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LITERARY RELATIONSHIPS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Balzac remarks disparagingly of his native city, Tours, where 
the best French is spoken, that it was one of the least literary cities 
in France. 1 In like manner Guy de Maupassant, acclaimed as the 
master of a perfect French prose style, was to an astonishing degree 
unversed in literature. "No mind was less bookish," observes M. 
Faguet. "When he published at the beginning of Pierre et Jean, 
perhaps in order to enlarge the volume, a brief critical study, he 
proved nothing except that he had read nothing." 2 Amid the 
Sunday afternoon discussions at the house of Flaubert, and at the 
famous "jeudis" of Zola, Maupassant was taciturn, and made the 
impression of a brawny athlete with little interest in writing. More 
than one person who met this "taureau triste" 3 — as Taine called him 
familiarly — before his reputation was established, was astonished 
to learn later of his ability as a writer. " II n'aimait point a parler 
literature," was his excuse. 4 

In this way that vision direde, unobscured by the medium of 
books, which the Goncourt brothers had heralded, Guy de Mau- 
passant actually possessed. 5 Such a perfect realist did he thus 
become that, to quote M. Faguet again, "le lecteur ne sait pas, et 
c'est ce qu'il faut, quand il lit Maupassant, si c'est de 1'art de Mau- 
passant, ou seulement de la veYite', qu'il a le gout." 6 

We may confidently expect, therefore, that any important liter- 
ary influence upon Maupassant will be exerted by means of oral 

1 Le Curt de Tours, in CEuvres de Balzac (Calmann Levy ed. [1892)), p. 193. In his 
correspondence Balzac usually speaks of Touraine In terms of deepest affection. 

* Emile Faguet, in Revue Bleue, LII (July 15, 1893). 

s Victor Giraud, Essai sur Taine (5 8 ed.; Paris, 1912), p. 106, n. 3. 

' Letter of Edouard Rod to Monsieur le baron A. Lumbroso, October 6, 1904 (A. Lum- 
broso, Souvenirs sur Maupassant [1905], p. 374). Reng Doumic, in Revue des Deux Mondes, 
CXX (1893), 194, says: "Tout ce qui est d'ordre intellectuel, ceuvre ou conquSte de 
l'esprit, lui gchappe. Et comme il arrive, ce qu'il ne comprend pas, il le nie. . . . Et 
quand Rodolphe de Salins continue exposant ses theories sur la destinee humaine, a 
savoir que la pensee est dans la creation un accident a jamais regrettable, et que la terre a 
8t6 faite pour les animaux non pour les hommes, decidement par sa bouche c'est Mau- 
passant qui parle. ' ' 

»E. Maynial, "La Composition dans les romans de Maupassant," in Revue Bleue 
LXXII (October 31, 1903), 563. See Edmond el Jules de Goncourt, Prefaces et manifested 
littiraires (Paris, 1880), p. 13. 

' E. Faguet, loc. cit. 
645] 141 [Modern Philology, March, 1918 



142 Olin H. Moore 

transmission, so familiar in the history of the primitive ballad and 
folk-tale. To Alfred de Musset he is indebted hardly more than for 
the inspiration of juvenile madrigals and sonnets composed at the 
lycee of Rouen. 1 Possibly also traces of that quality, which Professor 
Irving Babbitt calls "the Romantic art of impassioned recollection," 
which was so prominent a characteristic of Musset, may be discovered 
in the works of both Flaubert and his pupil, Maupassant. At the 
conclusion of the Education sentimentale, Fr6d6ric remarks: "C'est 
la ce que nous avons eu de meilleur!" Deslaurier replies, in similar 
reminiscent vein, "Oui, peut-etre bien? C'est la ce que nous 
avons eu de meilleur!" In L'Spave, Maupassant concludes with a 
sob as the memory of the former beauty of the heroine comes back 
to him: "Ah! celle d'autrefois . . . celle de l'6pave . . . quelle 
creature . . . divine!" 2 In Regret, Monsieur Saval weeps as he 
thinks of the happiness which was once in his reach and which he had 
failed to grasp. 3 

Despite these resemblances, it is safe to assert that Maupassant's 
indebtedness to Musset was not excessive. His imitation of Edgar 
Allan Poe was slighter still and has been overestimated by a few 
writers. Notwithstanding the protestations of Mme de Maupassant, 
most critics are disposed to accept as conclusive the argument that 
stories like Le Horla, so far from having any foreign origin, are merely 
the faithful journal of an author whose reason was tottering. 4 Where 
Maupassant's imitation of Poe seems perfectly clear is in an unedited 
story called Le Tic. Instead of describing the father and daughter, 
about whom the narrative revolves, Maupassant says simply: 
" lis me firent l'effet, tout de suite, de personnages d'Edgar Poe. . . ." 
Then follows a tale of the daughter's rescue from the grave, quite in 
the manner of the Premature Burial and the Fall of the House of Usher. b 

J E. Maynial, La Vie et V autre de Guy de Maupassant (Paris, 1907), p. 82. 

2 L'£pave, in La Petite Roque, p. 92. The Louis Conard edition (1908-1910) has 
been used for references to Maupassant's works. 

3 Regret, in Miss Harriet, pp. 259 ft. 

4 E. Maynial, op. cit., pp. 248-251. See Henry James in Fortnightly Review, XLIX 
(1888), 376: ". . . . These last things range from Le Horla (which is not a specimen of 
the author's best vein — the only occasion on which he has the weakness of imitation is 

when he strikes us as emulating Edgar Poe) " To parody the language of the 

late Mr. James, this very inaccurate statement is certainly not a specimen of the critic's 
best vein. 

