lunedì 10 settembre 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. HOW ANOTHER NEW DETECTIVE BEGINS HIS LITERARY LIFE

The initial portrait of Dalgleish by P.D. James compared to that of Maigret by Georges Simenon 

SIMENON SIMENON. COMMENT UN AUTRE NOUVEAU DETECTIVE COMMENCE SA VIE LITTERAIRE 
Le portrait initial de Dalgleish par P.D. James comparé à celui de Maigret par Georges Simenon 
SIMENON SIMENON. COME UN'ALTRO NUOVO DETECTIVE INIZIA LA SUA VITA LETTERARIA
Il ritratto iniziale di Dalgleish di P.D. James confrontato a quello di Maigret da parte di Georges Simenon



A look at Adam Dalgleish in Cover Her Face, the first in the 14-work series by P. D. James, stimulated an earlier presentation of Jules Maigret’s initial portrait. That initial Dalgleish is less fleshed out and characterized as outlined in comparison below. 
There is little biographic information about this presumed Scotsman who works in England. For instance, while a decorated screen shielding a crib recalls his childhood, no details about his life ensue. His statement that My only son and his mother died three hours after he was born suggests he was married once. (Note: the Maigrets lost their only child at childbirth as well.) His age is unstated, but his rank as Detective Chief-Inspector and the fact of “his first big case seven years ago” makes him experienced. His sergeant thinks of him as “an old man.” Despite professional similarities with Maigret, he differs considerably. Calling him “the cultured cop! for recognizing a painted work of art hints that he is more broadly educated. One highly informative scene reveals him heading “on one of his rare off-duty days” for “his 30-foot sailing-boat” in a car he owns and drives! He is no gourmet since he merely craved simple English food properly cooked, and the only drink he consumes is tea! 
His physical description is minimalhe is “tall, dark, and handsome. His “plump white hands” and smiling eyes behind thick spectacles” contrast with the impression he is a “supercilious-looking devil.” An off-hand comment about him looking like Dürer’s Portrait of an Unknown Man finishes off the direct depictions. 
Much like Simenon, James expresses her protagonist’s image and personality through oft-repeated descriptions of his voice: it is “soft’ and “quiet” and “gentle” and “calm” and “level.” Once, he sensed that the smooth apologies with which he usually prefaced embarrassing questions would be out of place here and, another time, “his voice lost its controlled neutrality.” James also reveals Dalgleish through what he says, but unfortunately her detective does not ask as much as he listens. He ‘‘knew very well when he might learn most by silence.’’ In investigative techniqueDalgleish is less actively involved, much less hands-on than Maigret. He does not uncover many clues, make any stakeouts, or actively pursue his prey. In fact, others including the suspects themselves perform much of the inquiry. Still, as evidence and testimony pop up, Dalgleish employs analysis and intuitionlike Maigret. He “does not theorize in advance of his facts, but he also takes “a complete shot in the dark.” 
Dalgleish looks Maigret-like when signs of a compassionate nature crop up. His eyes show “a momentary but unmistakable compassion. His sergeant notes how “Dalgleish dealt with him [a suspect] gently. He might have been speaking to a son.” He displays patience, too, as he “showed no sign of impatience” and “had never been known to lose his temper with a witness.” His approach is variable: running from being business-like (“I expect you to take all my questions seriously.”) to displaying “tedious thoroughness” to becoming “ruthless, unorthodox, working always against time to being “patient, uncensorious and omnipotent, the father confessor. This latter label may mean he will develop akin to Simenon’s “mender of destinies.” 

David P Simmons 

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