I was having a nose around on my local library’s catalogue the other day just to see if they had any more Maupassant collections that I’d missed when I came across this title, 88 Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant. There was little additional information other than it was published in 1950 and that it was part of the library’s reserve stock. So, I took it out just to see what it contained. I was expecting it to consist of the translations that are available on Project Gutenberg (PG) but was surprised to see that they were different translations by Ernest Boyd and Storm Jameson. I’m assuming that they were translated specifically for this edition but it is possible that they were earlier translations as the book states: ‘First published in this edition 1950’. Does that imply that there were earlier editions?
I’ve had a quick look at some of the stories and I’m pleased to see that there are many stories that are not included in the PG collection titled The Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories. This may seem odd but the situation is this; there are 311 stories in the French collected edition, there are only 181 in the ‘Entire’ PG collection and there is also the problem that there are an additional 65 fake Maupassant stories that often get included in older English and American collections. As far as I can tell there don’t appear to be any of the ‘fakes’ in the ’88 Stories’ collection and some of those that are newly available (to me at least) are the 80 page story, Yvette, Our Friends the English, The Odyssey of a Prostitute, Old Boniface’s Crime and more. Now, it’s true that there are other collections available such as the eight-volume set, also on Project Gutenberg, called The Works of Guy de Maupassant and the Delphi Complete Works of Guy de Maupassant but they seem to be collections of the Victorian translations and the ‘dodgy’ St. Dunstan Society collections whence the ‘fakes’ originated. For example, the Delphi version claims to have ‘288 short stories – the largest collection of Maupassant’s short stories available in English’….but I’ve had a quick look at that collection and it contains quite a lot, and possibly all, of the ‘fakes’. If it does have all of the ‘fakes’ then it can only really claim to have 223 Maupassant stories which are probably the combined versions from those available on PG. As I delve further into these translations I will hope to clarify the situation.
I was so pleased with the ’88 Stories’ book that I looked on the internet to see if I could buy a copy, when I discovered that there was a second volume called 88 More Stories by Guy de Maupassant also published in 1950 by Cassell & Co. Ltd. Well, I had to get both volumes didn’t I? After an intial scan through the second volume it doesn’t look as if it will have as many of the ‘new’ translations as the first book but it does have a lot of the stories that are only available in the PG collections. As a collection, it actually contains a lot more of the more popular stories such as The Horla, Boule de Suif, Madame Tellier’s Establishment etc. Both books should help me in my quest to read the most recent translations as possible, ultimately I’d like to be able to avoid the older Victorian ones entirely. The only down side of these ’88’ books is that the translation does, at times, seem just as stuffy as the older ones. Take, for example, the opening sentences of the story Allouma and see which you prefer:
A friend had told me that if, during my travels in Algeria, I happened to be near Bordj-Ebbaba, I was to be sure to visit his old friend Auballe, who had settled down there.
These names had passed from my mind, and the settler was far from my thoughts, when by pure chance I came across him.
For a month I had been roaming afoot over that magnificent country which stretches from Algiers to Cherchell, Orleansville and Tiaret.
One of my friends had said to me: —
“If you happen to be near Bordj-Ebbaba while you are in Algeria, be sure and go to see my old friend Auballe, who has settled there.”
I had forgotten the name of Auballe and of Ebbaba, and I was not thinking of this planter, when I arrived at his house by pure accident. For a month, I had been wandering on foot through that magnificent district which extends from Algiers to Cherchell, Orleansville, and Tiaret.
For me, the second from the Delphi Works collection, is far better than the first which is from the ’88 Short Stories’ book. The ‘roaming afoot’ is particularly annoying. So, only time will tell if these books will be as beneficial as they appear to be at the moment.
I am currently trying to match and cross-reference all these different translations to the original French versions on the Story Details page on this blog. I’ve still got to look at the ‘Works’ collection and now have these ’88’ collections as well. The only problem is lack of time, but I’m hoping to complete it over the next few months. At the end it would be nice if we could identify a translation of every story by Maupassant.
This is cross-posted on my blog Intermittencies of the Mind.