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The Classic Short Story, 1870-1925

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Florence Goyet

Part II: Media

7. Short Stories and the Travelogue

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  • 1 For example James’s first published items were chronicles of a journey within the United States. T (...)

1At the beginning of their careers, Henry James and Guy de Maupassant wrote as many travelogues as they did short stories. The travelogue — by which I mean a “factual” article describing a journey to a foreign place — became another important item in the newspapers of the late nineteenth century. We shall see in this chapter that short stories of that time shared many characteristics with the travelogue, and that this had a direct and important bearing on the short story as a genre. Authors in general — and these two authors in particular — very often wrote travelogues and short stories at the same time, and set them in the same countries. They also sometimes published them both in the same periodicals.1 In the stories as in the travelogues, the characterisation of the foreign world emphasised the differences with the readers’ world.

2Characteristically the writer of a travelogue plays the role of intermediary. He belongs to the same world as the reader, and, during his stays abroad, he gathers knowledge and impressions of a foreign country that he will share with them. The important point is that he perceives the foreigner with the eye of his own civilization; ideally he is an “expert” of that country, but one who never forgets his origins. In this way, he can describe the foreigner in terms that the people at home understand. Almost always this involved the author adopting a sharply critical and, as we shall see, superior tone.

  • 2 Louis Forestier draws many such parallels between Maupassant’s travelogues and short stories. See (...)
  • 3 Guy de Maupassant, Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant, trans. by Artine Artinian (Garden (...)
  • 4 Pléiade, II, pp. 1261-70.

3For both authors — Maupassant and James — there is a striking continuity between their travelogues and short stories: in the tales set in exotic countries we shall find descriptions, judgements and explanations that would not be out of place in the corresponding travelogues. We can also find identical sentences in both the “factual” chronicle and the short story.2 Sometimes a text begins as a travelogue and then goes on to narrate a story: in Maupassant’s Un bandit corse (The Corsican Bandit), for instance, the initial descriptions are like a travelogue, and then the transition is made with the request, “‘Tell me about your bandits’”, which introduces the anecdote.3 The exact nature of the text is not always clear, something which has proved difficult for editors. Louis Forestier, for example, included in the body of his edition of Maupassant’s short stories many texts that verged on the travelogue, but then relegates to his appendix one text which has all the characteristics of a short story even though it describes effusively the nature of Switzerland.4 This story is in the form of a letter written by the author to someone staying in Paris — a classic device of the travelogue — in which descriptions of the countryside and the customs are presented as if the author were writing familiarly to the reader.

Praise of nature, criticism of culture

  • 5 There are many well-known texts on exoticism, for example, Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: (...)

4The essential feature of travelogues and the corresponding short stories is something we also find in the genre of the “exotic novel”: the foreign landscape is seen as delightfully picturesque and praised unreservedly, while its inhabitants, their customs and their institutions are shown as strange, bizarre and inferior.5 The narrators of short stories are almost invariably dazzled by the astonishing beauty of a foreign land. Whether it is James striding through the Old World, or Maupassant passing through North Africa, the discovery of a different landscape is at times breath-taking: tourist attractions in Italy, the gorges of Chabet, or the Algerian coast, all give rise to long emotional outpourings.

5James, for example, presented the spectacle of America to the British readers of the London magazine Cornhill. His description of Broadway in An International Episode begins with these words:

  • 6 Henry James, The Complete Tales of Henry James, ed. by Leon Edel, 12 vols (New York: Rupert Hart D (...)

Nothing could well resemble less a typical English street than the interminable avenue, rich in incongruities, through which our two travelers advanced — looking out on each side of them at the comfortable animation of the sidewalks, the high-coloured heterogeneous architecture, the huge white marble facades, glittering in the strong, crude light and bedizened with gilded lettering, the multifarious awnings, banners and streamers, the extraordinary number of omnibuses, horse-cars and other democratic vehicles […] the white trousers and big straw-hats of the policemen.6

  • 7 Ibid, p. 244.

