Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Enval. French resort in which the novel opens with a description that creates a mood of the overpowering force of nature that persists throughout Mont-Oriol: “the charm of the little village, amid the shadow of gigantic trees, whose gnarled trunks seemed as large as the houses. Besides this they were drawn there by the fame of the gorges at the end of the weird valley, which opens on the great plain of Auvergne and ends abruptly, at the foot of a high mountain studded with ancient craters, in a wild rift filled with fallen and overhanging rocks.”

Enval is the site of a natural spring that William Andermatt buys from a peasant named Oriol and develops into a health spa that he calls Mont-Oriol, after Oriol’s lovely daughters.


*Auvergne (oh-VERN). Historical region of southern France that plays a dominant role in the novel, not only because Guy de Maupassant’s descriptions of the unique environment maintain a haunting mood, but because the unique setting is essential to the plot. The love-starved Christiane Andermatt is carried away by the hypnotic spell of nature, and Paul Bretigny, the fop who becomes her lover, is captivated by her refreshingly genuine emotions. Her money-hungry husband William is captivated by the opportunity to make a fortune by investing in a new resort that will exploit the newly discovered mineral spring. His business dealings force him to make return trips to Paris, thus providing Christiane and Bretigny ample opportunities to be alone together and to consummate their adulterous passions under the spell of nature. Their first sexual liaison, which ultimately leads to the birth of a bastard child, is the emotional high point of the novel. There, Maupassant makes explicit his...

(The entire section is 733 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Harris, Trevor A. Le V. “Maupassant’s Mont-Oriol: Narrative as Declining Noun.” Modern Language Review 89, no. 3 (July, 1994): 581-594. A close reading of Mont-Oriol, with special attention to the meanings in the names of the novel’s characters. Emphasizes decline as a major theme and technical device.

James, Henry. Partial Portraits. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970. Contains the frequently quoted essay “Guy De Maupassant.” Originally published in 1888, this succinct and lucid analysis of Maupassant’s literary merits and shortcomings, containing some discussion of Mont-Oriol, has never been surpassed by a critic writing in English.

Lerner, Michael G. Maupassant. Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin, 1975. Devotes balanced attention to the transmutations of Maupassant’s life experiences into material for his short stories and novels, including Mont-Oriol. Notes, bibliography, and photographs.

Sullivan, Edward D. Maupassant the Novelist. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978. A study of Maupassant’s six novels, with a chapter devoted to Mont-Oriol. Examines Maupassant’s letters, articles, essays, stories, and other works to trace the painful struggle of an acknowledged master of the short story to develop into an equally accomplished novelist.

Wallace, A. H. Guy de Maupassant. New York: Twayne, 1973. An excellent introduction to the life and works of Maupassant. One section is devoted to a discussion of Mont-Oriol. Chronology, endnotes, and a selected bibliography.