Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Nineteenth century writers tended to depict city life as decadent and deceptive. The countryside offered renewal and restitution. Among naturalist writers, such as Gustave Flaubert, _mile Zola, and Ivan Turgenev, the portrayal of provincial life was less flattering. Rustic manners and mores often seemed petty and sordid.

Guy de Maupassant was aware of Turgenev’s Zapiski okhotnika (1852; Russian Life in the Interior, 1855; better known as A Sportsman’s Sketches, 1932), a collection of tales from rural Russia. In “Love: Three Pages from a Sportsman’s Notebook,” the narrator looks back to an experience that brought him out of the city into the uncanny surroundings of the Normandy marshlands. This sentimental, overwrought Parisian enjoys the primitive exhilaration of the hunt, but when the hunt is successfully concluded, his civilized side produces guilt and sorrow regarding the fate of his animal victims. Maupassant indirectly leads the reader to see the connection between the conquests and tragedies associated with love and those related to the hunt. The narrator is aware that Karl’s invitation excites in him an uncontrollable urge to participate in the chase, but the description of his cousin as a “loveable half-brute whose Gallic humour compensates for his mediocrity” reminds the reader that he is also a professional hunter determined to kill.

In sumptuous detail, the narrator conveys the mesmerizing...

(The entire section is 430 words.)