Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a popular 19th-century French writer and considered one of the fathers of the modern short story.
A protégé of Flaubert, Maupassant's stories are characterized by their economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouement. Many of the stories are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s and several describe the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught in the conflict, emerge changed. He also wrote six short novels.
Maupassant is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. He delighted in clever plotting, and served as a model for Somerset Maugham and O. Henry in this respect. His stories about real or fake jewels ("La Parure", "Les Bijoux") are imitated with a twist by Maugham ("Mr Know-All", "A String of Beads") and Henry James.
Taking his cue from Balzac, Maupassant wrote comfortably in both the high-Realist and fantastic modes; stories and novels such as "L'Héritage" and Bel-Ami aim to recreate Third Republic France in a realistic way, whereas many of the short stories (notably "Le Horla", cited as an inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu", and "Qui sait ?") describe apparently supernatural phenomena.
The supernatural in Maupassant, however, is often implicitly a symptom of the protagonists' troubled minds; Maupassant was fascinated by the burgeoning discipline of psychiatry, and attended the public lectures of Jean-Martin Charcot between 1885 and 1886. This interest is reflected in his fiction.
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