6 Le Tic, CEuvres Posthum.es, 1, 227-234. 

646 



Literary Relationships of de Maupassant 143 

This story affords apparently the one instance where Maupassant 
mentions Poe. A more significant influence upon Maupassant, 
exerted of course through the medium of books, is that of Balzac. 
As Maupassant remarks, speaking for his realistic brethren, it is 
"Balzac que nous citons tous, quelles que soient nos tendances, 
parce que son esprit est aussi vane" qu'^tendu. . . ." 1 

Despite the usual opinion of critics that the direct influence of 
Balzac upon Maupassant was slight, the two authors clearly had 
much in common. If we have M. Faguet's authority that Maupas- 
sant read nothing at all, we also have his authority that Balzac read 
no other author than Walter Scott. It is not surprising, then, that 
Maupassant had Balzac's passion for observing fife at first hand, for 
recording his impressions in carefully taken notes, for a realism 
which was the farthest possible remove from the classical copying of 
Virgil and other "perfect" models. On the other hand, if Balzac 
was classical in his exclusive study of man, and all that pertains to 
mankind, Maupassant flaunted the classical motto of Terence: 
" Je tache que rien de ce qui touche les hommes ne me soit stranger." 2 
Furthermore, if Taine finds the Comedie humaine a vast study of 
humanity from the zoological point of view, the works of Maupassant 
lay no less emphasis upon the animalism of man. There is even in 
the Contes and in the Nouvelles far more of the lingering Romanticism 
of Balzac than is commonly supposed. 

Occasionally it is not difficult to discover resemblances of detail 
between the writers. Bel-Ami has been recognized as a modernized 
Lucien de Rubempre. It seems to me also that Balzac's story entitled 
Adieu 3 may well have furnished Maupassant with a suggestion for 
his conte entitled Berthe. 4 Adieu concerns a girl named Stephanie, 
reduced to insanity, who finds as a companion Genevieve, an idiotic 
peasant girl. Genevieve had been loved by a mason named Dallot, 
who married her for her dowry. For a time she was extremely 
happy, for love had awakened in her heart a great response. Then 
Dallot deserted her for another girl who possessed two quarters of 

1 Riponse a M. Albert Wolff, in Mile Fifi, p. 284. 

! Riponse a M. Wolff, op. cit., p. 283. 

s (Euvres Completes (Calmann L6vy ed. [1892]), in volume entitled Louis Lambert, 
p. 234. 

* In volume entitled Yvette, pp. 251-269. 

647 



144 Olin H. Moore 

land more than she, and Genevieve lost what little intelligence love 
had developed in her. Maupassant's Berthe concerns an idiot girl 
with a fair dowry who is greatly benefited by marriage and declines 
immediately after she is deserted by her husband. 

Often the influence of Balzac upon Maupassant is exerted through 
the intermediary of Flaubert, as in the case of the famous doctrine 
of "impersonality," formulated by Flaubert, adopted by Maupassant, 
but probably inspired by a reading of Balzac's novels. A curious 
illustration of this second-hand transmission is found in the imitation 
of an incident of Balzac's Honorine. 1 In the midst of his garden 
Count Octave has a magnificent basin, swarming with goldfish. 
When he is in a pensive mood, he goes there to brood over Honorine, 
who has deserted him. It had been as he stood over the basin with 
Honorine, then a girl of seventeen, and had thrown bread to the 
fishes, that he had spoken his first words of love to her. This episode, 
utilized by Flaubert, reappears in Bel-Ami when Georges Du Roy 
accompanies Suzanne Walter to the basin in the conservatory to 
throw bread to the fishes and to plan an elopement. 2 

It is not my intention, however, to enter thoroughly into the 
subject of Balzac's influence here. Even briefer mention will be 
allowed Maupassant's story entitled L'Endormeuse, which appeared 
in September, 1889, 3 and concerns a suicide club which may have 
been modeled on that described by Robert Louis Stevenson in the 
New Arabian Nights (1882). 

If Maupassant was acquainted with few authors through their 
books, his obligations to two life-long friends of his mother Laure 
and his uncle Alfred le Poittevin are well known. Mme de Mau- 
passant declares that one of these friends, Louis Bouilhet, was 
prevented only by an early death from making her son a poet. 4 The 
other, Gustave Flaubert, instructed him in the art of the novelist. 

In his essay on Le Roman, which appeared as a preface to Pierre 
et Jean, Maupassant has described the lessons in the art of compo- 
sition which he received from his masters. First, Bouilhet taught 

1 Honorine, in Le Colonel Chaberl, pp. 119, 128. 

2 Bel-Ami, pp. 510, 511. 

> In La Main Gauche, pp. 241 ff. 

• E. Maynial, op. cit., p. 44 (citation from A. Albalat, on Mme de Maupassant, in 
Le Journal des Dtbats, December 12, 1903). 

648 



Literary Relationships of de Maupassant 145 

him an appreciation of perfect form in verse, impressing upon him the 
fact that one short but flawless poem may confer immortality upon 
its author. After some two years, Bouilhet's mantle fell upon 
Flaubert, who insisted upon faultless, classic prose, correcting 
tirelessly Maupassant's compositions. 

The influence of Flaubert upon his pupil is a subject treated most 
thoroughly in the forthcoming University of Chicago thesis of Miss 
Agnes R. Riddell, so that only one or two observations will be 
attempted here. The emphasis laid by Flaubert upon details is 
evident in the following often-quoted passage from Maupassant's 
essay on Le Roman: 

Quand vous passez, me disait-il, devant un epicier assis sur sa porte, 
devant un concierge qui fume sa pipe, devant une station de fiacres, montrez- 
moi cet epicier et ce concierge, leur pose, toute leur apparence physique con- 
tenant aussi, indiquee par l'adresse de l'image, toute leur nature morale, de 
facon a ce que je ne les confonde avec aucun autre epicier ou avec aucun 
autre concierge, et faites-moi voir, par un seul mot, en quoi un cheval de 
fiacre ne ressemble pas aux cinquante autres qui le suivent et le precedent. 1 

The extent to which such "legons d'6cole" influenced the style 
of Maupassant has already been indicated to a certain degree by a 
number of critics, notably Bruneti&re. It remained for Miss Riddell 
to demonstrate that Maupassant, not satisfied with learning the 
literary methods of Flaubert, was inclined to adopt also some of his 
characters and episodes. One illustration of this practice is men- 
tioned here, in anticipation of Miss Riddell. 

