Fall 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 4 Nonfiction |

Country Matters

A. E. Coppard used to say that if ever he edited an anthology of short stories he would have an easy job because half the book would be by Chekhov and the other half by Maupassant. That was how Maupassant's reputation stood when Coppard was young, though I doubt if it is how it stands now. I have even been criticized for comparing the two men. Gustave Flaubert, who was the intimate friend of Maupassant's uncle, acted as literary adviser to the nephew and gave him good advice that Maupassant recorded later in the introduction to Pierre et dean. The essence of it is in the last sentence, which was passed on to me in my own youth by another distinguished older writer: "By a single word make me see wherein one cab horse differs from fifty others before or behind it." Later, Liam O'Flaherty said to me, "If you can describe a hen crossing a road you are a real writer." It never did me the least bit of good, and to this day I couldn't describe a cab horse or a hen. Just before his

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Frank O'Connor (1903–1966) was an Irish writer of over 150 works, best known for his short stories. In 1936, The Irish Times declared that there was "nothing to be gained by comparing his work with that of other masters of the short story: he is master among masters himself." The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award is named for him.

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