giovedì 20 giugno 2019


About the similarities between the Maigret novels and the “romans durs” 

Sulle somiglianze tra i romanzi Maigret e i “romans durs”  
A propos des similarités entre les romans Maigret et les « romans durs » 

Many times people have thought that the Maigret novels and the "romans durs" are two lines running in two isolated tunnels without any communication between them. It's true that Simenon didn't need Maigret to investigate human soul. Yet Maigret was a fundamental step to reach those psychological novels that dig into man.  
In fact the traditional division between the literary periods in Simenon's works is in part artificial, although being convenient. It's true that a first part, from 1923 to 1931, was a period of apprenticeship, during which he wrote on command, both by genre and length, and he delivered a text as requested and within the established time frame. Yet this decade also served Simenon to mature, not only from the point of view of writing mastery, but also in relationship to a progressive awareness as well as of his own abilities as of the type of literature he wanted to practice.  
Of course Maigret is an evolution compared to the popular novels period, and on the other hand he's a natural consequence to it, and also the result of Simenon's matured experience. Maigret's psychological characteristics, mentality, vision of life are the results of Simenon's free choice and often they are a more or less direct translation of the writer himself. And moreover some themes treated in the Chief Inspector's investigations are to be found in the "romans durs", with another cut, and sometimes with greater depth, as if the author had tested first to develop them later on. 
But we can also say that the arguments and situations of the "romans durs" can often be found in the Maigret novels. And this is also due to the fact that from 1931 up to 1972 Simenon alternated the romans durs and the Maigret novels, and these ones grew in quality (sometimes there were a weaker one among these novels, yet with such a substantial production, we could call it a physiological phenomenon).  
And on the other hand, it has always been very difficult for us to think that, when Simenon began to write an investigation of the Chief Inspector at the Quai des Orfèvres, all his literary baggage, his particular style, the writing he was used to with other novelseverything would have been hermetically sealed somewhere and Maigret's drawing up would have been like entrusted to another hand and to another brain. On the contrary, if we take a few steps back and look at the entirety of his works, we can see the highs and lows, the clear and the dark, but all within an absolutely natural homogeneity, maybe not entirely conscious from the part of the writer… Reading and rereading the more than two hundred titles gives more than ever the feeling of a cursus unicum that unfolds harmoniously, without fractures or different levels. 
Of course we must consider that the Maigret novels are a literature of genre and in a serial mode, and this puts stakes that the writer must necessarily observe. If we succeed in going beyond this element, we can't but notice how little the difference is (and sometimes it's even difficult to find one) between the world described by Simenon in the "romans durs", a world of anonymous figures, petty or great braggarts, and the ambiances and characters that Maigret encounters in his investigations. Let's think about that. 

by Simenon-Simenon 

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