Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Christmas Eve" by Guy de Maupassant (December 25, 1882)

An unconventional Christmas Eve Story 

Guy de Maupassant is considered one of the greatest short stories writers of all time, a scion of French literature.  In reading the short stories of de Maupassant I have informally divided them into three categories.  The first is the ten or so stories universally considered great works, then there is a vast body of stories in the middle range mostly still read because he wrote them then there is a goodly number of stories in a category something like "what in the world were you thinking Guy" category that seemed aimed mainly to titilate and shock.  ( Frank O'Connor said in The Lonely Voice:  A Study of the Short Story that de Maupassant's best stories centered on prostitution.)

"Christmas Eve" opens on that day.  We are with a writer who has gotten behind in his work so he decides to stay in that night and work.  Soon he hears his neighbors having parties, hears revelers in the streets.  He gets restless and decides to go out and find a hooker to spend Christmas Eve with.  His taste ran to plus size women, with a special fondness for large breasts and big stomachs.  To his delight he quickly finds a huge swollen specimen and brings her home.  He orders in a Christmas meal and she devours it as if she was starving.  Knowing why she is there, she gets into bed and removed her clothing.  Then to his horror, she gives birth to a bady and all her wonderful bulk is gone.  He goes for a doctor, midwife and wet nurse.  Knowing his neighbors will all think the child is his, he provides for his schooling and maintenance.  To make it worse, the now slender woman falls in love with him and stalks him but he wants nothing to do with her anymore.  He only likes very big women. 

I pondered is Maupassant just making sales with a shocking for 1882 story or is this some sort of commentary on the fate of unmarried women on the streets of Paris.

"Christmas Eve" was fun to read and I admit I laughed when the girl gave birth in the man's bed. 

Ambrosia Bousweau 


Jonathan said...

This sounds like a fun story. I've got one of those free collections (I think it's from PG) but can't seem to find this one.

Anonymous said...

What great Christmas stories you have chosen to share! I will be adding them to my list. Merry Christmas!