Short summary - The Horla - Le Horla - Guy de Maupassant

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Horla - Le Horla
Guy de Maupassant

Micro-narrative: In the house of an ordinary French man in the street, inexplicable phenomena begin to occur. The owner makes unsuccessful attempts to find out the cause of the mysterious events.

The main character of the story, which is written in the form of a diary - an aristocrat, bachelor and bourgeois - shares his thoughts and endures torment. They begin when he sees a "magnificent three-masted" Brazilian ship and mechanically waves his hand to him, thereby inviting something supernatural that was on the ship to his home.

Around himself, he feels the presence of something that he calls "Eagle". The torture that "Orlya" causes soon has consequences: the narrator suffers from a "fierce fever" and his sleep is disturbed. He wakes up from nightmares in sweat, with the feeling that someone is watching him, "sitting on his chest."

Throughout the story, the protagonist's insanity, or rather his sense of alienation, is in question, while Orlya takes possession of his mind. In the beginning, the narrator himself wonders if he is insane to find an empty glass of water from which he did not drink. Soon he realizes that he is in his right mind and realizes the surrounding reality. The Orly's presence is becoming more and more unbearable: it is “watching… watching… controlling” it.

The narrator learns of the Brazilians who fled their homes, claiming that "they are being pursued" by something like a "vampire" feeding on their lives while they "sleep and drink water." Now he realizes that the three-masted ship with the Orla, which he welcomed, came from Brazil. He feels so "lost" and "possessed" that he is ready to kill either himself or "Eagle".