giovedì 7 marzo 2019

SIMENON SIMENON. THE NOVELIST'S METHOD AND THAT OF THE CHIEF INSPECTOR

Writing a novel or leading an investigation, when Simenon and Maigret meet... 

SIMENON SIMENON. IL METODO DEL ROMANZIERE E QUELLO DEL COMMISSARIO 
Scrivere un romanzo o condurre un'indagine, quando Simenon e Maigret si incontrano ... 
 SIMENON SIMENON. LA METHODE DU ROMANCIER ET CELLE DU COMMISSSAIRE 
Ecrire un roman ou mener une enquête, quand Simenon et Maigret se rejoignent…


"When you are writing a Maigret novel, do you already know the argument of the book? 
- No, no and no! 
- So you are building it step by step? 
- Of course! Otherwise I think it wouldn't interest me anymore. [...] I have to go through the same anxieties as Maigret does, and, like him, generally in the fifth or sixth chapter, I feel this difficult moment, when I'm in front of three, four, five different solutions, and I wonder which is the good one. Because there is only one right solution. Generally it is the most difficulty day to pass, when you have to decide for the rest of the novel." 
This is what Simenon told to Roger Stéphane in a 1963 interview. We know that the novelist was "falling in novel state", as he said, and this state was provoked by something particular, like a smell, a form, a colour, joining with memories, which then aggregated other things, characters, places, events that gave the ambience. Then the novelist let himself guide by the concatenation of these elementswhich took shape and greater definition, and that made the plot go on one side or the other.  
Simenon also called that "state of grace", when he captured this perfume or this colour, that reminded him of something, maybe of his past, particularly of his childhood, that had struck him. It could also be a voice or a word. In fact, something that had captured his attention. Then he began to fantasize around this element, until a character was outlined, with his mentality, his personality, his behaviour. And little by little the novelist had to let himself go, empty himself, to allow this character to grow inside himself, in order to be able to reason like him and identify to him.  
Simenon wrote to Gide about this state of grace: "I need to stay in it, no matter the cost. […] At that point nothing can be changed in the order of my days… I don't know what this state of grace consists of, I try to rebuild every day the same proceedings up to the smallest details…" 
This trance and inspiration, necessary to write a novel, were transferred by the novelist to Maigret, so that the Chief Inspector could use them in his investigations. That is to say the novelist's own procedure to elaborate, conceive and produce a novel was transposed into the Chief Inspector's inquiry methods.  
At the beginning, Maigret finds himself lost in an environment he does not know, in contact with people he didn't see before, searching for the solution of a mystery. At that point it happens to him to spend an apparently inactive period. Yet in fact this is an experience corresponding to the novelist's state of novel. The Chief Inspector lets himself impregnate by that environment, by the moods, by the mentality of the place, by the psychology of people and their interpersonal dynamic, by the atmosphere that reigns… Until he puts himself into these people's skin, reasoning like them, and succeeds in understanding their souls, because he has become like them. And that's the most difficult moment in the investigation, when Maigret catches something that will offer a glimpse for the solution, and he must decide which direction to give to the investigation and then move on to action 
For example in one of Maigret's investigations there is a moment in which the author operates this kind of transposition: 
"At the Quai des Orfèvres […] they would say about Maigret, in those moments:  
- There it isThe boss is in trance. 
The disrespectful inspector Torrence, who nevertheless had a true worship for the Chief Inspector, said more bluntly: 
- Now the boss is in the bath.  
"In trance" or "in the bath", was a state that Maigret's collaborators saw coming with relief. They succeeded in guessing it by small warning signs, and in predicting prior to the Chief Inspector when the crisis would break out." (Maigret in New York) 
In conclusion Simenon had to put himself into Maigret's skin (as he did with his other characters) and he had to let the Chief Inspector put himself into the suspects' skin… Thus we could say that Maigret's method is nothing else than a kind of "state of novel"… 

by Simenon-Simenon 

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