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Today I read the last few pages of
Maupassant is perhaps best known for his short stories. In his short life of 43 years these were quite prolific. This exquisite gem is his first novel.
I have to be even more careful than usual not to give away details of this life, which is the theme of the book, however, I will do my best aided by concentrating on the deliciously poetic prose. The straightforward fluid language is a pleasure to read, especially, as the work of a man, it is described most credibly from the perspective of a woman. He stints neither appropriately placed adjectives nor adverbs, and packs his evocation with similes and, to a lesser extent, metaphors. He has that skill of using weather conditions to reflect the emotional mood of his subject.
Maupassant has the ability to enter the mind of his main protagonist; to focus on her hopes, dreams, disappointments, fears, conflicts, and memories; and to engage our own feelings, both positive and negative, of varying strengths: we may become romantic or inspired to violence.
Not having read the original, I cannot judge the translation, but I feel certain that Katharine Vivian has produced a faithful rendition.
Mervyn Horder’s introduction sets the novel in the context of the author’s life and work, and of his time.
Hungarian/British artist Laszlo Acs’s well crafted lithographs are of splendid composition.
Although not stated, front and back boards are probably from his design.