“Let him who loves me follow me.” Femme Fatale, a collection of 4 very short stories by Guy de Maupassant

I am still thinking of the first story in this Penguin Little Black Classic which I read last night. It’s title is Cockcrow, and it is deceptively simple.

Consider this line regarding Madame d’Avancelles’ husband:

It was rumoured that they lived separate lives on account of a physical shortcoming of his which Madame could not overlook. He was a fat little man with short arms, short legs, a short neck, short nose, short everything in fact.

Everything? Oh, really. Is that why she entertains the advances of her admirer Baron Joseph de Croissard to which her husband has turned a blind eye? They cavort and tease each other all autumn long, at receptions and finally at a great hunting party.

After the baron has shown himself to be the man she has requested him to be by killing the wild boar himself, it seems that his desires will be fulfilled that night.

He scratches at her door after the chateau has fallen asleep, and upon gaining admittance is told to wait upon her bed. Which he does, until he succumbs to sleep. And in the morning, he wakens to the sound of the cock’s crow, startling him out of his slumber.

Madame d’Avancelles, who has laid awake beside him all night, tells him to, “Go back to sleep, Monsieur, it’s nothing to do with you.”

Is this mockery? For surely this uneventful night had much to do with him. Or, perhaps she is referring to her own self, seeing that she might not be worth waiting up for.

I do not have a clear answer, but I do have persistent thoughts continuously returning to this simple story which is only 6 pages long, yet full of so much intrigue.

There are three more stories within this slight volume. I eagerly begin the next right now.

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13 thoughts on ““Let him who loves me follow me.” Femme Fatale, a collection of 4 very short stories by Guy de Maupassant”

    1. Yes! A weird erotic charge indeed! There is a line about the scent of the woman which I will have to look up when I have access to my book (it’s at home right now, and I’m away from it) which pinpoints exactly to what you refer. I also find him somewhat surreal, and as Tom later confirms, cynical as well.

      I will add the line I’m thinking of when I can this evening.

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  1. Yes, mockery. The ardent Baron turns out to be as big a dud as the husband. The Baron should be the one crowing, but he spent his energies elsewhere. You’ll note that he does crow, symbolically, when the boar is killed.

    I would suggest that Maupassant does not verge on the cynical but is openly, deeply cynical.

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    1. So glad to hear from you, Tom! Your memory of Guy de Maupassant’s writing, stories, is remarkable. I wonder if I would remember such detail three months from now.

      Always you point out something interesting, such as the symbolic crow from the Baron, especially when the boar is killed. Fascinating.

      And, I’m glad for the confirmation about Maupassant’s cynicism. Sometimes, I wish we could all be in the same room together speaking of a novel around a coffee. Or, tea.

      Hope all is well with you in France. xo

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        1. It’s been a long time since I read anything in French; hard to believe I once read, and wrote about Candide, in French. Le Petit Prince was much easier.

          So glad I served as an inspiration to you today. How I would love to be in the Lyon bibliotheque.

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