6We have here a long list of things that might astonish two Englishmen on landing in America, and James, as a good chronicler, does not forget a single “picturesque” element: the enormity of everything (“huge”, “heterogeneous”, “extraordinary number”), the white trousers of the policemen, the “democratic” transportation. He emphasises the confusion of the English, and their conviction that it must be impossible to find a bath in such a country. And then “they found that a bath was not unattainable, and were indeed struck with the facilities for prolonged and reiterated immersion with which their apartment was supplied”.7 What is clear in each of these cases is the desire to make a different reality visible: to be the cicerone for readers to whom one explains an unfamiliar reality, often in enthusiastic terms.

  • 8 The exceptions are not very convincing. Maupassant’s comment in Allouma is typical in its facile m (...)
  • 9 Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, The Oxford Chekhov, trans. and ed. by Ronald Hingley, 9 vols (London: Oxf (...)

7But when it comes to describing the people, or their way of life, the tone is dramatically different. From the moment that the topic is no longer the landscape, judgements in both the short story and the travelogue are almost always in favour of the readers’ country.8 Anton Chekhov’s V ssylke (In Exile), discussed in the previous chapter, is an obvious example: the very aim of the story was to bring the public’s attention to the horrors of a world where there is neither hope nor values.9 Nature is depicted as extraordinary: not as breathtakingly beautiful, as it is in James’s or Maupassant’s chronicles, but as unfathomably harsh, a country where, at Easter, the earth is still solidly frozen, where rivers are disastrously swollen. Of course, in this terrible world, where the customs are as horrifying as the living conditions, there is no common ground with the world of the readers of the expensive Vsemirnaya illustratsiya.

  • 10 Edel, II, p. 178.

8James also emphasised the moral superiority of his own country and the disagreeableness of some foreign customs. Despite the emotion roused by the beauty of Europe, institutions and customs compare unfavourably to those of America. The status of women is the source of an entire series of comparative commentaries. Travelling Companions explicitly states the difference between the Old and the New World when it comes to gender roles. The narrator is an American raised in Germany who is traveling through Italy. He is, of course, enthusiastic about the beauties of Milan. But he meets there an American girl, and he is just as thrilled by the discovery of a more liberated femininity in his own far-away home country that he has grown up barely knowing. He bows to the moral superiority of his original nation: “there was a different quality of womanhood from any that I had recently known; a keenness, a maturity, a conscience , which deeply stirred my curiosity”.10

  • 11 Edel, II, pp. 307-40.
  • 12 Ibid, p. 327. Then, when the narrator suggests returning with her to Switzerland to help her join (...)

9Similarly, At Isella, also written for an American readership, is on first glance a celebration of Italy’s irresistible attractions for the young American narrator.11 At the first inn after the border, the American meets a young marchesina who is running away from her husband to join the man she loves in Geneva. She is the embodiment of the concept of “the Italian woman”: rich complexion and sombre eyes, consuming passion and nobility. James makes this representation of a national type explicit: “The Signora seemed to me an incorporate image of her native land”.12 Yet the young marchesina discovers the freedom of American women, and this becomes a subject of astonishment and reflection that takes a good deal of our attention in a supposedly “European” tale:

  • 13 Ibid, p. 330.

‘What is said in your country of a woman who travels alone at night without even a servant?’
‘Nothing is said. It’s very common.’
‘Ah! women must be very happy there, or very unhappy. Is it never supposed of a woman that she has a lover? That is worst of all.’
‘Fewer things are “supposed” of women there than here. They live more in the broad daylight of life. They make their own law’.13

10The author’s comparison between European and American customs leaves no room for doubt: America is the advanced country, the country with the moral ingenuity and maturity to allow women equal freedom.

  • 14 Henry James, The Notebooks of Henry James, ed. by F. O. Matthiessen and Kenneth B. Murdock (New Yo (...)
  • 15 At the end of his life, James no longer understood why he made it an “international” story but in (...)

11James’s characterisation of foreigners as inferior is not always portrayed as an explicit comparison: very often, his “portraits” speak for themselves. His stories include a whole gallery of strange and “unacceptable” foreign characters. The Italians are ingratiating and ready to profit from the generosity of passing Americans (Giovanelli in Daisy Miller; the archaeologist in The Last of the Valerii). The French are without conscience: in Madame de Mauves, Monsieur de Mauves is the nobleman absorbed in his own high birth and debauched like the unscrupulous aristocrats in The American. Théodolinde is based entirely on the idea that Parisians are void of any moral sense, and that their example can corrupt even an American. In the preface to the New York edition of A London Life, James regrets having made his morally bankrupt heroine an American when, on reflection in his later life, he now sees her depravity as typical of an English woman of the Prince of Wales “set”.14 But the young adulteress, while certainly of American origin, is nevertheless living in London and driven “into the mire” by an English husband, who is presented as a sort of monster. An oxymoronic tension results from the opposition of customs: the story is told from the sister’s point of view, who has just arrived from America, and cannot bear the sight of these European excesses.15

  • 16 Artinian, pp. 1249-63 (Pléiade, II, pp. 1095-1117).

12Perhaps it is Maupassant, though, who provides the most interesting perspective on the subject of “foreignness”. Allouma explicitly develops the world vision that underlies all these short stories.16 The central device here is to have the story told by a colonial, M. Auballe. His long familiarity with the Arabian world and his happiness to be living in the region give the narrator and the reader confidence in him. He presents himself as having knowledge of Algeria and he provides his public with descriptions to help them understand — the framework is the same as in a travelogue. What is remarkable is that the speech in which he poses as “the person with knowledge” is a sharp and definitive judgement of the people of that country, as he develops the stereotype of the “lying Arab”:

  • 17 Ibid, p. 1254 (p. 1103).

The habit of lying is one of the most surprising and incomprehensible features of the native character. These people […] are liars to the backbone, to such an extent that one can never believe what they say. Do they owe it to their religion? I cannot say. One must have lived among them to understand to what a degree falsehood forms a part of their whole existence and becomes a kind of second nature, a necessity of life.17

  • 18 Ibid, p. 1255 (p. 1104).
  • 19 Ibid, p. 1255 (p. 1105).

13This very same narrator makes clear that the French can never truly understand the Arabs, but this does not prevent him, in the same sentence, from characterising them in six adjectives: unknown, mysterious, sly, untrustworthy, smiling and impenetrable.18 He continues his stereotype of the Arab with categorical judgements: “An Arab, where women are concerned, has the most rigorous standards coupled with the most inexplicable tolerance”.19 He then describes his paradoxical love of the girl Allouma as being impossible because of her race:

  • 20 Ibid, p. 1256 (p. 1107).

[…] one does not love the young women of this primitive continent […] They are too primitive, their feelings are insufficiently refined to arouse in our souls that sentimental exaltation which is the poetry of love.20

  • 21 See Forestier’s comparisons (Pléiade, II, p. 1680).
  • 22 To his fictive addressee of the story Marocca, Maupassant had indeed promised amusing love stories (...)
  • 23 “She was a wonderful, a delightful animal, but no more, in the form of a woman”. Artinian, p. 1261 (...)

14Maupassant had expressed almost the same opinion in the same terms in one of his travelogues, The Wandering Life.21 His decision in Allouma to have what could be regarded as highly biased opinions about Algeria “endorsed” by a character presented as an expert, with the self-assured tone of a guide, makes the judgement final. Foreign men are mostly demonised in Maupassant’s “African” short stories, whereas women, like nature, are seen as exotically beautiful, if still backwards and morally questionable. He often talks about love with native women, following a well-worn topos of exotic literature:22 the women are depicted as being all the more beautiful for being some sort of wild animal.23 In effect, the praise of the women’s beauty must always be linked with that of nature; and the desirable if animalistic allure of their bodies is set in contrast to their negative behaviour. In Allouma the narrator’s lover is described in terms that are the hallmark of the exotic sublime:

  • 24 Ibid, pp. 1251-53 (p. 1101).

