Image of Guy de Maupassant


Lifetime: 1850 - 1893 Passed: ≈ 130 years ago


Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet


French Republic

Guy de Maupassant

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was a 19th-century French author, remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the Naturalist school, who depicted human lives and destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms.

Maupassant was a protégé of Gustave Flaubert and his stories are characterized by economy of style and efficient, seemingly effortless dénouements. Many are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s, describing the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught up in events beyond their control, are permanently changed by their experiences. He wrote 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. His first published story, "Boule de Suif" ("The Dumpling", 1880), is often considered his masterpiece.

Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on 5 August 1850 at the late 16th-century Château de Miromesnil, near Dieppe in the Seine-Inférieure (now Seine-Maritime) department in France.

When Maupassant was 11 and his brother Hervé was five, his mother, an independent-minded woman, risked social disgrace to obtain a legal separation from her husband, who was violent towards her.

In 1867, as he entered junior high school, Maupassant made acquaintance with Gustave Flaubert at Croisset at the insistence of his mother. Next year, in autumn, he was sent to the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen where he proved a good scholar indulging in poetry and taking a prominent part in theatricals. In October 1868, at the age of 18, he saved the famous poet Algernon Charles Swinburne from drowning off the coast of Étretat.

The Franco-Prussian War broke out soon after his graduation from college in 1870; he enlisted as a volunteer. In 1871, he left Normandy and moved to Paris where he spent ten years as a clerk in the Navy Department. During this time his only recreation and relaxation was boating on the Seine on Sundays and holidays.

In 1881 he published his first volume of short stories under the title of La Maison Tellier; it reached its twelfth edition within two years. In 1883 he finished his first novel, Une Vie (translated into English as A Woman's Life), 25,000 copies of which were sold in less than a year. His second novel, Bel-Ami, which came out in 1885, had thirty-seven printings in four months.

Maupassant was one of a fair number of 19th-century Parisians (including Charles Gounod, Alexandre Dumas, fils, and Charles Garnier) who did not care for the Eiffel Tower. He often ate lunch in the restaurant at its base, not out of preference for the food but because it was only there that he could avoid seeing its otherwise unavoidable profile. He and forty-six other Parisian literary and artistic notables attached their names to an elaborately irate letter of protest against the tower's construction, written to the Minister of Public Works.

Maupassant also wrote under several pseudonyms such as Joseph Prunier, Guy de Valmont, and Maufrigneuse (which he used from 1881 to 1885).

On 2 January 1892, Maupassant tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat, and was committed to the private asylum of Esprit Blanche at Passy, in Paris, where he died 6 July 1893 from syphilis.

Maupassant penned his own epitaph: "I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing." He is buried in Section 26 of the Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris.

Books by Guy de Maupassant

Boule de Suif Cover image

Boule de Suif

Short Story

Boule de Suif, translated variously as Dumpling, Butterball, Ball of Fat, or Ball of Lard, is a famous short story by the late 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant, first published on 15/16 April 1880. It is arguably his most famous short sto...

Bel Ami: Or the History of a Scoundrel Cover image

Bel Ami: Or the History of a Scoundrel

Fiction Novel
Realism Fortune Corruption

Bel-Ami is the second novel by French author Guy de Maupassant, published in 1885; an English translation titled Bel Ami, or, The History of a Scoundrel: A Novel first appeared in 1903. The story chronicles journalist Georges Duroy's corrupt rise to...

Ball-of-Fat  Cover image


Short Story War Corruption Wealth Prostitution French

The story is set in the Franco-Prussian War and follows a group of French residents of Rouen, recently occupied by the Prussian army. The ten travellers decide for various reasons to leave Rouen and flee to Le Havre in a stagecoach. Sharing the carri...

The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume 3: The Viaticum and Other Stories Cover image

The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume 3: The Viaticum and Other Stories

Fiction Novel
Short Story Realism Life Desire Dark Hypocrisy Human Emotions

Explore the dark and twisted world of Guy de Maupassant, one of the greatest masters of the short story. The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume 3: The Viaticum and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by one of the greatest masters of the...

