Horla is a Nouvelle Fantastique of Guy of Maupassant written in 1887. It is one of the last fantastic accounts which Maupassant wrote.

Horla is appeared as an unfinished newspaper which lets fear that its owner did not sink in the madness.


In the form of newspaper, the narrator pays to us its distress and disorders: he feels the presence of an invisible being around him which he names the “Horla”. Throughout the news, the doubt settles as for the madness of the main character, or rather of his alienation, in reference to the influence of Horla. Several think that the author was itself insane when he wrote this news but it is only later in its life that he will develop itself a madness. What contributes has to give birth to the fantastic one: the madness and the insanity of the hero. They are the leading causes of mental disorders of the narrator. This presence becomes increasingly unbearable for the hero who decides to put an end to the life of Horla and even at his…

Period when Horla is born

Horla is born in 1878, the text was thus written at the 19th century, under the second republic, where the war was very present (France fought against Germany and Prussia). The economy knew one rather harmful period: one speaks about precarious economy and provisional government. The Commune of Paris east creates to come to assistance of the citizens. The literary movement dominating of this time is the naturalism…

Physique of Horla

Horla is a being which is invisible with the naked eye, it is inevitably one of its strong points and it is in this way that it will succeed in keeping a strong influence on the narrator. However, its body does not appear completely immaterial because Horla can drink. One can lend the shape of an human being to him.

Origin of the name Horla

The Horla term would have been invented by Maupassant itself. It is thought that there is can be a relationship with, when the word is broken up, It Out There. What is not similar for us, which is apart from us but probably here, there.

Other assumptions:

  • In Normandy, the “foreign” term meaning is “horsain”. Maupassant, often near to this area, could be influenced by this patois.
  • Horla is the anagram of Lahor. Jean Lahor is the pen name of Dr. Henry Cazalis, friend of Maupassant.

Horla is a name which evokes fear, one could almost believe while having ever heard this word which it is about the name of a disease or an epidemic.

" This Horla" is also the anagram of " choléra"

Exposure of the main characters

Several experiments lead the narrator to the following conclusion: an invisible being, that it names Horla, came to make of him its slave. Besides its mirror does not return more its reflection to him. The only solution appears the destruction by fire. Thus the diarist sets fire to his house where he believes to have locked up the invisible being, killing one of its maidservants. Maupassant renewed the topic of the double, present in the fantastic literature since Hoffmann, while making use of the last scientific and medical reflections to the mode, in particular hypnosis and work on the hysteria of Charcot of which it followed the meetings to the Salpêtrière.

Domination of Horla on the narrator

The beginning of the history one wonders whether it is possible to dominate Horla. The narrator does not even know that there exists (use of the pronoun " on" to indicate it). The narrator is control by this one, then progressively it will discover which is this form of life and will learn that of which it is able. However it will do everything to forget it and put a barrier between the horla and he even. The narrator is thus dominated throughout the history, with share at the end where it is thought that it found the means of dominating the horla by killing it, or at least by driving out it of at his place.


There were three versions of Horla.

  • the first, Letter of insane a , is in the form of letter addressed to its doctor. (1885)
  • the second, Horla (first version) is in the form of text followed with dialog, and is told by the narrator who addresses to doctors. (1886)
  • the third, considered as best, Horla (second version). It is appeared as a diary addressed to itself. (1887)


This new influenced the Call of Cthulhu of H.P. Lovecraft (1926).


  • 1914, Zlatcha Notch (the terrible Night), the USSR, Evgueni Bauer

  • 1915, Para Gnedych (Diary of a Madman), the USSR, Yakov Protazanov
  • 1917, the Yogi, Germany, Paul Wegener
  • 1962, Horla is televised series Québécois E of Guy Hoffmann.
  • 1962, Diary off has Mad Man (Strange story of Cordier judge), the USA, Reginald Borg (96 minutes)
  • 1966, Horla, France, Jean-Daniel Pollet (38 minutes)
  • 1987, Horla, France, Pierre Carpentier (16 minutes)
  • 1996, Hantises, France, Michel Ferry (80 minutes)

External bond

  • Guy of Maupassant , Horla other news, P. Ollendorff, Paris, 1887.
    • To read the file DjVu
    • To consult the index Wikisource

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