's most famous stories. A tale of hypocrisy and betrayal, it was a stinging indictment of Rouen's "respectable" society, the upstanding citizens who made France's defeat by the Prussians inevitable. Using a moving vehicle as a setting one of his favorite devices , Maupassant assembles a diverse society composed of nuns, aristocrats, bourgeois shopkeepers, and a republican activist in a coach together with the titular heroine, a corpulent prostitute. All are fleeing Rouen as the enemy approaches; but only the prostitute has valid reasons for her flight, the others being motivated by cowardice and greed.
Initially disdainful of their traveling companion, the honorable company befriends her when they grow hungry, for she alone has brought provisions.
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Indignant at the idea of giving herself to the enemy, Boule de Suif is finally won over by her fellow travelers through a carefully planned and slyly executed verbal seduction. This time she has neglected to pack food for the journey. The stunning success of "Boule de Suif" results not only from its technical perfection and its realistic portrayal of a historical period by means of a single anecdote, but also from its sobering assessment of the causes of France's ignominious defeat in the war against the Prussians.
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In Maupassant's story the prostitute becomes a symbol of France herself, invaded and violated by the enemy with the full cooperation of her most "honorable" citizens. Ten years after the fact, the French were able to accept a harsh perspective on the war that they would have found unpalatable earlier. Less than two weeks later, by a strange irony of fate, Flaubert succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage on 8 May His role in the establishment of Maupassant's career had been substantial.
Besides offering encouragement to his young friend and intervening on his behalf in securing publishers for his early work, the master had shared with the disciple his own philosophy of letters, insisting on the necessity of finding le mot juste the precise word to describe each concept and thing, as well as on the importance of accurate observation.
Maupassant learned his lesson well, as his highly visual descriptions and his remarkable concision amply demonstrate. Flaubert further aided the apprentice Maupassant by introducing him into literary circles that included not only Zola but also Turgenev, Alphonse Daudet , Edmond de Goncourt , and Paul Bourget , and if some of these literati most notably Goncourt criticized Maupassant in their writings, their scorn was motivated more by jealousy of his successes with women as well as with the public than by any real lack of esteem.
By the end of May , 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 s and reworked for the occasion under the global title of Les Dimanches d'un bourgeois de Paris The Sundays of a Parisian Bourgeois. They were linked by their central character, a minor government employee named Monsieur Patissot, who becomes for Maupassant the personification of stupidity.
Maupassant's journalistic collaboration would soon be expanded to include the Gil Blas and the Figaro. In the meantime he spent less and less time in the Ministry of Public Education, requesting--and obtaining--repeated medical leaves with the support of his physician. In fact, his health problems were very real, and he took advantage of his freedom to travel to Corsica, not only to be with his mother, who was ill, but because he hoped the climate would alleviate some of his own physical ailments as well. Although Maupassant received extensions of his leave until , he had, for all intents and purposes, left the ministry by Maupassant's collaboration with the journals of his day was to increase as his reputation grew, so that in later collections most if not all of the stories had been published in periodicals prior to being gathered in a volume.
And, as would also be the case with most of the later volumes, Maupassant selected as his collection's title that of the story he wished to highlight. Here, as elsewhere, the chosen story was distinguished from the others in the collection by its greater length, a nouvelle long story rather than a conte. Critical reaction to La Maison Tellier was some-what mixed, but sales were spectacular. Appealing to the public imagination by again focusing on the figure of the prostitute, Maupassant was both conforming to a current vogue Huysmans, Zola, and Edmond de Goncourt were also exploiting this vein and hoping for a success equal to the one brought to him by his first fictional whore.
He was not disappointed. The story, based upon a playful juxtaposition of the house of ill-repute with the house of God, narrates the excursion of Madame Tellier and her employees to her niece's First Communion in a neighboring town, their emotional reaction to the religious service, which awakens in them dim memories of their own long-lost purity, and their willing, even joyful, return to their "professional" duties after the Mass.
The Communion wine corresponds with the champagne served gratis to customers upon their return: Maupassant's audacity in narrowing the gap between the sacred and the profane, the bourgeois and the harlots, and his scarcely veiled suggestion that the latter are necessary to the former, was applauded by the critics and ensured the success of the story and of the collection to which it gave its name.
As with most of Maupassant's collections, the stories brought together by this volume are unified neither in tone nor in subject. Indeed, in their variety they present a microcosm of Maupassant's fictional universe, for many of the subjects that were to preoccupy him throughout his creative life were already present here. Both end on an optimistic note, with the discovery of a surrogate father.
Four other tales, "Une Partie de campagne" "A Country Excursion" , which features Parisian shopkeepers in a deeply moving tale that was later turned into a masterful film by Jean Renoir; "La Femme de Paul" "Paul's Mistress" ; "Au printemps" "In the Spring" ; and "En famille" "A Family Affair" betray Maupassant's early cynicism with regard to love, marriage, and family, a cynicism that was to grow with the passing years. Yet in spite of this apparent disparity, a common thread runs through many of the stories: The collection is interesting from a narratological viewpoint as well, for it serves as an illustration of Maupassant's storytelling technique at the beginning of his career.
Only one of the stories, "Au printemps," makes use of a framing device, something that he was to exploit increasingly as the years went by. Encouraged by the success of La Maison Tellier , Maupassant returned to a manuscript on which he had been working intermittently since , that of his first novel, Une Vie ; translated as A Woman's Life , But once again he interrupted his writing, first to travel to Algeria as a reporter for the Gaulois there is evidence that his anticolonialist sentiments developed during this period , then to continue to write stories for the periodical press.
