English Literature
Guy De Maupassant

Guy De Maupassant

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Guy de Maupassant: A Revolutionary Author in 19th-Century France

Born on August 5, 1850 in Normandy, Guy de Maupassant was a renowned French author and the founder of modern short story writing. His realistic depictions of war, prostitution, provincial life, marriage, and infidelity appealed to readers from all walks of life, making him one of the most influential writers of the 19th century. According to Maupassant himself, "Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe; it gives back life to those who no longer exist." Let's delve into the life and works of this literary mastermind.

The Early Years of Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant was introduced to literature at a young age by his mother, Laure le Poittevin, who was a close childhood friend of the famous novelist Gustave Flaubert. When his parents separated when he was 11, Maupassant moved to Etretat with his mother and younger brother, Herve. The landscapes of Etretat, situated between the countryside and the sea, had a profound impact on Maupassant's writing and sparked his love for nature.

Interestingly, "Guy de Maupassant" is a pen name, as his actual name is Henry-Rene-Albert-Guy de Maupassant. He was born into a minor aristocratic family from Lorraine and was believed to have been born in the Chateau de Miromesnil.

Education and Military Service

At the age of 13, Maupassant began his education at a seminary school in Yvetot. However, his distaste for religion and religious studies led to his expulsion in 1868. He then attended a high school in Le Havre, where he excelled academically and developed a special interest in poetry. But when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he dropped out of school and volunteered to fight.

The Franco-Prussian War, which lasted from 1870-1871, had a profound impact on Maupassant's life and writing. After the war, he resumed his law studies in Paris, but eventually left to work for the Ministry of Marine in 1871 and later the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1879, thanks to his father's connections. During this time, Maupassant had the privilege of meeting Gustave Flaubert, who became his mentor and taught him about prose style and literature. He also formed friendships with other notable authors such as Emile Zola and Ivan Turgenev.

The Turning Point in Maupassant's Career

Tragically, when Flaubert passed away in 1880, Maupassant was devastated, as he saw him as a father figure. In the same year, he contributed to Les Soirees de Medan, a collection of short stories about the Franco-Prussian War, alongside five other writers. This was followed by the publication of his groundbreaking short story, Boule de Suif, which helped to establish his literary career. He then left his ministry job to become a prolific writer, publishing nearly 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and a volume of verse in the span of a decade.

Aside from his writing, Maupassant was well-known for his promiscuous lifestyle and frequent visits to prostitutes. In his early 20s, he was diagnosed with syphilis, which he most likely inherited from his brother Herve, who also suffered from the disease. The physical and emotional toll of the illness continued to affect him throughout his life. Maupassant's interactions with women from different social classes and his experiences with war gave him a unique perspective, which is reflected in his writing.

The Later Years and Legacy of Guy de Maupassant

In 1888, Herve suffered a psychotic break, most likely due to syphilis, and passed away in an asylum in 1889. Maupassant was deeply affected by this loss, especially as he was also struggling with the illness. In 1892, he attempted to take his own life by slitting his throat, which resulted in his admission to a nursing home. He passed away in 1893 at the age of 42.

The Literary Legacy of Guy de Maupassant

Throughout his career, Guy de Maupassant wrote an extensive bibliography consisting of 300 short stories and six books, leaving behind a lasting impact in the world of literature. His unique writing style and contributions to the Naturalism genre continue to inspire and influence readers and writers alike.

Guy de Maupassant: The Master of Realism and Pioneer of the Short Story Genre

Guy de Maupassant, a renowned French author, is often referred to as the "father of the modern short story." He was born in the Normandy region of France to a middle-class family and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of the 19th century.

This subgenre of Realism is characterized by its detached and objective approach to storytelling, often delving into social commentary. Similar to Realism, Naturalism portrays realistic characters and settings, with plots that are plausible and relatable. Maupassant's works perfectly exemplify these characteristics.

In his books and short stories, Maupassant explores a variety of themes, including war, prostitution, rural life in France, religion, marriage, and infidelity. What makes his writing unique is his ability to realistically portray the lives of middle and lower class individuals, making his works accessible to readers from all social backgrounds.

For instance, in his short story "Boule de Suif," Maupassant depicts a group of exhausted soldiers without using any subjective adjectives that may influence the reader's opinion. This is a prime example of his detached and objective writing style, which allows him to address social issues such as war without bias.

The Structure and Psychology of Maupassant's Works

Despite producing a vast number of stories and books, Maupassant's writing style can be defined by a few key characteristics. His works follow a logical and well-organized structure, with a clear introduction, climax, and resolution. This structure creates a smooth flow for the reader and makes the plot easy to follow.

Moreover, Maupassant often delves into the psychology of his characters, revealing their innermost thoughts and motivations. In his short story "The Horla," the protagonist's diary entries give us insight into his descent into madness. This technique allows the reader to understand the characters on a personal level and makes the story more relatable and realistic.

An excellent example of Maupassant's writing style and focus on psychology can be seen in the book "Bel-Ami." He describes the protagonist's feelings of jealousy and his transformation into rage towards those who have wronged him. This clear and simple language not only provides insight into the character's mindset but also showcases Maupassant's writing style.

Guy de Maupassant's Impact on Literature

Maupassant's impact on literature goes far beyond his impressive bibliography of 300 short stories, six books, and three travel books. He is credited with reinventing the short story genre, making it accessible to readers from all social classes, not just the upper class. His focus on Naturalism also shed light on the lives of the middle and lower classes, making his works relatable and widely read.

Furthermore, Maupassant's writing style influenced many other famous authors, including Henry James and Honore de Balzac. With guidance from his mentor Gustave Flaubert, Maupassant perfected the short story genre and left a lasting impact on literature.

In Conclusion

Guy de Maupassant was a master of realism and a pioneer of the short story genre. His writing style, characterized by its detached and objective approach, clear language, and focus on psychology, continues to captivate readers to this day. Maupassant's works have not only stood the test of time but also left a lasting impact on the literary world.

Remembering the Legacy: The Enduring Influence of a Troubled Writer

The literary world lost a brilliant mind when the untimely death of a troubled writer struck. But no matter the struggles he faced, his impact on literature will never fade.

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