In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the May–June 2020 topic challenge.

Based on the number of votes (in the old suggestions thread - the new one hasn't had time to gather many votes yet), the fifth topic challenge of 2020 will be

the works of Guy de Maupassant

What's a topic challenge?

See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during May–June 2020 we should all try to read one or more works by Guy de Maupassant.

Participation is not obligatory in any sense, but those who participate will be forever remembered in the annals of our history. And of course it goes without saying that questions on other works are more than welcome during May and June too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.

How can I take part?

By getting hold of any of Guy de Maupassant's stories and asking good questions about them. These questions should be tagged with and , and either or a specific-work tag for longer works. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.

Below is the original presentation of this topic challenge, which contains several useful links:

Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893) was probably the most important 19th-century French author of short stories. Some of them are very well known, e.g. Boule de Suif.

His stories are now in the public domain. Many of his stories are available on Wikisource in French. A number of English translations are available on Wikisource. Other English translations are available at ebooks@Adelaide. The complete collection of his short stories is available in English at Project Gutenberg (which currently blocks users from Germany).

For a printed selection, see for example, Guy de Maupassant's Selected Works (W. W. Norton, 2016; 448 pages).

The online availability of English translations should make participation in the reading challenge easier. Even though we already have a few questions about , there are still dozens of his stories that have never been discussed.

This is a particularly easy author to "dip in" to his works, because he wrote many short stories which are old enough to be available online freely and legally, even in translation.

What's next?

  • The April-May 2020 topic challenge, The Stranger / Meursault, is still ongoing. So is the March-April 2020 one, R. K. Narayan, for another week or so. It's not too late to participate in them too!
  • Vote here (new thread) for the next topic challenge (June–July), or propose your own in an answer there!

1 Answer 1


List of all questions posted in this topic challenge

  1. What political leanings are being described for Monsieur Carre-Lamadon? by Rand al'Thor, 7/5/2020 (2 answers).
  2. https://literature.stackexchange.com/q/14238/17 by Rand al'Thor, 8/5/2020
  3. Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why? by Rand al'Thor, 10/5/2020 (1 answer).
  4. What does it mean to "unmoor criticism"? by Rand al'Thor, 11/5/2020 (2 answers).
  5. What is the difference between souteneur and proxénète in Maupassant's Bel-Ami? by Tsundoku, 17.05.2020 (2 answers).
  6. What is so Balzacian about Mr. Walter's words to Mr. Montelin in Maupassant's Bel-Ami? by Tsundoku, 19.05.2020.
  7. Is Maupassant referring to a ranking of duellists or shooters that existed in late nineteenth-century France? by Tsundoku, 20.05.2020.
  8. What does it mean to have teeth in the English style? by Tsundoku, 21.05.2020 (1 answer).
  9. In Maupassant's Bel-Ami, why would it be compromising for a magistrate to have been in (the) mixed committees? by Tsundoku, 23.05.2020 (1 answer).
  10. Is Lambert-Sarrazin's moustache speech in Bel-Ami an allusion to a real speech? by Tsundoku, 27.05.2020.
  11. What is the nature of the relationship between Madeleine and the Comte de Vaudrec in Bel-Ami? by Tsundoku, 28.05.2020 (1 answer).
  12. Did Maupassant adapt the style and content of his stories to the newspapers that published them? by Tsundoku, 06.06.2020.
  13. How did contemporary female readers respond to the sexual violence in the Contes de la Bécasse? by Tsundoku, 13.06.2020.
  14. For Maupassant, were women more inclined to imitate others than men? by Tsundoku, 16.06.2020.
  15. Was Maupassant's interest in madness and the supernatural linked to his own mental health? by Tsundoku, 20.06.2020.
  16. How did Maupassant's contemporaries respond to his play Une répétition? by Tsundoku, 22.06.2020.
  17. Did the Eiffel Tower feature in any of Maupassant's stories or novels? by Tsundoku, 29.06.2020 (1 answer).
  18. How did Maupassant's contemporaries respond to his play Musotte? by Tsundoku, 29.06.2020.
  19. Did Maupassant and Richepin know each other? by Tsundoku, 30.06.2020.

The highest-voted of these is Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why?, with a score of 5 at the end of June.

The most viewed is What does it mean to "unmoor criticism"?, with approximately 237 views during the months of May and June. (It hit the HNQ list.)

  • If the second question was posted during the challenge because the work it asks about was erroneously attributed to Maupassant, why would it not count as part of the challenge?
    – verbose
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 11:28
  • @verbose I suppose that gets down a philosophical question on whether we care more about intent or effect. The question was meant to be part of the topic challenge, but in fact it didn't contribute to the set of Maupassant questions on the site. I compromised by leaving it in the list but crossed out.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 11:38

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