On a roman dur that is very dur
SIMENON SIMENON. LE ROMAN “LES SUICIDES” EST-IL UNE HISTOIRE D’UN DOUBLE SUICIDE ? / 1
Sur un roman dur qui est très dur
SIMENON SIMENON. IL ROMANZO "I SUICIDI" E' UNA STORIA DI UN DOPPIO SUICIDIO? / 1
Su un roman dur, particolarmente "duro".
Given its title and opening lines, this novel promises to tell the tale of the suicides of its two chief characters, Emile Bachelin and Juliette Grandvalet. But, at the end, has it actually done that? An examination of their personalities and behaviors answers this question. We will look first at her and follow that with a look at him.
Juliette, a seventeen-year-old childlike homebody in a small town in central France, gets the chance to emerge as a young woman in the big city of Paris when Emile, her twenty-two-year-old boyfriend suddenly drags her off as part of his self-gratifying escape plan.
Juliette is a fundamentally indifferent individual, an oddly and totally emotionless person. From her earliest days, “she was used to looking at people and things indifferently.” Indeed, “it was always the same thing. She took interest in nothing. She enjoyed nothing. She was satisfied to look, or rather to pay attention in her own way.” Her upbringing in a restrictive and protective, patriarchal family environment strongly promoted a “childish” immaturity as well. “She kept her same look: solemn, indifferent, and child-like, all at the same time.” Indeed, “her face wore no trace of emotion,” and “eyes empty of thoughts, she stared straight in front of herself.”
In addition, her behavior is characterized by extreme passivity. “She was not thinking about what she was saying. That appeared meaningless,” and “she always ate without realizing it.” That Juliette “has always been submissive” is reflected in how, soon after the couple’s arrival in Paris, “she does not object” when Emile dictates a suicide note from her to her parents that states, “If you try to bring me home, I will kill myself.” Leave it to Simenon to put her father hot on their trail despite knowing full well they “both would kill themselves.”
Juliette continues to maintain striking emotionless passivity in Paris. “She had always walked like this, looking straight ahead, indifferent to the passersby and the street scene.” At the same time, she displays an “inhuman calmness.” Despite being “without means of support, money, or hope,” she remains “calm, peaceful, and tranquil.” But “she is not sad or desperate. It is more as if an emptiness formed inside her.”
The novel evolves with the couple struggling to survive on little or no money. Crime seems to be the solution at first, but it only prolongs their meager existence and intensifies their growing conflicts. Although they hang on together, they are broke and, with no options, the couple becomes progressively unhappy. Even indifferent Juliette finally looks at passers-by and “wonders if those strangers have a life like hers, at once boring and absurd.”
Without a reason to continue this existence, Emile suggests they commit suicide. It is his idea, but she is the one who goes and gets the gun. Still, despite being “tired of living,” ever-passive Juliette cannot—or will not—pull the trigger. Up steps ever-aggressive Emile who seizes the gun and shoots her to death. In actual fact, this is not suicide. It is murder. And, given their tragic pact, the ball is still in Emile’s court….
David P Simmons
In Italia questo romanzo usci' nel 1938, edito da Mondadori, con il titolo "la fuga"RispondiElimina