giovedì 10 novembre 2016

SIMENON SIMENON. DARD AND SIMENON WERE GOOD FRIENDS….

About the ups and downs of the friendship between these two writers 

SIMENON SIMENON. DARD ET SIMENON ETAIENT DE BONS AMIS…. 
Au propos des hauts et des bas dans l’amitié entre ces deux écrivains 
SIMENON SIMENON. DARD E SIMENON ERANO BUONI AMICI
A proposito degli alti e bassi nell'amicizia tra i due scrittori



Having compared Georges Simenon and Frédéric Dard as authors in two earlier posts, I was intrigued to learn details about their personal relationship in Pierre Assouline’s biography SimenonAlthough 18 years separated the men in age, Dard and Simenon became close friends in what seems to have been a protégé-mentor sort of relationship, which was much the way things were between young Simenon and the much older Gide. Founded upon mutual respect and sustained by their transatlantic correspondence, their bond only lasted about a decade, perhaps predictably. 
As a journalist and author, Dard had attended one of Simenon’s conferences just before World War II began and had become “one of his unconditional readers.” When he contacted Simenon about devoting an essay to the latter’s oeuvre, Simenon joined in willingly. I hasten to tell you […] I am entirely at your disposition.” 
After the essay was finished―it ended up in the wastebasket, perhaps a harbinger of things to come―Dard asked Simenon to intercede in his favor with Gaston Gallimard. Willing to help once again, Simenon contacted Gallimard in February 1945, citing a “talent” worthy of “serious” consideration. During the war period and after Simenon fled to America, the two communicated mostly through lettersSimenon found himself in the position of a “mentor” to his young [writing] colleague” whom he wanted to ‘help, propel, and encourage” because he was “convinced of his talent.” It was a two-way street, however, for Simenon solicited Dard’s opinions about his works as well. “I am more grateful for the opinions of young ones like you than the praises of the old critics.” 
By January 1947, “it was inevitable that they would end up working together.” Fascinated by The Snow Was Dirty, Dard suggested a theatrical adaptation. Together, they began writing a play “with four hands.” Yet, this was when their “first dissensions” came to light, fostered by the distance and growing number of intermediaries between themIn fact, although the play had been running since December 1950 and achieving “clear success,” Simenon did an about-face in February 1951. Despite earlier acknowledging “our collaboration and agreeing both men’s names should appear side by side on the script, he became “furious,” apparently blaming Dard, along with some others, for making “unforgiveable” changes from the novel without my consent. Although Simenon assured Dard they were still friends, Assouline comments that “nothing was ever as it had been before.” Indeed, when Simenon returned to France in 1952 and encountered Dard, who “had his hopes up” about seeing his friend again, Simenon “turned his back on him” and, without speaking to him, walked away, leaving Dard to “spend the night in tears.” When Dard confronted Simenon the next day, he managed to extract a private apology, but he went away, still bitter about his public humiliation. 
Having myself just finished another Dard novel (The Executioner Weeps) that strongly displays how much the romans de la nuit author had in common with the romans durs author, it was too bad to learn their friendship ended in such a way. 

David P Simmons

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