giovedì 29 dicembre 2016

SIMENON SIMENON. MAIGRET AND BANKS? SIMENON AND ROBINSON?

Are these detectives and writers similar or different? 

SIMENON SIMENON. MAIGRET ET BANKS? SIMENON ET ROBINSON? 
Est-ce que ces détectives et ces écrivains sont similaires ou différents ? 
SIMENON SIMENON. MAIGRET ET BANKS? SIMENON E ROBINSON


I keep running into detectives and authors who invite comparing and contrasting with Jules Maigret and Georges SimenonAlan Banks and Peter Robinson is the new pairGallows View became my trial sample because it was the first published work in the Robinson’s Inspector Banks seriesCompared to Simenon’s 75 novels and 28 short stories, Robinson has written 23 novels and 7 short stories, but he’s already 66 and his output so far has been about one Banks novel a year since 1987. 
Gallows View features Peeping Toms, petty break-ins, sex and rape, violence and murder in Eastvale, a fictitious community in the Yorkshire region of Northern England. It starts out as a police procedural and finishes as a thriller. 
Robinson indicates he grew up on Simenon and Maigret, which helped make him a crime fiction writer, but he seems more evolver than imitator. One feels Banks is following in Maigret’s footsteps somewhat, but Banks is mostly his own man. Moreover, from what I can gather, Banks changes over time, unlike Maigret who is a pretty stable character―at least to my mind. In the portrait I’ve drawn below, Bank looks much like Maigret except for some differences in persona set off in bold type: 
A professional detective in a small townChief Inspector Banks walks to the police station every day, listening to opera on his Walkman. A small Englishman (He didn’t even look tall enough to be a policeman.), he smokes cigarettesbut only sporadically unless nervous or tense. He drinks a lot, day and night, but favors spirits over beer and wine. On the job, he’s a patient man (“He had the patience and the persistence of a cat after a bird.”), but off-duty, he has a tendency to drop hobbies and interests. He’s intelligent, approaching the intellectual (Books, indeed, were his sole luxuries.). He’s stern (“Why must you always be so serious?”) to the point of bluntness. He displays some compassion for criminalsjust not to many. His method employs observation, reason, and intuition. He’s openly analytical (“There’s nothing like facts.) and much more an examiner of criminal psychology (“It was unwise to expect stereotypes.”). He does think, but he relies much less on intuition.  He loves his wife, but one senses “a chasm between them. […] “That unbridgeable gap.” 
As for their writing, Robinson does not copy Simenon. To be sure, there’s rain, lots and lots of rain, but his descriptions are more filled out and a bit longer. Robinson puts more action on stage plus it is more graphic: the burglars desecrate the crime scenes with urine and feces. He gives us more sex: we glimpse breasts in Simenon, but we study them in Robinson. His dialogue is more drawn out and complicated, particularly when sleuthing: “The scientific term is scopophiliac, by the way,” and “Prosopagnosia? It’s the inability to recognize faces.” 
In the end, I agreed with Robinson: “The ‘greats,’ […] they never really changed what they did, who they were. They existed only in order to solve puzzles. Yet the modern detective develops….” So, my impression is that Robinson is not Simenon, nor is Banks, Maigret. In fact, I visualize both the writer and his character as their more modern descendants…. 

David P Simmons

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