Guy de Maupassant

Topics: Guy de Maupassant, Short story, Gustave Flaubert Pages: 9 (3443 words) Published: July 1, 2013
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (French pronunciation: ​[gi d(ə) mo.pa.ˈsɑ̃] ; 5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a popular 19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents. A protégé of Flaubert, Maupassant's stories are characterized by their economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements. Many of the stories are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s and several describe the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught in the conflict, emerge changed. He authored some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. The story "Boule de Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880) is often accounted his masterpiece. His most unsettling horror story, "Le Horla" (1887), was about madness and suicide. Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850 at the château de Miromesnil, near Dieppe in the Seine-Inférieure (now Seine-Maritime) department in France. He was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, both from prosperous bourgeois families. When Maupassant was 11 and his brother Hervé was five, his mother, an independent-minded woman, risked social disgrace to obtain a legal separation from her husband. After the separation, Laure Le Poittevin kept her two sons. With the father’s absence, Maupassant’s mother became the most influential figure in the young boy’s life. She was an exceptionally well read woman and was very fond of classical literature, especially Shakespeare. Until the age of thirteen, Guy happily lived with his mother, to whom he was deeply devoted, at Étretat, in the Villa des Verguies, where, between the sea and the luxuriant countryside, he grew very fond of fishing and outdoor activities. At age thirteen, he was sent to a small seminary near Rouen for classical studies. In October 1868, at the age of 18, he saved the famous poet Algernon Charles Swinburne from drowning off the coast of Étretat.[2] As he entered junior high school, he met Gustave Flaubert. He first entered a seminary at Yvetot, but deliberately got himself expelled. From his early education he retained a marked hostility to religion. Then he was sent to the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen[3] where he proved a good scholar indulging in poetry and taking a prominent part in theatricals. The Franco-Prussian War broke out soon after his graduation from college in 1870; he enlisted as a volunteer. In 1871, he left Normandy and moved to Paris where he spent ten years as a clerk in the Navy Department. During this time his only recreation and relaxation was canoeing on the Seine on Sundays and holidays. Gustave Flaubert took him under his protection and acted as a kind of literary guardian to him, guiding his debut in journalism and literature. At Flaubert's home he met Émile Zola and the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, as well as many of the proponents of therealist and naturalist schools. In 1878, he was transferred to the Ministry of Public Instruction and became a contributing editor to several leading newspapers such as Le Figaro, Gil Blas, Le Gaulois and l'Écho de Paris. He devoted his spare time to writing novels and short stories. In 1880 he published what is considered his first masterpiece, "Boule de Suif", which met with instant and tremendous success. Flaubert characterized it as "a masterpiece that will endure." This was Maupassant's first piece of short fiction set during the Franco-Prussian War, and was followed by short stories such as "Deux Amis", "Mother Savage", and "Mademoiselle Fifi". The decade from 1880 to 1891 was the most fertile period of Maupassant's life. Made famous by his first short story, he worked methodically and produced two or sometimes four volumes annually. His talent and practical business sense made him wealthy. In 1881 he published his first volume of short stories under the title of La Maison Tellier; it reached its twelfth edition within two years. In 1883...
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