giovedì 18 giugno 2020
SIMENON SIMENON. A KIND OF MAIGRET SUBSTITUTE
How the novel "Monsieur La Souris" resembles a novel with the Chief Inspector
SIMENON SIMENON. UNA SPECIE DI SOSTITUTO DI MAIGRET
Come il romanzo "Monsieur La Souris" ricorda un romanzo con il commissario
SIMENON SIMENON. UNE SORTE D’ERSATZ DE MAIGRET
On September 6, 1938, Gallimard published the novel Monsieur La Souris, which Simenon had written the previous year during his stay in the much loved island of Porquerolles. To our opinion this novel is a good example of how Simenon’s works are particularly fluent, not only in the language, but also in the narrative mechanism, the topics and the psychological analyses.
Besides we can point up something particular. At the time Simenon was a launched novelist, he was writing for a very prestigious publisher, and nevertheless this novel, belonging to the “romans durs”, contains a plot with a murder, a plot, an investigation and a rhythm that are similar to a Maigret novel. And even among the characters there are to be found chief inspector Lucas and inspectors Lognon and Janvier…
Well, we could object that these names don’t mean anything. Yet why, among so many names at his disposal (let’s remind of these phone lists in which Simenon used to find the right name for his characters), did the novelist precisely choose these ones that, along with a certain narrative cutting, seem to want to create a kind of bridge between the “romans durs” and the Maigret novels? Thus the setting in Paris, the Brasserie Dauphine, the beginning dedicated to the mournful inspector Lognon, and La Souris, this special bum who looks a lot like those whom Maigret has often to deal with. And when it turns out that the murdered person is a high-ranking exponent of Swiss finance, chief inspector Lucas enters the scene. A whole chapter is entitled “An interrogation à la chansonnette”, a classical topic in the Maigret novels.
The main protagonist is “père La Souris”, an ex music teacher, now become a bum. He finds a dead man in a car; the corpse falls to the ground and a well-stocked wallet falls a little further. La Souris would have liked to keep the content (150’000 dollars), but then he decides to deliver it to the police, hoping that nobody would claim it and that after some times it would be given to him.
We can remember that this novel had been written during that period when no Maigret novels would appear, that is to say from 1934 to 1938, in the years when Simenon only wrote some short stories with the Chief Inspector. And Monsieur La Souris is a true detective novel, even if the attention is paid to the character and the psychology of this special bum, more than to the murder and the plot about a very rare and precious stamp.
Why did Simenon use typical characters of the Maigret series? Lucas in the Chief Inspector’s overcoat and smoking the pipe (even if we know that in the Maigret saga, Lucas tries to seem like his boss)… Did the novelist choose to put Lucas on stage as a Chief Inspector because he missed Maigret? Couldn’t he choose another name and another policeman among the immense archive of human types and characters he had in his mind? On the contrary, his choice felt on something familiar, as if, keeping the intention of not writing Maigret novels anymore, Simenon would take the liberty of going to sniff that air again and attend certain places…
In short there are many points of contact and the story is full of other similar characters and topics, such as the comparison between the bum’s life and that of the people of high international finance, the theme of destiny up to its extreme consequences, and thus we can say that this novel demonstrates that the distance between the “romans durs” and the Maigret novels is not so large.
Two films have been made from this novel: Monsieur La Souris, a 1942 French movie, directed by Georges Lacombe and Raimu in the part of La Souris; a 1950 English production, Midnight Episode, directed by Gordon Parry and Stanley Holloway in the part of the bum.
Pubblicato da Maurizio Testa a 02:13