Her white body, gleaming in the light admitted through the raised flap, seemed to me to be one of the most perfect specimens I had ever seen […] She had an unusual face: with regular, refined features with a slightly animal expression, but mystical like that of a Buddha”.24

15Does this mixture of bestial imagery and mysticism define a beauty that is “equal” to that of the French? Not at all. What follows does not elaborate on this feature of “local colour” (a Buddha in Africa!) but goes on to emphasise only the absence of thought in the native woman:

  • 25 Ibid, p. 1256 (p. 1107).

I told you a little while ago that Africa, this bare artless country [sic], devoid of all intellectual attraction, gradually overcomes us by an indefinable and unfailing charm, by the breath of its atmosphere, by the constant mildness of the early mornings and the evenings, by its delightful sunlight and by the feeling of well-being that it instills in us. Well, Allouma attracted me in the same way by numberless hidden and fascinating enticements.25

  • 26 Ibid (emphasis mine).

16Maupassant then provides the key to Allouma’s character by defining her as the ultimate “other”: “this creature of another race, who seemed to me to be almost of another species, born on a neighboring planet”.26

  • 27 Ibid, p. 1260 (p. 1113).
  • 28 Ibid, p. 1254 (p. 1103).
  • 29 The shepherd is described paroxystically as the antithesis of the Occidental “upright” man; he is (...)

17The end of Allouma is especially interesting: Maupassant manages the transition from pure exoticism — the setting of the Algerian desert — to social exoticism. Allouma occasionally leaves her white lover to return to live for a while among the nomads. The Frenchman, bound to her by powerful carnal ties, gives permission for these absences — but he does not understand them. He sees them as an imperious necessity for his mistress, and he is even touched by the woman’s words: “She pictured this to me so simply, so forcibly and so reasonably that I was convinced of the truth of it, and feeling sorry for her”.27 The important point is that he does not see her reasons as reasons, the product of a brain like his own. He sees them as childish, animal-like caprices. Every time he speaks of her spirit, he recognises in it “a picture of nomadic life from the brain of a squirrel leaping from tent to tent”.28 The final departure of the young Arab woman with a paroxystically “repugnant” shepherd leads to a meditation on women in general, those of France, the “finest and most complicated”, as well as the “creatures” of the desert.29 All of them seem strangers and strange to the colonial man:

  • 30 Ibid.

Why had she disappeared with that repulsive brute? Why, indeed? It may have been because for practically a whole month the wind had been blowing from the South. A breath of wind! That was reason enough! Did she know, do any of them, even the most introspective of them, know in most cases why they do certain things? No more than a weathercock swinging in the wind. The slightest breeze sways the light vane of copper, iron, or wood, in the same way that some imperceptible influence, some fleeting impression, stirs and guides the fickle fancy of a woman, whether she be from town or country, from a suburb or from the desert.30

  • 31 See for example Pléiade, II, p. 1684 (Forestier’s note to Le Rendez-vous).
  • 32 On this topic, see Part III, especially Chapter Eight.
  • 33 On the magazine Écho de Paris, see Pierre Albert and Christine Leteinturier, La Presse française ( (...)

18There has been an attempt to give a little nobility to this type of judgement by calling it a “meditation on the changing heart of women”.31 It is important, however, to note that the two essential features of this concept of feminine character — foreign and unacceptable — are developed through the many comparisons to animals.32 This type of discourse is perfectly in tune with what was generally written about women in the “light and somewhat licentious” newspaper that the Echo de Paris was at that time.33

  • 34 Scofield says of Bret Harte: “Perhaps part of the novelty was the treatment of this rough new worl (...)