The rendezvous of Bel-Ami with Mme Walter in the Church of 
the Trinity suggests strongly that of L6on Dupuis with Emma 
Bovary in a cathedral. Both Du Roy and Leon arrive ahead of 
time — L6on discovering that it was nine o'clock by looking at the 
cuckoo clock of the hairdresser; Du Roy, that it was three o'clock by 
consulting his watch. To while away the time, Le\>n walks three city 
blocks, and decides to return. Du Roy, also, walks slowly along the 
dock, until he concludes that it would be better to return. Both 
wait impatiently for the arrival of their lady-loves, L6on being 
startled by a rustling of silk over the flag-stone; Du Roy, by the 
noise of a dress. "C'6tait elle!" announces Flaubert. "C'6tait 
elle!" echoes Maupassant. "L6on se leva et courut a sa rencontre." 

1 Le Roman, in Pierre et Jean, p. xxlv. 

649 



146 Olin H. Moore 

As for Du Roy, "II se leva, s'avance vivement." Emma and Mme 
Walter seek refuge from temptation in prayer. "Emma prayed, 
or rather attempted to pray," we are told, "hoping that some sudden 
resolution would descend to her from heaven." As for Mme Walter, 
"Then she tried to pray. With a superhuman invocation she 
attempted to call upon God, and, her body vibrating, her soul dis- 
traught, she cried ' Pity ! ' to the sky." Emma filled her eyes with the 
splendors of the tabernacle and breathed its incense, in order to fortify 
herself; but her efforts only increased the tumult of her heart. Mme 
Walter shut her eyes in order not to see Du Roy, endeavored to drive 
his image from her mind, but instead of the celestial apparition for 
which she hoped, she perceived always the curly moustache of the 
young man. 1 

I shall further venture the statement, upon my own responsibility, 
that Flaubert's influence manifested itself even upon those feelings 
which we are accustomed to regard as absolutely instinctive with 
Maupassant, such as his repugnance for death, for old age, for the 
gray hair which is the token of the approaching end. Writing more 
than a decade before Maupassant's Fini, L'^pave, and Fort comme 
la mort, Flaubert in his Education sentimentale makes Frederic 
Moreau observe with consternation the gray hair of Mme Arnoux 
in the strong light of a lamp. " It was like a blow full in his chest," 
Flaubert comments. 2 Equally instinctive with Maupassant seems 
that feeling of fear, of unreasoning fear, "la peur de la peur," which 
finally mastered his reason. Nevertheless, we may discover evidences 
of even this characteristic in the narrative of the duel in the Education 
sentimentale. Fr^denc Moreau is terribly afraid that he will be 
afraid. " Une angoisse abominable le saisit a l'id^e d'avoir peur sur 
le terrain," says Flaubert. 3 Maupassant, imitating this passage 
in Un IAche, makes the Viscount Gontran-Joseph de Signoles find 
this fear overwhelming: "Et ce doute l'envahit, cette inquietude, 
cette epouvante; si une force plus puissante que sa volont6, domina- 

1 Madame Bovary (L. Conard ed.), pp. 326-329; Bel-Ami, pp. 397-405. 

2 Education sentimentale, p. 604. 

8 Education sentimentale, p. 323. Miss Riddell notes the resemblance between the 
duels in Education sentimentale and in Bel-Ami, pp. 237 ft. The similarity between Un 
Ldche and the pages cited from Bel-Ami was observed by E. Maynial, " La Composition 
dans les romans de Maupassant," in Revue Bleue, LXXII (November 7, 1903), 607. 

650 



Litekaby Relationships of de Maupassant 147 

trice, irresistible, le domptait, qu'arriverait-il ? Oui, que pouvait-il 
arriver?" 1 

Furthermore, emphasis should be laid upon the fact that the 
influence of Flaubert upon Maupassant, very noticeable in Maupas- 
sant's earlier novels, such as Une Vie and Bel-Ami, afterward 
diminished considerably. When Lemaitre, adopting the opinion of 
Maupassant's perspicacious publisher, Havard, notes that Mont- 
Oriol (1887) is a transitional novel, because of the emotional and 
dramatic elements it contains, he is actually noting a decline in the 
influence of Flaubert. 2 When he remarks that in Pierre et Jean 
(1888) the transformation of the author's manner is complete, for the 
whole interest centers in the dramatic struggle between the guilty 
mother and the inquisitorial son, he really signalizes the passing 
of the influences of Flaubert. 3 

On the whole, Maupassant does not appear to have been influ- 
enced greatly by authors of the naturalistic school, aside from 
Flaubert. For Zola, whose lack of practical sense he ridiculed, 4 
whom he called "absolument fou" because of his colossal conceit, 5 
and to whose followers he was an object of suspicion for a time 
because of his supposed lack of devotion to the naturalistic cause, 6 
his feelings were perhaps as friendly as for any of the other realists. 
It was at Zola's suggestion that Maupassant contributed to the 
Soirees de MHan, conforming readily to the Decameron-like frame- 
work which was proposed and preserving the volume from obscurity 
by his Boule de Suif. 1 

Suspicious for a time of Alphonse Daudet, 8 Maupassant never 
appears to have become intimate with him. Nevertheless, early in 

1 Un Ldche, in Contes du Jour et de la Nuit, p. 113. Cf. Bel-Ami, p. 238. 

2 Revue Bleue, XLIII, June 29, 1889 (3d series, No. 26). 

s Ibid. Brunetiere, adopting a different point of view, concludes that Maupassant, 
once he has passed the early stage of excessive imitation of his master, surpasses all his 
contemporaries of the naturalistic school, being more realistic than Flaubert himself 
(Renue des Deux Mondes, LXXXIX [1888, 3d series], 694, 696). Havard's opinion of 
Mont-Oriol is quoted by Lumbroso, op. cit., p. 417: " Vous donnez la, avec une puissance 
inouie, une nouvelle note que j'avais devinee en vous depuis longtemps. J'avais pres- 
senti ces accents de tendresse et demotion suprSme dans Au Printemps, Miss Harriet, 
Yvette, et ailleurs." 

