The Horla (The Art of the Novella)
Guy de Maupassant
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Our woe is upon us.
This chilling tale of one man’s descent into madness was published shortly before the author was institutionalized for insanity, and so The Horla has inevitably been seen as informed by Guy de Maupassant’s mental illness. While such speculation is murky, it is clear that de Maupassant—hailed alongside Chekhov as father of the short story—was at the peak of his powers in this innovative precursor of first-person psychological fiction. Indeed, he worked for years on The Horla’s themes and form, first drafting it as “Letter from a Madman,” then telling it from a doctor’s point of view, before finally releasing the terrified protagonist to speak for himself in its devastating final version. In a brilliant new translation, all three versions appear here as a single volume for the first time.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
remained in my soul. Couldn’t I be the one who was getting up without being aware of it, and who was drinking even the things I disliked, since my senses, numbed by somnambulistic sleep, might be changed, might have lost their ordinary dislikes and acquired different tastes? So I used a new trick against myself. I wrapped strips of white muslin on all the objects that would certainly have to be touched, and I covered them all with a cotton napkin. Then, when it was time for me to go to bed, I
sudden, the miracle stopped. Someone no longer touched anything in my room. It was over. I was feeling better. My happiness returned, when I learned that one of my neighbors, Monsieur Legite, was in just the same condition that I had been in myself. I believed again in a feverish influence in the countryside. My coachman had left me a month ago, very ill. The winter passed, and spring began. One morning, as I was walking near my rose garden, I saw, I distinctly saw, quite close to me, the stem
“What is wrong with you, Jean?” “I can no longer rest, Monsieur; my nights are eating up my days. Since Monsieur left, that’s what’s been sticking to me like a curse.” The other servants are doing well, though, but I am very afraid of a relapse. July 4. Without a doubt, I have caught it again. My old nightmares are coming back. Last night, I felt someone squatting over me, who, with his mouth over mine, was drinking in my life through my lips. Yes, he was sucking it in from my throat, just
it, if I didn’t probe it by means of the most complete and lucid analysis. So I am in fact just a rational person suffering from hallucinations. An unknown distress has been produced in my brain, one of those distresses that the physiologists of today try to observe and explain. This distress has established a profound divide in my mind, in the order and logic of my ideas. Similar phenomena occur in dreams, which parade us through the most implausible phantasmagoria without our being surprised,
everything open until midnight, although it was beginning to turn cold. All of a sudden, I felt that he was there, and a joy, a mad joy seized me. I rose up slowly and paced back and forth, for a long time, so that he wouldn’t guess anything was amiss; then I took off my shoes and nonchalantly put on my slippers; then I closed the iron shutters, and, quietly walking to the door, closed it too with a double turn of the lock. Then I came back to the window, locked it with a padlock, and put the