Georges Simenon

July 26, 2009 at 2:00 am (books, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Mystery fiction)

Georges Simenon  1903 - 1989

Georges Simenon 1903 - 1989

I’m currently re-reading Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon. I’ll be leading a lecture discussion on Simenon and this novel at the Hanover Library in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on Monday August 17. I hope the day is not too excruciatingly hot. I hope I can get  out of stalled mode where the lecture prep is concerned. I hope I can re-create the enthusiasm I felt on my first reading of this strange, haunting novel. I so want to give good value next month to my friends in Hanover, especially since four of them drove down to Glenwood earlier this month for The Art of the Mystery. I deeply appreciated that gesture on their part!

I am amazed at the economy with which Simenon can set a scene and fix a character within it:

“There was a percolator in a dingy, crowded closet that served as a pantry, but the clerk lit a tiny gas ring, with that calm, rather mournful air common to those who live by night, always alone, while others are asleep.

monde

Simenon himself has been variously called a notorious misogynist, a man who by middle age could not distinguish truth from falsehood, “..a joy to work with; he was a rational man” (by his American publisher Helen Wolff), “…the greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had in literature” (by Andre Gide), a passive collaborator with the Nazis, “a businessman who dealt in fiction” (Peter Lewis, in his review of Pierre Assouline’s biography), and “…the author of some of the century’s greatest novels” (by John Gray in The New Statesman).

In all of this welter of contradictory assertions, he is never once described as boring.

2 Comments

  1. Barb Fisher said,

    Roberta: I enjoyed your presentation on Monsieur Monde in Hanover. Don’t know if you realized that all four of us who heard your ‘Art of Mystery’ talk in Howard County made it to the Hanover meeting along with the rest of the crowd. I was looking on half.com and saw that you could get that Simenon biography for @$8 and the memoir for @$12. I was amazed by that. It doesn’t seem like much for books like that.
    I just finished ‘Siren of the Waters” which I picked up on your give-away table in Howard County. It appeared to be a new book–perhaps one that you had but never had a chance to read?? I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’d like it back, I’ll mail it to you. Thanks so much for your talks and for the book. Barb

  2. Monsieur Monde Vanishes…and reappears in Hanover, PA « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] Those in the Hanover group like their book discussions accompanied by a healthy serving of author information. One of the reasons I selected a novel by Georges Simenon is that I knew that he led a turbulent, eventful life. Just how turbulent it was, and how some of the events unfolded, is often open to question. To put it kindly, Simenon was not averse to embellishing the facts from time to time. In its turn,  le monde litteraire was full of contradictory opinions about Simenon the man and Simenon the author. […]

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