(1850-1893) French writer of short stories. His law studies were interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War; his experience as a volunteer provided him with material for some of his best works. Later, as a civil-service employee, he became a protégé of Gustave Flaubert. He first gained attention with “Boule de Suif’ (1880; “Ball of Fat”), probably his finest story.
In the next 10 years he published some 300 short stories, six novels, and three travel books. Taken together, his stories present a broad, naturalistic picture of French life from 1870 to 1890. His subjects include war, the Norman peasantry, the bureaucracy, life on the banks of the Seine, the emotional problems of the different classes, and, ominously, hallucination. He is generally considered France’s greatest master of the short story.