Thursday, August 05, 2010


The fellow above is on Guy de Maupassant, born this day 1850 in Dieppe, France. Today is his actual birthday, and that is a cause for celebration, at least on my part since the last few days have had a lot of stand in hero types.
He was born into a fairly well to do family, but his parents when their separate ways when he was 11. He was shipped off (eventually) to Paris to study law, but decided to join the army when the Franco-Prussian war began. After that hiding the French took, he joined the civil service, but hated his job, spending most of his time chasing women. Not a bad thing I guess, but it was to have some serious consequences later in his life. He started writing for a few newspapers, and in 1880 brought out one of the short stories that were to make him famous.
'Boule de Suif' is a wonderful tale, and there is speculation that it was the inspiration behind John Ford's "Stagecoach." Not a bad film to inspire. It was for the short stories that he produced that both make him famous, and our hero for this day. "The Necklace" is a lovely story, with a twist at the end that just break the heart, I highly recommend it. De Maupassant did have one important thing going for him as he churned out nearly 300 short stories, one of his mother's good friends was a fellow by the name of Flaubert, and it was Flaubert's guidance that helped de Maupassant become the polished writer that we enjoy reading today.
Eventually that youthful skirt chasing caught up with him in the form of syphilis, and he became as mad as a March hare later in life. He attempted suicide by taking a razor to his throat, but did not succeed. After that little stunt, he was committed to an asylum, and died there in 1893. He took the liberty of composing his own epitaph, which I take the liberty of stealing. It was as follows, "I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing." Not the most uplifting thing to say about one's self, but surprisingly deep when you think about it. So, for all of those wonderful stories, Guy de Maupassant (August 5th, 1850-July 6th, 1893, at the age of 42), you are my (359th) hero of the day.

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