Page:Pierre and Jean - Clara Bell - 1902.djvu/23

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Guy de Maupassant

the outcome of Maupassant's official career, a master-piece of irony and portraiture; Yvette, a rather brutal story, which would have fared better in the hands of Alphonse Daudet; and Monsieur Parent, a most masterly study of middle-class infidelity in Paris. All these exhibit much of their author's very finest work. Never did he "find himself" more completely; the tool fitted exactly to his hand, and the material shaped itself at his bidding.

It is impossible here to attempt any formal classification of Maupassant's other stories, which are of all lengths from eight or ten pages, and even less. But in discussing their character, it is convenient to group them in a rough arrangement. Foremost, as inspired with perhaps the most enduring quality, come the Norman tales of farm and peasant life. Maupassant's annexation of the province is as complete as Mr. Hardy's of Wessex. Himself sprung from a race of Norman squires, it happened that his mother followed with particular interest the simple, if often eccentric, annals of their humbler compatriots, and never tired of discussing them with her son. He was something of a sportsman, too; and in France shooting brings different classes into closer contact than it does here. Thus equipped, he produced some twenty tales, chiefly

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