The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Mademoiselle Perle u Aktar

Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 13:43 Last update: about 7 months ago

Dr Dominique Lanni

Guy de Maupassant's work carries the imprint of his own image: prolific, brilliant, full of paradoxes. The man learnt his ropes at the hands of the best masters. he was a disciple of Gustave Flaubert, and participated in the soirées de Médan in the company of Zola. If he left his native Normandy to triumph in Paris, as did Georges Duroy, the protagonist of "Bel-Ami", if he travelled little, compared to many of his contemporaries, he was first of all a tireless worker. He is the author of more than 300 short stories, half a dozen novels, and as many plays (although forgotten), as well as some major critical texts.

Anthony Aquilina, translator of Alphonse Daudet, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Albert Camus, André Gide, Samuel Beckett, Yasmina Reza, Sébasteien Thiéry, Eric-Emanuel Schmitt, Daniel Rondeau, Annie Ernaux, Jean Anouilh and now Maurice Maeterlinck, has been applying his talents for several years to translate into Maltese as much as possible of the work of Guy de Maupassant, who is one of our greatest prose writers, by providing several collections of short and long stories, reflecting of course his personal choices: 'Marroca' et autres contes (2003), 'Le Donneur d'eau bénite' et autres contes (2007), 'L'Inutile Beauté' et autres histoires (2012), and the latest 'Mademoiselle Perle'; and I know he has many more in the pipeline.   

Guy de Maupassant himself produced several collections :  The Contes de la bécasse, Le Horla et autres fantastiques etc., regrouping a substantial number of those stories he had published earlier in newspapers and magazines like Le Gaulois, Gil Blas and Le Figaro, enabling him to earn a lot of money along the way. Then there are other collections regrouping Maupassant's stories at the whims of various publishers.

In the four collections of Maupassant's tales in Maltese published by Anthony Aquilina, the latter produces a jubilant panorama which enables his target audience to appreciate the different facets of the art and talent of the French 19th century storyteller. Tales? - short and long short stories reflecting the diversity of the original writer's topics: Norman farces, legends, family stories, Parisian tales, those about the Franco-Prussian war, peasant stories, wonderful tales of the fantastic and the supernatural, exotic stories in the Corsican, Spanish, Italian or North African vein ...

We find in the carefully selected and artistically translated stories by Anthony Aquilina, the tenderness, the derision, the cynicism and the ferocity of Guy de Maupassant's genius. If the French author has successfully passed the test of time, it is because like a goldsmith he knew how to perfectly chisel the French language in such as way as to give the brilliance of a diamond to the simplest of his stories, even those with the flimsiest subject matter. It is likewise like a goldsmith that Anthony (Toni) Aquilina has worked in the solitude of his office, to deliver to Maltese readers the consummate art of one of our most brilliant short story writers, in all the dazzle of his impulses, the power of his images and the violence of his passions.


The author - Ethnologist and anthropologist, Dominique Lanni - is a doctor of French language and literature at the University of Paris IV Sorbonne, and also lectures at the University of Malta. He works on modes of representations of otherness in literary and scientific cultures of the classical age as part of the work of the Research Center on Travel Literature directed by François Moureau


Guy de Maupassant, translated by Prof Tony Aquilina

Published by Horizons

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