I wrote the above as a tongue-in-cheek Amazon review of Femme Fatale, published as part of the brilliant Penguin Little Black Classic series a couple of years ago. Yesterday, I thought I'd have a bash at one of his novels - A Woman's Life - having picked up an old Penguin Classics edition from the local charity shop.
On reaching page four, I came across the following paragraph. It started so promisingly, the ending seemed all the more startling:
"There was silence in the carriage; their minds seemed drowned like the earth. Mama was leaning back with closed eyes supporting her head; the Baron kept a gloomy eye on the featureless soaked country-side, and Rosalie with a parcel on her knee was dreaming the sub-human dreams of peasant folk."
I stopped reading books in translation many years ago, precisely because of stuff like this. It was only the Little Black Classics that brought me back. Prior to that, I'd find myself hung up on single lines, wondering what was the author's real intention. Like now. I'm thinking he might be saying something more like 'the simple dreams of simple folk.' If anyone has a different translation, or fancies a bash at one from the French, or can confirm this is exactly what Maupassant meant, I'd be interested to know.
Right now, I'm doubtful of ever getting to page five...