Title: Beside Schopenhauer’s Corpse
Date Read: 19th September 2011
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: Intrigued by another man’s reading habits, the narrator sets about befriending a sick German guest who is staying at the same hotel as him. He soon discovers what the German man has been reading, and as a bonus his fellow guest relates a story about the book’s author.
Afterthoughts: This is perhaps the oddest tale I’ve read from Maupassant, not because it has a bizarre storyline or any kind of ambiguous ending, but because it focuses rather oddly on the pessimistic German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. I say ‘oddly’ because the story doesn’t really have any reason or benefit from having Schopenhauer as a primary character (as you’ll find out for yourself if you read it). The only reason I can think of for Maupassant including Schopenhauer is this story, is simply because he wanted to have a pop at him (and he certainly does have pop, that much is evident in the notable quote below). Putting this little oddity aside, this is still an entertaining and well written story, which is worth reading for its humourous ending.
Notable Quote: A disabused pleasure-seeker, he [Schopenhauer] overthrew beliefs, hopes, poetic ideals and chimeras, destroyed the aspirations, ravaged the confidence of souls, killed love, dragged down the chivalrous worship of women, crushed the illusions of hearts, and accomplished the most gigantic task ever attempted by scepticism. He spared nothing with his mocking spirit, and exhausted everything. And even to-day those who execrate him seem to carry in their own souls particles of his thought.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.