1 Letter to Flaubert, in Boule de Suif, p. cvii (July 5, 1878). 

> Ibid., p. cxx (April 24, 1879). 

« Ibid., p. cxix (February 26, 1879). 

' E. Maynial, op. cit., pp. 105, 106. « Cf. n. 3. 

651 



148 Olin H. Moore 

his career, Maupassant aligned himself with Daudet and the other 
realists who depicted the lower strata of life. He thus became for a 
time one of the most ardent apologists for "bas-fondmanie," which 
he claimed was only a natural reaction against excessive idealism. 1 

Despite the ardor of the young convert, there were at first two 
opposite tendencies in Maupassant. We find him, on the one hand, 
insisting that the novelist must "faire le monde tel qu'il le voit, lever 
les voiles de grace et d'honn6tete7' 2 and attacking even more violently 
"la sentimentality ronflante des romantiques." 3 On the other hand 
in Mile Fiji, as well as in Boule de Suif, he really adopts the favorite 
Romantic theme of the courtesan, ennobled by love and other lofty 
sentiments — the theme of Marion Delorme, revived in La Dame aux 
camellias. "Des filles 6pousees deviennent en peu de temps de 
remarquables femmes du monde," 4 pleads Maupassant. 

It was Daudet who brought him thoroughly to the true realistic 
point of view. After reading Daudet's Les Femmes d'artistes, which 
he calls "ce petit livre, si cruel et si beau," 5 we find Maupassant 
speaking with a certain disgust of the "fr^quentation constante de 
cette race de dindes qu'on nomme les modeles." 6 In imitation of 
Daudet, he published, in December, 1883, his story entitled Le 
Modele, dealing with the frequent marriages between painters and 
their models. Henceforth we shall find him, like the other natural- 
ists, tending to depict the horrible side of life for its own sake, without 
veneer or idealization. 7 

Had Jules de Goncourt lived, it is impossible to predict what his 
relations with Guy de Maupassant would have been. Certainly 
they had much in common, from their aristocratic birth to the 
bromides and douches to which both were obliged to submit in their 
respective sanitariums. The surviving brother of Jules de Goncourt, 

i E. Maynial. op. cit. p. 282. 

2 Rtponse a M. Francisque Sarcey, in Mile Fifi, p. 277. 

8 Les Soirees de Mtdan — Comment ce livre a Sti fait, in Boule de Suif, p. 82. 

* R&ponse a Sarcey, op, cit., p. 279. 

6 Le Modele, in Le Rosier de Madame Husson, p. 75. 

• Ibid. 

' Ibid., p. 76: "Elle a risqug le tout pour le tout, fitait-elle sincere? Aimait-elle 
Jean? Sait-on jamais cela? Qui done pourra determiner d'une fagon precise ce qu'il 
y a d'apretS, et ce qu'il y a de reel dans les actes des femmes ? ... Elles sont emportees, 
crimtaelles, deVouees, admirables, et ignobles, pour obfiir a d'insaisissables emotions. . . .' ' 

652 



Litebary Relationships of de Maupassant 149 

Edmond, delighted in making carping criticisms of Maupassant, and 
spent much of his time wondering why he was considered a simple 
gentleman and amateur writer, while Maupassant was taken 
seriously. 1 

It must be granted that the direct influence of the philosopher 
Taine upon Maupassant, as far as it existed, was exerted principally 
through his books. In the latter part of his life, Taine became one 
of Maupassant's warm admirers and is said to have exclaimed, on 
finishing Le Champ d'OUviers, "Cela, c'est de l'Eschyle." 2 However, 
sufficient attention has not yet been paid by critics to the fact that 
the real intimacy between the two writers began only in 1888, after 
an introduction at Aix-les-Bains in Savoy, through the intermediary 
of Dr. Cazalis. 3 Previously to that time it seems that Maupassant 
had observed Taine only from a distance, as when he described him 
attending the afternoon receptions of Flaubert, "le regard cache 
derriere ses lunettes, l'allure timide," but with "son ceil percant de 
philosophe." 4 

The fact that this acquaintance was slight during the period of 
Maupassant's greatest activity points strongly to the conclusion that 
Taine's influence may have been slighter than M. Giraud would 
estimate. 5 To answer his oft-cited statement, it may suffice to call 
attention to a few well-established facts. There is evidence that it 
was Flaubert, rather than Taine, who persuaded Maupassant to 
abandon verse-writing and become a novelist. It is true that when 
Maupassant speaks of " ces petits faits insignifiants . . . qui forment 
le fond m&ne, le trame de l'existence," 6 he approaches closely the 
language of the Preface to the Intelligence. However, on the whole, 
Brunetiere is correct in tracing Maupassant's attention to what has 
been called "l'humble veVite" to Flaubert rather than to Taine. 7 

' E. Maynial, op. cit., pp. 207 S. 

* A. Lumbroso, op. cit., p. 280. 

1 Ibid. « V. Giraud, loc. cit. 

s V. Giraud, op. cit., p. 189: "A tous ces ecrivains, dout quelques-uns out dSbute 
par des vers et qui, peut-6tre, auraient pu coutiuuer dans cette voie, il a persuadfi que la 
forme du roman leur fournissait le meilleur et le plus moderue emploi de leur talent; . . . 
il leur a appris a regarder autour d'eux et mSme au-dessous d'eux, a ne rien d&daigner de ce 
que l'un d'eux a appelg Thumble veriteV . . ." 

6 Mile Perle, in La Petite Roque, p. 135. 

7 Revue des Deux Mondes, LXX (1885, 3d series), 215. Cf. Mademoiselle Cocolte, in 
Clair de Lune, pp. 128-129 : ' ' Les choses les plus simples, les plus humbles, sont parf ois 
celles qui nous mordent le plus au coeur." 

