Synopses & Reviews
was the last book that Guy de Maupassant finished before his death at the early age of forty-three. It is the most original and psychologically penetrating of his several novels, and the one in which he attains a truly tragic perception of the wounded human heart. André Mariolle is a rich, handsome, gifted young man who cannot settle on what to do with himself. Madame de Burne, a glacially dazzling beauty, wants Mariolle to attend her exclusive salon for artists, composers, writers, and other intellectuals. At first Mariolle keeps his distance, but then he hits on the solution to all his problems: caring for nothing in particular, he will devote himself to being in love; Madame de Burne will be his everything. Soon lover and beloved are equally lost within a hall of mirrors of their common devising.
Richard Howards new English translation of this complex and brooding novel—the first in more than a hundred years—reveals the final, unexpected flowering of a great French realists art.
"In a career that spanned barely a decade -- the 1880s and early 1890s -- Maupassant produced some 300 stories, 200 articles, three travel books, a collection of poems, three plays, and six novels, and the bulk of this production was consumed with the pursuit of illicit sex. His specialty was the conte leste
, a kind of bawdy comic story we have very little of in English after Chaucer (think Boccaccio
or The Arabian Nights
)." Lorin Stein, Harper's Magazine
(Read the entire Harper's review
About the Author
Guy de Maupassant
(1850-1893), journalist, novelist, poet, memoirist, playwright, and short-story writer, was one of the most notable men of letters of nineteenth-century France. He was born in Normandy to a middle-class family that had adopted the noble “de” prefix only a generation earlier. An indifferent student, Maupassant enlisted in the army during the Franco-Prussian War—staying only long enough to acquire an intense dislike for all things military—and then went on to a career as a civil servant. His entrée to the literary world was eased by Gustave Flaubert, who had been a childhood playmate of his mothers and who took the young man under his wing, introducing him into salon society. The bulk of Maupassants published works, including nearly three hundred short stories and six novels, were written between 1880 and 1890, a period in which he also contributed to several Parisian daily newspapers. Among his best-known works are the novels Bel-Ami
and Pierre and Jean
and the fantastic tale “La Horla”; above all, he is celebrated for his stories, which transformed and defined the genre for years. In 1892, after attempting suicide to escape the hallucinations and headaches brought on by syphilis, Maupassant was committed to an asylum. He died eighteen months later.
Richard Howard was born in Cleveland in 1929. He is the author of fourteen volumes of poetry and has published more than one hundred fifty translations from the French, including works by Gide, Stendhal, de Beauvoir, Baudelaire, and de Gaulle. Howard received a National Book Award for his translation of Fleurs du mal and a Pulitzer Prize for Untitled Subjects, a collection of poetry.