On August 5, 1850, Maupassant was born near Normandy, France, where he lived for the majority of his childhood. He was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, who were both from prestigious bourgeois families. When Maupassant was eleven years old, his parents were legally divorced and both he and his brother lived with their mother until the age of thirteen when he attended a Catholic seminary school. It was apparent that Maupassant displayed hostility towards religion, however, because soon afterwards he deliberately got himself expelled. Despite this setback, Maupassant’s education did not end there – he finished his general schooling at a Rauen boarding school where he studied poetry and had a prominent part in theatricals (Wilson 167).
Guy de Maupassant’s studies were abruptly interrupted, however, once he was enlisted in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and positioned in Normandy. Upon returning one year later, Maupassant’s experiences during the war greatly influenced his views of society and human nature, which would be evident in his novels and short stories. (“Maupassant”). In 1878, Maupassant was transferred to the Ministry of Public Instruction and became an editor of several newspapers such as Le Gualois and Gil-Blas, the newspapers in which he would later publish many of his short stories. It was in 1880 that Maupassant published the short story that many consider to be his first mas...
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...of his characters makes the story less a tale of the rise and fall of Madame Loisel than a work of social commentary—“Those two people, man and wife, are real; their surroundings are real—real, perhaps in a large typical way rather than in the individualized way” (O’Faolain 177).
Eventually diagnosed with syphilis, which he contracted in 1870, Maupassant’s health steadily declined as the years progressed. Then, following an unsuccessful suicide attempt on January 2, 1892, Maupassant was placed in a sanitarium until he died the following year on July 6, 1893. The influence that Maupassant had on European literature was tremendous. Many of his works have been translated in several different languages, and he is often considered one of the fathers of the modern short story—having influenced writers such as Somerset Maugham, O. Henry, Anton Chekhov, and Henry James.
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