653 



150 Olin H. Moore 

When Maupassant notes that the door of the Folies-Bergeres is " une 
porte matelassee a battants garnis de cuir," or that at the theater one 
sees of the persons seated in the loges only "leur tete et leur poitrine," 
he is, declares Brunetiere, following the regular procedure of Madame 
Bovary, Education sentimentale and Bouvard et Pecuchet. Further- 
more, so far as the question of studying the lower strata of humanity 
was concerned, we find Maupassant and Taine absolutely at variance. 
In his Riponse d M. Francisque Sarcey, Maupassant quotes the fol- 
lowing passage from a letter from Taine, "dont je ne partage point 
l'opinion": 

. . . Vous peignez des paysans, des petits bourgeois, des ouvriers, des 
6tudiants et des filles. Vous peindrez sans doute un jour la classe cultivee, 
la haute bourgeoisie, ing^nieurs, m^decins, professeurs, grands industriels et 
commercants. 

A mon sens, la civilisation est une puissance. Un homme n6 dans 
l'aisance, heritier de trois ou quatre generations honnetes, laborieuses et 
rangees, a plus de chances d'etre probe, delicat et instruit. L'honneur et 
1'esprit sont toujours plus ou moins des plantes de serre. 

Cette doctrine est bien aristocratique, mais elle est experimentale. . . . l 

Moreover, the affinity between the determinism of Taine and the 
fatalism 2 of Maupassant may well have been due to indirect influ- 
ences, if not to a certain similarity of temperament which manifested 
itself toward the close of the lives of each. 3 

The relationship between Maupassant and Paul Bourget, who was 
his friend and occasionally his travelling companion, seems important. 
There is an incontestable connection between the plots of Maupas- 
sant's Fort comme la Mort and Bourget's Le Fantome, due to oral 
transmission if we are to accept the story published by Lumbroso. 4 
Mme Lecomte du Nouy, it appears, when she deserted Bourget to 

i Mile Fifi, p. 276. 

* "Les gens calmes nes sans instincts violents, vivent honnetes, par necessite. Le 
devoir est facile a ceux que ne torturent jamais les desirs enragSs. Je vols des petites 
bourgeoises au sang froid, aux moeurs rigides, d'un esprit moyen et d'un coeur moderfi, 
pousserdescrisd'indignationquand elles apprennent les lautes des lemmes tombees. . . . 

" Mais chez ceux-la que le hasard a fait passionnfis, madame, les sens sont invincibles. 
Pouvez-vous arrfiter le vent, pouvez-vous arrtter la mer demontee?" Prom L' Enfant, 
in the collection entitled Clair de Lune, p. 233. 

' " Peut-6tre aussi pourrait-on noter que vers la fin Guy de Maupassant — tout comme 
Hippolyte Taine — s'attendrissait singulierement; mais dans ce dernier fait, on pourrait 
voir plutot Taction des mgmes causes extfirieures (le malaise social, l'experience gran- 
dissante de la vie) qu'une influence reciproque." A. Lumbroso, op. cit., p. 282. 

* A. Lumbroso, op. cit., pp. 332, 333. 

654 



Literary Relationships of de Maupassant 151 

become intimate with Maupassant, communicated to him the plot 
of Le Fant&me, which Bourget had outlined to her, but did not utilize 
until 1900-1901. Bourget's Un Cceur de Femme and Maupassant's 
Notre Cceur have also related themes, possibly for the reason sug- 
gested in Lumbroso's valuable volume, that both authors have 
taken for their heroine Mme Lecomte du Nouy. 1 An attempt will 
now be made to determine, more clearly than has been done hereto- 
fore, the obligations of Maupassant to Bourget. In drawing our 
conclusions it should be borne in mind that while Maupassant bor- 
rowed heavily from other writers, mainly Flaubert, Bourget, who 
possessed the advantage of a wider range of reading, was no less 
an offender. Hence, while seeking to discover traces of Bourget's 
influence upon Maupassant, we should be mentally prepared to 
find the source current flowing from Maupassant to Bourget. 

Let us consider first the most important resemblances between 
Le Fantdme and Fort comme la Mort. Maupassant's novel relates 
the love of the painter Olivier Bertin for the Countess de Guilleroy. 
When Annette, the daughter of the Countess, reaches maturity, she 
reveals a startling likeness to what her mother had been when Bertin 
first met her. The painter falls in love with Annette, guilty though 
he feels in so doing. 

This theme finds practically a twofold version in Bourget's Le 
Fantdme. M. d'Andiguier, who had blamelessly loved Antoinette 
Duvernay for nearly fifteen years, 2 nine years after her death became 
enamored of the daughter Eveline, who made the deceased lady seem 
very present to him, "so great was the resemblance in silhouette, in 
gestures, in physiognomy." 3 It develops later that Malclerc, who 
marries Eveline, had previously been the paramour of Antoinette. 4 
It is the remarkable likeness of daughter to mother which attracts 
him irresistibly to Eveline. 6 

There is a serious objection to accepting the story published by 
Lumbroso of Maupassant's indebtedness to Bourget for this theme. 
As early as January, 1883, a full year before Bourget wrote his first 
published story in England, U Irreparable, there appeared in Gil-Bias 

> Ibid., p. 334. Cf. E. Maynial, op. cit., p. 203, and n. 3. 
2 Paul Bourget, Le Fantdme, in CEumea Completes, VI (Plon ed. [1906]), 153. 
a See also ibid., p. 177. ' Ibid., p. 210. ' Ibid., p. 229. 

655 



152 Olin H. Moore 

Maupassant's M. Jocaste, which apparently had no connection with 
the Jocaste of Anatole France (1879). It was the story of Pierre 
Martel, who had loved a young married woman. Years afterward 
he met the daughter, and fell in love with her at once because of her 
resemblance to the dead mother. "It was she! the other! the one 
who was dead!" 1 Her age was exactly the same as her mother's 
had been; hers were the same eyes, hair, figure, and voice as her 
mother had had. Pierre Martel's passion became uncontrollable. 