A Woman's Life Cover image

A Woman's Life

Fiction Novel
Family Spirit Struggle Happiness Society Life Conflict Relationships Women Resilience

A Woman's Life is a captivating novel by Guy de Maupassant that chronicles the life of Jeanne, a young woman born into a wealthy Norman family. From her sheltered upbringing in a convent school to her disillusioning experiences in marriage, motherhoo...

Contes de la bécasse Cover image

Contes de la bécasse

Dans les dix-sept nouvelles composant « Les contes de la bécasse », Guy de Maupassant dépeint en quelques traits des personnages et décors – pour la plupart normands –, mettant en exergue de manière ironique – parfois aussi pessimiste – les faiblesse...

Boule de suif Cover image

Boule de suif

Douze nouvelles dans lesquelles Guy de Maupassant pose un regard ironique, voire pessimiste, sur la société française de la fin du XIXe siècle. (Par Didier)

Horla Cover image


D'événements étranges en événements étranges, le narrateur raconte, dans son journal, comment il en vient à penser qu'une créature surnaturelle hante sa maison... (Résumé par Naf)

Horla Cover image


Seltsame Dinge geschehen um den Ich-Erzähler, der seine Gedanken und Gefühle seinem Tagebuch anvertraut. Woher kommen die schrecklichen Albträume und wer trinkt nachts seine Wasserflasche leer? Ist er ein Schlafwandler, wird er langsam wahnsinnig ode...

Ball of Fat (Boule de suif) Version 2 Cover image

Ball of Fat (Boule de suif) Version 2

Boule de Suif (1880) is a short story by the late-19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant. It is arguably his most famous short story, and is the title story for his collection on the Franco-Prussian War, entitled "Boule de Suif et Autres Contes...

Mont Oriol: or A Romance of Auvergne Cover image

Mont Oriol: or A Romance of Auvergne

Young bride Christiane arrives in Auvergne to "take the waters" with her husband, described as "a sickly flower, or a sucking pig with its hair shaved off." But rather than the relaxing family vacation she expects, she finds herself the center of a c...

Pierre & Jean Cover image

Pierre & Jean

This short novel’s titular characters are brothers. An old family friend dies, leaving without explanation his entire fortune to Jean, the younger brother. Pierre, the protagonist, is puzzled, jealous, and increasingly bitter. A bequest, a secret, a...

Contes du jour et de la nuit Cover image

Contes du jour et de la nuit

Dans cette compilation de 27 contes parfois tristes, horribles, marrants ou même fantastiques, Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) montre de nouveau son talent dans l'art d'observer la vie quotidienne des gens et d'en créer des histoires surprenantes. Le c...

Bola de sebo Cover image

Bola de sebo

Cuento largo o novela breve, que supuso el primer texto con cierto éxito del maestro Guy de Maupassant. Durante la guerra franco-prusiana, una diligencia, con una variopinta composición, que huye de la línea del frente es detenida en una posada. Allí...

Horla Cover image


"The Horla" (French title "Le Horla") is among the most famous short stories by the French writer Guy de Maupassant. This version, published in 1887, is an expanded version of that previously published in the Paris literary periodical, Le Gil Blas,...

Complete Original Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant Cover image

Complete Original Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant was, and is to this day, one of the world's most celebrated short story writers. He famously tackled topics like the Franco-Prussian War and the disillusionment of life and relationships. This collection of his works, containing fam...

Vie Cover image


La vie de Jeanne, en Normandie. Un très beau portrait de femme. Un contexte socio-géographique toujours intéressant avec Guy de Maupassant, son talent de plume, son regard, sa sensibilité. Une vie, ou L’Humble Vérité est le premier roman de Guy de Ma...

Cuentos escogidos Cover image

Cuentos escogidos

Guy de Maupassant es un escritor naturalista francés cuya escritura sencilla fue muy admirada en su tiempo y escritores posteriores a su tiempo quisieron imitar para lograr esa manera directa que tenía para contar sus historias. Pintaba muy clarament...

buen mozo (Bel ami) Cover image

buen mozo (Bel ami)

Durante la grabación - Summary by Montserrat González Pérez