Monday, September 2, 2013

The Best of Maupassant - Book Review

Another one that I got from Indialog's nice collection of classics. "The Best of Maupassant" has 37 short stories of the most delightful kind, each with a gentle twist at the end that stays with you. Guy de Maupassant, born in 1950, died young,  at 42. Having served in the army in the Franco-Prussian war, he has a few stories set in the war time. His body of work includes 300 stories, six novels, three travel books and one volume of verse, according to back cover. He was rich but led a tortured life apparently and even tried to commit suicide and finally died of syphilis.

The first thing that struck me was his style of writing which has a nice, soothing lilt to it. He also dwells deeper into the man-woman relationships, something that O. Henry did not, and with a softer and nicer approach too. Be it the unwed mother who was cheated by her boyfriend, the suffering husband in the Jewel, the object of affections of the pig of Morin, women are a central theme and so is man's attractions to her. Maupassant is equally understanding of human nature, man and woman alike. The story of the army lads who find a hidden reserve to make it back home because they find the company of a young girl is nicely told, just as those poor souls who invite women to the party and are horribly disappointed at what the priest gets along. The son who negotiates on his mother's death, the solitude of snow and the tricks the mind plays on one who is alone, the paradox of having a wife of easy virtue who actually keeps the husband happy and the home fires burning as opposed to the wife who is virtuous and makes the husband's life hell are brilliant stories with characters that somehow stay on like ghosts. His stories are very visual too for someone who uses few words.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the stories. Inspired now to write some short stories based on my story ideas. 

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