19It would be easy to be malicious about Maupassant’s misogyny and racial stereotypes. This is not my intention here. On the contrary, what is important to note is that, in spite of this, Maupassant is one of the great short story writers, for whom love and women are a privileged subject. The short story permits this use of simple and simplistic concepts, and it can build on dismissive character types that would be unacceptable elsewhere; it uses them when the great novel could not. What would be quite unbearable in another context has not prevented him from being appreciated by generations of readers, including women. We are facing a crucial feature of the genre, which can make powerful use of extremely simple, and at times almost base, features. In these short stories, as in travelogues, the narrator is a guide who is “one of us”, an intermediary who speaks the same language and possesses a knowledge that he bestows on us.34 But this knowledge does not allow the reader to understand from within the logic of the world the narrator is describing. The reader can taste all the sensual joys of African life and the countryside, but he or she cannot enter into the inhabitants’ vision of the world.

From vision to judgement: guidelines for description

  • 35 Artinian, p. 538 (Pléiade, II, p. 1253).
  • 36 The quote is from The Dancing Girl (Maihime). See Mori Ōgai, Youth and Other Stories, ed. and tran (...)

20As we have seen, the classic short story usually depicts worlds that are socially or culturally unfamiliar. We might expect, therefore, to find an abundance of descriptions whose aim would be to inform us, to teach us the characteristics of the unknown object. But such descriptions are extremely rare. There are a few examples, as in Maupassant’s Le Colporteur (The Peddler): “As he approached I saw he was a hawker, one of those wandering peddlers who sell from door to door throughout the countryside”;35 or as in Mori Ōgai, when he describes Berlin for his Japanese compatriots: “It was one of those rooms called ‘garrets’ which overhang the street and have no ceiling”.36

21However, among the hundreds of short stories I have studied, there are only a few instances of these potentially useful explanations. Instead, there is an abundance of descriptions that develop all the details of objects already known which create a distance between the reader and the subject. As we saw in Part I, it is a question of beginning with a pre-existing idea and developing this “type” in ways that do not necessarily challenge it. It is not — as in the case of the peddler or the garret — to teach the reader something he or she knows nothing about, but rather to replace an abstract concept with a vivid concrete image.

22In the classic short story we may learn in detail about the life of Sicilian peasants and wandering comedians (Verga’s collection Don Candeloro e Ci [Don Candeloro and Company]), how one chops down an entire wood (Maupassant’s La petite Roque [Little Louise Roque]), the nature of a vendetta (Maupassant’s Un bandit corse [The Corsican Bandit]), life aboard a trawler (Maupassant’s En mer [At Sea]), or the life of brigands in the Middle Ages (Akutagawa’s Chūtō [The Brigands]). What these stories give us are the precise, picturesque and moving details of the scene. However, they do not change the abstract conception we already had of it. We were well aware that the life of itinerant traveling comedians is an inextricable mixture of grandeur and poverty. The short story is based on what is already known. It may take its time to detail the contours, and give life to a scene, but it can do this precisely because it does not need to create the essential concepts from scratch.

  • 37 The quote is from The Mother of Monsters in Artinian, pp. 378-81 (p. 379); La Mère aux monstres in (...)

23The problem is that these are not pure concepts in the reader’s mind — they come with connotations and values. When one relies on the reader’s knowledge of the objects, what is evoked is his preconception of them: the “atmosphere” surrounding them, the value judgements with which they are imbued. Descriptions in short stories are usually a “point of view” rather than an explanatory analysis. Thus Maupassant describes the peasant woman from Normandy explicitly as an archetype: “the true type of robust peasantry, half animal and half woman”.37

  • 38 Guy de Maupassant, Pierre and Jean: And Other Stories (New York: French Library Syndicate, 1925), (...)

