Guy de Maupassant is a prolific French writer who has been active since 1880. He is widely regarded as the founder of short story literature. He was also selected to reflect the Naturalist writers’ institution. His tales are distinguished by his effortless and powerful use of little style, as well as intriguing results. Ball of Fat, Maupassant’s pioneer novel, paved the way and crowned his talent in the writing industry. Since the plot is a bit longer, it cannot be properly classified as a short story. The tale is often referred to as timeless because it has retained its enchantment over time. Maupassant has successfully written 300 interesting short stories, six well-versed novels, three thrilling travel books, and a complete volume of poems (Bloom 15). In all these works Maupassant’s individual influence is easily felt as he narrates through the various plots of stories. This paper illustrates episodes of Maupassant’s real life as depicted in his fiction.
To begin with, Maupassant had his parents divorced when he was just eleven. His mother kept the custody of Maupassant and his younger brother. His mother was a fan of Shakespeare, and she was thus well versed in classical literature. There is a chance that Maupassant’s writing skills were inherited from his mother. At the age of thirteen, his mother took her two sons to a private school. This school was known as the Institution Leroy-Petit which was in Rouen. Accordingly, Maupassant has written a short story known as La Question du Latin. In this story, he creates a school meant for classical studies and names it the Institution Robineau. Borrowing from his life, he chooses a name for his fictional school that is closely the same as the school he attended.
In his story of Mother Sauvage, Maupassant narrates about a rich mother of one son. Her son had been on the frontline of the war against the Germans (Maupassant 18). She was old, and her dwelling was far off the town. She lived alone, and people did not pity her as much because she had money. When the Prussian soldiers arrived in the village, she was allotted four of them because she was known to be wealthy. Each day she asked them of the whereabouts of the troop her son was in, but they did not have any information at all. After receiving a letter confirming the inhumane death of her son in the war, she was bitter and sad. After the soldiers had slept, she lit fire and burned them to death. She then gave the names to the German officer and told them to write to their mothers too. She was later killed by the Germans. Maupassant writes this story under the inspiration of the fact that he, the son of a divorced woman, participated in the Franco-Prussian war.
In his story of Piece of String, Maupassant wrote under the influence of his depressing life and the cynical German theorist, Artur Schopenhauer (Maupassant 23). He used a similarly close plot of the story The Necklace. In both stories, the main characters experienced afflictions that were unnecessary. Maupassant was born in Normandy but ended up living in many places in the coast until his family settled in château. His parents later separated. He participated in and lived unsettled life. At the beginning of Piece of String, he describes the miserable appearance of the peasants walking to the marketplace. Being born in Normandy, he is well informed of the social class and the way of life among the peasant families. Besides, Maupassant’s family was wealthy. He also became a private in during the war. Both of these aspects led him to be indifferent to the dependent people. His behavior is seen in his handy scrutiny of the way the peasants carried themselves (John).
In his story of The Jewels, Maupassant narrates the story of a woman who is married to a petty official. In the story, Maupassant states that Madame Lantin is capable of managing the few francs that her husband made and thus afforded a modest life for her family (Maupassant 140). In this case, Maupassant’s separate description of the woman quite fits his mother. In his biography, Maupassant’s mother is described as “well-read.” She was capable of sustaining the life of her two sons despite the separation with her husband. Moreover, after the separation, the mother was the most significant figure in her sons’ the lives. This explains his remarks about the inability of Monsieur Lantin to take care of himself in the absence of his wife, Madame Lantin.
Given that Maupassant died unmarried, the story of The Jewels was stimulated by the fact that he is not capable of loving a woman as a wife. Monsieur Lantin does not appreciate his wife’s interests. He refuses to accompany her to the theater. He even discourages her from collecting jewelry, which is a hobby she loves doing most. In the same line, Maupassant manages to earn a decent wage by working as a clerk in the Department of the Navy in Paris, but he does not settle down in as far as love and marriage are concerned. Instead, he enjoys spending time by the boat having fun with women. Lantin did not give his wife a chance to explain the source of the expensive jewels. It is possible that she got it genuinely and not necessarily through an adulterous affair.
In conclusion, Maupassant real life influence in his work is evident in all of his oeuvres. Having partaken in the Prussian-Franco war, he took the chance to use his personal involvement in writing about the military in a detailed manner as he did in Ball of Fat and A Duel. Maupassant successfully wrote realist and fantastic novels. He lived for 42 years after succumbing to insanity resulting from syphilis that he contracted in his youth. He led a short but highly productive life.
Bloom, Harold. Major Short Story Writers: Guy de Maupassant. Chelsea House Publishers, 2014.
Caughie, John. Theories of Authorship. Routledge, 2013.
de Maupassant, Guy. “The Jewels.” Short Stories for Student (volume 31), edited by Sara Constantakis, Gale Cengage, 2010, 136-153.
de Maupassant, Guy. “The Piece of String.” Short Stories for Student (volume 39), edited by Matthew Derda, Cengage Learning, 2014, 157-179.
de Maupassant, Guy. The Complete Short Stories of Guy Maupassant. WJ Black, 1903.