A literary biography of considerable stature, simplicity and dignity, this recreates the life story and the writings of the man whom Henry James was to call ""A lion in the path"" and who with Chekhov brought the short story to its highest point of genesis. From childhood on, one follows Maupassant and the formative factors- the all pervasive, possessive mother, Laure, who was to remain the only close feminine attachment in his life; the hostility towards his father; the discipleship under Flaubert. This follows through the years; the literary friendships; the first short stories and the later successes, and the fluidity, freshness and vivacity he brought to this medium; the many women, of increasing elegance and worldliness, but always the fidelity to the mother image which forced him into casual promiscuity; the years of increasing nervousness and debility from syphilis, contracted in his youth; the travels; and finally the slowing down and the horrible death. One gets too a portrait of the man, his simplicity, his goodness, his vulgarity, humor and reserve, his shifting needs for society and solitude, in a sympathetic portrayal which admits weakness as well. A balance of the literary and the personal, this qualifies for general biographical tastes.