“Boule de Suif”: For several days in succession remnants of a routed army had been passing through the town. They were not disciplined units but bands of stragglers. The men’s beards were unkempt and dirty, their uniforms in rags, and they slouched along without colours or regiments.

We read in “The Necklace” in class, and I enjoyed it, so I pulled my old copy of Maupassant’s short stories off the shelf. And I really enjoyed them. Many of them, like “The Necklace” are ironic, others sad, and still others kind of neutral. “The Necklace” was purposely not included in this Penguin Classics edition; instead, the translator included “The Jewels”, which he claims is better. I didn’t like it as much, though it was interesting.

My favorite story was probably the first one, “Boule de Suif”. It is very ironic, and also rather long. Maupassant shows a lot of talent here, portraying the hypocrisies of the upper class. First they scorn the prostitute, then like her because she gives them food, then scorn her again for other reasons. It was kind of sad, but funny too.

In these stories, Maupassant shows his sense of humor and wit. I enjoyed them, though I do think it a bit presumptuous of the translator to just leave out one of Maupassant’s most famous stories. He should have included it and “The Jewels”, to let readers decide. On the other hand, I guess his thought was that many readers would have already read the story, so it wasn’t necessary.

At any rate, since I had already read “The Necklace”, I didn’t miss it that much, and I thoroughly enjoyed his stories. Another one I liked was “In the Bedroom”. It was very light and funny. A lot of his stories are a bit risque. I was surprised at that actually. I mean, he lived during the nineteenth century. If you read “The Necklace” and want more Maupassant, this is a good place to start (although this edition isn’t widely available anymore as it’s from 1971).

Read Selected Short Stories:

  • if you like short stories
  • if you like Guy de Maupassant
  • if you like French literature
  • if you like ironically funny stories

368 pages.

Very Good! I would recommend this book!