Sometimes titled “The Diamond Necklace” this story is a 3,000 word short story that is often upheld as a tale at, or very near, the pinnacle of ironic fiction. Guy de Maupassant’s short story La Parure is usually given the English title “The Necklace” – despite “La Parure” literally translating into English as “The Finery”.
The Necklace has been reprinted hundreds of times, in books, textbooks and newspapers. It has been collected volumes of “mystery or detective” stories – which is pretty damn odd considering that it has neither a detective nor a mystery in it. And stranger still, it has been anthologized in collections with titles like Masterpieces Of Terror And The Unknown and Isaac Asimov Presents The Best Horror And Supernatural Of The 19th Century.
How does this modest little tale, featuring a Parisian couple, and their acquaintances, a story with no supernatural elements at all qualify as a “supernatural” tale?
How can a story, like The Necklace, in which nobody dies, or is even physically injured, be considered ‘a tale of terror or horror’?
Perhaps the mystery lies not within such questions, but instead with one’s interpretation. Perhaps, just as with the translation from one language to another, there are kinds of horrors, kinds of terrors, indeed kinds of fates which can only be classified as a moral horror, a social terror, or one of life’s little mysteries that leaves us asking questions like the ones above.
Guy de Maupassant has created a story for the ages, a mystery story in which you, the reader, are the detective. Your job is to solve the case of…
The Necklace (La Parure)
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Patti Cunningham
1 |MP3| – Approx. 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: November 21, 2009
Mathilde is a beautiful bride of a mid-level Parisian bureaucrat. Her natural elegance and grace seem somewhat out of place with her husband’s junior position. This is the story of a beautiful woman who works hard and gets everything she wants. First published in the February 17, 1884 issue of Le Gaulois (a French daily newspaper).
Here’s the cover illustration (artist unknown) for La Parure from the October 8, 1893 issue of Gil Blas (a Parisian literary magazine):
The most evocative illustrations I’ve seen for The Necklace are by Gord Rayner- they accompany an uncredited radio style play adaptation (for four actors) in the 1960s Canadian textbook entitled Sense And Feeling edited by R.J. Scott. Here’s the 12 page play |PDF| and here are the illustrations:
Here’s a wonderful radio dramatization that keeps most of the tale intact:
Favorite Story – The Necklace
Adapted from the story by Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: October 7, 1947
Heather Angel … Mathilde Loisel
Hans Conried … Pierre Loisel
Posted by Jesse Willis