Title: The Patron
Date Read: 12th April 2010
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: Proud but also very boastful of his position as privy councillor, Monsieur Jean Martin is always more than accommodating in passing on letters of introduction to anyone who may – or may not – ask for them. His open generosity – beneath which lies his true self-gratifying motives – soon marks him for trouble, when he happens upon an old priest sheltering from a torrential downpour in a doorway.
Afterthoughts: Although I rather enjoyed this tale – which was first published in the Parisian literary periodical Gil Blas in 1884 – it didn’t really offer anything all that different from the norm from Maupassant. I was rather hoping that the story was giving a passing nod to some factual event that happened around the time, but after finding a bit of time looking I couldn’t find any reference to anything (of course that is not to say that my research was in any way exhaustive). Rather, we should perhaps then, class this one as a moralistic tale; one which offers a lesson in why one should never be hasty or too eager in demonstrating one’s professional position.
Notable Quote: When the vicomte reached home he walked rapidly up and down his room for some minutes. He was in a state of too great agitation to think connectedly. One idea alone possessed him: a duel. But this idea aroused in him as yet no emotion of any kind. He had done what he was bound to do; he had proved himself to be what he ought to be. He would be talked about, approved, congratulated.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.