Thanks to @GarethRees's sleuthing and editing, I just learned that several French short stories found in the Project Gutenberg version of the "Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories" are in fact not by Maupassant at all, but by other authors and falsely attributed to him. These include "The Lancer's Wife" by Richepin and "The Confession" by Maizeroy, and I don't know how many others. So my question now is threefold:

  1. Exactly which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant in collections of his complete works?
  2. Where did these misattributions begin? Can we blame Walter Dunne's collection of English translations, or does the origin go back further? Have French-language collections ever contained stories misattributed to Maupassant?
  3. Why did this happen? Was it just poor research on the part of Walter Dunne or whoever, or was there any ulterior motive for over-promoting Maupassant?

1 Answer 1


The ‘which’ and ‘where’ parts of the question were answered by Maupassant’s biographer Francis Steegmuller:

A smart American publisher and bookseller named M. Walter Dunne, whose specialty was large and showily produced “sets,” felt that the time had come to confront the American public with all of Maupassant; and he issued [starting in 1903], in seventeen volumes, the first large-scale collection of the stories, novels, travel-writings and verse in English. […]

But the most remarkable feature of the Dunne collection is its contents: for in it are included no less than sixty-five stories which are not the work of Maupassant.

None of these sixty-five stories has ever been included in any French edition of Maupassant’s works; I have been able to identify four as tales from the collected works of one of Maupassant’s fellow-journalists, René Maizeroy; the authorship of the remainder is unknown; but almost without exception internal evidence shows them to be non-Maupassantian. Falsity is particualrly obvious in those dealing with Central and Eastern European life, especially Vienna and Budapest society, territory never explored by Maupassant, and here described in a very non-Maupassant style. Almost all of the sixty-five give the impression of having been trash in their original language or languages, whatever it or they may have been.

The Dunne collection was followed, during subsequent years, by many smaller, less elaborate Maupassant collections for smaller purses, and although Dunne's collection was copyright it seems to have been without real protection, for in the later collections various of the fake stories first published by Dunne continued to appear and reappear.

Francis Steegmuller (1949). Maupassant: A Lion in the Path, pp. 355–357. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

The following list gives, for each of the fake Maupassant stories, its English title (or titles; some stories were reprinted under different titles), its true author, its original title, and the collection in which it appeared. The list was compiled by Kazuhiko Adachi (足立和彦) and contains the 65 fake stories found by Steegmuller, plus one more (‘Mad’) found by Onishi Tadao (大西忠雄). The stories are by René Maizeroy (28), Jean Richepin (20), and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (18).

