lunedì 24 aprile 2017

SIMENON SIMENON. LIFE IN SWITZERLAND: THE EARLY YEARS

Was life a bed of roses for the man and his family? 

SIMENON SIMENON. LA VIE EN SUISSE : LES PREMIERES ANNEES 
La vie était-elle un lit de roses pour l’homme et sa famille ? 
SIMENON SIMENON. LA VITA IN SVIZZERA: I PRIMI ANNI
La vita è una tutta una passeggiata per l'uomo e la sua famiglia?

When Simenon first settled in Switzerland, where he would remain to the end of his days, one might think he had found paradise. His primary residence for six years was the chateau Échandens near francophone Lausanne. However, his biography shows that life there contained both positives and negatives. 
The positives began with the “calm, serene” existence in the “most stable” country in Europe Simenon anticipated. At the “pinnacle of order and neutrality with its notable good schools and high quality relationships,” it was “the ideal spot” for him. Moreover, Simenon, Inc, had become a considerable multi-national business, and Switzerland’s considerable financial advantages were available to him. This was particularly important, for as Assouline points out, Simenon “certainly always had a big need for money. Not to accumulate it or to grow it, but to immediately spend it. The author appropriately regarded his literary property as his wealth, and he wanted to preserve and protect it for his heirs, especially his beloved children. In his Intimate MemoirsSimenon recalls “delicious, comforting images” of a “cozy, warm, and exhilarating” life with his young children at Échandens. Indeed, a fourth child joined the other three in 1959Marc brought him a daughter-in-law in 1960, and the couple provided two grandchildren within four years. 
Unfortunately, to Simenon’s detrimenta combination of negatives progressively counterbalanced the positives in this early Switzerland period. First of all, his health deteriorated, encompassing vertigo, insomnia, neuralgia, and depression. Assouline offers as evidence of these difficulties the eight months between the writing of two romans durs with one in-between MaigretCould it be that the widowhood, retreat, depression, and suicide themes in those three works were veiled expressions of Simenon’s personal turmoil? The report that “arm paralysis” prevented the writer from typing at one point intrigues me as a physician. Was he so physically disabled that he could not type or was he so mentally distressed that he did not want to type? I suspect the latter was the more likely situation. 
The second negative in play was the deterioration of his marriage. Alcoholism and depression afflicted Georges and Denise increasinglyand since they were living on a two-way street, conflict was unavoidable. Feeling “obstructed, discouraged, and dissatisfied,” Simenon described their unexpected storms, bright spells, and gloomy stretches. Medical attention, especially Denise’s psychiatric hospitalization, may have facilitated Simenon’s partial, if not full, recovery, and his autobiographical outpourings may have contributed, too. In fact, Simenon wrote a lengthy “intimate journal” by hand over a 20-month period with the goal to put there, in a nutshell, what doe not go into my novel[…] that will relieve the disagreeable sensation of doing nothing for weeks.” How much this quasi-psychoanalytical ventilation, this “taking off the mask of novelist” as it were, may (or may not) have served as personal psychotherapy is an interesting question. Describing its content as “insincere” himself, Simenon ultimately regretted its later publication. 

David P Simmons 

Nessun commento: