Paris: Armand Magnier, 1897. Limited Deluxe edition. Hardcover. 1/160. Quarto. VII, , 110, pp. Uncut. Contemporary 3/4 red morocco over marbled paper covered boards, with gold lettering, and Art-Nouveau inlaid floral motif on spine. Top edge gilt. Ribbon marker. Marbled endpapers. Four additional blank leaves bound in. Mounted on the second additional blank leaf is a handwritten telegram from Guy de Maupassant* to his publisher Paul Ollendorff. The telegram is dated October 30, 1891, two months before the author's attempted suicide and his subsequent admission to a lunatic asylum where he ultimately died on July 6, 1893. The document reveals a very disturbed Maupassant who complains about the dreadful weather as well as severe migraines, and asks Paul Ollendorff to meet him at the library. On the third additional blank leaf is mounted a poignant handwritten letter by Laure de Maupassant**, the author's mother. The 4-page letter is addressed from Villa de Ravenelles, Nice, and dated November 1, 1893, less than four months after her son's death. Mrs. de Maupassant informs Paul Ollendorff that she still hasn't recovered from Guy's death, that she is in poor health, and that her mental health is failing as she often experiences visions of her two deceased sons (Guy and Hervé) appearing in front of her. On the fourth additional blank leaf is mounted another handwritten letter, this time by Gustave de Maupassant, the author's father. The 3-page letter is addressed from Villa Simone, Sainte Maxime s/ Mer, Var, and dated October 31st, 1893. In it, a grieving Gustave de Maupassant tells Paul Ollendorff that, in remembrance of his son Guy, he and his daughter would like to welcome him to spend a day with them at their house the next time he is in Provence. Original illustrated wrappers bound in. Also bound in, an original fully-rendered drawing in pencil, by the illustrator François Thevenot. The drawing was used for the illustration featured on page 99. Laid in, a striking original photographic portrait of Guy de Maupassant, with gold-lined beveled edges.
First published on 15/16 April 1880***, "Boule de Suif" (translated variously as "Dumpling", "Butterball", "Ball of Fat", or "Ball of Lard") is Guy de Maupassant's most famous short story and is the title story for his collection on the Franco-Prussian War, titled "Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre" ("Dumpling and Other Stories of the War"). François Thevenot's striking b/w illustrations accompany splendidly this masterpiece of French literature. One of 160 copies on Vélin de cuve paper, with a suite of all the illustrations in b/w. No. 270, of a total edition of 300 copies. The splendid binding is slightly rubbed on corners and at head of spine. Text in French. Original cabinet photograph slightly age-toned and partly foxed. Lower margin trimmed, thus preventing from reading the name of the photograph's agency. Binding in overall very good, original letters, and interior in near fine to fine condition. Photograph in good to very good condition. vg. Item #39455
* Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) was a popular French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents. Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert and his stories are characterized by economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements (outcomes). Many are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s, describing the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught up in events beyond their control, are permanently changed by their experiences. He wrote some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. His first published story, "Boule de Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880), is often considered his masterpiece.
** Laure de Maupassant (1821-1903) was an independent-minded woman, who risked social disgrace to obtain a legal separation from her husband, Gustave de Maupassant. After the separation (1861), Laure Le Poittevin kept her two sons. With the father’s absence, Maupassant’s mother became the most influential figure in the young boy's life. She was an exceptionally well read woman and was very fond of classical literature, particularly Shakespeare. Until the age of thirteen, Guy happily lived with his mother, at Étretat, in the Villa des Verguies, where, between the sea and the luxuriant countryside, he grew very fond of fishing and outdoor activities. At age thirteen, his mother sent Guy to the Institution Ecclesiastique at Yvetot. From his early education he retained a marked hostility to religion, and to judge from verses composed around this time he deplored the ecclesiastical atmosphere, its ritual and discipline. Finding the place to be unbearable, he finally got himself expelled in his next-to-last year. When he was expelled, he was sent at once to the Lycée Imperial in Rouen as an external student, 'boarding' in the Pension Leroy Petit (see Marlo Johnston's "Guy de Maupassant")
*** In "Les Soirées de Médan," a collection of Naturalist short stories dealing with the Franco-Prussian war (1870/1871).