This second group of tales would be collected under the title Mademoiselle Fifi Seeking to exploit anew the basic thematics of "Boule de Suif," Maupassant chose to give prominence to a tale of war and prostitution, originally published under another of his pseudonyms, Maufrigneuse. However, the eponymic Mademoiselle Fifi is not, as one might expect, the prostitute, but rather a sadistic Prussian army officer who is so nicknamed because of his favorite expression, "fi, fi donc" pooh! Like "Boule de Suif," "Mademoiselle Fifi" recounts the heroism of a harlot here named Rachel , which serves as a striking contrast to the cowardice of her more respectable fellow citizens.
And, like "La Maison Tellier," "Mademoiselle Fifi" is based upon a conjunction of religion and prostitution, for it is the village priest who protects Rachel by hiding her in the church belfry after she stabs the brutal Prussian officer to death when he makes insulting remarks about France. Maupassant had a special weakness for prostitutes, representing them in his fiction as victims of fate who seek--and find--their "morality" in a nonsexual sphere.
Moreover, for an author as preoccupied with masks as was Maupassant, prostitutes were refreshingly candid members of a hopelessly hypocritical society.
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Mademoiselle Fifi includes seven stories, all but one featuring women in central roles, and, as is the case with the first collection, Maupassant's cynicism with regard to male-female relationships is evident. Yet this misogynistic perspective is balanced by the sensitive portrayal of a young woman who is ridiculed and ostracized because she had been sexually abused as a child "Madame Baptiste". Besides illustrating its author's compassion for society's victims, whether male or female, "Madame Baptiste" is notable as an example of the framed tale, in which a first narrator yields to a second and then, at the conclusion of the embedded tale, resumes the narration to achieve a satisfying closure.
The links between frame and inner story often orient the reader's interpretation of the text. Moreover, the framing technique also gives the narrative an oral quality, for the embedded tale is generally presented as an oral narration. This in turn contributes to the ease and rapidity of the reading process.
The commercial success of Mademoiselle Fifi allowed Maupassant to have a chalet built in Etretat. Maupassant's first novel, Une Vie , originally serialized in Gil Blas , was several years in the making, and his correspondence with his mother reveals that he had a great deal of trouble with the transitions.
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Incorporating tales he had published previously, Maupassant wove the narrative of a young Norman woman, Jeanne Le Pertuis des Vauds, who is in turn dominated by her father; her husband, Julien de la Mare; and her son, Paul nicknamed Poulet. Her life is one of disillusionment: Julien betrays her, first with her maid and then with a neighbor; she learns at the bed-side of her dying mother that the latter had been an adulteress; and her son, a good-for-nothing drifter who gets in touch with his mother only when he needs her financial support, fathers a child with a mistress who dies in childbirth.
Even religion offers no solace, for the town's kindly old pastor is replaced by a fanatic young priest who finds relief for his own sexual frustrations by delivering thunderous sermons and exercising a cruel tyranny over his flock. In the novel's final scene, Jeanne, impoverished because of her son's excesses, has sold the family home and is moving to more modest lodgings. As she travels to her new house, which is far from her beloved sea, she holds her infant grandson on her lap.
Maupassant gives her maid Rosalie the last world: Although it was on the whole well received by the critics apart from a few who objected to its bleak pessimism and enjoyed an immense popular success, Une Vie is not regarded today as one of Maupassant's most felicitous novelistic efforts, and it is often compared unfavorably to Madame Bovary , with which it bears many affinities. Nevertheless, as his first sustained narrative, this novel offers many useful insights into Maupassant's developing attitudes.
The reader senses his almost visceral love of his native province and of the sea, his equally visceral horror of maternity as expressed by Julien , his fascination with the untamed beauty of Corsica where Jeanne and Julien honeymoon , his anticlerical sentiments, his sympathy for the plight of a lonely woman the fictional figure is said to have been inspired by his mother , and his pessimism with regard to the possibility of happiness in marriage.
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Today, the novel is taught rather frequently in women's studies courses, where it is valued for its perceived documentary realism. Although the stories are introduced, in the tradition of Giovanni Boccaccio, as tales told in turn by members of an assembled group, in this case hunters whence the title , this fiction is not sustained, and the stories differ widely in both narrative technique and subject. Fin de saison [ Fini de rire [ Flaubert et sa maison [ Gustave Flaubert dans sa vie intime [ Histoire d'un chien [ Histoire d'une fille de ferme [ Historia corsa Histoire corse [ Historia de un perro Histoire d'un chien [ Ivan Tourgueneff Le Gaulois, 5 septembre [ Ivan Tourgueneff Gil Blas, 6 septembre [ Lettre d'un fou [ Lysistrata moderne La [ Mademoiselle Fifi Mademoiselle Fifi [ Marquis de Fumerol Le [ Messieurs de la chronique [ Mes vingt-cinq jours [ Miss Harriet Miss Harriet [ Mon oncle Jules [ La morte [ Notes d un voyageur [ On the river Sur l'eau [ Par un soir de printemps [ Petits voyages En Auvergne [ Petits voyages La Chartreuse de La Verne [ Phoques et baleines [ Pierrot Pierrot [ Rencontre Gil Blas [ Rosier de Madame Husson Le [