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The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume 8   By: (1850-1893)

Book cover

First Page:

The Works of

Guy de Maupassant

VOLUME VIII

PIERRE ET JEAN

AND OTHER STORIES

ILLUSTRATED

NATIONAL LIBRARY COMPANY

NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY

BIGELOW, SMITH & CO.

CONTENTS

PIERRE ET JEAN.

DREAMS

MOONLIGHT

THE CORSICAN BANDIT

A DEAD WOMAN'S SECRET

THE CAKE

A LIVELY FRIEND

THE ORPHAN

THE BLIND MAN

A WIFE'S CONFESSION

RELICS OF THE PAST

THE PEDDLER

THE AVENGER

ALL OVER

LETTER FOUND ON A DROWNED MAN

MOTHER AND SON

THE SPASM

A DUEL

THE LOVE OF LONG AGO

AN UNCOMFORTABLE BED

A WARNING NOTE

THE HORRIBLE

A NEW YEAR'S GIFT

BESIDE A DEAD MAN

AFTER

A QUEER NIGHT IN PARIS

BOITELLE

OF "THE NOVEL"

I do not intend in these pages to put in a plea for this little novel. On the contrary, the ideas I shall try to set forth will rather involve a criticism of the class of psychological analysis which I have undertaken in Pierre et Jean . I propose to treat of novels in general.

I am not the only writer who finds himself taken to task in the same terms each time he brings out a new book. Among many laudatory phrases, I invariably meet with this observation, penned by the same critics: "The greatest fault of this book is that it is not, strictly speaking, a novel."

The same form might be adopted in reply:

"The greatest fault of the writer who does me the honor to review me is that he is not a critic."

For what are, in fact, the essential characteristics of a critic?

It is necessary that, without preconceived notions, prejudices of "School," or partisanship for any class of artists, he should appreciate, distinguish, and explain the most antagonistic tendencies and the most dissimilar temperaments, recognizing and accepting the most varied efforts of art.

Now the Critic who, after reading Manon Lescaut , Paul and Virginia , Don Quixote , Les Liaisons dangereuses , Werther , Elective Affinities ( Wahlverwandschaften ), Clarissa Harlowe , Émile , Candide , Cinq Mars , René , Les Trois Mousquetaires , Mauprat , Le Père Goriot , La Cousine Bette , Colomba , Le Rouge et le Noir , Mademoiselle de Maupin , Notre Dame de Paris , Salammbo , Madame Bovary , Adolphe , M. de Camors , l'Assommoir , Sapho , etc., still can be so bold as to write "This or that is, or is not, a novel," seems to me to be gifted with a perspicacity strangely akin to incompetence. Such a critic commonly understands by a novel a more or less improbable narrative of adventure, elaborated after the fashion of a piece for the stage, in three acts, of which the first contains the exposition, the second the action, and the third the catastrophe or dénouement .

And this method of construction is perfectly admissible, but on condition that all others are accepted on equal terms.

Are there any rules for the making of a novel, which, if we neglect, the tale must be called by another name? If Don Quixote is a novel, then is Le Rouge et le Noir a novel? If Monte Christo is a novel, is l'Assommoir ? Can any conclusive comparison be drawn between Goethe's Elective Affinities , The Three Mousqueteers , by Dumas, Flaubert's Madame Bovary , M. de Camors by Octave Feuillet, and Germinal , by Zola? Which of them all is The Novel? What are these famous rules? Where did they originate? Who laid them down? And in virtue of what principle, of whose authority, and of what reasoning?

And yet, as it would appear, these critics know in some positive and indisputable way what constitutes a novel, and what distinguishes it from other tales which are not novels... Continue reading book >>


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