The Diary of a Madman by Guy de MaupassantThe Diary of a Madman by Guy de Maupassant
Published by Le Gil Blas on October, 1886
Source: Free on-line
Genres: Horror, Short Story, Classic
Pages: 8
Format: eBook
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The public mourns when a beloved magistrate dies, a man of upstanding character who had a reputation for bringing criminals to justice. Yet when our tale’s narrator stumbles upon the man’s diary, he discovers another side to this public servant. One entry reads: “It must be a pleasure, unique and full of zest, to kill.”

Find out why Guy de Maupassant is considered a master of the short story when you dive into this haunting tale of man’s hidden wickedness.

In general, I’m more likely to read novellas than short stories. but RIP XIII’s Peril of the Short Story is a good excuse to pick some up. I’m not sure how “The Diary of a Madman” by  Guy de Maupassant came to my attention, but it’s one of those stories that manages to pack so much in so few pages. The dead man was a judge, but he was far, far from the upstanding, good man the public believed him.

The story, after a short introduction, is a section from his journal, detailing his thoughts on man, and crime, and killing. It’s a short story, available at and I don’t want to ruin it by telling the entire plot. Suffice it to say, the judge is evil and, in the end, uses his office to put the crowning touch on his crimes.

De Maupassant does an amazing job in so few pages allowing us to see the true nature of the judge, as opposed to the public’s view. In a few words, he describes scenes of terrible violence and gives us a glimpse into a “madman’s” mind.

I may try to read “The Horla” this month, too. It’s a longer story that they say has this one as its base, but adds a supernatural being who torments the narrator.

About Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a French writer, remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the naturalist school of writers, who depicted human lives and destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms.

Maupassant was a protégé of Gustave Flaubert and his stories are characterized by economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements (outcomes). Many are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s, describing the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught up in events beyond their control, are permanently changed by their experiences. He wrote some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse.

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