July in Paris is almost over. When I saw that the story of the day on East of the Web:Short Stories was "A Confession" by Guy de Maupassant I decided to read it. I have already post on two of his works, Pierre Et Jean his highly regarded novella and "A Father's Confession". Having read only three of his works now it already appears family secrets and confessions of old sins are among the dominant themes of de Mausassant.
Guy De Maupassant (1850 to 1893-France) was a very successful and highly productive writer. He wrote six short novels, over 200 short stories and a vast amount of journalism. He was a protege of Gustav Flaubert. Guy De Maupassant made a very good amount of money from his writings. He served in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. For ten years after the war he was a civil service clerk. Flaubert, who knew his mother, encouraged him to pursue his literary interests. One of his first short stories, about a prostitute during the Franco-Prussian, war was proclaimed a masterpiece by Flaubert and was hugely popular. From the success of this De Maupassant began a career as a professional writer. Through Flaubert he became friends with Zola and Turgenev. (I will post soon on the story set in the Franco-Prussian War, "Duex Amis" -"Two Friends"-some of his works even when translated are still commonly referred to by their French titles)
"A Confession" is about two sisters who spent all of their lives together. As the story opens the youngest sister is on her death bed and tells her older sister she has something she must confess in her presence. I will tell a little of the plot. The older sister had a true love who died when she was twenty five. The woman put on widows clothes and mourned for the rest of her life. Her younger sister, then twelve, promised never to marry and never to leave her sister. De Maupassant brilliantly creates a life in a few words:
They lived together all the days of their life, without ever being separated a single time. They went side by side, inseparably united. But Marguérite seemed always sad, oppressed, more melancholy than the elder, as though perhaps her sublime sacrifice had broken her spirit. She aged more quickly, had white hair from the age of thirty, and often suffering, seemed afflicted by some secret, gnawing trouble.It is the cause of that trouble that is the subject of her confession. I found the ending of this story very moving and powerful. The story can be read in only a few moments and it might stay with you for life. In just a few pages de Maupassant creates a world in miniature. Some who do not like short stories may bemoan the fact that we do not have the details we would have in one of the behemoths of the 19th century novel and they are right. We are given the freedom to create our own details by the genius of de Maupassant.
This story can be read online here
If anyone has any suggestions as to other short stories I might like (an preferably can read online) please leave a comment.