Deux par Guy de Maupassant

How profound that mystery of the Invisible is! We cannot fathom it with our miserable senses, with our eyes which are unable to perceive what is either too small or too great, too near to us, or too far from us – neither the inhabitants of a star nor of a drop of water.”

Over the last few days I’ve had the pleasure of reading a couple short stories by the french master, Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893). The first was in one of my “go to” anthologies – my 1941 edition of 1937’s “Great Ghost Stories of the World: The Haunted Omnibus” edited by Alexander Laing, with eerie yet beautiful illustrations by Lynd Ward. (title page pictured below)

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The first story, “The Horla,” was my favorite of the two. Having just been reminded of it from reading another blog (and I’ll be darned if I can remember which one now – if it was you, let me know so I can link and give you credit), I thought I would read it again as part of my seasonal reading for October.

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It is a story in the form of journal/diary entries of a man who is either losing his sanity, or being dogged by a supernatural entity (the titular “Horla”). At first, he is describing a “classic case” of the phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis” but over time it becomes more than that. Much more. The man’s struggles to free himself from, or even just understand the nature of, this entity lead him further down the path toward madness. The story can be read for free online here:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Horl.shtml

The other story was more pedestrian. **Spoiler Alert** Promisingly titled “Ghosts,” it sounded perfect for another seasonal read. Despite its title, it turned out to NOT include supernatural elements at all, but instead a scheming clergyman, taking advantage of the superstitions of one of the locals. I found this story via my iPhone app “Short Stories.” It may turn out to be memorable to me just because I learned a new word from it: “Latitudinarian” – from my Merriam Webster app – “not insisting on strict conformity to a particular doctrine or standard: tolerant; specifically, tolerant of variations in religious opinions or doctrine.” Actually, I think I may have a bit of Latitudinarian in me…

What are your experiences with Guy de Maupassant? Favorites? Recommendations?

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(above: Guy de Maupassant)

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