Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Maupassant was one of the major literary figures at the end of the nineteenth century to help move short fiction away from the primitive folktale form to the short story of psychological realism. His most significant contributions to the form may be found in such affecting realistic stories as “Boule de Suif” and such powerful tales of psychological obsession as “The Horla.”
Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850. He was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, both from prosperous bourgeois families. When Maupassant was eleven and his brother Hervé was five, his mother, an independent-minded woman, risked social disgrace to obtain a legal separation from her husband. With the father’s absence, Maupassant’s mother became the most influential figure in the young boy’s life.
At age thirteen, he was sent to a small seminary near Rouen for classical studies, but he found the place unbearably dreary and yearned for home, finally getting himself expelled in his next-to-last year. He returned home to the influence of his mother, as well as her brilliant brother Alfred and his student and friend Gustave Flaubert. At age eighteen, Maupassant was enrolled at the Lycée de Rouen, and he began law studies soon afterward in Paris, only to have these studies interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War, for which he enlisted. After the...
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Maupassant’s contributions to literature have often been overshadowed by the facts of his life. His sexual promiscuity, profligate Parisian lifestyle, and tragic death from syphilis (which was later frequently cited as an example of the dangers of sex) have often received more attention than his work.
Maupassant began his literary career with the publication of “Boule de Suif,” a touching story of a prostitute who reluctantly beds a Prussian officer in order to secure release of her traveling companions, who then scorn her. His first full volume of short fiction appeared in 1881 under the title of his second important story, “La Maison Tellier”—a comic piece about a group of prostitutes who attend a Holy Communion. After this book’s success, Maupassant published numerous stories in newspapers and periodicals that were reprinted in books that appeared at a rate of about two volumes a year. Many of his stories created considerable of controversy among the French critics of the time because he dared to focus on the experiences of so-called lowlife characters.
Maupassant’s first brush with censorship law occurred in 1879 with the publication of his poem “La Mur,” which was attacked as an “outrage on public morality.” Maupassant asked his most important mentor, Gustave Flaubert,...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Henri-René-Albert Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850, in the Château de Miromesnil in the French province of Normandy. He was the first child of Gustave and Laure de Maupassant. Guy de Maupassant spent his childhood and adolescence in Normandy. His parents grew to dislike each other intensely, and they eventually separated. Laure did not want Gustave to play any role in rearing either Guy or their second son, Hervé. She was an overly protective mother, and she did not allow Guy to attend school until he was thirteen years old. Until he became a student in 1863 at a Catholic seminary school, Guy’s only teacher was the local parish priest. Guy became indifferent to religion, and at the age of seventeen he was expelled from the seminary school because of behavior judged to be unacceptable by his teachers. He completed his secondary studies in 1869 at a boarding school in Rouen.
In 1867, Maupassant met the celebrated novelist Flaubert, whom Laure had known for almost twenty years. Some fanciful critics have suggested that Flaubert was not only Maupassant’s literary mentor but also his biological father. Although there is no evidence to support this hypothesis, Maupassant did react with extreme displeasure and perhaps with excessive sensitivity to the frequently repeated remark that Flaubert had been his father.
Maupassant began his law studies at the University of Paris in 1869, but with the outbreak of hostilities in the...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850, the eldest son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, both from prosperous bourgeois French families. When Maupassant was eleven, his strong-willed mother obtained a legal separation from her husband. In the absence of her husband, Maupassant’s mother assumed an exaggerated importance in his life. The most important masculine figures for Maupassant during his youth were Alfred, his mother’s brilliant brother, and Alfred’s literary student, Gustave Flaubert . With the death of Alfred at a relatively young age, Flaubert began to have an even more significant role, encouraging the young Maupassant to write.
Maupassant’s education was aimed at training him for a career in the law, and after a brief period of military service during the Franco-Prussian War he was given a position in the Naval Ministry. However, under the tutelage of Flaubert he began to publish poetry and stories in various obscure journals. He also became part of a group of literary figures—which included Alphonse Daudet,Émile Zola, and Ivan Turgenev—that met regularly at Flaubert’s home. In 1880, with the publication of “Boule de suif,” a tale that Flaubert praised extravagantly, Maupassant ceased working for the government and devoted himself completely to his writing. In the next ten years, he wrote numerous articles for newspapers, published more than three hundred short stories, and wrote six...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Born on August 5, 1850, in the imposing Château de Miromesnil, near Dieppe, France, Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant (moh-puh-SAHN) was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant. Although both parents were from fairly well-to-do families, they were only renting the château where Maupassant was born. According to biographers, he probably was born in a small house nearby but was immediately taken to the château so his birth announcements would look more impressive. When the boy was eleven, his parents were legally separated, and he spent most of his youth with his mother, who became a powerful influence on his life.
