Bryant, David S. Books1993 0-7734-9344-1
This study proposes an overall interpretation based on an analysis of three constants. First, Maupassant accepts that man lives in an objective, contingent world in which he has no purpose, and elevates the notion of chance into an explanation of the human condition. Secondly, this awareness explains the adoption of a view of the world as farce. Thirdly, in order to shape and mitigate the consequences of these positions, Maupassant elaborates a rhetoric of pessimism and strategies of containment. This triple approach enables Maupassant to rise above the evidence of his experience and gives the reader access to a work that otherwise might appear inconsequential and disparate. Maupassant's three hundred and six short stories represent a unified series of variations on three constants and offer a coherent, tightly structured response to a very personal dilemma that nevertheless has universal application.1995 0-7734-8956-8
After 1829 the appearance in France of a number of magazines and newspapers which promoted original short fiction brought about a revolution in the dissemination, form and development of new literature. At first restricted to literary reviews, after 1836 newspapers also adopted short fiction. This led to the influence of editors and the public in dictating literary taste, and the commercialization soon provoked a critical debate on the role of literature and the press. This work examines this phenomenon and analyses the enormous output of short fiction by concentrating on two major reviews, La Revue de Paris and La Revue des Deux Mondes, and two leading newspapers, La Presse and Le Siècle, supplemented by a wide selection of other titles. This is followed by a cross section of stories which constitutes a unique collection of hitherto unpublished short fiction, thus allowing the reader to gain firsthand experience of a process that was to shape the future of French literature.