Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Book #2: Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant
WARNING: If you don't already know the plot-line of these stories and have any intention of reading it, I have included spoilers in this review!
"It is the lives we encounter that make life worth living."
-Guy de Maupassant
Also on the audiobook of The Metamorphosis were seven short stories by Guy de Maupassant (don’t even try to pronounce it). I will go over each one briefly:
1. The Hand—A judge recounts the mysterious case of an Englishman who was found dead in his home, the only explanation for his death being that the severed hand of his enemy (which he kept around the living room as an accent piece) had strangled him. Weird, creepy story.
2. The Piece of String—A thrifty old man picks up a piece of string from the ground. Through an odd chain of events it becomes rumored that he was actually picking up someone’s lost wallet. The poor man’s reputation is shattered and he goes mad, protesting his innocence as he lays dying. Pointless story, presumably about he pointlessness of life.
3. The Diamond Necklace—My mother read this story in high school and remembers it with a sickening feeling to this day. A poor woman borrows a friend’s diamond necklace for one evening of glamour, then loses it. The woman and her husband buy another necklace, give it to the friend without telling her of the substitution, then spend the next ten years of their lives working themselves to death the pay their debts. After this time the poor woman meets her friend in the street one day and decides to tell her of the substitution, now that everything is finished and paid back. Wouldn’t you know it, the diamonds in the original necklace had been false and were worth next to nothing. Very depressing.
4. A Crisis—I’m not sure that this is the right title for the story, but it was about a man who has had many, many affairs and has decided with his wife that they will live completely separate lives though staying in the same house. However, he falls in love with his wife again and wants to spend some “quality time” with her. She refuses however, relenting only on the condition that he pay her just as much money as he used to pay his former mistresses. A very strange little tale.
5. The Will—A woman dies and leaves everything to her lover, and after him, her son, announcing for the first time that this son was not the child of her husband. Much to said husband’s alarm.
6. The Inn—A horrible story about a young man who stays in an inn high up impassible snowy mountains with an old man. The old man goes out in the snow one night and dies, and the young man is wracked with guilt. He drinks all the brandy in the inn, then goes stark raving mad. He even kills his dog (unintentionally). Wretched.
7. Was it a Dream?—A man visits the grave of his beloved mistress and decides to spend the night. After dark all of the skeletons come out of their tombs and erase their epitaphs (He loved his family, was kind and honorable, and died in the grace of the Lord) and rewrite the truth (He hastened his father's death by his unkindness, as he wished to inherit his fortune, he tortured his wife, tormented his children…). The man is shocked and grieved to find that even his love, whom he thought perfect in every respect, was unfaithful to him.
Very depressing, hopeless, meaningless stories. My life has meaning and purpose, do these stories only resonate with those who have none? Why is this considered wonderful literature? Please give me some insight on these matters.
Tata for Now,