Maupassant and Flaubert
Movies from Marlboro Core Course | Spring 2014
Faculty: Boukary Sawadogo
Meeting Times: Monday and Friday, 2:00pm to 3:20pm in Serkin Center/Ragle Hall
Considered one the fathers of the modern short story, Guy de Maupassant shares a number of literary qualities with his mentor Gustave Flaubert. Both men aspired to create meticulous and richly detailed works noted for their truthful characterization, psychological complexity, ironic treatment, and a commitment to what came to be known as literary realism, distinguished for its unvarnished depiction of contemporary life and society and the common man (and woman). Both writers were also seen as expressing a measured pessimism about life, including how romanticism, as exemplified in Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, could lead to unhappy and even tragic results.
In Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean, which we will adapt into a New England seaside film this semester, Maupassant creates a complex psychological study of people in everyday life who face challenges when an unexpected inheritance upends family relationships and triggers questions of legacy, legitimacy, subservience to habit, perception of self and others, the values of the bourgeoisie, and the yielding to illicit passion which was in those times a crime punishable under the law. Maupassant’s use of a seaside setting also figures prominently into his thematic expressions.
Drawing on works by Maupassant and Flaubert, the class will investigate and compare the treatment of gender and morality by both writers, as well as topics including illegitimacy, corruption, adultery, fatalism and flight from the mundane. Consideration will also be given to each writer’s relationship to 19th century realist and naturalist styles.
Assignments will include readings, in-class discussions, and papers.
- Pierre et Jean by Maupassant
- A Woman’s Life by by Maupassant
- Selected Short Stories of Maupassant:
L’ Heritage, Boule de Suif, La Maison Tellier, Mademoiselle Fifi
- Madame Bovary by Flaubert
- A Simple Heart by Flaubert
- Assorted critical readings on Maupassant and Flaubert
Excerpts from the following texts will be distributed for consideration and discussion.
- Guy de Maupassant. Edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom (2004)
- Guy de Maupassant by Joseph Conrad. Joseph Conrad. (1919)
- The Art of Rupture. Narrative Desire and Duplicity in the Tales of Guy de Maupassant. Charles J.S. Stivale (1994)
- Struggling under the Destructive Glance. Androgyny in the Novels of Guy de Maupassant. Rachel M. H. Hartig. (1991)
- A Woman’s Revenge: The Chronology of Dispossession in Maupassant’s Fiction (Donaldson-Evans). (1986)
- Maupassant in the Hall of Mirrors: Ironies of Repetition in the work of Guy de Maupassant. Trevor Harris. (1990)
- Illusion and Reality: A study of Descriptive Techniques in the works of Guy de Maupassant. J. Raymond Dugan (1973)
- Maupassant’s Fiction and the Darwinian View of Life. Laurence Gregario. (2005)
- Flaubert and Madame Bovary: A Double Portrait Francis Steegmuller 2005
- Flaubert: Writing the Masculine Mary Orr (2005)
- Flaubert Remembers: Memory and Creative Experience. William VanderWolk (1990)
- Critical Essays on Gustave Flaubert. Selected by Laurence M. Porter
- Flaubert Writing: A Study in Narrative Strategies. Michal Peled Ginsburg (1986)
- Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty. Jonathan Culler (1985)
- Toward the Real Flaubert: A Study of Madame Bovary. Margaret Lowe (1984)
- The Critical Reception of Gustave Flaubert in the United States. Ernest Jackson (1966)
- Gustave Flaubert and the Art of Realism. Anthony Thorlby. (1957).
- One critical analysis paper exploring shared and distinct themes employed by both writers.
- A mid-term paper.
- A final paper.
Statement on Academic Honesty
Students should familiarize themselves with the College’s policy on academic dishonesty before using any sources. All written assignments handed in during the semester must be written by the student alone. Plagiarism is highly penalized and undesirable.
Please adhere to the Academic Integrity policy found in:
If you need help with grammar or citing sources please see the following websites:
- Attend class: Due to the condensed nature of the class, attendance at each and every meeting is critical. One unexcused absence will lead to a reduction of your final grade. Three or more unexcused absences will lead to failure.
- Be prepared for class: read all the assignments by the day they are due and come to class prepared to discuss them.
- Response papers: Typically, these papers should provide a personal and detailed response to the assignment. Take the reader into the world of the stories and to specific moments that support your thesis. Don’t just re-tell the story—engage the elements that speak to you or fail to do so. Take chances with the ideas you put forward. Submit polished work that has undergone revision.
Attendance & participation 30%
Response Papers 35%
Written exams 35%
**The professor reserves the right to make changes to the schedule as necessary**