Devouring De Maupassant: Madame Tellier’s Establishment

Title: Madame Tellier’s Establishment
Date Read: 03 July 2009
Available Online?: YES (it should be noted though, that the version I read was from the Capuchin Classics edition On Horseback and Other Stories).
Briefly: Run by the affable Madame Tellier, Le Maison Tellier is a small but popular bordello to be found in a small town on the French coast. Frequented by a number of regulars, they turn up one night to find the place shuttered up with the enigmatic message – ‘Closed for First Communion’.
Afterthoughts: I’m disturbed that Maupassant’s knowledge of the inner workings of a brothel is so extensive, but I’m also glad, because from his knowledge he’s produced a very good story, with so many elements to it. For those who may think that the entire story centers around Madame Tellier’s establishment, I can tell you that it doesn’t, and that most of the story involves a trip to the country involving all of the establishment ‘madames’. Being away from their ‘natural habitat’ one can imagine that behaviour and routine is drastically changed; and it is. But not only for the prostitutes and the patrons of La Maison Tellier, but also for the village on which Madame Tellier’s group descends. .
Notable Quote: “One evening toward the end of May, the first arrival, Monsieur Poulin, who was a timber merchant, and had been mayor, found the door shut. The lantern behind the grating was not alight; there was not a sound in the house; everything seemed dead. He knocked, gently at first, but then more loudly, but nobody answered the door. Then he went slowly up the street, and when he got to the market place he met Monsieur Duvert, the gunmaker, who was going to the same place, so they went back together, but did not meet with any better success. But suddenly they heard a loud noise, close to them, and on going round the house, they saw a number of English and French sailors, who were hammering at the closed shutters of the taproom with their fists.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Why on earth should an author’s knowledge of the inner workings of a brothel be so disturbing? Any more disturbing than, say, knowledge of the workings of a hedge fund, a merchant bank, an army of occupation, the espionage community or the conduct of ministers of religion or politicians?

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Sorry if I offended you Pablo,
      It wasn’t intentional. I write these afterthoughts in a very stream-of-consciousness kind of way, and meant that comment to be a lot more tongue-in-cheek than it probably sounded. Maybe it would have helped if I used a smiley face 🙂