Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (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. His first published story "Boule de Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880) is often considered his masterpiece.
He delighted in clever plotting, and served as a model for Somerset Maugham and O. Henry in this respect. His stories about expensive jewellery ("The Necklace", "La parure") are imitated with a twist by Maugham ("Mr Know-All", "A String of Beads") and Henry James ("Paste").
Taking his cue from Balzac, Maupassant wrote comfortably in both the high-Realist and fantastic modes; stories and novels such as "L'Héritage" and Bel-Ami aim to recreate Third Republic France in a realistic way, whereas many of the short stories (notably "Le Horla" and "Qui sait?") describe apparently supernatural phenomena.
The supernatural in Maupassant, however, is often implicitly a symptom of the protagonists' troubled minds; Maupassant was fascinated by the burgeoning discipline of psychiatry, and attended the public lectures of Jean-Martin Charcot between 1885 and 1886. This interest is reflected in his fiction.
Maupassant is notable as the subject of one of Leo Tolstoy's essays on art: The Works of Guy de Maupassant.
Friedrich Nietzsche's autobiography mentions him in the following text:
"I cannot at all conceive in which century of history one could haul together such inquisitive and at the same time delicate psychologists as one can in contemporary Paris: I can name as a sample - for their number is by no means small, ... or to pick out one of the stronger race, a genuine Latin to whom I am particularly attached, Guy de Maupassant."
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About the Author
Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) was a prolific French writer best remembered as a master of the short story and a father of the genre. He delighted in clever plotting and served as a model for later short story practitioners through favorites such as "The Necklace," "The Horla," "The False Gems," and "Useless Beauty." Maupassant wrote some 300 short stories, as well as six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse.