Devouring De Maupassant: Out on the River

Title: Out on the River
Date Read: 25th January 2009
Available Online?: YES (although read for this review was the David Coward translation of the story in A Day in the Country and Other Stories (Oxford University Press)).
Briefly: The narrator recounts a story told to him by a neighbour who has a fascination with boats and the river. The story is about one particular night that the neighbour spent aboard his boat in the middle of the river, and it’s a night which he’ll never forget.
Afterthoughts: This a superb ‘terror tale’ from Maupassant, which although not as powerful as The Horla, is almost as chilling. The story reads very much like it may have been written by Poe – such is its level and ‘flavour’ of psychological terror – but woven into it is the unmistakable presence of Maupassant’s poetic prose. I loved it!
Notable Quote: Ah, he said to me, how many memories I have, connected with that river that you see flowing beside us! You people who live in streets know nothing about the river. But listen to a fisherman as he mentions the word. To him it is a mysterious thing, profound, unknown, a land of mirages and phantasmagoria, where one sees by night things that do not exist, hears sounds that one does not recognize, trembles without knowing why, as in passing through a cemetery–and it is, in fact, the most sinister of cemeteries, one in which one has no tomb.

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).