Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boule de Suif

Boule De Suif: Et Autres Nouvelles (Petits Classiques Larousse Texte Integral)Boule De Suif: Et Autres Nouvelles by Guy de Maupassant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

De Maupassant is one of the few French authors I feel competent to read in the original French. It helps that his chosen form is the short story - it makes him much less forbidding than someone like Balzac or Hugo. Although I've been in Paris for just a little over two weeks, I'm already doing pretty well with these stories. He is particularly good at exposing the hypocrisies of small-town 19th century French life, the title story of this collection being an excellent example. But his character sketches are done with affection - though he liked his solitude, one senses a genuine affection for other people and their foibles.

Wikipedia provides two biographical facts worth passing on. As a youth, he saved the English poet Swinburne from drowning. Also, he shared the common French antipathy toward the Eiffel tower when it was first constructed. So much so that he commonly ate at the restaurant at the tower's base, as this was the only place in Paris one could avoid seeing the tower's inescapable profile.

Besides this collection, I also recommend his "Comtes de la Becasse" (Tales of the Hunt).

On this rainy Sunday in Paris, I've been getting reacquainted with de Maupassant and it's a great pleasure to do so.

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