176 Stories by Maupassant

88-Stories02-X-700px I was having a nose around on my local library’s catalogue the other day just to see if they had any more Maupassant collections that I’d missed when I came across this title, 88 Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant. There was little additional information other than it was published in 1950 and that it was part of the library’s reserve stock. So, I took it out just to see what it contained. I was expecting it to consist of the translations that are available on Project Gutenberg (PG) but was surprised to see that they were different translations by Ernest Boyd and Storm Jameson. I’m assuming that they were translated specifically for this edition but it is possible that they were earlier translations as the book states: ‘First published in this edition 1950’. Does that imply that there were earlier editions?

I’ve had a quick look at some of the stories and I’m pleased to see that there are many stories that are not included in the PG collection titled The Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories. This may seem odd but the situation is this; there are 311 stories in the French collected edition, there are only 181 in the ‘Entire’ PG collection and there is also the problem that there are an additional 65 fake Maupassant stories that often get included in older English and American collections. As far as I can tell there don’t appear to be any of the ‘fakes’ in the ’88 Stories’ collection and some of those that are newly available (to me at least) are the 80 page story, Yvette, Our Friends the English, The Odyssey of a Prostitute, Old Boniface’s Crime and more. Now, it’s true that there are other collections available such as the eight-volume set, also on Project Gutenberg, called The Works of Guy de Maupassant and the Delphi Complete Works of Guy de Maupassant but they seem to be collections of the Victorian translations and the ‘dodgy’ St. Dunstan Society collections whence the ‘fakes’ originated. For example, the Delphi version claims to have ‘288 short stories – the largest collection of Maupassant’s short stories available in English’….but I’ve had a quick look at that collection and it contains quite a lot, and possibly all, of the ‘fakes’. If it does have all of the ‘fakes’ then it can only really claim to have 223 Maupassant stories which are probably the combined versions from those available on PG. As I delve further into these translations I will hope to clarify the situation.

I was so pleased with the ’88 Stories’ book that I looked on the internet to see if I could buy a copy, when I discovered that there was a second volume called 88 More Stories by Guy de Maupassant also published in 1950 by Cassell & Co. Ltd. Well, I had to get both volumes didn’t I? After an intial scan through the second volume it doesn’t look as if it will have as many of the ‘new’ translations as the first book but it does have a lot of the stories that are only available in the PG collections. As a collection, it actually contains a lot more of the more popular stories such as The Horla, Boule de Suif, Madame Tellier’s Establishment etc. Both books should help me in my quest to read the most recent translations as possible, ultimately I’d like to be able to avoid the older Victorian ones entirely. The only down side of these ’88’ books is that the translation does, at times, seem just as stuffy as the older ones. Take, for example, the opening sentences of the story Allouma and see which you prefer:

    A friend had told me that if, during my travels in Algeria, I happened to be near Bordj-Ebbaba, I was to be sure to visit his old friend Auballe, who had settled down there.
    These names had passed from my mind, and the settler was far from my thoughts, when by pure chance I came across him.
    For a month I had been roaming afoot over that magnificent country which stretches from Algiers to Cherchell, Orleansville and Tiaret.

One of my friends had said to me: —
    “If you happen to be near Bordj-Ebbaba while you are in Algeria, be sure and go to see my old friend Auballe, who has settled there.”
    I had forgotten the name of Auballe and of Ebbaba, and I was not thinking of this planter, when I arrived at his house by pure accident. For a month, I had been wandering on foot through that magnificent district which extends from Algiers to Cherchell, Orleansville, and Tiaret.

For me, the second from the Delphi Works collection, is far better than the first which is from the ’88 Short Stories’ book. The ‘roaming afoot’ is particularly annoying. So, only time will tell if these books will be as beneficial as they appear to be at the moment.

I am currently trying to match and cross-reference all these different translations to the original French versions on the Story Details page on the ‘Marvellous Maupassant’ blog. I’ve still got to look at the ‘Works’ collection and now have these ’88’ collections as well. The only problem is lack of time, but I’m hoping to complete it over the next few months. At the end it would be nice if we could identify a translation of every story by Maupassant.

This is cross-posted on the Marvellous Maupassant blog.



Filed under Fiction, Maupassant, Guy de

13 responses to “176 Stories by Maupassant

  1. Rob of rob around books used do his stories years ago I have a collection interested to hear some fake stories used be included in the collections

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      It’s good to hear that others read Maupassant. I’d like to read the fake ones as well – I’d be interested to see if I could tell the difference…I hope I can!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness, I had no idea that there were fake Maupassants to worry about. I hope some scholar has sorted out a definitive list.
    I love those old Cassell editions, what treasure:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was a translation from the mid 20th Century that I burned – yes, actually physically burned because I didn’t want anyone else to have to read it. It was a double paperback including Balzac’s Pere Goriot and Eugenie Grandet. Ever on the look out for new translations of Pere Goriot, I took it on vacation with me. As I’m reading, I kept thinking that I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I realized. On my return home, I compared it with a couple of other translations and it was dismal.

    I’ve discovered that a lot of translations from French circa 1900 are excellent. I can always recommend almost all of the Balzac ones. Zola’s books don’t fare as well, but it is largely because of the content, not the translation style of the era in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jonathan

    I sometimes wonder if modern translations are ok when they’ve obviously been translated from 19th C French into 21st C English. Isn’t it better if they somehow capture the feel of the 19th C in English? But I’ve noticed with some, e.g. The Rondoli Sisters, that huge chunks, such as a discussion of VD, is just cut out from the translation. Translation is a tricky business.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the things I hope to do when we visit my parents this Christmas is to look for a volume of Maupassant stories on my father’s bookshelf. I used to read from it when I was younger. I can still see it – green cloth hardcover. He likely bought it in the 1950’s, probably when he was at university in New York City. Your posts have made keen to see if he will part with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kaggsysbookishramblings

    How fascinating – I had no idea there were fake Maupassants either! Hopefully the two nice old books will help you in your quest for completeness – it’s infuriating to be restricted by language from reading authors you love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      And if the fakes aren’t enough of course different translations have different titles and Maupassant had the habit of writing stories with the same French title. Personally, I think it’s time for a newly translated ‘Complete Works’

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff

    I’m impressed by your dedication to Maupassant. Even if the author is not of great interest to oneself, it’s great to see someone delving in a way that’s recognisable. I wonder: do you think any of the ‘fakes’ have merit, and if so, why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Well, I haven’t read any of the fake ones yet as I’m concentrating on the real ones – there are enough of those that I haven’t read. It will be interesting to read some of the fakes though.

      Liked by 1 person

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