About the novelist’s “method”
SIMENON SIMENON. SCRITTURA INCONSCIA
Sul "metodo" del romanziere
SIMENON SIMENON. ECRITURE INCONSCIENTE
A propos de la « méthode » du romancier
“I have to catch puffs of unconscious and if I let pass “the” moment, there is a risk that this unconscious evaporates”. Thus Simenon, in the famous 1968 interview for Médecine et Hygiène, described this “click” that preceded the “état de roman”. Something that seemed to come from outside him. Intuition was born within himself, but involuntarily, as if his conscious part had nothing to do with it. And the same for instinct. An impromptu impulse that took him without knowing where and how, which brought him where he himself would never have imagined.
Does that mean that the novelist was only a mere instrument in the hand of his unconscious? Unaware and dependant of chance? Dependant of the creative trance that kidnapped him and dragged into an unknown world?
We could think so when we read what Simenon told in this same interview: “I spend my life fighting between the unconscious and the reason, because I believe in my work only if it’s made by the unconscious. […] I open the door to reason just for what is needful to social life.”
Nevertheless Simenon’s rationality expressed itself profusely in the management of his own image, in conducting business with publishers, in the way he managed with his not easy family life. And let’s not forget the period of popular literature, when he had to coordinate the most various requests from his publishers, respecting delivery dates, and writing texts every time different in style, topic and length.
Then, who is the real Simenon? In the interview with Bernard Pivot, the novelist told: “I’m an instinctive man, not at all an intellectual. I never “thought” a novel, I felt it. I never thought about a character, I felt it. I never invented a situation, the situation came when I was writing a novel...”
Thus Simenon defined himself as non-intellectual. Because he claimed that things happened to him without he could give an explanation about why and wherefore. All instinct, therefore? “I write as fast as I can type out and I follow my intuition. That’s why I blame most of the French critics who don’t refer to this intuition, which is the key of my works.” That’s what Simenon told in his dictation Des traces de pas.
We personally think that Simenon put much of himself in his works, and this doesn’t contradict what he was saying. We believe that these puffs of unconscious, this intuition, these instinctive moments go through the mind of many people, but there are few who know how to catch them. Simenon had a kind of exasperated sensibility for theses elements and he instinctively perceived their beauty, depth and hidden sides. Only such a capacity could grasp some evanescent sensations and then get dragged away where those unconscious and unaware chimeras led him.
And where did he get? We know it well. He succeeded in writing hundreds of novels that have bewitched generations and go on so nowadays. And such an intuitive and instinctive novelist as Simenon was would certainly have been satisfied with that.
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