Best of Series,  Show Notes,  Summer of the Short Story

Episode 228: “Best of” Series, “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, Ep. 15

This week on The Literary Life, we are dipping back into the archives for one of our “Best of” series of episodes. In this week’s remix from Season 1, Angelina Stanford and Cindy Rollins discuss Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace.” Before getting into the short story discussion, Cindy and Angelina chat about what a “commonplace book” is and how they each go about recording quotes and thoughts, including the QuoteBlock app.

First off, Angelina gives us a little background on the author Guy de Maupassant and some information on French naturalism. Then she digs into her thoughts on how this story is a fairy tale in reverse and what that might mean in context. Cindy points out the perfection of de Maupassant’s writing and his economy of style. They also bring up some of the formal elements of the story, particularly the key role the reversal takes in the plot. The main themes they find in “The Necklace” touch on common human struggles with ambition, discontentment, loss, suffering and gratitude.

If you want to find replays of the 2019 Back to School online conference referenced in this episode, you can purchase them in Cindy’s shop at

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Commonplace Quotes:

If you trust in yourself, and believe in your dreams, and follow your star, you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.

Terry Pratchett, from Wee Free Men

“A vocation is a gift,” said Dame Ursula. “If it has been truly given to you, you will find the strength.”

Rumer Godden, from In This House of Brede

On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer

by John Keats

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Books Mentioned:

Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden

Gustave Flaubert

O. Henry

Somerset Maugham

Henry James

Kate Chopin

Anton Chekhov

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