Book Notes: "A Parisian Affair" by Guy de Maupassant

A Parisian AffairA Parisian Affair by Guy de Maupassant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The recent Penguin Pocket Classics series is good. This is the second of the French authors I have read in the series (there are six). I was struck by Maupassant's range of topics and how he waxes and wanes through tragedy and comedy but always with a clear picture of human imperfections and the challenges we, as humans, deal with on a daily basis. Because of the moral topics covered in these short-stories, I couldn't help but think of Hemingway and how he draws out a particular human condition and builds a tragic story around it. I wanted to find out more about the influence of Maupassant on Hemingway so I read the introduction to Stoltzfus' (2012) Hemingway and French Writers where he states that Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, in his foreword to a French translation of A Farewell to Arms, compares Hemingway to Maupassant. A little further reading led me to an article by Jean-Paul Sartre in the August 1946 edition of The Atlantic entitled "American Novelists in French Eyes". Although Sartre does not make the direct comparison à la Rochelle, it is clear that Hemingway was influenced by the French authors Maupassant and Zola (even if Sartre and Hemingway weren't quite the fans of fascism that Rochelle was to become). In the book, Maupassant's stories are supported by comprehensive notes that I will return to time and again, either for details of authors, artists and playwrights, or for the descriptions of places, architecture, variants of horse-drawn vehicles, and the workings of trains. It took me some time to get through the book, not because it was tedious, but because it deserves to be slow-read.

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