Maupassant Quotations

Maupassant_A-Day-in-CountryI’ve been reading more and more of Maupassant’s stories recently. Many of the collections have a large number of the same stories which becomes a bit frustrating at times as there are so many that I want to read but the same stories keep appearing. One of the collections that I really enjoyed, but haven’t got round to reviewing yet, is A Day in the Country and Other Stories, published by Oxford University Press and translated by David Coward. So, I thought I’d share a number of quotes from the book.

I always enjoy quotations pulled from a book. I like the way they stand on their own and can sometimes take on a different meaning – people may scream that they’ve been taken out of context, but I sometimes like that. One thing I do worry about (only slightly though) is when we quote a fiction writer, who is usually writing from a fictional character’s point of view, and we attribute the quotation to the writer, as if what is said is the writer’s beliefs, views etc. Rather than say this is a quote from Author X, I would much rather say that this is a quote from a character, or narrator, from a book or story by Author X. Does this bother anyone else?

Anyway here goes:

There were office-worn gents with yellow faces, bent backs, and one shoulder set slightly higher than the other from spending hours hunched over desks. And their sad, anxious faces spoke volumes about their domestic troubles, never-ending money worries, and all those old hopes which had been dashed for good; for they all belonged to the army of poor threadbare drudges who just about make ends meet in some dismal plasterboard house with a flowerbed for a garden in the rubbish-and-slag-heap belt on the outskirts of Paris.
― From Family Life

Philippe-Auguste was an ugly child, with uncombed hair and dirt all over him, and the face of a cretin.
― From Family Life

Her name was Marroca, probably her maiden name, and she pronounced it as though it had fifteen r’s in it.
― From Marroca

All at once, as though a thick veil had been whisked aside, he clearly saw the wretchedness―the bottomless, monotonous wretchedness―of his existence. The wretchedness which had been, which was, and which was yet to come. His last days indistinguishable from the first, with nothing ahead of him or behind him or around him, nothing in his heart, nothing anywhere.
― From Strolling

Madame Chantal―a large woman whose ideas always strike me as being square-shaped, like stones dressed by a mason―was in the habit of concluding any political discussion with the remark: ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap’. Why have I always imagined that Madame Chantal’s ideas are square? I’ve no idea, but everything she says goes into that shape in my mind: a block―a large one―with four symmetrical angles.
― From Mademoiselle Pearl

Daylight does not lend itself to terror: objects and people are plain to see; and we encounter there only those things which dare to show themselves in the glare of day. But night, opaque night denser than walls, night, empty and infinite and so black and fathomless that terrifying things reach out and touch us, night when we feel horror stirring, mysteriously prowling―night seemed to him to hide some unknown, imminent, threatening danger. What could it be?
― From The Little Roque Girl

Solitude is obviously dangerous for people with active brains. We need men around us who have ideas and like talking. Leave us alone for any length of time, and we start filling the void with supernatural creatures.
― From Le Horla

I am lost! Someone has taken over my mind and is controlling it! Someone is in command of all my actions, movements, and thoughts. I am nothing inside, merely a spectator enslaved and terrified by everything I do.
― From Le Horla

Maupassant_Mme-Tellier-fcX-700pxWhilst I’m on a roll, I’ll add a couple that I really liked from The House of Madame Tellier and Other Stories which was published by Everyman and translated by Marjorie Laurie.

She was, in truth, one of those bigoted fanatics, one of those stubborn Puritans, whom England breeds in such numbers, those pious and insupportable old maids, who haunt all the tables d’hôte in Europe, who ruin Italy, poison Switzerland, and render the charming towns on the Riviera uninhabitable, introducing everywhere their weird manias, their manners of petrified vestals, their indescribable wardrobes, and a peculiar odour of rubber, as if they were put away in a waterproof case every night.
― From Miss Harriet

And finally, this one, which despite what I said above, probably is pretty close to Maupassant’s real views as he loved boats and water:

I have an immoderate passion for water; for the sea, though so vast, so restless, so beyond one’s comprehension; for rivers, beautiful, yet fugitive and elusive; but especially for marshes, teeming with all that mysterious life of the creatures that haunt them. A marsh is a whole world within a world, a different world, with a life of its own, with its own permanent denizens, its passing visitors, its voices, its sounds, its own strange mystery.
― From Love

This was cross-posted on the Marvellous Maupassant blog.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Maupassant Quotations

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings

    Wonderful quotes! Obviously Maupassant has much more to him than I rather shallowly thought….

    Like

    • Jonathan

      There could have been so many more but I had to restrain myself.

      I think because Maupassant wrote in quite a simple, clear style and he quite enjoyed surprise endings he is sometimes portrayed as a literary lightweight. But he’s up there with Zola as far as I’m concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not read Maupassant but I really want to.

    I really like some of these quotes, particularly the one about solitude and filling the void.

    I do become frustrated when quotes from characters are made to sound as if they are the author’s views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      The quotes from Horla are from a character who was going mad, which of course can’t be confused with Maupassant who….hold on, he was commited to an asylum late in life. It can be confusing.

      When I was adding these quotes on GoodReads I thought it was a bit annoying that they appear as a quotation from Maupassant, the author, when they may very well be the exact opposite of what he believes. I think that sometimes people attack an author for something they’ve written but it may be a quote from one of their characters.

      Although Maupassant wrote novels, in my opinion he’s really a short story writer. It’s best to start with a modern collection of stories and you can’t go far wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was thinking one of the quotes seemed out of place and then I saw it was from La Horla. There’s an old Vincent Price version of that btw. (Diary of a Madman)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great selection of quotes. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I particularly like your first passage (from Family Life) as it evokes such a vivid image.

    I’m still trying to hold off from buying books at the moment, but the OUP A Day in the Country collection is on my list of potential purchases. Delighted to hear you enjoyed it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      It’s difficult to pick a favourite but I especially like the one from ‘Miss Harriet’ about puritanical English.

      I can’t stop reading Maupassant at the moment. The OUP collections are very good. They also contain a lot of info which has helped me update the Marvellous Maupassant blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like “Daylight does not lend itself to terror” – because it’s so true, and it makes terror in daylight all the more powerful when it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Yes, I agree. ‘The Little Roque girl’ is an excellent story as well. It’s one of M’s longer stories. A girl’s body is found in the woods but the killer escapes justice. The reader soon realises who the murderer is and we observe him as his state of mind collapses.

      Like

  6. Jeff

    Very aphoristic. I shall have to dig our my own collection. I seem to remember enjoying Mademoiselle Fifi.

    Like

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