giovedì 8 giugno 2017


Extracts from a unique daylong interview by a team of five doctors 

Extraits d’une interview unique, d'une journée complète, par une équipe de cinq médecins 
Estratti da un'intervista unica, durata un'intera giornata, da parte di un'equipe di cinque medici

Five doctors spent seven hours interviewing Georges at Epalinges in 1968. Three were psychiatrists, two were generalists, and two of these five were treating physicians for the Simenon family. The introduction to their lengthy (34 pages) report published in the Swiss medical journal Médecine et Hygiène states, “We thought it would be interesting and instructive tspend a day with Simenon.” Perhaps more accurately, biographer Pierre Assouline indicates their goal was to “put Simenon face to face with his contradictions. In any case, the interviewers met a man who remained modest, had a direct manner, raised questions constantly, and was suspicious of himself and his talent.” While the focus was on Simenon, the subjects covered were all over the block, extending into matters like influences of his family (his homeless uncle) and painters (Picassoand philosophers (Nietzsche) and, of course, psychiatrists (Jung). The journal editors thanked Simenon warmly for permitting them to publish their psychological and literary documentation of his free-flowing confidences. Hoping to transmit some interesting and informative insights about Simenon to Anglophones, I’ve translated a variety of extracts related to his writing, his psychology, medical aspects in his life and works, and the interviewing panel’s conclusions to be presented in three successive parts: 
1) Are you a novelist of the unconscious? was the abrupt question that initiated the session, but Simenon’s answer was measured“Yes, certainly. I have to seize surges of the unconscious, and if I let these moments pass, there is the risk this unconscious will evaporate. For example, if I get sick while elaborating a novel and have to resume writing it some days laterthere’s a strong possibility I’ll have to abandon it, for it has become totally foreign to me.” 
2) “While writing a book, it’s about me writing as rapidly as possible but thinking as little as possible in order to let the unconscious work to its maximum. At the end, a novel I wrote consciously would probably be very bad. Intelligence should not intervene during the writing of a book.” 
3) ”I’m instinctive. I’m not at all an intellectual. I never think a novel; I feel a novel. 
4) “I work a little like painters. A painter starts a canvas without knowing at all where he’s going, and as he works ohis canvas, it’s bit by bit that everything changes. 
5) I decided to type my manuscripts on a typewriter in order to be directly connected without passing through the filter of writing with a pencil. That demands a certain amount of weighing, which slows the rhythm.” 
6) “The very first preparation of a novel begins with malaise, a sort of funk, and it’s only two or three days later that I comprehend I’m in the process of grabbing hold of something, of feeling my way along….” 
7) “It is necessary that something suddenly modifies the life course of a character. […] The incident is revealing in some way. […] That incident plays the role of a catalyst.”  

*(Part 2 presents numbers 8 to 18….) 

David P Simmons 

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