Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
de Maupassant, Guy

(1850-1893) French writer, mainly of short stories, about a quarter of which may be classified as Horror stories or Contes Cruels; of these about half are Supernatural Fiction. GDM was influenced by many writers, especially Edgar Allan Poe. In his teens he was shown, by the poet Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909), a mummified hand. This image haunted GDM and he used it in "La Main Ecorchée" (1875; trans as "The Flayed Hand"; vt "The Withered Hand"), in which the hand of a Witch strangles its owner. This was later revised as "La Main" (1883; trans as "The Englishman"). Although he wrote a few genuine Ghost Stories, including "L'Apparition" (1883; trans as "The Apparition"; vt "The Spectre"; vt "The Ghost"; vt "The Story of a Law Suit"), most of his tales in this vein are psychological, questioning the narrator's sanity. These include "La Morte" (trans as "Was It a Dream?"), "Lui?" (1883; trans as "He?"), "Un Fou" (1884 Le Figaro; trans as "Was He Mad?"), and "Qui Sait?" (1890; trans as "Who Knows?"), his last story. His masterpiece was "Le Horla" (1886 Gil Blas; trans as "The Horla"), where the narrator becomes overwhelmed by some invisible being that drains his sanity like a psychic Vampire. GDM's bibliography is extremely complicated. No single volume published during his lifetime contained solely supernatural fiction, and early translations included stories misattributed to GDM. The first thorough compilation was The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant (coll 1955 US) ed Artine Artinian. Arnold Kellett compiled a volume in French as Contes du Surnaturel (coll 1969 UK; trans rev vt Tales of Supernatural Terror coll 1972 UK and The Diary of a Madman coll 1976 UK; reassembled as The Dark Side coll 1989 UK). Kellett also compiled A Night on the River and Other Strange Tales (coll 1976 UK). [MA]

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.