Finalist of The French-American Foundation and
The Florence Gould Foundation’s
Best English Translation of French Prose in Fiction
Afloat is a book of dazzling but treacherously shifting currents, a seemingly simple logbook of a sailing cruise along the French Mediterranean coast that opens up to reveal unexpected depths, as Guy de Maupassant merges fact and fiction, dream, polemic, and documentation in a wholly original manner. Humorous and troubling stories, unreliable confessions, stray reminiscences, and thoughts on life, love, art, nature, and society all find a place in Maupassant’s pages, which are, in conception and in effect, so many reflections of the fluid sea on which he finds himself—at once happily and precariously—afloat.
Afloat courts risk in both form and content, making itself up as it goes along. As a work of art, it is as fresh and startling as the paintings of Maupassant’s great contemporaries van Gogh and Gauguin.
Douglas Parmée’s fresh new translation brings to light a book that, more so than any of his renowned short stories, shows Maupassant the man, as he might have been known to contemporary readers of his copious journalism in fin de siècle Paris. Recounting a short week spent yachting on the French Riviera, Maupassant’s fictionalized memoir crystallizes the mixed motives that lead to so many of our vacations. He is at once cynical and Romantic; he is a misanthrope who can’t get enough of man; he is a sophisticated raconteur who wants to talk to himself for a while.
— Benjamin Lytal, The New York Sun
Maupassant describes—very beautifully—what he found essential in his cruise: the wind, the sounds, the odours, the mountains, the islands, and the effect they had on him and on his imagination…He can be compassionate, ecstatic about nature, jaundiced, cynical, arrogant, anguished. His diatribe against war is superb.
— Times Literary Supplement
In M. Guy de Maupassant’s Afloat, there is a good deal that is graceful and suggestive, besides the strictly descriptive passages, in which the French writer’s skill is always noticeable. The book records the indolent pleasures of a summer cruise from Antibes to Monaco in a little yacht, the Bel Ami (a decidedly significant name to persons familiar with M. de Maupassant as a novelist) and pictures of the coast, of smooth and squally days, reflections, philosophical and other, and a hundred pretty trifles of thought and diction are united in it. It is very light and very pleasant reading.
— The Independent (UK)
M. de Maupassant gives one delightful notes and jottings of a leisurely voyage in a roomy and comfortable yacht, appropriately called the “Bel-Ami,” along the Riviera coast…the successive papers in the little book are exquisitely enjoyable reading.
— The Independent