Saturday, March 24, 2012

Inspired By Literature: Guy de Maupassant

From the moment I picked up my first Maupassant tale to this day I have been absolutely captivated by the mysterious twists and turns of the French belle epoque author's stories. To begin with, Maupassant is among the first French authors whose works I was able to read in French on my own. As someone who has studied a language their entire life there is a great reward and thrill of being able to dive into a language and culture's literature without the guiding and often hindering presence of a dictionary. As my proficiency grew and I read more and more authors I always (and still do) come back to Guy de Maupassant.

Though Maupassant's novels left an indelible mark on the French literary consciousness, his nouvelles or short stories are the works that have most captivated me. Many simply grapple with the gritty, realist themes of living in 19th century France, yet some short stories enter the realm of the fantastique, the mysterious and the unexplainable. As a point of comparison, those familiar with the short stores of Edgar Allan Poe might compare their style. I absolutely adore Boule de Suif, Le Papa de Simon, Au Printemps, La Dot, La Chevelure and Le Horla.

Whether I consider some of Guy de Maupassant's more fantastique tales or his gritty, true portrayals of life I often don't think of time period appropriate makeup. Rather, I immediately think of the colors and sensations described in the atmosphere Maupassant so brilliantly creates. Taupes, purples, smoky greys and blues all seem suitably mysterious.

(Top row left to right): MAC Copperplate, Dove-Feather*, Parisian Skies*, Plumage
(Bottom row left to right): MAC Hocus Pocus*, Greensmoke, Club, Chanel Illusoire Illusion d'Ombre

Arguably Maupassant's most famous short story, Boule de Suif paints a picture of French society during the Franco-Prussian war. Though I don't want to give much away, the tale's main character is a prostitute whose actions prove her far more respectable than her fellow characters meant to depict varying classes in 19th century society. Deep red lips just seem appropriate and also speak to the many mysterious and alluring female characters in Maupassant's contes fantastiques.

(Clockwise from top right): Korres Lip Butter Plum, Face Atelier Plum Glaze, MAC Media, MAC Capricious

I think a deep, russet rouged cheek is a must to recreate the atmosphere of a Maupassant nouvelle. Even the blushing female on the cover of the anthology pictured below appears to be wearing NARS G Spot. 

(Clockwise from top right): Sleek Fenberry, NARS G Spot Multiple, NYX Raisin, NARS Douceur 

If you're able to read Maupassant's works in the original French I highly recommend you do so. The stories are still wonderfully magical in English, but reading an author's work in its intended language is a special experience. Guy de Maupassant's works are widely available in translation: you'll be captivated by the alluring mystery and honest descriptions. 

Do you have a favorite Maupassant novel or nouvelle? What cosmetics do you most associate with his tales?