Title: Bed 29
Date Read: 26th April 2010
Available Online?: No(?) (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: With his muscular body, his rolled mustache and his confident swagger, Captain Epivent must surely be considered among the pride of the French Army. The ladies certainly think so, and he always wins their attention, whether they are married or not. He begins an affair with beautiful Imra, a woman reputed to be the mistress of a rich manufacturer, and they become inseparable. That is until war with the Prussians forces the Captain away.
Afterthoughts: With the story containing themes of womanising, ‘scandalous’ Prussians and a personal health problem synonymous with the French writer, it’s not difficult who to fully accredit authorship of this one to. This is not a bad story by any means from Maupassant but neither is it one that stands above any of his other literary creations. That said there is a real triumph in Bed 29, and that triumph is in the character, Captain Epivent. This officer of the Hussars has not only been incredibly well ‘painted’ by Maupassant, but he is also superbly utilised as a ‘vehicle’ for moral education.
Notable Quote: When women passed him, they gave a slight movement of the head which was very droll, a sort of maidenly quiver, as though they had come over all weak or felt undressed before him. They lowered their eyes with just the shadow of a smile on their lips, wishing to be thought charming and to receive a glance from him. When he walked with a comrade, the comrade never failed to mutter enviously every time he witnessed the usual goings on: ‘Old Epivent’s got the luck of the devil!”
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.