24These descriptions remind us of the approach taken by Gustave Flaubert in his famous “lesson of description”. He gave Maupassant the exercise of describing a taxicab from the point of view of what is absolutely unique about it, in such a way that it “differs from fifty others before or behind it”.38 This is generally thought to have endowed Maupassant with evocative power of the kind that is evident in the classic short story in, for example, its particularly effective use of hypotyposis that we saw in Part I. But such an approach presupposes that the reader knows what a cab is, and has the same notion of it from the outset. To separate out the individuality of a particular specimen presupposes a notion of the cab that is common to the author and all readers. However precisely, violently or sharply the cab is described as being different from others, this description is based on a generic notion, to which its individuality is only secondary. The reader will never learn from Maupassant what a taxicab is.

  • 39 Ibid.
  • 40 We remember with somewhat of a shudder the vision given by a Jean Richepin of different social cla (...)
  • 41 See Helmut Bonheim, The Narrative Modes: Techniques of the Short Story (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1 (...)

25We should remember that Flaubert first asked Maupassant not to describe an object, but “a grocer sitting in his doorway, a porter smoking his pipe”.39 Which means that, for people as well as taxicabs, he was relying on what was generally evoked in the mind of the nineteenth-century reader: in this case, a strong feeling of the pettiness of the petit-bourgeois.40 By relying on the reader’s own concepts and immediately proceeding to the highly coloured descriptions of the details, the writer never raises questions about the underlying foundation of his scenes and characters. One cannot question what has never been stated, but only presupposed. The description recommended by Flaubert, and used so well by short story writers, gives the story’s archetypes “life”. Very logically in this context, one of the most common remarks of admiring readers is that “finally, this is a portrait that’s true to life!”. One vividly “sees” Maupassant’s comical peasants in their rustic farmhouse. But these images are, in fact, something that has always been there.41

  • 42 The same dichotomy is found in the exotic genre par excellence: the colonial novel, which is not k (...)
  • 43 There are a couple of exceptions: Maupassant’s beauteous descriptions of the farmyards of Normandy (...)
  • 44 Chinua Achebe, Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (New York: Doubleday, 1989), p. 3. Heart of (...)

26The prejudice that enters these archetypical descriptions is reserved for the human rather than the natural realm.42 There are many moving descriptions of the countryside, but never praise for the houses or familiar objects.43 Nature does not offer any real challenge, it does not call into question our values, because it does not bear the human mark. Admiration of foreign nature is an easy way to praise oneself for one’s curiosity and tolerance. It does not involve absorbing what is different from us. Together with travelogues, short stories indicate and explicitly emphasise the difference separating “us” and “them”, through descriptions and judgements of exotic people and customs. The result of this type of presentation of the world is always the same: it gives both the author and the reader a feeling of agreeable superiority over those who are different from them. To use Chinua Achebe’s words about Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: the short story “projects the image of Africa [we could add: of Norman peasants or petty office workers] as ‘the other world’, the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization”.44

Notes

1 For example James’s first published items were chronicles of a journey within the United States. Then he went to Europe and returned with his first short stories. From then on, and for several years, he published alternately and sometimes for the same periodical, travelogues and short stories in which the action takes place in the same country. In the case of Maupassant, there is a series of short stories set in North Africa, Afrique (The Africans), Au soleil (In the Sun), La Vie errante (The Life of Wandering) and several texts about the south of France and Corsica, published together with travelogues about the same places. Chekhov’s scientific description of a Sakhalin penal colony was in the same way accompanied by the story V Ssylke (In Exile) published after his trip to Sakhalin.

2 Louis Forestier draws many such parallels between Maupassant’s travelogues and short stories. See the notes in his edition of Guy de Maupassant, Contes et nouvelles, ed. by Louis Forestier, 2 vols (Paris: Gallimard, collection La Pléiade, 1974), II, for example pp. 1673 and 1680 (hereafter Pléiade).

3 Guy de Maupassant, Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant, trans. by Artine Artinian (Garden City, NY: Hanover House, 1955), pp. 902-04 (p. 903, hereafter Artinian). The French text can be found in Pléiade, I, pp. 436-39. Hereafter, the references are given first to the translation, then to the original text.

