A protege of Flaubert, Maupassant’s stories are characterized by their economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements. Many of the stories are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s and several describe the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught in the conflict, emerge changed. He authored some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. The story "Boule de Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880) is often accounted his masterpiece. His most unsettling horror story, "Le Horla" (1887), was about madness and suicide.