I was very happy to see Thyme for Tea's post announcing that she be hosting once again an event devoted to all things related to Paris, Paris in July # 6. This will be my fourth year as a participant. You can participate in a lot of ways besides posting on literature related to Paris. Pretty much anything tied into Paris is very welcome. Her webpage has lots of suggestions.
Guy de Maupassant published just over 300 short stories and six novellas. He is widely considered one of the founders of the modern short story. His work and his life was very much Paris centered.
I was recently given a copy of a forthcoming soon anthology of selected short stories by Guy de Maupassant. The stories are newly translated by Sandra Smith whose previous work was her award winning translation of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovskyn. Her objective is to take produce modern versions of the archaic translations of de Maupassant that have limited his readership in the anglophone literary world. The publisher's blurb says the goal is to do what Lydia Davis did for Madame Bovary.
The collection is well introduced and the translations are a delight to read. Maupassant wanted to produce stories that would make people buy his work. He lived from his writings. I think Smith has caught this. I do have an E Book of his complete works and the language in the 100 year old plus translations there is very old fashioned. Smith divides the stories into three sections, French Life, Prussian War Stories and occult stories.
"Two Friends", reading time five minutes, is set during the German occupation of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, 1870. This was a terribly dark and traumatic period for Paris and some of his acknowledged master works are set in this period. The story focuses on two middle aged men living in Paris during the occupation. The men have not seen each other for a long time and have a chance encounter on the streets of Paris. They talk briefly, they seem afraid to say too much, about his bad things are now but soon talk of happier times when they used on every Sunday to fish in the river. On an impulse, it being Sunday, they decide to go fishing. After going to their houses to get poles, each man has a family now, they proceed toward the river. A French army officer in an unoccupied part of the city gives them the password they will need to give to French troops to get to the river. As they fish happily and talk of the futility of war, a troop of twenty Germans take them captive. The German Colonel chats in a cordial way with them about fishing then tells them unless they give him the password he will have them shot as spies. I don't want to tell the close but it had to be hard for the French to read.
I think I will post on more of the stories in the new translations.