Guy de Maupassant’s mountain hut is buried under a dead white snow cloak, and this does not bode well

In these economically difficult times, don’t wait for the cold. Except for art, because cool art can warm you up. This is the reason for a series of stories about the role of cold in art.
Today Part Three: The Winter Stories by Guy de Maupassant.

Sander Baker

Among the more than three hundred stories written by Guy de Maupassant, an astonishing number relate to the cold of winter. The French author was definitely not a fan of hers. The cold has always tormented and threatened him. With his stylistic mastery, he makes it very tangible. chills under your skin; It gives you tingling fingers, like after skiing in a cold wind. How does he do that?

First of all, let’s take a look at the The first view is inclined (The first snow, 1883). This story, in which the temperature remains reasonably mild, is about an unhappily married woman. She dies of cold in the castle of Normandy, where she lives with her husband. The coolness of damp rooms and marriage reinforce each other. This is the first literary trick with which De Maupassant effectively conveys the cold.

The woman—not given a name in the story, though she is very cold—begs her husband for a stove to keep warm, but the brute laughs in her face. Loving, like this heater, he says. Cold is actually good for health. Moreover, winter only lasts a few months. Then spring comes again.

If she was sick…

The husband gives her a weak portable stove, just enough to warm the feet. Thats all about it. If she had been ill, he says, he would have been willing to consider such heating. But she doesn’t have to.

The latter gives the woman an idea. On a frigid winter’s night, you sneak out of bed and head to the garden. She put her bare foot in the fresh snow and immediately felt the cold rise “like a painful wound” into her heart. Trembling, she walks to the furthest tree and back again. In the end I also sat in the snow for a while. She even lubricates her chest – she has to get sick and she will get sick thus forcing that damn heat.

Unfortunately, her ploy works too well. The woman developed severe pneumonia. It’s an edge. Doctors send her to the south of Cannes, where she still has a chance to recover. There in the sun, among the full lemon and orange trees, she reads in a letter that her husband had bought a fireplace after all. She smiles, but feels from her weak constitution that she will pay for her bittersweet victory with death.

Stylistically, De Maupassant goes out of some stops to get the Norman cold on paper. He makes something animated out of him, as if an evil spirit permeates everything. For example, he speaks of “countless streams of wind” that appear to be “sneaky, gloomy, settling into the house like enemies”. He speaks of an “icy stream” that creeps up on a woman from behind and “moves between her skin and her clothes.” The cold ghost blows his “treacherous icy mist” over a different part of the body, sometimes into the woman’s face, then again onto her hands or into her neck. Such a physical enumeration works very effectively. Shivers run down your spine, even when you’re comfortable at home reading under a blanket.

He descended on a snowy mountain pass

But it could be more intense, as in the story loberge (lodges, 1886). Here, a young and senior mountain guide spends the harsh winter months at the Swiss Hotel Schwarenbach, high in the mountains near the Gemmi Pass. Together with the dog, they must guard the premises until spring, when the owners return.

De Maupassant himself has also stayed at Schwarenbach as a tourist, so he knows what he’s writing about. From the outset, he made it clear that the wintry weather is all-consuming in this remote location. Visual language helps him with this. For example, he writes about the “Snow Prison”. And the inn is “buried” under a “white mantle”, a “thick, soundproof foam mattress”. Through all those metaphors about death you feel the impending suffocation. Will men survive this natural disaster?

One morning, at minus 18 degrees, the old mountain guide leaves alone to hunt chamois. When he does not return, a young fellow Ulrich goes to look for him. At the risk of his life, the young man navigates among the “deep, hard waves of icy foam” in the “deadly silence” of the “Sleeping Mountains”. Maupassant poetically expresses himself in the winter landscape. It also causes “icy winds”, with sudden jerks, “wither and more deadly than a desert wall of fire”. Here you see again the visual power of the writer, who makes coldness more penetrating by drawing an analogue: heat.