The only important dissimilarity in the two stories is that Bour- 
get's Eveline is not the daughter of Malclerc, whereas in M. Jocaste 
the case is probably different. The title chosen by Maupassant, M. 
Jocaste, is guaranty that the more repulsive — and "realistic" — 
version of the story goes back to earliest antiquity. 

Even more suggestive of the subject of Bourget's Le Fantdme is 
Maupassant's Fini, which appeared in Le Gaulois, July, 1885. The 
Count de Lormerin had been in love with Lise. Twenty-five years 
later he met the daughter, who looked exactly like her mother 
at the same age, only younger, fresher, more childlike. 2 Similarly, 
Malclerc finds Eveline younger, with rounder cheeks, and animated 
by more childlike gaiety than Antoinette. 3 Lormerin is seized with 

< M. Jocaste, in the collection entitled Mile Fifi, p. 263. 

There are also cases in Maupassant's earlier works where the man is intimate with 
the mother, and marries the daughter later, without regard to any resemblance between 
the two. In Bel- Ami, Mme Walter is the mistress of Du Roy, who afterward elopes with 
her daughter Suzanne. In one of Maupassant's later stories, Hautot Pere et Fils (La 
Main Gauche, p. 73), the rSles are reversed. "Mam'zelle" Donet, who has been the 
mistress of Hautot pere, is about to have the same relation with Hautot fils, a situation 
comparable to that in Zola's La Curee. 

Incest is a frequent theme with Maupassant. See L'Ermite, in La Petite Roque, 
p. 106: "J'avais fait, sans le vouloir, pis que ces Stres ignobles. J'Stais entrS dans la 
couche de ma fllle." In Le Port (La Main Gauche, p. 216) : " II la sentait sur lui, enlacee 
a lui, chaude et terrifiee, sa soeur!" 

The preoccupation of Maupassant for the fate of outcasts from society is one of his 
noteworthy characteristics. Of. also Un Fils (Contes de la Btcasse, pp. 195-213). 

s Fini, in (Euvres Posthumes, I, 241. 

» Paul Bourget, op. cit., p. 229. Six years or more before the publication of Le 
Fantdme, there appeared also an expurgated American version of the story, entitled The 
Honorable Peter Stirling, by Paul Leicester Ford (Copyright, Henry Holt & Co., 1894). 
When a young man, Peter had asked the hand of Miss Pierce after a very brief acquaint- 
ance (p. 29), having been especially attracted by her slate-colored eyes (p. 20). Years 
later he met the daughter Leonore, whom he rescued from a runaway accident. Amid 
the excitement of the occasion, his most vivid impression was that "the girl had slate- 
colored eyes!!" (p. 202). As a matter of fact, she resembled her father Watts D'AUoi 
more than she did her mother. " But to Peter," the author observes, " it was merely the 
renewal of his dream" (p. 204). 

The subject is treated also by Maurice Donnay, in L' Autre Danger (Paris, 1906). 
Of. A. Lumbroso, op. cit., p. 333, n. 2. In Act III, scene 11, we learn that PreydiSres, who 

656 



Literary Relationships of de Maupassant 153 

an irresistible desire to embrace the girl and whisper into her ear, 
"Bonjour, Lison." 

It is true that in Cruelle finigme (1885) 1 Bourget speaks of the 
kind of melancholy inspired by the spectacle of a mother of fifty, to 
whom her daughter of twenty-five bears such a striking resemblance 
that " l'une se trouve ainsi presenter le spectre anticip^ de la vieillesse 
de Pautre." Yet the palm for the fully developed story of the man 
who loves the daughter because of her extraordinary resemblance to 
the mother, seems clearly to belong more to Maupassant than to 
Bourget. 

The main subject of Le Fantdme is not the only thing which 
Bourget borrows from Maupassant in order to make double use of it. 
He apparently does as much with Maupassant's favorite episode, the 
unhappy discovery of old letters and souvenirs. M. d'Andiguier, 
after the death of Antoinette Duvernay, finds an envelope of white 
leather, tied with ribbons, on which Mme Duvernay has written: 
"For my dear M. d'Andiguier, who will destroy the envelope just as 

it is " 2 After a moral struggle, he complies with the wishes 

of the deceased. All is not well, however, for in a short time Eveline 
Malclerc discovers her husband, after perusing in distracted fashion a 
bundle of old letters, loading his revolver to commit suicide. 3 She 
rushes to D'Andiguier for counsel, and matters are patched up for a 
time, Malclerc delivering his old correspondence with Antoinette 
into the hands of D'Andiguier. One day, unfortunately, Eveline 
succeeds in prying into the drawer where D'Andiguier had locked up 
the letters. 4 In the catastrophe that follows both Malclerc and 
Eveline would prefer to die, were it not for the premature birth of a 
son, which gives them something to live for. 

Bourget also made use of this episode in an earlier novel, Andre 
Cornelis (1887), in which the influence of a variety of writers, notably 
the authors of David Copperfield and of Hamlet, is apparent. The 
central problem is intended as a modern parallel to Hamlet, 6 with a 

later weds Madeleine Jadain, has been the lover of her mother. A strong physical 
resemblance of Madeleine to her mother is hinted at in Act II, scene 3, but this feature of 
the plot is not emphasized. 

i OSuvres Completes, I, 5. 3 Ibid., p. 195. 

' Paul Bourget, op. cil., p. 182. » Ibid., pp. 352-54. 

