Best known as a writer of novels and short stories, Guy de Maupassant also wrote more than 200 articles for some of the major Parisian newspapers of his day, notably
Le Gaulois, Gil Blas and
Le Figaro. Newspapers in the 1880s opened their columns to prominent literary figures of the time, paid them well, and often gave them a prominent position and a regular slot on the front page. Particularly in his early years, as a poorly paid clerk working in a government ministry, Maupassant found that journalism could provide not only a precious source of income, but also an invaluable training for a literary career. A regular newspaper column could help a young and aspiring writer to hone his skills, to make a name and acquire a reputation.
Until recent years, critics have paid little attention to Maupassant's
chroniques, and yet, taken as whole, they undoubtedly provide an illuminating picture of the society and times in which he lived. In a style which is sometimes facetious, frequently ironical, but also on occasions hard-hitting and polemical, Maupassant revealed his ideas, expressed his beliefs, his convictions and prejudices in a way which throws fascinating new light on his other writings. In these
chroniques written over a ten-year period, he writes on art and literature, on society and social questions, on political events and on the politicians of the day. Independent, and wedded to no particular cause, he emerges as an informed and perceptive commentator, and an often outspoken critic of Republican politicians and of French colonial policy in particular.
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt/M., New York, Oxford, Wien, 1999. 179 pp., 1 ill.
Contents: This selection from the 200 or so articles which Maupassant wrote, over a period of ten years, for the Paris press
of his day, contains some twenty of the chroniques (in French) in which he deals with political questions of the time.
He writes with passion and vigour, whether on foreign issues such as colonial expansion in North Africa and Indochina under
Gambetta and Ferry, relations with the Italy of Crispi and with Bismarck's Germany, or on domestic crises and political corruption
in the France of the Third Republic (Boulangism, or the affaire des décorations in 1887). There is an introduction,
and detailed notes are provided explaining historical and other references.