Brander Matthews (18521929). The Short-Story. 1907.
Notes to The Necklace
By Guy de Maupassant (18501893)
MAUPASSANT was a born story-teller; and he was severely trained by that rigid realist Flaubert, who taught him the art of construction, the principles of description, and the value of concentration and unity. He is one of the great masters of the short-story. He deals more with the deeds of his characters than with their sentiments; but we are made to understand their emotions by the stern narration of their acts. In terseness, in tenseness, in compactness, Maupassant is unrivaled. Pathos and even compassion are to be seen in his stories only, as it were, by accident. He began to publish only when he was thirty, when he was master of his method; and this specimen of his skill was published in the early eighties. The present translation is by the editor.
Masterly as this narrative is, it is chilly and almost cruel. The suffering it sets forth seems to have been almost needless,due as it is to the accident of misunderstanding. But the craftsmanship is marvelous; and so is the skill with which the surprise is withheld to the end.