5 Andre" Cornells ((Euvres Computes, I, 312). 

657 



154 Olin H. Moore 

soliloquy of the hero on the question "to be or not to be," his hand on 
the trigger of a pistol, 1 with a nineteenth-century substitute for the 
players, who performed before the guilty stepfather, 2 with Andre - as 
the avenger of his father's foul and most unnatural murder, 3 his 
faltering resolution being occasionally awakened by some startling 
event. 4 Borrowing an idea from Maupassant, Bourget makes of the 
letters of Andrews father, or rather of the room in which Andre" read 
them, the ghost which summoned the hero to action. "C'etait 
comme si le fant6me de 1'assassine" fut sorti de son tombeau pour 
me supplier de tenir la promesse de vengeance jur£e tant de fois a 
sa m^moire." 6 Unlike D'Andiguier, he has not obeyed the entreaty 
of the dying woman who would have him burn the letters, in order 
to spare him the suspicions which they have engendered in her. 6 
The evidence which is thus produced results in Andrews own unhappi- 
ness, if also in the punishment of his father's assassin. 

A variation of the episode is found in Le Disciple, 7 when Charlotte 
de Jussat, forcing the lock, goes through the papers of Greslou. She 
declares: " J'ai 6te" trop punie, puisque j'ai lu dans ces pages ce que 
j'y ai lu." 

Bourget is probably under obligations for this theme to Maupas- 
sant, for whom the subject of old letters and souvenirs apparently 
had a horrible fascination, and who in turn doubtless derived his 
suggestion from two episodes in Madame Bovary. "Oh! ne touchez 
jamais a ce meuble, a ce cimetiere, des correspondances d'autrefois, 
si vous tenez a la vie!" 8 he exclaims in Suicides. In Une Vie, 9 the 
baron Simon-Jacques Le Perthuis des Vauds warns his daughter to 
burn her own letters, her mother's, his own, all. Nothing is more 

1 Andri CorrUlis ((Euvres computes, I, 412). 

» Ibid., p. 400. 

' Ibid., p. 348. 

< Ibid., pp. 341, 350 ft. 

« Ibid., p. 365. For further examples of the influence of Shakespeare upon Bourget, 
see the Shakespeare library described in Le Disciple (.(Euvres computes, III, 78 ft.). In 
Un Crime d' Amour ((Eumes, I, 276), there is a quotation from a speech of Lady Macbeth. 
On the following page there is a reference to the " Hamletisme" of Armand. 

• Andri Cornilis, pp. 361 ff. 

' Le Disciple (1889), p. 205. 

8 -Suicides, in Les Saurs Rondoli, p. 235. 

» For old love letters discovered by Jeanne, see E. Maynial in Revue Bleue, LXXII 
(October 31, 1903), 606. 

658 



Literaey Relationships of de Maupassant 155 

terrible, he asserts, than to nose into the history of one's youth. 1 
Despite this admonition, Jeanne is doomed to discover the love 
letters of her dead mother and undergo the bitterest dissillusionment. 2 

One other feature of Le Fantdme, the physical aversion which 
Malclerc feels for Eveline during her pregnancy, is suggestive of 
Maupassant. Paul Bretigny, in Mont-Oriol, is also of the race of 
lovers, and not of fathers. 3 

In the case of the connection between Un Cceur de Femme and 
Notre Cceur, apparently Maupassant was under obligations to 
Bourget. The problem involved in the two novels is essentially the 
same, and concerns the dual nature of humanity. As Lord Herbert 
Bohun sums up the situation at the close of Bourget's Caeur de Femme, 
Juliette de Tillidres is a woman who has a sensual love for Casal, 
without ceasing to entertain a certain sentimental feeling for Poy- 
anne. 4 

While conceding the credit for this theme to Bourget, rather than 
to Maupassant, let us admit at the outset that Bourget himself was 
in turn doubtless influenced by Laclos, not forgetting that also in 
Un Crime d' Amour, Bourget refers more than once to the Valmont 
of the Liaisons. 5 As Doumic remarks: "L'attrait qui porte Casal 

1 Vne Vie, p. 228. 
* 2 Ibid., pp. 240-243. This motif is combined with that of utter weariness over the 
monotony of life in Suicides (Les Sceurs Rondoli, pp. 237-239), where M. X — commits 
suicide after perusing his old correspondence. He had been led to drag his skeleton out 
of the closet by reflections on his humdrum existence (p. 232): "Tous les jours, a la 
m§me heure depuis trente ans, je me l§ve; et, dans le m8me restaurant, depuis trente ans, 
je mange aux memes heures les mSmes plats apportSs par des garcons differents." 

Monotony of existence is the theme of several other stories by Maupassant. In 
Promenade (Yvette, p. 202) appears the case of M. Leras who passes through the same 
daily routine for forty years. After brooding over the hopelessness of his situation, he 
hangs himself by the suspenders in the Bois (ibid., p. 211). A similarly sad outlook is 
depicted in Gar con, un Bock (Miss Harriet, p. 235): "Je me leve a midi. Je viens ici, je 
dgjeune, je bois des bocks, j'attends la nuit, je dine, je bois des bocks. . . . Depuis dix 
ans, j'ai bien passe six annees sur cette banquette, dans mon coin; et le reste dans mon 
lit, jamais ailleurs." Miss Agnes R. Riddell, in her unpublished thesis on Flaubert and 
Maupassant: A Literary Relationship, compares this incident With M. Parent, pp. 49-52, 
62, 72-73. She thinks that the hero of Garcon, un Bock is modeled on Regimbart, in 
Flaubert's Education sentimentale, pp. 55, 246, 319-320, 564-565. In her opinion, Mau- 
passant's references to old love letters and souvenirs hark back to Madame Bovary, where 
Rodolphe is described as cynically looking over the relics of his love affair with Emma, 
and remarking: "Quel tas de blagues I" (pp. 278-280). After Emma's death, Charles 
finds her love letters to Leon and to Rodolphe, with the result that life loses all interest 
for him. The people surmise that he "s'enfermait pour boire" (ibid., pp. 478-479). 

» Paul Bourget, op. cit., p. 303. Cf. Mont-Oriol, p. 256. 

' Un Cceur de Femme (Oluvres Completes, III, 499, 500). 

