Guy de Maupassant
De Maupassant (1850 - 1893) was French, free-thinking, a close friend of Gustave Flaubert, a lover of the sea, rivers and boating, a dedicated frequenter of brothels, erotic encounters and courtesans, and an eventually compulsive traveller. He trained as a lawyer, served in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 - which served as a setting for much of his work - and was a civil servant. His work deals with the small dramas of daily life, the futility of war and the permanent changes imposed on people caught up in it; his characters live in a world of hypocrisy, lust, greed, and ambition where, whether poor or rich, they are met by ironic necessities against which they struggle hopelessly. Literary theorist Kornelije Kvas wrote that along "with Chekhov, Maupassant is the greatest master of the short story in world literature. He is not a naturalist like Zola; to him, physiological processes do not constitute the basis of human actions, although the influence of the environment is manifested in his prose. In many respects, Maupassants naturalism is Schopenhauerian anthropological pessimism, as he is often harsh and merciless when it comes to depicting human nature. He owes most to Flaubert, from whom he learned to use a concise and measured style and to establish a distance towards the object of narration." Maupassant was diagnosed with syphilis in his early twenties, refused treatment - although he launched on a staggeringly prolific life of erotic adventure - and eventually died from the disease.