Wilde and Maupassant are my quarantine pals.
It was a drizzly evening in Dehradun when I sauntered into a quaint little bookstore tucked away in the foothills. Among other things, I picked up a rather dull looking volume of short stories by Oscar Wilde. Wasn’t he one of those abstruse Victorian authors, I thought to myself as I hurried home in the gathering darkness.
I would soon be proven wrong.
Wilde’s writing had me hooked from the word go, his crafting of sentences so exquisite that it made my breath gasp. I spent most of the night reading about a nightingale mulling on the meaning of love and sacrificing her life for it, a prince so moved by the suffering of others that it breaks his heart (literally!), a humorous yet poignant retelling of a miserable ghost and a little girl who helps him redeem his soul.
As varied as these tales sound, they are woven with a common thread of love, brimming with a certain tenderness. This ability to move the heart is what makes his writing stand tall. Wilde can shift your emotions from awe to elation to despair in the span of a few sentences, a mark of a genius author indeed. His works remain an essential reading today for those who want to better the art of writing. His craft is brilliant, the usage of words masterly and breathtaking all that a serious writer aspires to achieve.
If Wilde’s stories are akin to bashful lovers trysting under starlit nights, Maupassant’s are tales of feverish ardor and burning passion. Serving briefly as a clerk in the French Navy, he soon took to writing full time. Thoroughly unabashed in his writing, his raunchy tales both shocked and gained immense popularity in 19th century France.
Maupassant is a master of the human psyche, capturing effortlessly in his tales desire, love, lust, infidelity and the varied struggles that come with life. He makes you chuckle, roar with delight, smile wistfully at both the beauty and sadness of life. Simon’s papa is one such story that stood out for me. It is a tale of a boy conceived outside of wedlock, something he is every day made aware and ashamed of. One day wishing to drown himself, how he comes to be rescued by an ironsmith, and goes on to find a papa in him is the stuff that will leave you fuzzy and bubbling with warmth for a long time.
Read him to learn the art of creating lucid, descriptive prose, the fleshing of unforgettable characters while delving deep into their deepest consciousness.
A great story is one that will transport the reader to a realm far removed from his worries. Wilde and Maupassant have created exactly such worlds, excellent for us to lose ourselves in, especially during these times of uncertainty and chaos. Both men died young but left behind a legacy that shall ever sustain, inspire and touch hearts.
People depart, but words clearly live on.
The above blog is written by Shreya Mishra - a guest blogger at Platform For Artists.