Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant (gē də mōpäsäN´), 1850–93, French novelist and short-story writer, of an ancient Norman family. He worked in a government office at Paris and became known c.1880 as the most brilliant of the circle of Zola. He poured out a prodigious number of short stories, novels, plays, and travel sketches until 1891, when he went mad. He died in a sanitarium. Maupassant's style and treatment of subject resemble those of Flaubert in classic simplicity, clarity, and objective calm. Maupassant is a modern exemplar of traditional French psychological realism; he portrays his characters as unhappy victims of their greed, desire, or vanity but presents even the most sordid details of their lives without sermonizing. His best novels are considered to be Une Vie (1883, tr. A Life), about the disillusioning life of a lonely woman; Bel-Ami (1885), describing the career of a selfish journalist; Pierre et Jean (1888), a study of the hatred of two brothers; and Notre Cœur (1890, tr. Our Hearts), showing the emotional life of an unhappily married man. His short stories, 300 in all, are superior to the rest of his work, and many of them are said to be unsurpassed in their genre. A list of his masterpieces would include "Boule de suif" ( "Tallow Ball" ), "L'Héritage" ( "The Heritage" ), "La Parure" ( "The Necklace" ), "La Maison Tellier" ( "The House of Mme Tellier" ), "Clair de lune" ( "Moonlight" ), "La Ficelle" ( "The Piece of String" ), "Mlle Fifi," and "Miss Harriet." Maupassant had tremendous influence on all European literature, and his works are often translated.

See studies by E. D. Sullivan (1954, repr. 1971); A. H. Wallace (1973), and S. Jackson (1938, repr. 1974).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Art of French Fiction: Prevost, Stendahl, Zola, Maupassant, Gide, Mauriac, Proust
Martin Turnell.
New Directions, 1959
A Day in the Country and Other Stories
Guy de Maupassant; David Coward.
Oxford University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "The Necklace" begins on p. 168
FREE! Mademoiselle Fifi and other Stories
Guy de Maupassant; David Coward.
Oxford University Press, 1903
A Life: The Humble Truth
Guy de Maupassant; Roger Pearson.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Selected Tales of Guy de Maupassant
Saxe Commins; Adolf Dehn; Guy de Maupassant.
Random House, 1950
The Future of the Novel: Essays on the Art of Fiction
Leon Edel; Henry James.
Vintage Books, 1956
Librarian’s tip: "Guy de Maupassant" begins on p. 193
A History of the French Novel: (To the Close of the Nineteenth Century)
George Saintsbury.
MacMillan, vol.2, 1919
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Naturalism - The Goncourts, Zola, and Maupassant"
Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust: The Collection and Consumption of Curiosities
Janell Watson.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Fantastic and Decadent Floor-Plans in Gautier, Maupassant, Lorrain, and Rachilde"
Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory, and French Realist Fiction
Naomi Schor.
Columbia University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Une Vie or the Name of the Mother"
The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story
Frank O'Connor.
World Publishing, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Guy de Maupassant begins on p. 62
The Delusory Denouement and Other Strategies in Maupassant's Fantastic Tales
Hottell, Ruth A.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 85, No. 4, November 1994
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Narrating the Gender Riddle: The Case of Maupassant's Yvette, "M. Jocaste," and "L'Ermite"
Hadlock, Philip G.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 91, No. 3, May 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
(Per)versions of Masculinity in Maupassant's la Mere Aux monstres.(Guy De Maupassant)(Critical Essay)
Hadlock, Philip G.
French Forum, Vol. 27, No. 1, Winter 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
East/West: Appropriation of Aspects of the Orient in Maupassant's Bel-Ami.(Critical Essay)
Barrow, Susan M.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Spring-Summer 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Surface Structure and Symmetry in Maupassant: An Alternative View of 'Deux Amis.'
Betts, Christopher J.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 88, No. 2, March 1997
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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