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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Guy de Maupassant: Volume 2

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Guy de Maupassant: Volume 2
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Guy de Maupassant
Date Published: 2010/11
Page Count: 396
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-440-0
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-439-4

A second foray into the strange imagination of Guy de Maupassant

If the genre of supernatural fiction were a windowless corridor there would be those authors who stood at the light of the door only to peep playfully within and those who ventured farther along it to where the light was dimmer and the fear more palpable. Inevitably, in this analogy, there would be those who occupied a place far from the light where the darkness was almost complete. There, perhaps, one would find the work of Guy de Maupassant. It is a place uncomfortable to occupy and, for some, to visit. It is difficult to know how much of the deep disturbance of the troubled and driven characters within these often erotic stories comes from the author's interest in psychology and how much inspiration came from his own proclivities. Certainly his self-penned epitaph 'I have coveted everything and enjoyed nothing,' is revealing. In 1892 ravaged by syphilis, wracked by obsessions and paranoia the author attempted suicide by cutting his own throat. He was committed to a private asylum and died the following year. He was 42 years old. Guy de Maupassant is recognised as a giant of nineteenth century French literature, a protégé of Flaubert, an inspiration to H. P Lovecraft, among others, and an acknowledged master of the short story—a form in which he was very prolific. Indeed, this special Leonaur three volume collection of his excursions into the supernatural and strange contains almost 140 stories. De Maupassant produced fine prose in an economical style for which he became famous, but some more recent translations have been criticised for having lost his essential elegance of style; to preserve the integrity of the writing as far as possible the Leonaur editors have utilised earlier translations.
In volume two of this special three volume Leonaur edition of the genius of Guy de Maupassant readers will find fifty four stories of his incredible visions of the other worldly and strange. In these pages are 'A Dead Woman's Secret,' 'A Night in Whitechapel,' 'A Widow,' 'After Death,' 'Belhomme's Beast,' 'Christmas Eve,' 'Countess Satan,' 'Graveyard Sirens,' 'Room No. Eleven' and many other wonderful and evocative classics of the art of the short story.
Leonaur editions are available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket for collectors. 

“Come, I will show you an interesting case.”<br>
And he opened the door of a cell where a woman of about forty, still handsome, was seated in a large armchair, looking persistently at her face in a little hand mirror.<br>
As soon as she saw us she rose to her feet, ran to the other end of the room, picked up a veil that lay on a chair, wrapped it carefully round her face, then came back, nodding her head in reply to our greeting.<br>
“Well,” said the doctor, “how are you this morning?”<br>
She gave a deep sigh.<br>
“Oh, ill, monsieur, very ill. The marks are increasing every day.”<br>
He replied in a tone of conviction:<br>
“Oh, no; oh, no; I assure you that you are mistaken.”<br>
She drew near to him and murmured:<br>
“No. I am certain of it. I counted ten pittings more this morning, three on the right cheek, four on the left cheek, and three on the forehead. It is frightful, frightful! I shall never dare to let any one see me, not even my son; no, not even him! I am lost, I am disfigured forever.”<br>
She fell back in her armchair and began to sob.<br>
The doctor took a chair, sat down beside her, and said soothingly in a gentle tone:<br>
“Come, let me see; I assure you it is nothing. With a slight cauterization I will make it all disappear.”<br>
She shook her head in denial, without speaking. He tried to touch her veil, but she seized it with both hands so violently that her fingers went through it.<br>
He continued to reason with her and reassure her.<br>
“Come, you know very well that I remove those horrid pits every time and that there is no trace of them after I have treated them. If you do not let me see them I cannot cure you.”<br>
“I do not mind your seeing them,” she murmured, “but I do not know that gentleman who is with you.”<br>
“He is a doctor also, who can give you better care than I can.”<br>
She then allowed her face to be uncovered, but her dread, her emotion, her shame at being seen brought a rosy flush to her face and her neck, down to the collar of her dress. She cast down her eyes, turned her face aside, first to the right; then to the left, to avoid our gaze and stammered out:<br>
“Oh, it is torture to me to let myself be seen like this! It is horrible, is it not? Is it not horrible?”<br>
I looked at her in much surprise, for there was nothing on her face, not a mark, not a spot, not a sign of one, nor a scar.<br>
She turned towards me, her eyes still lowered, and said:<br>
“It was while taking care of my son that I caught this fearful disease, monsieur. I saved him, but I am disfigured. I sacrificed my beauty to him, to my poor child. However, I did my duty, my conscience is at rest. If I suffer it is known only to God.”<br>
The doctor had drawn from his coat pocket a fine water-colour paint brush.<br>
“Let me attend to it,” he said, “I will put it all right.”<br>
She held out her right cheek, and he began by touching it lightly with the brush here and there, as though he were putting little points of paint on it. He did the same with the left cheek, then with the chin, and the forehead, and then exclaimed:<br>
“See, there is nothing there now, nothing at all!”<br>
She took up the mirror, gazed at her reflection with profound, eager attention, with a strong mental effort to discover something, then she sighed:<br>
“No. It hardly shows at all. I am infinitely obliged to you.”<br>
The doctor had risen. He bowed to her, ushered me out and followed me, and, as soon as he had locked the door, said:<br>
“Here is the history of this unhappy woman.”
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