Devouring De Maupassant: Our Letters

Title: Our Letters
Date Read: 11th November 2013
Available Online?: YES.
Briefly: The narrator returns to visit friends and takes up residence in a room that he has never stayed in before. During the night he wakes up with an urge to write letters, and sitting at an old writing desk he soon ‘stumbles’ across a secret drawer which contains a pile of hidden correspondence.
Afterthoughts: Given that I’m still buzzing with a desire to engage in more letter writing, I thought that this looked like the ideal choice of story to pick up. I’m glad I did pick it up because although Our Letters is largely devoid of plot, it’s enjoyable and makes for essential reading.

The crux of the story revolves around the contents of two letters sent between long forgotten lovers. And it is what is written within these letters, that is both profound and keenly observed.

I’ve found that Maupassant will more often than not present a straightforward and entertaining narrative to explore some area of the human condition, but sometimes he’ll just hone in and touch on one aspect in microscopic detail. He does so in this tale, offering a glimpse into the cunning and pin sharp intelligence of women, while ruminating on the pointless desire that husbands seem to arbour for seeking revenge against infidelity. It’s a story well worth reading, if only to feast on some of the finest sentences that Maupassant has put together (even in clunky translation).
Notable Quote: “At about five o’clock I arrived at the estate of Abelle, which belongs to my friends, the Murets d’Artus, to spend three weeks there. It is a pretty house, built by one of their grandfathers in the style of the latter half of the last century. Therefore it has that intimate character of dwellings that have always been inhabited, furnished and enlivened by the same people. Nothing changes; nothing alters the soul of the dwelling, from which the furniture has never been taken out, the tapestries never unnailed, thus becoming worn out, faded, discolored, on the same walls. None of the old furniture leaves the place; only from time to time it is moved a little to make room for a new piece, which enters there like a new-born infant in the midst of brothers and sisters.”

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).