lunedì 12 settembre 2016

SIMENON SIMENON. SIMENON ET SON MAIGRET: THE TALK OF THE TOWN

 How a celebration sparks a certain celebrity for the author and his series. 

SIMENON SIMENON. SIMENON ET SON MAIGRET : TOUTE LA VILLE EN PARLE 
Comment une célébration suscite une certaine renommée pour l’auteur et sa série. 
SIMENON SIMENON. SIMENON E IL SUO MAIGRET: TUTTA LA CITTA' NE PARLA
Come un evento possa suscitare una certa nomea per l'autore e per la serie



Even though the glass cage fiasco fell through, Simenon was not shy about undertaking further “revolutionary” methods to ensure the release of his books “became an event.” His next innovative marketing idea was to “bet his future on one night” by throwing “a great gala. Thus, his “Anthropometric Ball.” 
This mystical title had an understandable basis at the timeA 1912 French law had unfavorably targeted nomads, who were originally defined as Gypsies, but all sorts of foreigners, itinerants, and other ‘socially undesirable’ people ended up included. Each of these dangerous individuals was required to carry special documentlisting precise physical dimensions considered to be identifying features (anthropometry = human body measurement). A long list included, but was not limited toheight, chest circumference, head size, and arm span plus the sizes of the right ear and the left middle and little fingers, elbow, and foot. This concept was a spin-off from ancient systems of physiognomy (identifying character from one’s face)and phrenology (identifying character by observing and feeling one’s skull) and more modern Bertillonage (identifying criminality from one’s bodymeasurements). Spaces for fingerprints and facial portraits, items of inherent real value in identification, happened to be included. 
The invitations to the masquerade (at La Boule Blanche, a dance hall in Montparnasse on February 20, 1931) mimicked police summonses, and thousands of post cards with “captivating” Maigret quotes followed. The result: the greeters―a whore, a pimp, and a blood-spattered butcher―welcomed a good one thousand merrymakers. Fake policemen demanded fingerprinting and, of some women, underwear inspection at the door. Inside, painted headless bodies, bloody hands, and handcuffs decorated the walls while artists disguised as house painters added gangsters and guillotines. As an alternative to dancing and drinkingthere was a competition for the most beautiful anthropometric head. In the wee hours of the morning, “the tireless stripped naked and took champagne showers” as an equally tireless “unfazed’ Simenon spent the better part of the soirée signing book copies“pipe in his teeth” and “barely lifting his nose off the table. 
It was an extremely long celebration. The guests began arriving two hours before the designated midnight opening and, according to Francis Lacassin’s history, “the party ended very late, or rather very early: at 7:00 a.m.” He continues, That same day, the headers of all the gossip columns in all the day's newspapers replayed the details, and all the capital’s periodicals commented later on.” Assouline points out “All of the papers spoke about it as a happening, not literary but Parisian” and emphasizes that the “literary world reacted as negatively as Simenon could [possibly] have feared.” However, Simenon did not take this seriously, “treating it with as much condescension as if he was actually the man who had written in a glass cage.” 
So, in this way, Simenon launched himself and, by the way, Maigret. Still, the man with the “indisputable thirst for publicity” was not finished as time would tell. 

David P Simmons

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