Monday, November 26, 2018

WAS IT A DREAM by Guy De Maupassant

WAS IT A DREAM  is a  short story by  Guy De Maupassant, the  19th century  French  short story writer.  A master story teller, he is known for the   surprise  endings , much to the shock of the reader.
The story is set in Paris.An unnamed lover is unable to bear the loss of his beloved  who has died due to cough  and fever  she catches suddenly  , after getting wet in the rain.He runs away  from home  soon after the  last rites  .
After some years he returns  to  Paris, his home and once more  feels nostalgic to think of his beloved. He feels her permanent impression  on the mirror  in which she used to look  before leaving home  , to ensure  that every thing  was in place.
He makes his way to the graveyard  on a dark  moonless night , and tired sits  on the stone of an old grave. Soon he feels the earth shaking and the stone rising. Frightened  , he shifts  to the other stone nearby . He sees  a skeleton  rising from the grave. The epitaph  on the stone  reads Here lies Jacques Olivant, who died at the age of fifty-one. He loved his family, was kind and honorable, and died in the grace of the Lord.
 The skeleton reads the epitaph and sets out to erase the letters.  After erasing the letters , he rewrites the  epitaph which  now reads “‘Here reposes Jacques Olivant, who died at the age of fifty-one. He hastened his father’s death by his unkindness, as he wished to inherit his fortune, he tortured his wife, tormented his children, deceived his neighbors, robbed everyone he could, and died wretched.
 Surprised and shocked  he  walks to the  grave of his beloved and  finds  his  dead  beloved  indulging in the same activity of  erasing and rewriting . The epitaph which earlier read ‘She loved, was loved, and diednow reads  Having gone out one day, in order to deceive her lover, she caught cold in the rain and died.
The story ends with the line ‘It appears that they found me at daybreak, lying on the grave unconscious.’
 This is not a conventional love story though the narrator and  the  central character is a  lover. Maupassant has not given any name to the lover and the beloved  to extend the scope of  the narrative as relating to the  humanity world wide. The name Jacques Olivant appears  only as a reference point.
Only the dead know about themselves , is the easy inference one can draw.

A wonderful story, though shocking too   !

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