Monday, September 30, 2013
A Twofer of Guy de Maupassant: The Inn and Le Horla
Last year, I reviewed A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant and it didn't go well. It was so bad that a Troll decided to tell me I was stupid and should stop writing stupid things on the internet.* Yes, because that is the way to convince people to enjoy the things you do, by calling them stupid. I would have appreciated some guidance from Mr Guy Fanboy, because Guy wrote a lot, a little "if you didn't like that, then try this instead" but no, that is not how assholes work on the internet. Anyway, I didn't let the opinions of one butthead deter me from trying Monsieur Maupassant again.
This time around I took on The Inn and Le Horla.
I read recently that Stephen King's The Shining and The Inn are often compared. I'm all about The Shining these days. In The Inn, two caretakers and a dog are left to look after an inn located in the Alps during the winter months. The inn is completely cut off from civilization in the winter. Almost right away one of the caretakers disappears, and this event sends the remaining man into madness. King's The Shining has supernatural elements, but Jack Torrance and Ulrick follow the same path. The question I had about Ulrick was if he went crazy because of the isolation or because he felt guilty. Maybe he didn't think he looked hard enough for the old man. I wasn't a fan of the ending. There wasn't much of a denouement: "And then they found him and he was crazy. The End."
Le Horla (The Horla) was a favorite of HP Lovecraft's who is said to have been inspired by it when writing The Call of Cthulhu. In Le Horla, a man writes in his diary of a sensation of being attacked while he sleeps. This nightly occurrence drains him. The only way he escapes this feeling is when he travels. While visiting his cousin, he witnesses a doctor performing hypnosis. When he returns to his home, the feeling returns but worse. He feels that he is being controlled by an invisible being with a powerful mind, much like his cousin was controlled while under hypnosis. The situation gets to the point where he can do little other than sit in his room. Le Horla is a much better story. It's longer than The Inn and the ending feels like an ending.
Le Horla is the clear favorite for me. It's actually one of the best supernatural short stories I've read. So, yay! Le Horla could be read two ways: he really did have some creature living with him or he was cuckoo for coco puffs. He does actually go mad, but was he on the way there anyway or did the creature drive him there? The editor adds in a footnote that Maupassant died from madness *coughsyphiliscough* and that he believed he was haunted by his double. It's interesting how both these stories deal with madness. Maybe Maupassant knew what he was talking about.
You can find both these stories for free on Gutenberg Project in Original Short Stories Volume 4 and Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories respectively.
So since I like Le Horla, what else should I read from Guy?