giovedì 16 novembre 2017


On a few ‘minor’ idiosyncrasies relating to her demise at 25

A propos de quelques mineures idiosyncrasies relatives à son décès à 25 ans
Qualche piccola idiosincrasia relativa al suo decesso a 25 anni
Pierre Assouline’s long and thorough biography Simenon devotes relatively few pages to the important subject of Marie-Jo’s early death. Notably, Deidre Barr in a review of the biography observesIf there is a fault in Assouline's otherwise impeccable reportage, it is his seeming discomfort at having to write about her sorry end -- she committed suicide at the age of 25.” Yet, the biographer does provide the basics surrounding and shrouding Marie-Jo’s tragic history, and a little research uncovers some additional interesting information: 
The nickname Marie-Jo derived from Marie-Georges, and that derived from Simenon’s own nameNaming his daughter after himself seems eerily prophetic. 
Marie-Jo was “cherished in particular” by Simenon. He “adored her because she was his only girl and she was the weakest and most vulnerable of his four [children].” 
Marie-Jo shot herself with a gun she bought from the Parisian gun shop she learned about in her father’s Maigret and Monsieur Charles, which was written and published in 1972. It’s an example of why Simenon “felt guilty for the perverse influence that certain of his novels might have exerted on his daughter.” 
Marie-Jo killed herself two months after her mother’s bookA Bird for the Cat, appeared. It “shocked” and “agitated” and “overwhelmed” her. Assouline refers to it as “not the cause of her suicide, but the detonator.” 
Marie-Jo apparently attempted suicide several times before she finally succeeded—twice with pills and once by jumping out of a window. 
Marie-Jo only went out with men “who reminded her of her father when she was living in Paris toward the end of her life. 
Marie-Jo wrote letters about her intentions to her brothers before she killed herself, but she sent “annotated books, songs, poems, diaries, and tapes” to her father with the result that he was “the only one able to put together all the elements of the puzzle.” 
Marie-Jo is “above all” recognizable as the protagonist Odile in Simenon’s 1971 novelThe Disappearance of Odile, which features characters with striking resemblances to Georges, Denise, and Johnny as well. Indeed, as the biographer puts it, Marie-Jo “could not have escaped recognizing herself.” It turns out that Odile is a teenager, who has “a father who thinks only about his books” and a mother who “acted toward her as if she did not exist” and an older bother “who loved her plenty.” According to Assouline, the “ghost of a successful suicide” lurks at the end of this “frightening portrait. 
Marie-Jo lay dead for five years and at the same time her apartment remained “sealed” with blood-soaked sheets still on the bed, while the family wrangled over who should inherit it, and while Simenon wrote his Intimate Memoirs…” (These morbid details appeared in a 1989 article by Steve King around the time of Simenon’s own death). 
A soon-to-follow piece on this blog site will pinpoint some more important factors contributing to Marie-Jo’s early demise. 

David P Simmons 

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