Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant


The Horla
by Guy de Maupassant
Fantasy and Horror Classics, 2013
35 pages
originally published, 1887
source: purchased

He is here... the...the...what is his name?...the... it seems as if he were shouting his name in my ear, and I cannot hear it... the...yes...he is shouting it... I am listening... I can't hear... again, tell me again... the...Horla... I heard...the Horla... it is he... the Horla... he is here!

What is the matter with me? It is he, he, the Horla, who is haunting me, filling, my head with these absurdities! He is in me, he has become my soul; I will kill him.

Guy de Maupassant, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story, is a personal favorite and has made several previous appearances on this blog:
It's been a couple of years since I last read his work, but  Paris in July inspired me to seek out another of his stories. The Horla, written in a journal format, chronicles one man's "descent into madness". Published shortly before de Maupassant himself was hospitalized for insanity, the story seems tame compared to today's psychological thrillers, but was considered ground-breaking at the time.

De Maupassant wrote and revised The Horla over a period of several years. An early draft was entitled Letter from a Madman, while a later reworking tells the same story from a doctor’s point of view.  The Melville House edition (part of their Art of the Novella series) includes both of these variations along with the final version. I would have been particularly interested in reading this story from the doctor's perspective.

I chose the above edition because I liked the cover. If I'd been a little more discerning, the Melville House edition would be on my shelf instead.

The Horla can be read in its entirely here.


Visit Thyme for Tea for links to all of this week's Paris in July posts.

20 comments:

  1. I have not read De Maupassant but I want to. As his works are short I really need to sneak some into my reading schedule.

    I do think that sometimes, though not always, these dark stories written long ago have lost their impact in the face of more shocking modern tales.

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    1. Brian Joseph - The Necklace is probably his most famous story and also a good place to start. The Horla didn't seem all that scary or shocking to me... I am probably desensitized given modern standards!

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  2. it was one of the class assignment back then in France that I enjoyed very much

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    1. Wordsandpeace - I always enjoy his stories.

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  3. I have not read any Guy de Maupassant short stories in years. The Horla looks fascinating. I love knowing the backstory, so thanks for including the information about how it has evolved, and thanks for the link to the story!

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    1. Monica - You're welcome. Most of his stories are available free online.

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  4. I've never read any Guy de Maupassant and in fact I'm not even sure his name is familiar. However, I love the sound of this. I do love the cover on this one as well though I will look for the Melville House edition.

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    1. Katherine - I remember having to read him in high school, then rediscovered him when I started blogging.

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  5. Madness, is always a fun topic. That cover creeps me out a little.

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    1. Ti - Haha, yes... why am I drawn to stories about madness??

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  6. Wow...this would be a tough one for me!

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    1. Patty - It's pretty mild compared to the stuff that gets published today.

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  7. I just downloaded Guy de Maupassant's short story collection specifically for Paris in July, but also because the stories were mentioned in a wonderful Peirene Press book entitled Reader for Hire. The one I read was The Diamond Necklace, and it was excellent! Now I have to look for The Horla. xo

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    1. Bellezza - Yes, The Diamond Necklace and The Necklace are the same story and it is wonderful! I didn't like The Horla quite as much, but still appreciate its significance.

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  8. You have given me ideas for Paris in July reading and some short stories are just what I need at the moment. I have not read Guy de Maupassant before so this seems a good place to start.

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    1. Arabella - Most of his stories are available free online, too!

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  9. You are certainly left to wonder whether the story was based on his own experiences. And, if so, how was he able to write about such experiences while experiencing them? Amazing.

    readerbuzz.blogspot.com

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    1. Deb - That's the part that blows my mind. Some of this must have been based on personal experience, yet how was he able to write while this was going on? Perhaps it was a cyclical thing...

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  10. I've read Bel Ami, and I know Guy de Maupassant wrote short stories, but I had no idea he produced any horror/fantasy. I have him on my list! Spurred on by Paris in July I signed up for the French Reading Bingo as well, and thought I'd explore French authors over the next few months.

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    1. Christine - I still have Bel Ami on my list... and must look into French Reading Bingo!

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