Works of Guy de Maupassant
by Leo Tolstoy
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Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th century French writer, considered one of the
great innovators of the modern short story. Tolstoy, at the prompting of a friend, read a
collection of Maupassant’s stories in 1881, shortly after the Russian novelist’s radical
conversion. Because of Tolstoy’s newfound zeal for ascetic Christianity, he found
Maupassant’s works trivial and overly sensual. In this essay, Tolstoy, while he comments
on Maupassant specifically, lays out his new framework for evaluating literature
according to the values of ascetic (and at times Gnostic) Christianity. This framework
would go on to shape all of Tolstoy’s later works, including Father Sergius and
The Kreutzer Sonata.