6 Un Crime d' Amour (ffiuures, I, 159, 164). 

659 



156 Olin H. Moore 

vers Mme de Tillieres, dans Cceur de Femme, est le me'me qui faisait 
souhaiter au rou6 des Liaisons l'amour d'une devote." 1 However, 
after due allowance is made for the influence of the famous picture 
of eighteenth century morals, the fact remains that in Cosur de Femme 
Bourget is at least on familiar ground. The main problem of the 
woman cherishing sentimental reveries on the one hand, but yielding 
to ungovernable appetite for sensations on the other, is also that of 
Therese, in Cruelle tniqme (1885) . 2 There are numerous other 
references in Bourget's works to the dual conflict which is the heritage 
of man, the matter being of paramount importance in the character 
of Robert Greslou, Le Disciple. 

The conclusion toward which this discussion points is that the 
literary obligations existing between Bourget and Maupassant were 
more important than Maynial, for example, seems prepared to con- 
cede. Despite his reserve, however, Maynial admits readily that the 
authors must without doubt have communicated to each other, in 
the course of their conversations, the ideas, if not the actual plots, 
of certain of their works. 3 From the evidence at hand, the general 
direction of this literary influence appears most often to have been 
from Maupassant to Bourget. 

Before leaving the matter of Maupassant's influence, mention 
should be made of at least two of his stories which may have furnished 
suggestions to Rudyard Kipling. Misli, 4 a tale which appeared in 
Gil-Bias in January, 1884, concerns a pet cat — called "Mouton" — 
with almost human attributes, intelligent as a child, and so idolatrous 
of his mistress that he made more than a fetish of her. Kipling's 
Bimi, the all too affectionate pet orang-outang of Bertran, French 
"king of beasts — tamer men," 5 possessed similar human endowment: 
"Den I felt at der back of my neck der fingers of Bimi," declares 
Hans Breitmann. " Mein Gott ! I tell you dot he talked through dose 

fingers. It was der deaf-and-dumb alphabet all gomplete " 

Mouton, more subtly, slept on his mistress' pillow, where she could 
hear his heart beat. 

1 Portraits d'&crimins, II (1909), 14. 

2 Cruelle Unigme (CEuvres, I, 82). Cf. p. 113 fl. 

3 E. Maynial, op. cit., p. 203. 

' Collection entitled Yvette, pp. 273-283. 

s Bertran and Bimi, in Life's Handicap (Doubleday, Page & Co., 1913), X, 336-342. 

660 



Literary Relationships of de Maupassant 157 

One day, when a young man made love to Mouton's mistress, 
and embraced her, as one embraces when one loves, suddenly Mouton 
uttered a never-to-be-forgetten cry, and tore out the eyes of his rival. 
Bimi was slower to act. For a time after the marriage of Bertran he 
merely sulked, till one day, in the absence of his master, he killed the 
woman of whom he was madly jealous. 

The conclusion of Bertran and Bimi has certain features in 
common with Maupassant's Un Loup, 1 which appeared in Le 
Gaulois in 1882. The mysterious wolf, which seemed to think like a 
man, was the cause of the death of Jean d'Arville. Jean's younger 
brother, Francois, drove the monster to bay, charging him, cutlass in 
hand. Then, seizing the beast by the neck, without even making 
use of his weapon, Francois strangled him slowly, listening to his 
dying breath and to the weakening pulsations of his heart. Furious 
as was Francois for the death of his brother, he was no more so than 
Bertran for the loss of his wife. " Now you know der formula of der 
strength of der orang-outang — it is more as seven to one in relation to 
man," is the calculation of Hans Breitmann. "But Bertran, he haf 
killed Bimi mit sooch dings as Gott gif him. Dat was der miracle." 

Perhaps the most conspicuous cases of imitation of Maupassant 
are to be found in the work of Gabriele D'Annunzio. 2 In the Novelle 
della Pescara, for instance, borrowings are made from Maupassant 
which Lumbroso does not hesitate to brand as plagiarisms. Maynial 
employs a milder term, although he does not contest the fact of the 
resemblances in question. And certainly the close imitation of 
Flaubert by Maupassant — even in such a passage as the rendezvous 
of Bel-Ami at the church of the Trinity, modeled on the cathedral 
scene in Madame Bovary — is slight compared with the imitation of 
Maupassant by D'Annunzio, in his more reminiscent moods. 

However, we should not insist too much upon the influence of 
Maupassant, despite the enormous sale of his books. As M. Giraud 
justly observes, his influence was far below that of Taine, for example, 

1 Clair de Lune, pp. 39 ft. Incidents of the Misti and Bertran and Bimi type are 
occasionally found in real life. A friend vouches for the following occurrence, which 
happened while he was a student at a German university. A young student, accom- 
panied by his pet collie, went for a walk with his mistress. The details of the difficulty 
that followed are not perfectly clear, but at any rate the dog — whether through jealousy 
or not — attacked the woman, and was with difficulty prevented from killing her. 

2 A. Lumbroso, op. cit., pp. 519-545. 

661 



158 Olin H. Moore 

although Taine apparently had not one-tenth as many readers as 
Maupassant. 1 

Furthermore, if Maupassant's influence upon his contemporaries 
is easily exaggerated, so was his own indebtedness to other writers 
not excessive, after all. The limit which he deliberately set upon his 
field of production was at once a source of strength, as well as of 
weakness. 2 In fact, after due allowance has been made for all 
literary influences, including that of Flaubert, it must be owned that 
his principal source was his own observations. For him, as for the 
other realists, the most important part of the preparation for his 
stories was the taking of notes, despite the contention of Paul Bourget 
to the contrary. 3 It is this matter which will be discussed in an 
article to be published shortly. 

Olin H. Moore 

University op Illinois 

1 Victor Giraud, op. cit., p. 174. 

2 (Euvres posthumes, II, 100 (Essai sur Flaubert). 

3 A. Lumbroso, op. cit., p. 612 (Souvenirs intimes de M. Ch. Lapierre). 



[Correction. — Modern Philology, XIV, 163: for "Villemessant" read: 
"A protege 4 of Villemessant."] 



662