Was It A Dream by Guy de Maupassant
I stumbled upon this story in an anthology of what was supposed to be scary stories. Even at seventeen my threshold for scary was high. I expected a lot. I still do. Even though Was It A Dream didn’t meet my “scary” expectation but it sent me on a search for all things Guy de Maupassant. I have nothing but admiration for Maupassant’s short stories. No one else comes close to entertaining me the way he does.
His stories have an equal balance of simplicity and complexity. All of his short stories (there are are around 300) have a twist to the end of them that he is famous for. It’s almost as if he’s saying “I provided you will all the evidence. If you didn’t catch on you only have yourself to blame.”
Was It A Dream is about a madman who obsessively loves a woman. She becomes ill and dies and he is left to wrestle with the loss of his love. It consumes him. Eventually he finds himself at her grave. That is where the story gets interesting. The narrator of the story witnesses some very strange things. I don’t want to give it away so you’ll have to read the story for yourself. You can read it here. My favorite thing about this story is the narrators decent into madness. We actually get to watch it.
Maupassant is, even to this day, known for employing psychology in his work. He was fascinated with it and it’s why I’m fascinated with him. He liked to throw his audience and twist his endings. He lowers the curtain at the end of the story and shows you the clockwork moving. It’s beautiful.
The next time you are looking for a short story to read, consider Guy de Maupassant and his wonderful stories. You can get most of them for free from The Literature Network, Amazon, B&N or Project Gutenburg. Guy de Maupassant is the father of the modern short story and he inspired great authors like O. Henry so don’t be afraid. You’ll be as obsessed as I am in no time.
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