Title: A Duel.
Date Read: 10th January 2011
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: On his way to reunite with his family in Switzerland, Parisian merchant M. Dubuis passes through a countryside ravaged and occupied by Prussian forces. Fearful but relieved that the victorious enemy are on the outside, the situation is soon to change for the simple shopkeeper when the train pulls in to a village station.
Afterthoughts: Maupassant continues to voice his hatred of the Franco-Prussian conflict with a story that pits GOOD (an unassuming merchant) versus EVIL (a mighty Prussian officer). Given Maupassant’s patriotism it’s perhaps not difficult to guess where this story may lead, but that makes it no less enjoyable. What does make this story all the more interesting however, is Maupassant’s decision to include a couple of English travellers in the tale, which brings an interesting element of outsider awkwardness. Certainly not one of Maupassant’s best stories to date, but definitely a very readable one.
Notable Quote: Suddenly the train stopped at a little village station, and a Prussian officer jumped up with a great clatter of his sabre on the double footboard of the railway carriage. He was tall, wore a tightfitting uniform, and had whiskers up to his eyes. His red hair seemed to be on fire, and his long mustache, of a paler hue, stuck out on both sides of his face, which it seemed to cut in two.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.