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Guy de Maupassant

And "The Necklace"

Charles the Cat

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Guy de Maupassant

and "the necklace" Guy de Maupassant's life is a tragedy of war, disease, and insanity. He studied at the University of Paris, but
"...his studies were soon interrupted by the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, and Maupassant became a soldier in Normandy. After the war, Maupassant did not return to the University of Paris and instead entered the civil service, working as a clerk in the Naval and Education Ministries."
"During the [1890s], he published six novels and nearly three hundred short stories, many of them in the Paris newspapers Gil-Bias and Le Gaulois. He also wrote plays, poetry, travel essays, and newspaper articles."
" Following an unsuccessful suicide attempt on January 2, 1892, Maupassant was placed in a sanitarium. He died a year and a half later of complications from [syphilis]." "She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her."

"She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart."

"Madame Forestier had halted.
'You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?'
'Yes. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike.'
And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.
Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.
'Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . '" This quotation sets up a major element of plot. Madame Loisel is a person who is suited for aristocracy, but she is born into a relatively poor family. This conflict needs to be noted specifically in order for the story to make sense.

Here, Madame Loisel has achieved her dream of appearing to be the crème-de-la-crème, and she is the happiest she has ever been in her entire life. While this is not the climax of the story, it is the major "happy moment" which makes the "O. Henry" ending all the more surprising.

The "O. Henry" ending of the story. It ends suddenly, and although it is not specified, we can infer that Madame Forestier will give Madame Loisel the diamond necklace, but the damage to her beauty cannot be replaced. This ending is highly ironic; the diamond necklace being imitation is absolutely not what is expected. biographie biographie de guy de maupassant By the time “The Necklace” was first published, Maupassant had already established his reputation as one of France’s foremost short story writers. Boule de suif, which appeared in an 1880 collection of stories by several authors, made him an instant member of the literary elite. “The Necklace,” however, was considerably different from Maupassant’s previous stories; its trick ending surprised many of his readers who were not used to such a jarring reversal of meaning at the end of a story. Other readers of Maupassant thought that the short story format was beneath him, and they would have preferred that he write novels instead.

For a story that continues to be included often in modern anthologies, “The Necklace” has received little attention in recent decades, possibly because, as Edward Sullivan wrote in his 1974 presentation Maupassant et la nouvelle, it is “too accessible to the public at large.” Instead, modern critics tend to pay more attention to the works of Maupassant that were passed over during his lifetime, particularly his novels. Thus, a strange permutation of priorities has come about in Maupassant criticism; those texts that made his reputation, save a few select stories, are today largely ignored while those that were overlooked by his contemporaries are central to modern critical discussions. Interest in Maupassant was renewed in 1969 following a special publication of the journal Europe devoted to critical analyses of his works. A host of books, essays, and articles followed, but few paid significant attention to “The Necklace.” Indeed, since 1980, only two articles have appeared that have focused primarily on “The Necklace”—a 1982 essay by Gerald Prince that examined the relationship between the characters and their names, and a 1985 article by Mary Donaldson-Evans that compared the story with Maupassant’s 1883 tale “Les bijoux.”
The continued popularity of “The Necklace” in the United States, however, eventually resulted in a skewed view of Maupassant’s writing. Because, as some critics had predicted, many of his works were no longer well-known, he became associated with the surprise ending, even though he did not use it often. Although critics devoted to the short story genre continued to praise Maupassant for his mastery of style and plotting, those whose experience of Maupassant’s works was limited to “The Necklace” began to dismiss him as a literary trickster. Indeed, despite renewed attention between World Wars I and II, Maupassant’s reputation slipped considerably during the 1950s and 1960s, and his name was rarely mentioned outside of passing references in texts devoted to criticism of short story or realist fiction.
Some critics, however, doubted that Maupassant’s popularity would last. In an essay for the January 16, 1892, edition of the Illustrated London News, Irish novelist and critic George Moore insisted that Maupassant would be forgotten by the middle of the twentieth century. On the contrary, his popularity in the English-speaking world has never faltered, due in large part to frequent anthologizing of “The Necklace.” In a 1939 survey of seventy-four authors by the journal Books Abroad, Maupassant tied with Homer and Walt Whitman for sixth place among the most influential writers of all time.
American readers of the time, however, were fascinated by the author. The first English translation of Maupassant’s stories, an 1888 collection entitled The Odd Number because it contained thirteen tales, included “The Necklace.” In the book’s introduction, Henry James, a prominent American writer and advocate of literary realism, praised the stories as “wonderfully concise and direct.” Other critics were similarly enthusiastic, comparing Maupassant favorably with such American short story writers as Bret Harte and Sarah Orne Jewett.
official interpretation I think it is enough to read a plot for the plot’s sake, because a good plot is a beautiful thing that forms as one picture in one’s mind. When you analyze that picture, although you may glean some deeper meaning from it, it is still like one is cutting that picture into tiny strips and scanning each through a magnifying glass. Once that "picture" is "cut up", it will never be the same in one’s mind’s eye, despite one’s many attempts to reform the image.
I think it is enough to identify the literary devices in a story, because like with plot analysis, it can ruin one’s mental image of the story. If an author includes irony in a story, the irony can be appreciated, but I do not think that studying the milieu to find an explanation for why the irony was included has any real benefit to the appreciation of the story.
I think the short story, or even stories in general, can be art for art’s sake as well as having a more profound purpose. Depending on the story, the author can write it with a parallel theme or concept in mind, designed to change you in some shape or form, or it can be written simply as art. Even if the story is written simply to be art, the chances are someone will find deeper meaning.
quotes from critics “[‘The Necklace’] gives us a good chance to consider the problem of the treatment of time in fiction.”
Source: Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, “The Necklace,” in Understanding Fiction, second edition, edited by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, 1959, pp. 106-15.

