Biography of Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant was an extemely prolific short-story writer, famous for ‘Boule de suif’ (‘Ball of Fat’) and ‘The Necklace’ (‘La Parure’.) His best novels include Pierre and Jean and Bel-Ami. He was greatly influenced by Gustave Flaubert.
Early Life of Guy de Maupassant
He was born on August 5, 1850 in a Norman chateau of Miromesnil, northern France. His parents separated when he was 11 years old, which might have led him to fear marriage and to an extent, concern about loneliness and persecution.
He was educated at Rouen, expelled from school and went to study law in Paris. In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War began between France and Germany. De Maupassant’s studies were interrupted, and aged 20, he became a soldier. After the war he joined the civil service and under the influence of his mother’s friend, Gustave Flaubert, started to write short stories. He became associates with advocates of Naturalism like Émile Zola.
De Maupassant Story-Style
De Maupassant’s stories range from the short tale of few pages, one or two, to a full-length novel. Free from sentimentality or idealism, they expose the realities in minute detail the pretenses and vulgarity of the period’s middle class and traditional low-down of the Norman peasants.
Guy de Maupassant’s style is characterized by being simple and direct, sometimes comic and ironical. His work reflects his interest in the emotional problems of all classes and his passion for women. He excelled at revealing the hidden sides of people.
Successful Writer De Maupassant
His first success, and one of his best short stories, Boule de suif (‘Ball of Fat’ or ‘Ball of Tallow’) express the hypocrisy and ingratitude of the bourgeois in the face of a heroic gesture by a woman of the streets – published when he was 30. La Maison Tellier (The House of Madame Tellier and Other Stories) tells in a satirical and humourous manner the tale of an outing for the inmates of a provincial house of ill-repute. On the other hand, Le Horla and La Peur (The Fear) describe madness and with horrifying accuracy, which could have foreshadowed his insanity and finally brought about his death.
Over the next ten years, De Maupassant published around 300 short stories, novels, travel books and poems. His best novels include Pierre and Jean and Bel-Ami. He was a popular author in France and other countries and made a lot of money.
De Maupassant’s Final Years
He lived a hectic and caught syphilis, from one of his lovers. This led to his insanity, and he died in a mental asylum at the age of 42.
Works by Guy de Maupassant:
• Ball of Fat 1880
• The House of Madame Tellier 1881
• Mademoiselle Fifi 1882
• A Woman’s Life (Une Vie), novel 1883
• The Necklace, short story, 1884
• Miss Harriet 1884
• Bel-Ami, novel 1885
• Pierre and Jean, novel 1888