4 Pléiade, II, pp. 1261-70.

5 There are many well-known texts on exoticism, for example, Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 2004); and Albert Wendt, Introduction to Nuanua: Pacific Writing in English Since 1980 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995), ed. by Albert Wendt, pp. i-ix. For a study focussed specifically on the short story, see Catherine Ramsdell, “Homi K. Bhabha and the Postcolonial Short Story”, in Postmodern Approaches to the Short Story, ed. by Farhat Iftekharrudin, Joseph Boyden, Joseph Longo and Mary Rohrberger (Westport, CN: Praeger, 2003), pp. 97-106.

6 Henry James, The Complete Tales of Henry James, ed. by Leon Edel, 12 vols (New York: Rupert Hart Davis, 1960), IV, pp. 243 (hereafter Edel).

7 Ibid, p. 244.

8 The exceptions are not very convincing. Maupassant’s comment in Allouma is typical in its facile misanthropy. The author finds himself in the middle of the desert and feels like a different man, better for not participating in the mediocre life of his fellow Parisians: “how far I was from everything and everybody connected with a town-dweller’s life”. Artinian, p. 1250 (Pléiade, II, 1096). The story consists of raptures over the “purity” and the “naturalness” of the wilderness, but without really threatening the character’s deep attachments to home. We will return to this story in Part III.

9 Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, The Oxford Chekhov, trans. and ed. by Ronald Hingley, 9 vols (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), VI, pp. 89-96. The Russian text can be found in Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 30 vols (Moscow: Nauka, 1974-1983), VIII, pp. 42-50. Nature is described in the same way as before, although this time the style is horror; Chekhov insists that nature in Siberia is profoundly different from that familiar to the Russian reader.

10 Edel, II, p. 178.

11 Edel, II, pp. 307-40.

12 Ibid, p. 327. Then, when the narrator suggests returning with her to Switzerland to help her join her friend, he says: “‘To go with you […] will be to remain in Italy, I assure you’”. Ibid, p. 332.

13 Ibid, p. 330.

14 Henry James, The Notebooks of Henry James, ed. by F. O. Matthiessen and Kenneth B. Murdock (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), p. 38.

15 At the end of his life, James no longer understood why he made it an “international” story but in this context, things become clear: at this stage of his career, he used American characters in sharp contrast to Europeans, to heighten the latter’s depravity and then again, by contrast, to enhance the moral superiority of the Americans. The great novels, however, brought about an evolution: this kind of caricature is not to be found after What Maisie Knew (1897).

16 Artinian, pp. 1249-63 (Pléiade, II, pp. 1095-1117).

17 Ibid, p. 1254 (p. 1103).

18 Ibid, p. 1255 (p. 1104).

19 Ibid, p. 1255 (p. 1105).

20 Ibid, p. 1256 (p. 1107).

21 See Forestier’s comparisons (Pléiade, II, p. 1680).

22 To his fictive addressee of the story Marocca, Maupassant had indeed promised amusing love stories: “You ask me, dear friend, to send you my impressions of Africa and an account of my adventures, especially of my love affairs in this seductive land. You laughed a great deal beforehand at my dusky sweethearts, as you called them”. Artinian, p. 577 (Pléiade, I, 367). On this topos, see, for example, Frantz Fanon on the hoax Je suis Martiniquaise (1948) in Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 1967), where Fanon criticises the vision of herself that is given by the narrator, and pretended author, a young mulatresse.

23 “She was a wonderful, a delightful animal, but no more, in the form of a woman”. Artinian, p. 1261 (Pléiade, II, p. 1114).

24 Ibid, pp. 1251-53 (p. 1101).

25 Ibid, p. 1256 (p. 1107).

26 Ibid (emphasis mine).

27 Ibid, p. 1260 (p. 1113).

28 Ibid, p. 1254 (p. 1103).

29 The shepherd is described paroxystically as the antithesis of the Occidental “upright” man; he is a “repulsive brute”. Ibid, p. 1262 (p. 1116).