“Notice how even in the relatively bare summary in which Maupassant presents the years of hardship, he manages by a few specific touches to make us sense the quality of the life of the Loisels.”
Source: Sean O’Faolain, “The Technical Struggle: On Subject,” in The Short Story, The Devin-Adair Co., 1951, pp. 171-92.

“Maupassant has an immense reputation as a specialist in stories that end in this way—stories with ‘trick’ or ‘twist’ endings. Considering how deeply engrained in his nature was the desire to shock, he might be expected to have written numerous such stories, but the fact is that he did not.”
Source: Francis Steegmuller, “‘The Necklace’,” in Maupassant: A Lion in the Path, Random House, 1949, pp. 203-10.
Two Little Soldiers
“Two Little Soldiers” draws many parallels to Guy de Maupassant’s life, as well as to “The Necklace.” Guy de Maupassant served in the military, which is most likely from where he got the inspiration from the story. It might also explain the theme of being alone in a foreign country. It is also possible that Guy de Maupassant gathered the theme of suicide from his life as well. “Two Little Soldiers” does not share many characteristics with “The Necklace”, but the twist ending is undeniably a shared trait.
Situational irony, symbolism, evocative language, imagery.
Situational irony: "Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "
Evocative language: "And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money."
Metaphor: "Loisel, who had aged five years," The literary devices do not unify the story; they merely enhance it, allowing for a smoother transfer of the story to one's mind. When Madame Loisel realizes that she has lost the necklace, her first thought is not to apologize to Madame Forestier, but to replace it without Forestier's knowledge. This was a mistake of leviathan proportions. Because she assumes that Madame Forestier, being a wealthy woman, would never settle for an "imitation" diamond necklace, her once-beautiful body is wasted, and even if she regains her previous caste, she can never again be beautiful.
"So watch out!" is Maupassant's key idea behind this story. It is trying to teach one a lesson: Don't go behind a friend's back; instead, be open with them. If you can't trust your friends, you cannot trust anyone. It is insignificant to the plot that we know the author's background. Although it may help us understand why the author made the plot that way, it won't enhance the plot in the same way literary devices do. Final Thoughts: Tie-in to Integrity Integrity is an important factor, often explaining why an author writes. If the author has integrity, it is far more likely for integrity to be at least a sub-theme in the story. It more defines the author than anything else, which in turn defines the stories written by the author.
Madame Loriel saw caste as a barrier that overcame all other ties, even friendship. She was so worried of being cast out by her one and only link to the rich Bourgeoisie that she could not come clean to a friend about an honest mistake for fear of losing the friendship. by Daniel Kiracofe
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