As a member of the upper middle class, Maupassant was enrolled at a school suitable for him, a small seminary near Rouen. The place, however, was not to the boy’s liking, and he purposely got himself expelled before completing school. After returning home to his mother, he fell under the tutelage of his uncle Alfred and a friend of the family who was later to become his most famous and important influence, the writer Gustave Flaubert.
When he was eighteen, Maupassant tried to complete his education by enrolling at Lycée de Rouen, but his law studies were disrupted soon after by his enlistment in the Franco-Prussian War. As a result of his military experience, he was able to get a position after the...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Guy de Maupassant had as much to do with the development of the short-story genre in the late nineteenth century as Anton Chekhov did, albeit in somewhat different ways. Yet because such stories as “The Necklace” are so deceptively simple and seem trivial, Maupassant’s experiment with the form has often been ignored. Not until the short story itself receives the recognition that it deserves as a respectable literary genre will Maupassant receive the recognition that he deserves for his contribution to the perfection of the form.
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Biography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Although unnamed, the protagonist is approximately identical with the author, as the latter was in the winter of 1916-1917: a young Jewish writer from Odessa who has moved to the capital illegally, on the eve of the February Revolution.
The young writer, though poverty-stricken and selling almost nothing he has written, is so supremely confident that he spurns an offer of a job as a clerk. He sees himself as superior to Leo Tolstoy, whose religion was “all fear. He was frightened by the cold, by old age, by death.”
The narrator finds acceptable employment when Bendersky’s publishing house decides to bring out a new edition of Guy de Maupassant’s works; Bendersky’s wife, Raisa, has begun some translations, but they are flat and lifeless. The narrator is summoned to assist Raisa; he meets her at the Bendersky mansion on Nevsky Prospect—a habitation decorated in profoundly poor taste. The Benderskys are converted Jews, in consequence of which they have been allowed to grow rich.
The narrator would despise Raisa as he does her husband—“a yellow-faced Jew with a bald skull”—were it not for the fact that he finds her ravishing on first sight (although, it must be admitted, the young man finds all women ravishing, including his forty-year-old washerwoman, Katya). The fact that Raisa is enfolded in pink layers of fat is all to the good—precisely Isaac Babel’s type, as readers may know from his other stories....
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Henri-René-Albert Guy de Maupassant (moh-pah-sah), born on August 5, 1850, at Château de Miromesnil, was descended from an old French family; his grandfather was a wealthy landowner in Lorraine, and the writer’s father was a stockbroker in Paris. As a boy, Maupassant went to school at Yvetot, in Normandy, and later attended the lycée at Rouen. During his childhood and youth in Normandy he observed and absorbed a great deal of the life he was later to use so effectively in his fiction.
Significant in the author’s life was the separation of his parents when he was eleven years old. His mother, a sister of a close friend of Gustave Flaubert, turned to Flaubert for advice after her husband had left her. That association brought Maupassant into French literary circles. Although he was often a member of gatherings that included such famous writers of the nineteenth century as Flaubert, Ivan Turgenev, Émile Zola, and Alphonse Daudet, he seems to have had little interest at the time in a writing career for himself; as an adolescent he was much more interested in sports, especially rowing.
Maupassant’s education was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War, in which he served as a member of the French army. After the war he entered the French civil service, first with the Ministry of the Navy and later with the Ministry of Public...
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IntroductionGiven his short life (1850-1893), it is unsurprising that Guy de Maupassant’s work is often celebrated for its economy. Yet the praise applies more to the form and structure of his stories than his truncated career. Many cite de Maupassant as one of the progenitors of the modern short story. Much of his work is celebrated for its ability to create time, place, and character in succinct but rich detail. While he is best remembered for his piquant short fiction and clever novels (many of which feature war as a prominent theme), de Maupassant also wrote a tome of poetry as well as extensive travelogues. His travels throughout the continent affected both his fiction and nonfiction writing, marking de Maupassant as a true Renaissance man.
- As a young man, de Maupassant met Flaubert, author of the classic Madame Bovary. Flaubert’s influence was crucial to de Maupassant’s development as a writer.
- Early in his career, as de Maupassant began developing his own novels and short stories, he worked as a journalist for several prominent newspapers.
- Far from lighthearted, many of his short stories are detective or mystery tales that explore psychoses and psychological horrors.