The cold comes out better anyway with heat on the side. Maupassant uses this trick quite often, for example when the young Ulrich while looking for a mate gets away from the inn and is forced to spend the night out. Ulrich then digs a hole in the snow and crawls as close as possible to his dog, Sam. They warm themselves up on each other’s drugged bodies, though it doesn’t help much. Ulrich feels “frozen to the bone marrow” – deeper than bone. He also fears that his “blood will stop and freeze”. If you also describe the fear of what the cold can do, as De Maupassant knows, it becomes even more difficult.

His white hair is also a literary influence

Ulrich could no longer find any trace of his partner. Back at the inn, he seeks solace by the fire. Again that contrast warm cold. He drinks his sorrows using eau de parfum, and walks around the house drunk for days and constantly thinks he hears his mate calling. He develops anxious delusions and becomes more distraught. When the innkeepers return a few months later, they find it’s Haggard, and it’s time for him to be admitted to the clinic. His hair was now snow white, another amazing literary effect: the cold had literally entered him.

Destroyed the owners daughter. She secretly admired Ulrich and pined for him all winter. Now that spring has come, she suffers from depression and apathy. Her malaise is the result of the harsh winter cold, people around her say, because this cold can break stones. But the reader knows the true story: the girl suffers from love, broken in the bud.

Cold and love, De Maupassant also juxtaposes them in the third and final ice tale we discuss here. The title is not for nothing loveor in full: Amour, three pages du livre d’un chasseur (Love, three pages of a hunting book, 1886). This time the romance reaches its climax, but it is a romance of the tragic type.

This time De Maupassant is talking about his duck hunt on a clear winter’s night. He set off with his cousin Carl at half past four in the morning. They are much less than zero, the nephew is dressed in a sealskin coat, and the clerk is covered in sheepskin. Just before leaving, they drank warm coffee and champagne. However, after a few steps, the writer already feels “frozen to the bone” – a cliché, but de Maupassant is forgiven.

A cold rips through your skin like a saw

Elsewhere in the story, the images are thankfully more creative and penetrating. For example, De Maupassant wrote about “a terrible wind, charged with a catarrh, tearing your skin like a saw, cutting it like a razor, pricking it like a poisoned needle, twisting it like a pair of pliers and burning it like fire.” The writer spreads metaphors to express coldness. He also charts how icy air appears to be completely “frozen”, “static”, and “tactile”. You can imagine it: such a silent night in which you feel as if you are hitting a wall of cold.

But it becomes more poetic. Carl had built it in the middle of the frozen swamp where the two men go hunting. They sit in it to hide from the wind, but the writer no longer feels warm in this “pool house” either. He demonstrates this by repeating the words: “The cold of the frozen swamp, the cold of these walls, the cold that falls from the vault of heaven,” all of this penetrating his body so deeply that it makes him cough.

To warm up a bit, Carl makes a fire in the igloo. There is a hole in the roof that serves as a chimney. The icy walls of the hut begin to thaw a little from the heat, as if they were sweating. From the outside, de Maupassant wrote, is a real scene: the hut on the swampy ice looks like a “monstrous diamond with a heart of fire.” With this beautiful frozen picture, the writer shows himself a true poet, drawing with language.

Love from an unexpected angle

But, as said, this story is also about love. It comes from an unexpected source. If two ducks are flying into the sky, the clerk shoots one first. feminine. The other duck, a male, continues circling over the victim with a mournful growl. From the air, the poor animal mourns for his dead sweetheart, until Carl sets his sights on him and puts him out of his misery. One of the dogs brings the dead body to De Maupassant. He places the carcass in a basket with the female’s corpse. The ducks, how symbolic it is, are now completely cold.

As a reader, I am left stunned, filled with pity for the loving couple. He also relieved all those poetic imagery and impressive creativity on the subject of cold. Besides, you’re relieved that you didn’t have to put up with those biting icy winds yourself — and in full awareness that the cold in your life isn’t so bad.

The first view is inclined It can be found in De Maupassant’s collection of short stories Le Colporter. loberge And the love in the package Lou Hurla.

Previous episodes of Cold Trick:

Part 1. You can hear the snow falling under the fishermen’s boots In the Snow – Pieter Brueghel.

Part 2. Also known as “The Tone of the Cold Hand,” one of the most famous songs comes from Giacomo Puccini’s ice opera La Bohème.

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