New York, 1999
GEORGES SIMENON REVISITED
Lucillle F. Becker
from the dustjacket:
Georges Simenon is the creator of the unforgettable character Inspector Maigret, the Parisian police detective who was the central figure in more than a hundred of Simenon's novels, as well as in countless movies and television adaptations. In fact, Simenon is without doubt the most widely published French writer of the twentieth century, and the literary merits of his work have been often obscured by the sheer size of his output: 190 potboilers signed with 17 pseudonyms, 358 novels and short stories signed Simenon, 25 autobiographical works, 30 series of articles published in the French press before and immediately after World War II, and a ballet scenario. For Lucille Becker, though, "the cultural importance of Simenon's oeuvre derives not from its success in terms of financial ratings or of records established, but from its success in conveying to the reader insights into the human condition." Becker devotes serious critical consideration to Simenon's "roman durs," the "hard (problem) novels" that are characterized by an extraordinary blend of narrative skill and psychological insight, and discusses how he effected a transformation of the detective novel genre.
With Georges Simenon Revisited, Lucille Becker presents a thorough and up-to-date revision of her acclaimed 1977 study of Simenon. Integrating two decades of new material and new insights into the author's life and work, Becker provides readers with a fresh, highly readable, and authoritative overview of Simenon's oeuvre. In her opening chapter, Becker traces in Simenon's biography the major influences on his work, incorporating a great deal of biographical material that has come to light since 1977. The following chapters demonstrate the way in which Simenon transformed this biographical material into literature. The saga of commissaire Maigret is considered in chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4, which analyze the "romans durs," on which Simenon's literary reputation is based, center on the violent nature of aberrant human behavior and illustrate Thoreau's observation that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Chapter 5 considers Simenon's narrative gifts and the "poetic line" or atmosphere of his novels, while the last chapter on film draws on the material in the preceding chapters to demonstrate the virtually insurmountable difficulty of translating Simenon's introspective novels into film.
A thoughtful, knowledgeable, and highly readable book, Georges Simenon Revisited will be a valuable resource for both scholars and students. Included in the volume are a Preface, Acknowledgments, Chronology, Notes and References, Selected Bibliography, Filmography, and Index.
Lucille F. Becker, a Drew University Professor Emerita of French, has lectured on modern French literature at universities throughout Asia. She is the author of Henry de Montherlant, Louis Aragon, Georges Simenon, Françoise Mallet-joris, Twentieth-Century French Women Novelists, and Pierre Boulle.