- The impact of de Maupassant’s career is extensive, with O. Henry and W. Somerset Maugham among the many later authors whose careers were influenced by his work.
- Maupassant died prematurely at the age of 43. His last years were marked by a slow decline from syphilis, from which he suffered for many years.
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Author Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850, in any of several locations in Normandy, France, according to whether one believes his death certificate or various biographers. He spent his entire youth in Normandy, and never allowed that fact to be forgotten.
He was the elder son of Laure Lepoitevin de Maupassant and Gustave de Maupassant. The intimate friendship his mother and maternal uncle had with Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary, became of utmost importance in Maupassant's early literary development. Laure de Maupassant divorced her gay-blade of a husband and devoted herself and the considerable settlement she received to the upbringing of her two sons. Maupassant was educated at the school of Etretat and by his mother until the age of thirteen; she was a highly lettered person and conveyed to him a strong enthusiasm for Shakespeare. He studied briefly at the seminary of Yvetot, where his antireligious and amorous verses earned him many rebukes, before being expelled as an insubordinate pupil for stealing and drinking the faculty's choice wines. Subsequently, at a lycee in Rouen, he had Louis Bouilhet for a teacher, who (with the help of Gustave Flaubert's letters, in a kind of correspondence-school) gave direction to Maupassant's increasing interest in literary expression.
During the Prussian invasion in 1870, Maupassant served in the army, gathering experiences and observations which were of...
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Guy de Maupassant, a nineteenth-century naturalist author, is one of France’s most distinguished and celebrated writers of short stories. An incredibly productive writer, Maupassant achieved recognition quickly in France, and the amazing bulk and quality of his work left an impressive and permanent mark on the literary world of short fiction.
It is believed that Maupassant was born at Château de Miromesniel on August 5, 1850, although it is speculated that his parents moved him from their humble house in Fécamp to the imposing Miromesniel mansion to give their first-born child a high-sounding birthplace. Château de Miromesniel is located in a small village outside of Dieppe, called Tourville-sur-Arques. His parents separated when he was eleven years old, and he lived all of his early years in his native Normandy. Maupassant was born with the gift of a photographic memory, and this innate talent helped him to remember the nuances of Norman people that later made his stories so descriptive.
In 1869, Maupassant moved to Paris to study law, but by the age of twenty he volunteered to serve in the army during the Franco–Prussian War. After the war he joined the literary circle headed by Gustave Flaubert. The famous writer was a friend of Maupassant’s mother. Flaubert introduced his new protégé to other writers, including Émile Zola, Ivan Turgenev, and Henry James. Flaubert was wholly impressed with Maupassant and became obsessed with...
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Henri-Rene-Albert Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850, near Tourville-sur-Arques in Normandy France where he spent most of his early life. The oldest child of wealthy parents who eventually separated, Maupassant was not allowed to attend school until he was thirteen years old. Before then, the local parish priest acted as his tutor.
After being expelled from a Catholic seminary school, Maupassant finished his schooling at a Rouen boarding school before studying law at the University of Paris. His studies were soon interrupted by the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, and Maupassant became a soldier in Normandy. After the war, Maupassant did not return to the university and instead entered the civil service, working as a clerk in the Naval and Education Ministries.
Resigning from the Ministry of Education in 1880, Maupassant became a full-time writer. He began by imitating the style of Gustave Flaubert, a prominent French novelist who had been a close friend of Maupassant's mother for decades. Unsubstantiated rumors circulated at the time that Flaubert was Maupassant's true father; both parties always vehemently denied the allegations. Taken under Flaubert's wing, Maupassant became acquainted with some of the most prominent authors of his time, including Emile Zola, Ivan Turgenev, and Alphonse Daudet.
Following the publication of his first story, "Boule de suif'' ("ball of fat'' or "ball of suet''), in an 1880 collection of stories by several authors, Maupassant established himself as a prominent writer of both short stories and novels. During the next decade, he published six novels and nearly three hundred short stories, many of them in the Paris newspapers Gil-Blas and Le Gaulois. He also wrote plays, poetry, travel essays, and newspaper articles. ‘‘The Necklace" ("Laparure" ) appeared in Le Gaulois on February 17, 1884, and was included in Maupassant's 1885 collection Stories of Night and Day (Contes dujour et de la nuit).
During the 1880s, Maupassant's health declined, largely as a result of syphilis, which he had contracted in the 1870s but which physicians had not diagnosed. Following an unsuccessful suicide attempt on January 2,1892, Maupassant was placed in a sanitarium. He died a year and a half later of complications from the disease.