Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Maupassant is recognized as a consummate stylist who strove to render an exact image of life. In “Love: Three Pages from a Sportsman’s Notebook,” with supple yet powerful prose, he quickly establishes the frame of reference and then sets about to create the atmosphere by means of carefully selected, impressionistic details.

In order for the story to be convincing, a series of acute psychological states must evolve, each attached to a specific characteristic of the natural setting. First, the narrator takes note of the vastness of the river valley and forest. The thought of the unusual creatures who inhabit these lands leaves him with a sense of alienation and dread. As the river basin gives way to marshland, the narrator observes that this watershed region is a world unto itself. He admits he enjoys, with an excessive passion, being around rivers, lakes, and streams, but the rushing sound of gurgling water in the distance troubles him deeply.

The paralyzing cold eventually overwhelms the narrator, and the compelling drama of the night sky in the bog almost deprives him of human sensation. Later, the fire in the hut illuminates the marsh with surreal images, and the eerie distant sound of birds as they move with the first light of dawn is like the sighing of the earth. Finally, the heartbreaking cry of the duck lamenting its fallen mate casts a spell over the narrator that will not soon be broken. Through masterful control over these...

(The entire section is 442 words.)