Afloat (Sur l’eau)


I am alone, really alone, really free. The smoke of the train runs along the seaside; while I float in a winged home that is rocked and cradled; pretty as a bird, tiny as a nest, softer than a hammock, wandering over the waters at the caprice of the wind, independent and free! To attend to me and sail my boat, I have two sailors at my call, and books and provisions for a fortnight.

Afloat is a delightful surprise! De Maupassant kept a diary during a voyage in his yacht, the Bel-Ami. Included are descriptions of some of the places he visited and comments on interesting past visits or histories.

Cornell University Library graciously provided images of Laura Ensor’s translation of Sur l’eau (1888) via Internet Archive. Free Literature converted the page images to text and Afloat is now available free in numerous formats at Project Gutenberg.


4 thoughts on “Afloat (Sur l’eau)

    • You’re welcome, Jonathan. Jim nominated it at the French Literature group and referenced a newish translation by Douglas Parmee. Then Laura found scans for this public domain translation. Unlike most of Zola’s works, the public domain translation should be complete.

      A couple of the historical bits which Maupassant relates are fascinating. There is one part I found rather tedious, but overall, an enjoyable and easy read.

  1. I have been ‘saving’ this one. Not quite sure why I’m saving it but I am. I also should go back and read the Maupassant novels I read in my youth as I’m sure I’d have a different take on them now.

    • Here you were ‘saving’ it and I didn’t even know it existed until several weeks ago! It is the group read for October at French Literature if you would like to join us.

      I know what you mean about a different take on novels read later in life compared to in your youth. I didn’t read any Maupassant back then, but mostly British authors. When I read Jude the Obscure, I loved it. I would have said then that it was my favorite book by Hardy. I read it again a few years ago and couldn’t stand Sue (who I loved the first time around). I got so exasperated with her that it almost ruined the book for me.

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