French Short-Story Writer and Novelist
Guy de Maupassant, fully Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant
French Short-Story Writer and Novelist
The two nuns seemed to hear nothing, and to be lost in thought. Boule de Suif also was silent.
We are, on earth, two distinct races. Those who have need of others, whom others amuse, engage soothe, whom solitude harasses, pains, stupefies, like the movement of a terrible glacier or the traversing of the desert; and those, on the contrary, whom others weary, tire, bore, silently torture, whom isolation calms and bathes in the repose of independency, and plunges into the humors of their own thoughts. In fine, there is here a normal, physical phenomenon. Some are constituted to live a life outside of themselves, others, to live a life within themselves. As for me, my exterior associations are abruptly and painfully short-lived, and, as they reach their limits, I experience in my whole body and in my whole intelligence an intolerable uneasiness.
The vases river burying these dark vengeance, wild and legitimate unknown heroism, silent attacks, more dangerous than battles in broad daylight and without the impact of glory. For hatred of the foreigner ever arms a few Intrepid ready to die for an Idea.
We breathe, sleep, drink, eat, work and then die! The end of life is death. What do you long for? Love? A few kisses and you will be powerless. Money? What for? To gratify your desires. Glory? What comes after it all? Death! Death alone is certain.
There are in France some fifty thousand young men of good birth and fairly well off who are encouraged to live a life of complete idleness. They must either cease to exist or must come to see that there can be no happiness, no health even, without regular daily labor of some sort.
We live always under the weight of the old and odious customs... of our barbarous ancestors.
There are some delightful places in this world which have a sensual charm for the eyes. One loves them with a physical love. We people who are attracted by the countryside cherish fond memories of certain springs, certain woods, certain ponds, certain hills, which have become familiar sights and can touch our hearts like happy events. Sometimes indeed the memory goes back towards a forest glade, or a spot on a river bank or an orchard in blossom, glimpsed only once on a happy day, but preserved in our heart.
What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? Who knows? How strange and changeful is life! How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!
There is only one good thing in life, and that is love.
Whatever we may do or attempt, despite the embrace and transports of love, the hunger of the lips, we are always alone. I have dragged you out into the night in the vain hope of a moment's escape from the horrible solitude which overpowers me. But what is the use! I speak and you answer me, and still each of us is alone; side by side but alone.
There is only one good thing in life, and that is love. And how you misunderstand it! how you spoil it! You treat it as something solemn like a sacrament, or something to be bought, like a dress.
Whatever you want to say, there is only one noun to express it, one verb to animate it and one adjective to qualify it.
There were round him some children playing in the dust on the paths. They had long fair hair, and with very earnest faces and solemn care were making little mountains of sand so as to stamp on 'em and squash' em underfoot. Peter was going through one of those gloomy days when one looks into every corner of one's soul and shakes out every crease. 'Our occupations are like the work of those kids,' he thought. Then he wondered whether after all the wisest course in life was not to beget two or three of these little useless beings and watch 'em grow complacent with curiosity. And he was touched by the desire to marry. You are not so lost when you're not alone any more. At any rate you can hear somebody moving near you in times of worry and uncertainty, and anyway it is something to be able to say words of love to a woman when you are feeling down. He began thinking about women. His knowledge of 'em was very limited, as all he had had in the affairs of Latin quarter was a fortnight or so, dropped when the month's money ran out and picked up again or mittal the following month. Yet kind, gentle, consoling creatures must exist. Had not his own mother brought sweet reasonableness and charm to his father's home? How he loved would have to meet a woman, a real woman! He leaped up, Determined to go and pay a little visit to Mrs. Rosemilly. Goal Quickly he sat down again. No, he did not like that one!
Why does one love? How queer it is to see only one being in the world, to have only one thought in one's mind, only one desire in the heart, and only one name on the lips--a name which comes up continually, rising, like the water in a spring, from the depths of the soul to the lips, a name which one repeats over and over again, which one whispers ceaselessly, everywhere, like a prayer.
These six people formed the bottom of the car, the side of the company rent‚e, serene and strong, honest people who have allowed religion and principles.
Why is it a shame for me to cause them to die and try to exterminate them, tell me? You did not talk that way when you used to come to my house in Jeanne-d'Arc street. Ah! it is a shame! You have not done as much, with your cross of honor! I deserve more merit than you, do you understand, more than you, for I have killed more Prussians than you!
They held up to admiration all those women who from time to time have arrested the victorious progress of conquerors, made of their bodies a field of battle, a means of ruling, a weapon; who have vanquished by their heroic caresses hideous or detested beings, and sacrificed their chastity to vengeance and devotion.
Why not other elements besides fire, air, earth and water? There are four of Them, just four, Those foster parents of Beings! What a pity! Why are not there forty elements INSTEAD, or four hundred, or four Thousand? How paltry everything is, how miserly, how wretched! Given stingily, aridly invented, heavily made! Why not other elements besides fire, air, earth and water? There are four of Them, just four, Those foster parents of Beings! What a pity! Why are not there forty elements INSTEAD, or four hundred, or four Thousand? How paltry everything is, how miserly, how wretched! Given stingily, aridly invented, heavily made ??
Think of that, young man. Think of it for days, and months and years, and life will seem different to you. Try to get away from all the things that shut you in. Make a superhuman effort to emerge alive from your own body, from your own interests, from your thoughts, from humanity in general, so your eyes that may be turned in the opposite direction. Then you understand how unimportant is the quarrel between romanticism and realism, or the budget debates.
With women there is neither caste nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth. Natural ingenuity, instinct for what is elegant, a supple mind are their sole hierarchy, and often make of women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.
This beast and still growing and inexplicable fear became terror. I stood motionless, eyes open, listening and waiting. What? I did not know, but it would be terrible.
Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare.
The only certainty is death.
This painful oppression, the malaise of the soul that leaves us grief on which we slept. It seems that misfortune, which shock us just hit the day before, or slides during our rest, in our flesh itself, it bruises and fatigue as a fever.
You have the army of mediocrities followed by the multitude of fools. As the mediocrities and the fools always form the immense majority, it is impossible for them to elect an intelligent government.