lunedì 11 febbraio 2019


An after the fact’ look at the crimes in Simenon’s “Three Crimes” 

Un regard ‘après les faits’ sur les crimes dans Les trois crimes de mes amis 
Uno sguardo dopo i fatti sui crimini in "Tre crimini dei miei amici"

This novel intends to present “three crimes” committed by Simenon’s “friends” for retrospective examination. However, in defining one crime as a “triple crime” and equivocating about “five or six deaths, the author undermines the expectation of a straightforward account. By the end, to my count, he has paraded out more than three major crimes, multiple ‘minor’ crimes, four murders with a possible fifth, and at least seven ‘criminals. Here is the gamut of the crimes and criminals: 
Before Danse murders, his ‘minor crimes include multiple pedophiliac assaults on prepubescent girls, blackmailing, and pimpingHis ‘major crimes, specifically three murders, are violent and extravagant in contrast. First, he kills his mistress, not just because she has taken up with another lover, but also because “she decided to leave him.” Then, “afraid to remain alone,” he wakes his mother and, without explanation, kills her, too. When later accused, he acknowledges he “did the same thing” he had seen at the age of four: he beat their heads with a hammer and stabbed their necks with a knife. Then, he quickly proceeds to kill an elderly priest who “had made him suffer” in school, shooting him “point blank with all the bullets in his cylinder. His motivation and goal is “to replace the scaffold [in France] with a prison [in Belgium].” If it was not clear before, it is now apparent Danse is insane. 
Before Deblauwe murders, his ‘minor crimes are conning, blackmailing, and pimping. When another man steals “his woman” and, more importantly, his “bread winner,” he tracks her down, kills her accompanying lover (his ‘major’ crime), and “escapes to prison” by committing a “petty infraction.” Eventually identified and tried, he gets ‘just’ 20 years of hard labor and 20 years of banishment, escaping the death penalty primarily because his runaway mistress testifies in his favor, praising him as “the most charming man who could exist. 
Fakir swindles, plies young people with intoxicants, and deals drugs before committing his major’ crime: spiriting away a vulnerable lost soul, drugging him into addiction, and driving him to his deathLittle K is found, dead, hanging by his neck, after an evening of partying with Georges among others. If self-executed, his death probably was a crime in Belgium at that time. If not illegal, it was at least a moral’ crime. Actually, he may have been hanged. Potential perpetrators include Fakir, an anonymous someone else, or even Georgeswho later on poses this disturbing question: “Didn’t we kill little K?” 
The Two Brothers are essentially bit players who commit multiple crimes but do not kill. Their worst crime does qualify as a ‘major’ one since they repeatedly rob and beat their own mother. Ironically, may be even fortunately, she “took the precaution to die” before they “murdered her.” 
Thus, in this work about three crimes and his friends, Simenon actually describes and examines a great many “crimes” and “friends.” Even if this “true” tale does not provide the understanding of criminals hoped for, it is interesting, disturbing, and challenging read. 

David P Simmons 

domenica 10 febbraio 2019


Portraits de quelques criminels dans la saga 

Ritratti di alcuni criminali nella saga 
Portraits of some criminals in the saga 

Maigret et l'empoisonneuse 

L'indulgence de Maigret envers les criminels est un leitmotiv que les exégètes ont souvent mis en avant. Il est vrai que, depuis les débuts de la saga, où il est arrivé au commissaire de se substituer à la justice en n'arrêtant pas un coupable, jusqu'aux derniers romans où il a davantage respecté les règles de sa fonction, tout en procédant avec réluctance à certaines arrestations, «comprendre et ne pas juger» est une formule que Maigret met vraiment en pratique. Cependant, face à certains criminels, le commissaire s'est montré parfois moins indulgent. C'est en particulier le cas dans les drames sordides où l'intérêt était le motif du meurtre. Ainsi en va-t-il avec ces vieilles dames qui manient le poison avec la même aisance qu'elles soigneraient les fleurs de leur jardin. Valentine Besson (Maigret et la vielle dame) est de celles-là. D'abord quelque peu séduit par les allures charmantes de la vieille dame (quoique très vite, il décèle quelques notes discordantes), peu à peu ses soupçons se font plus précis. Pas au point cependant qu'il puisse empêcher un second drame, et devant ces victimes innocentes qui ont payé de leur vie l'avarice et l'égoïsme, le commissaire n'a plus aucun scrupule à inculper la vieille dame… 

Maigret e l'avvelenatrice 

L'indulgenza di Maigret verso i criminali è un leitmotiv che gli studiosi hanno spesso evidenziato. E vero che, dall'inizio della serie, dove il commissario a volte sostituiva la giustizia non arrestando un colpevolefino agli ultimi romanzi dove ha più rispettato le regole della sua funzionementre procedendo con riluttanza ad alcuni arresti, «capire e non giudicare» è una formula che Maigret mette davvero in pratica. Tuttavia, di fronte ad alcuni criminali, il commissario è stato a volte meno indulgente. In particolare nei casi di sordidi drammi in cui l'interesse era il motivo dell'omicidio. Così è con queste vecchie signore che gestiscono il veleno con la stessa facilità con cui si preoccuperebbero dei fiori del loro giardino. Per esempio Valentine Besson ne Maigret e la vecchia signoraAll'inizio un po 'sedotto dall'affascinante aspetto della vecchia signora (sebbene lui presto distingua alcune note stonate)a poco a poco i suoi sospetti diventano più precisi. Però non può impedire una seconda tragedia, e di fronte a quelle vittime innocenti che hanno pagato con la loro vita l'avidità e l'egoismo, il commissario non ha più scrupoli nell'accusare la vecchia signora ... 

Maigret and the poisoner 

Maigret's leniency towards criminals is a leitmotiv that scholars often put forward. It's true that, since the beginnings of the saga, where the Chief Inspector happened to substitute for justice while not arresting a culprit, until the last novels where he further observed the rules of his function, while reluctantly making some arrests, "to understand and not judge" is a formula that Maigret really practices. However, in front of certain criminals, the Chief Inspector sometimes showed less lenient. Particularly in sordid dramas where interest was the motive of the murder. So is it with these old ladies who handle poison with the same ease as they would take care of the flowers in their garden. Valentine Besson (Maigret and the Old Lady) is one of them. First Maigret is somewhat attracted by the old lady's charming manners (though very quickly he suspects some discordant notes), then little by little his suspicions become more precise. Not to the point however that he can prevent a second tragedy, and in front of these innocent victims who have paid with their lives for greed and egoism, the Chief Inspector has no scruples any more to charge the old lady…

Murielle Wenger