30 Ibid.

31 See for example Pléiade, II, p. 1684 (Forestier’s note to Le Rendez-vous).

32 On this topic, see Part III, especially Chapter Eight.

33 On the magazine Écho de Paris, see Pierre Albert and Christine Leteinturier, La Presse française (Paris: Secrétariat général du gouvernement, La Documentation française, 1978).

34 Scofield says of Bret Harte: “Perhaps part of the novelty was the treatment of this rough new world by a writer who was clearly educated and literate […] but who also knew the mining camp world at first hand”, while earlier he speaks of the reading public as being “still predominantly [of the] East Coast”. Martin Scofield, The Cambridge Introduction to the American Short Story (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 54 and 8.

35 Artinian, p. 538 (Pléiade, II, p. 1253).

36 The quote is from The Dancing Girl (Maihime). See Mori Ōgai, Youth and Other Stories, ed. and trans. by J. Thomas Rimer (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994), pp. 12-24; this is our translation, as the phrase in Rimer’s version is translated only as “in a room lit by an open skylight” (p. 16). The Japanese text can be found in Mori Ōgai, Mori Ōgai zenshū, 38 vols (Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten, 1971-1975), I, pp. 425-47 (p. 432). Maihime is often described as “the very first authentic short story [in the western sense of the term] written by a Japanese” (as opposed to the many kinds of short fictional genres, from setsuwa to otogisōshi to gōkan or kokkeibon). J. Thomas Rimer, “Three Stories by Mori Ōgai”, in Approaches to the Modern Japanese Short Story, ed. by Thomas E. Swann and Tsuruta Kin’ya (Tōkyō: Waseda University Press, 1982), pp. 201-09.

37 The quote is from The Mother of Monsters in Artinian, pp. 378-81 (p. 379); La Mère aux monstres in Pléiade, I, pp. 842-47 (p. 843).

38 Guy de Maupassant, Pierre and Jean: And Other Stories (New York: French Library Syndicate, 1925), p. xvi.

39 Ibid.

40 We remember with somewhat of a shudder the vision given by a Jean Richepin of different social classes in Les Assis (The Penpushers), a famous piece that was often reprinted in the newspapers of the time: “Because for the penpushers, there is neither spring, nor breezes, nor butterflies. The only greenery they know is the green of the register covers. And they don’t complain! So is it for us to pity these poor, bleary-eyed, miserable creatures who have no desire to provide their shrivelled lungs with something other than the thick, heavy, confined air stewing with the disgusting, mouldy odour of old volumes, shabby clothes, leather cushions and seats of pants”. Jean Richepin, Le Pavé (Paris: Dreyfous, 1883), pp. 290-91 (translation ours).

41 See Helmut Bonheim, The Narrative Modes: Techniques of the Short Story (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1982).

42 The same dichotomy is found in the exotic genre par excellence: the colonial novel, which is not known for its deep understanding of foreign people.

43 There are a couple of exceptions: Maupassant’s beauteous descriptions of the farmyards of Normandy (although it could be argued that farmyards — with their vineyards, apple trees, poplars and arbours — belong just as much to nature as to humans); and Verga’s Fantasticheria, which is a reverie not a tale, and more especially an indictment of the “worldly” world of the listener through the intermediary of the “simple” life of the peasants. However, even then, the praise of the peasant world is extremely vague: it is about the beauty of place rather than of people.

44 Chinua Achebe, Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (New York: Doubleday, 1989), p. 3. Heart of Darkness is a complex story, in which, as Achebe himself is well aware, the main concern is with the hero Marlow’s own psychological journey. However, it also exhibits much of the same distancing we see in the classic short story. Achebe’s famous lecture of 1977, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” (pp. 1-20), offers analyses of the same type I lead here and many of the quotations about “savages” from Heart of Darkness could be taken from Maupassant’s Allouma.