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Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant

Boule de Suif (1880)

by Guy de Maupassant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Penguin 60s Classics

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
618724,123 (3.68)22
  1. 00
    Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff (TheLittlePhrase)
    TheLittlePhrase: delicate edible birds (the title story) is a retelling of boule de suif
  2. 00
    Tribu bêlante by Kenzaburô Oé (raton-liseur)
    raton-liseur: Vraie lâcheté et faux courage dans un pays occupé.

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» See also 22 mentions

English (4)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 4 of 4
La guerre de 1870 avec ses images de honte et d'horreur interrompt une vie que Maupassant dédiait aux plaisirs. C'est "l'année terrible". Il voit tout, enregistre tout. Boule de Suif en témoignera.
Pendant l'occupation, un groupe de bourgeois, deux religieuses et un républicain prennent une diligence pour Dieppe. La présence parmi eux d'une grosse prostituée les dégoûte.
A la halte de l'auberge, un officier allemand menace de stopper le convoi tant que la fille n'aura pas couché avec lui. La mort dans l'âme, elle se soumet…
Ce récit rend Maupassant célèbre.
Fou de joie, Flaubert écrit : "C'est un chef-d'oeuvre de composition, de comique, d'observation."
  Haijavivi | Jun 9, 2019 |
Often called his best work, Boule de Suif is also Maupassant's first published short story. In my collection, as in many others, it is grouped with several works about the Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent occupation of France.

In this story, Maupassant first describes the changing atmosphere of a town that first sees the retreat of their own army and then the arrival of an occupying force. The townspeople's mood moves from fear and despair, to acceptance and practical business dealings. Some even befriend the young men. Then, Maupassant shows the emotional and ethical accommodations that a small group of disparate people undergo when in a stressful situation. One informs and reflects the other. Although I did not find this story as tight and polished as some of his others, the impact of this story is particularly poignant.

Rouen has been occupied by the Prussians, and several wealthy citizens have procured much desired travel permits allowing them to leave for Le Havre, which is still in French hands. As the coach jounces along, the passengers eye one another and try to determine each other's social status. There are an upstart wine merchant and his wife, a well-established mill owner and his wife, a Comte and Comtesse, a politician, two nuns, and a woman of easy virtue, known as Boule de Suif (Ball of Fat or Dumpling). At first the passengers are careful to maintain their distances from one another based on social standing, but after many hours of travel beyond what they were expecting, they are ready and willing to take advantage of Boule de Suif's offer to share her generous feast, which she had the foresight to pack. Over chicken legs and bottles of claret, the group bonds and social distinctions cease to be the overriding concern.

At the inn where they stop for the night, a Prussian officer makes a pass at Boule de Suif, who rebuffs him. Stung, the officer refuses to let the party continue their journey until she sleeps with him. A staunch patriot, she continues to refuse, while the others slide from outrage on her behalf to frustration that they are being held hostage to her denial. The story that unfolds is both sad and seemingly inevitable. ( )
  labfs39 | Sep 16, 2013 |
A nice story, on an interesting idea, but Maupassant would go on and create much better things later. It was his first published work and I think it shows. There's nothing wrong technically, and the story has heart, but it feels a little like an academic exercise in writing a "good" short story at times. ( )
  DRFP | Feb 7, 2010 |
When I first read this terrific short story, years ago, I liked it very much but failed to see how elegantly economical it is -- a complete story, on a subject worth the time, yet without a word wasted. Highly recommended. ( )
  grunin | Apr 1, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maupassant, Guy deAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colet, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This work appears to contain only the single story Boule de Suif. While all editions present have the ISBN 0146001435, a number of unrelated covers appear to have been also uploaded.
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"Normandie, 1870. L'armée française quitte Rouen, bientôt envahie par les Prussiens. Dix habitants fuient vers le Havre via Dieppe. Dans la diligence, les Loiseau, commerçants, les Carré-Lamadon, riches filateurs, le Comte de Bréville et sa femme, deux religieuses, Cornudet le Démoc et Élisabeth Rousset, demi-mondaine surnommée Boule de suif. Comment les "honnêtes gens" vont-ils tolérer la présence de cette fille?"--Back cover.Normandy, 1870. Set in the Franco-Prussian War, the story follows a desperate group of French civilians who are fleeing Rouen, recently occupied by the Prussians. Via stagecoach, ten travelers flee to Le Havre including shop owners Mrs. and Mrs. Loiseau, wealthy factory-owner M. Carré-Lamadon and his wife, the Count and Countess of Bréville, two nuns, the Democrat Cornudet and Élisabeth Rousset, a prostitute nicknamed Ball of Suet or Suet Dumpling Butterball. How will the "honest people" tolerate the presence of this girl?

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