By Guy de Maupassant
Trans. by means of Richard Howard
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Extra info for Like Death
And so, under the influence of the weather (the day had turned out to be splendid), he began casting about for a likely poetical subject. Slightly benumbed by his lunch and his cigarettes, he daydreamed a while, staring into space, sketching figures in the air, graceful women on a path in the Bois or crossing some sidewalk in town, lovers on the beach, all the wanton fancies his tastes delighted in. Interchangeable images coiled around him, vague and various in the brilliant hallucination of their familiarity, and the swallows streaking across the space overhead like an incessant flight of arrows seemed to be seeking to erase his own visions with a constant buffet of feathers.
An indifferent student, Maupassant enlisted in the army during the Franco-Prussian War—staying only long enough to acquire an intense dislike for all things military—and then went on to a career as a civil servant. His entrée into the literary world was eased by Gustave Flaubert, who had been a childhood playmate of his mother’s and who took the young man under his wing, introducing him into salon society. The bulk of Maupassant’s published works, including more than three hundred short stories and six novels, were written between 1880 and 1890, a period in which he also contributed to several Parisian daily newspapers.
Whereupon they saw fit to discuss other matters. One of which, of course, was painting, and in this crucial regard Madame de Guilleroy made yet another effort to convince Bertin to undertake a Christ. He resisted, pointing out that the subject was now undertaken the world over, but she held her ground, insisting on his Christ until she lost patience. . When they take Him down from the Cross, the soldier who releases His hands releases the whole upper part of Our Lord’s body. He comes crashing down on the crowd below, everyone raising their arms to receive and support Him.