giovedì 28 giugno 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. CRIMES PUNISHED AND UNPUNISHED

 A look at another of his “American” roman durs 

SIMENON SIMENON. QUELQUES CRIMES PUNIS ET IMPUNIS 
Un aperçu sur un autre de ses romans durs “américains”
SIMENON SIMENON. ALCUNI CRIMINI PUNITI E IMPUNITI
Uno sguardo su un'altro dei suoi  romans durs americani 

There are many interesting aspects of the 1954 roman dur entitled Crime impuni of which twEnglish translations are available: The Fugitive from 1955 and Account Unsettled from 1962. A good example is the way Simenon divided the novel into two distinct parts, which are close in length but separated chronologically by 26 years. Notably, the first part can stand alone as a short storywithout the sequel. 
Part One transpires almost exclusively within the confines of a boarding house accommodating a small group of culturally disparate university students in Belgium during the 1920sElie, an impoverished doctoral candidate from Poland, leads a stable and satisfying life there until Michel, a rich new boarder from Romania, moves in. More social than studious, Michel disrupts Elie’s cloistered, narrow-minded existence“Within a week of crossing the threshold for the first time, he became the main character.” Although this gregarious newcomer tries to befriend the shut-in loner, he persistently rejects Michel because self-absorption is Elie’s lifestyle. At first, it’s a matter of diffuse jealousy on Elie’s part. Michel has everything Elie does not. But, as Michel extends his domination of the boarding house into the seduction of Louise, the landlady’s sickly and vulnerable young daughter, the situation deteriorates into a more specific focus. Elie has fantasized about Louise for a long time. Feeling “sheltered from the tumult outside” the boarding house, Elie finds “her presence in a room was sufficient to provide him peaceful well-being, and he envisioned spending life beside her as a natural thing.” Yet, he has never expressed any of these feelings or expectations to her. Although Elie “would have been jealous even if nothing had happened between her and Michel,” now hatred rears its ugly head. 
As the days go on, the couple makes no effort to hide their sexual relations and, in fact, they keep them up directly under Elie’s spying eyes. Perceiving that “without Michel, life would have been the same every night and Elie would have continued to be happy, he blames Michel (not Louise or himself) for this “crime.” Jealousy gets pushed into the background since he now considers the matter “a question of justice. Convinced Michel has stolen Louise from him, “the idea of punishment slipped into his mind […] and replaced all the others bubbling there during recent days.” Thus, Elie repeats and repeats to himself: “I will kill him! 
This anger smolders, boils, and finally erupts. Elie deliberately shoots Michel point-blank in the face. “Michel’s mouth and chin disappeared at the same time, and there was no more than a kind of black and red hole. […This ends with him spinning around and collapsing onto the sidewalk, his skull resounding on the pavement. Following his carefully developed planElie grabs his suitcase, throws the gun in the river, runs to the train station, and leaves town for good. 
What happens at the end of many Simenon romans durs often remains vague. It is that way here. At the end of this vignette, although one “crime gets punished, the other remains impuni—unpunishedDespite Part One’s apparent closureone hopes the distant Part Two will reveal a lot more. 

David P Simmons 

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