“Boule de Suif,” translated variously as "Dumpling," "Butterball," "Ball of Fat," "Tallow Ball," or "Ball of Lard," is a famous short story by the late 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant, first published in 1880. It is arguably his most famous short story and is the title story for his collection on the Franco-Prussian War, entitled Dumpling and Other Stories of the War.
Boule de Suif is also the nickname given to our protagonist, a well-known prostitute who finds herself traveling in a coach with conventionally respectable people through Prussian-occupied France during wartime. The “nice” people contemptuously ignore her, except when she offers them food during the long journey. Later in the story, we get an opportunity to see how they reward her generosity.
Appreciated for its deft handling of character, conflict, and irony, “Boule de Suif” stands out among de Maupassant’s pantheon of short stories as a hallmark of excellence in the managing of the elements of fiction. It is a study of contempt and hypocrisy, both carried to a very high pitch.
“Boule de Suif” by Guy de Maupassant…we begin….