How Georges comes of age—sexually—in more ways than one.
SIMENON SIMENON. UN GARCON EN PLEINE CROISSANCE SE CONFRONTE A LA SEXUALITE
Comment Georges arrive à maturité — sexuellement — de plus d’une façon.
SIMENON SIMENON. UN RAGAZZO IN PIENA CRESCITA SI CONFRONTA CON LA SESSUALITA'
Come Georges arriva alla maturità - sessualmente - in più di un modo
Although Simenon said, “I wasn’t driven by any complex; only by a need,” his purported sexual promiscuity is a complex subject. Self-professed — whether truth, exaggeration, or myth — it undoubtedly had deep roots.
The first chapter in Assouline’s biography documents some potent influences on Simenon’ssexuality that came into play
during his formative years.
Here are three milestones on that bumpy road:
1. In a prime example of what the English translation sadly omits, Assouline wrote: “Many years later, whenever Georges Simenon recalls Henriette in front of one of his sons, he will talk about what traumatized him the most long-term: her very personal way of complaining shamelessly about her genitals, which made her suffer and prefer her youngest son to the exclusion and detriment of her older one.” It’s easy and tragic to envision how that might have negatively impacted the child’s developing and the adult’s eventual sexuality.
2. By the time Georges was twelve years old, according to Assouline, one of “the problems” was “girls.” Indeed, according to Simenon himself, all of a sudden a much older girl made him lie down, licked his body, removed his underpants, and mounted him. “She hurt me very badly” and “practically circumcised me” with that particular trauma related to a congenital male condition (partial penile phimosis that neither would likely have known might cause difficulty). In this event, beyond the ‘premature’ sexual awakening and loss of virginity, were threatening elements of sexual abuse and perhaps rape. In any case, Assouline asserts that Georges “to say the least, from then on, was no longer the same.” Subsequently, Georges made a great effort to see the girl “as often as possible.” In fact, he switched his career path from the priesthood to the military just to attend a school closer to her, but feeling rebuffed by “his first love” on the very first day there, he abruptly renounced her.
3. Three years later, mostly because, in Assouline’s words, “sin gave him the taste of women,” Georges “lost faith” in face of the ‘absolute taboo” regarding sex that Catholic priests insisted upon. Because these instructors “dispensed” education as well as religion, he quit both to take yet another path at fifteen and a half years old. This action shows how important sexuality was to the youngster.
Perhaps the teenager was on track to becoming a sexual addict?
It hints too that the older Simenon might be a man of extremes.
Forty-three years later, Simenon dictated in Quand j’étais vieux: “I consider sexuality, all sexual actions as natural and beautiful.” In speaking about having a person in his arms, he went on, “That I am able to give certain vibrations to that body delights me more than my own enjoyment.”
These statements offer wholesome, almost noble explanations for his claimed sexual promiscuity. Perhaps, pristine feelings like these combined with the menacing effects from the three experiences cited above in the makeup of his sexual being. Hopefully through reading Assouline’s biography, one will get closer to weighing the proportions of these disparate factors.
David P Simmons
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