Mateo Falcone is an 1829 short story by Prosper Mérimée. It first appeared in the May issue of Revue de Paris. Its tightly focused narrative was well received and it has been called the original French short story.
The narrator recalls Mateo Falcone, a respected landlord and marksman who lived in a rugged part of Corsica frequented by fugitives. One day Mateo leaves his 10-year-old son Fortunato in charge of the house while inspecting a sheep flock. In his absence, a wanted criminal named Gianetto happens by and, knowing Mateo's reputation, asks to hide in the house. Fortunato hesitates but gives in after Gianetto offers him a silver coin.
Soon a group of soldiers arrive led by Fortunato's distant cousin Tiodoro. Tiodoro questions him about Gianetto and, unsatisfied by the answers, orders the home searched. After finding no one, he offers his silver watch in exchange for Gianetto. Unable to resist, Fortunato gives away the criminal's hiding place.
Mateo and his wife return while the soldiers are busy arresting Gianetto. While Tiodoro enthusiastically tells Mateo how the man was captured, Gianetto denounces his house as that of a traitor. Furious, Mateo waits for the soldiers to leave, then orders Fortunato to follow him into a nearby ravine. There he bids Fortunato to say his prayers and then shoots him dead.
- Sachs, Murray (1975) "The Emergence of a Poetics"
- The Short-story: Specimens Illustrating Its Development Brander Matthews - 1907 - Page 137 "He had abundant invention, with a leaning toward tragedy, seized in its intensest aspects. These qualities are visible in " Mateo Falcone," published in 1829, as well as in the longer " Carmen." MATEO FALCONE1 Coming out of Porto- Vecchio ...
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