English title(s) True author Original title Collection
The Accent Maizeroy ‘L’Accent’ En folie
An Adventure Richepin Une Aventure Cauchemars
The Artist Richepin Artiste Truandailles
Babette Richepin Ch’tiote Truandailles
The Bandmaster’s Sister Maizeroy La Sœur du chef Coups de cœur
The Carnival of Love Sacher-Masoch Karnevale der Liebe Die Messalinen Wiens
The Carter’s Wench Maizeroy La Fille aux rouliers La Fête
Caught Sacher-Masoch Gefangen Die Messalinen Wiens
The Clown Richepin Pouillards Truandailles
The Confession Maizeroy ‘Le Confession’ En folie
Countess Satan Richepin Comtesse Satan Cauchemars
The Debt Richepin La Dette Truandailles
A Deer Park in the Provinces Sacher-Masoch Ein Hirschpark in der Provinz Die Messalinen Wiens
Delila Sacher-Masoch Delila Soziale Schattenbilder
False Alarm Maizeroy Fausse Alerte Coups de cœur
A Fashionable Woman Sacher-Masoch Die Frau nach der Mode Die Messalinen Wiens
Ghosts Sacher-Masoch Gespenster der Kirche Soziale Schattenbilder
A Good Match Sacher-Masoch Eine gute Partie Die Messalinen Wiens
Happiness Maizeroy Le Bonheur Coups de cœur
The Hermaphrodite Maizeroy L’Hermaphrodite La Fête
An Honest Ideal Sacher-Masoch Ein eheliches Ideal Falscher Hermelin
The Ill-Omened Groom Sacher-Masoch Der verhängnisvolle Jockey Soziale Schattenbilder
In Flagrante Delictu
Caught in the Very Act
Maizeroy Le Flagrant Délit Coups de cœur
In His Sweetheart’s Livery Sacher-Masoch In der Livree der Geliebten Falscher Hermelin
In Various Roles
An Exotic Prince
Sacher-Masoch Ein exotischer Prinz Soziale Schattenbilder
The Jennet Maizeroy Le Genêt Coups de cœur
Jeroboam Richepin Jéroboam Cauchemars
Julot’s Opinion Richepin L’Opinion de Julot Truandailles
The Lancer’s Wife Richepin La Uhlane Les morts bizarres
The Last Step Maizeroy Le Dernier Pas La Fête
Lilie Lala Maizeroy Lilie Lala Coups de cœur
La Morillonne Richepin La Morillonne Cauchemars
Lost’ / ‘Crash Sacher-Masoch Krach Die Messalinen Wiens
Mad Maizeroy ‘En folie’ En folie
Mademoiselle Richepin Mademoiselle Cauchemars
Mamma Stirling Maizeroy Maman Sterling Coups de cœur
The Man with the Blue Eyes Richepin L’Homme aux yeux pâles Cauchemars
The Man with the Dogs Richepin Cht’Heumme-aux-quiens Truandailles
Margot’s Tapers Maizeroy Les Cierges de Margot Le mal d’aimer
The Marquis Richepin Le Marquis Truandailles
A Misalliance Sacher-Masoch Eine Mesalliance Soziale Schattenbilder
The Mountebanks Maizeroy Les Monteflores Celles qu’on aime
The New Sensation Maizeroy Le Frisson nouveau La Fête
A Night in Whitechapel Richepin Ivres-morts Cauchemars
The Odalisque of Senichou Sacher-Masoch Eine Smichover Odaliske Soziale Schattenbilder
The Old Maid Maizeroy Vielle fille Coups de cœur
Profitable Business Richepin Une Bonne Affaire Cauchemars
The Real One and the Other Maizeroy La Vraie et L’Autre La Fête
The Relics Maizeroy Les Reliques Coups de cœur
A Rupture Maizeroy Rupture La Fête
The Sequel to a Divorce Maizeroy Suite de divorce Coups de cœur
Stable Perfume
On Perfumes
Sacher-Masoch Stall-Parfum Die Messalinen Wiens
Sympathy Richepin Correspondances Cauchemars
The Thief Maizeroy Le Voleur La Fête
Ugly Richepin Laid Truandailles
Under the Yoke Maizeroy ‘Sous le joug’ Sur l’amour et sur le baiser
An Unfortunate Likeness Maizeroy Le Mauvais Mirage La Fête
The Upstart Maizeroy Parvenu La Fête
A Useful House Maizeroy L’Hôtel à tout faire La Fête
The Venus of Braniza Sacher-Masoch ‘Die Venus von Braniza’ Neue Judengeschichten
The Viaticum Maizeroy ‘Le Viatique’ En folie
Violated Richepin Violé Cauchemars
Virtue in the Ballet Sacher-Masoch Die Tugend beim Ballett Falscher Hermelin
Virtue’ / ‘Kind Girls Richepin Bonnes filles Truandailles
The White Lady Sacher-Masoch Die weiße Frau Die Messalinen Wiens
Wife and Mistress Maizeroy ‘Naufrage’ En folie

To answer the ‘why’ of the question is probably impossible now, but it is easy to imagine plausible scenarios. Perhaps the publisher had employed a translator in Paris to go to the archives of Gil Blas, La Lanterne and so on, dig out old stories by Maupassant, and submit English translations, at so many cents a word. An unscrupulous translator might have found it tempting to eke out a little extra cash by passing off some stories by other authors. Or, more likely, the publisher deliberately included the more risqué and sensational stories of Maizeroy, Richepin and Sacher-Masoch, in order to increase the appeal of the collection.

  • Great, so now we can post 54 new questions seeking the true author and origin for each of the unidentified stories :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:17
  • @Randal'Thor I made the answer community wiki so that people can contribute identifications here. If we get stuck then we can ask separate questions for the difficult ones, but for the moment they are quite easy to find. Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:21
  • I found a PDF article in Japanese which lists a good twenty-five of these, attributed to their original authors (mostly/all Maizeroy or Richepin) with original titles and publication info.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:38
  • Oh, actually it seems that's all of them. I stopped reading when they became German, assuming that all of the faux-Maupassant stories were at least French stories. But now saw your identification of "The Venus of Braniza" and realised the Sacher-Masoch stories have also been passed off as Maupassant. If you'd like to edit this answer with the info from that Japanese article, I can un-CW it for you - this didn't require that much community collaboration after all.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 12:51
  • 2
    I've removed the community wiki status, since IIRC you can't do that to your own answer without mod powers. Let me know if you object, but I think you definitely deserve the credit for this answer: all I did was Google one story which I thought would be easy to find ("Julot's Opinion") and find a link to give you in a comment. Thanks very much for the sleuthing and formatting and linking! Great answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 18:34

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