giovedì 16 luglio 2020


About an interview with Simenon made by Lacassin in 1969 

Su un intervista a Simenon fatta da Lacassin nel 1969
propos d'une interview de Simenon faite par Lacasssin en 1969 

“Of course, any writer puts something of himself in his characters, and a character like the Chief Inspector, which had accompanied Simenon during forty years, must have something in common with his creator. Maigret was a character all invented, but he allowed Simenon to expose his own convictions. Isn’t Maigret, among the millions of characters created by the novelist, the one with whom he had a preferential relationship?” 
These are some arguments given by people about the theme of similarities between Simenon and Maigret. It’s a theme that has often been talked about. Discussions crossed and multiplied. Today we should like to talk about an interesting interview with Simenon made by Francis Lacassin in July 1969. It’s more than an interview, it’s a kind of chat that spans 360 degrees in the Simenonian universe, and that of Maigret is an unavoidable stage that Lacassin fathoms well. In a chapter entitled An anarchist named Maigret, which is about the beginnings of the series of his investigations, Simenon told this: “at the beginning, Maigret was rather elementary, wasn’t he? He was a placid man. He trusted more on his instinct than on his intelligence and in all the fingerprints or in the other proceedings that he obligatorily followed, but without believing too much in them. In fact, little by little we began to resemble us a little, but I couldn’t tell whether I got closer to him or whether it was the character that got to resemble me more and more. What is certain is that I took some of his attitudes and he took some of mine.” 
Here Simenon talked about Maigret as if he were a real person, and not an invented character, and of course, whatever the character did or thought, it was obviously Simenon that made him do or think so. This is significant of the fact that the relationship between the character and the novelist was quite particular.  
Then Simenon explained some specific details: “I was often asked why Maigret didn’t’ have any children, despite the fact that he would have wanted too. This was his great nostalgia. He has no children because when I began to write the novels - and I had written at least about thirty before having myself a son, my first wife didn’t want to have children. She had me swear, before marrying, that we wouldn’t have children […]. I suffered much about it, because I’m so fond of children… Just like Maigret… So I was not able to describe a Maigret who went back home and took care of one or two children. How would he speak to them, how would he react when they cried, how would he have done with bottle feeding if Mme Maigret should be ill? It was impossible for me to know it. Consequently, I had to create a couple that could not have children…” 
This shows that, to write about a topic, Simenon needed to have a minimum of personal experience about that topic. He wrote about what he lived, he described what he knew. He could very well have asked a friend who had children to tell him how the life was with them, the problems, the rhythms of day and so on… But he didn’t do so. If a topic wasn’t part of his experience, he didn’t deal with it. And this makes the difference with the period when he wrote popular novels, for which he invented all. For example, in his adventure novels, which took place in all the most exotic places in the world, he needed but an atlas, some pictures, and some information. But these novels were not signed Simenon, they were not made as he wanted himself, but as the publishers wanted him to do them. Then the time arrived when he moved on to “semi-literature” and he could choose the topics, the characters, the settings for the Maigret novels, and afterwards to “true literature” and the “romans durs”. 
We should like to finish this post by quoting another statement Simenon made, and the Lacassin’s comment about it. Simenon said:
“Maigret doesn’t resemble me. As I am getting older I start to look like him.” And Lacassin commented: “Beyond the pipe and the glasses of white wine drunk on the zinc counter in bars, Simenon and Maigret have other points in common, and in particular the same faith in human dignity.” 

by Simenon-Simenon 

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