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Fumbling for the Towel

Christopher Prendergast: Maigret’s elevation to the Panthéon, 7 July 2005

Romans: Tome I 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1493 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011674 3
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Romans: Tome II 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1736 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011675 1
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... the fast-moving, sex-drenched and gadget-packed fantasy of the new Cold Warrior. I suppose Simenon continued to be read on train journeys, but Maigret, in his appropriately quiet way, slipped more or less definitively from public view. Who would have predicted Maigret’s return – or rather that of his creator, ...

The Pouncer

Julian Barnes, 3 March 1983

The Mystery of Georges Simenon 
by Fenton Bresler.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 434 98033 1
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... against this discouraging truth: Whatever happens, They have got The typewriter And we have not. Georges Simenon did three things compulsively in his life: he wrote fiction (about 220 novels under his own name, plus 200 pseudonymous novellas); he went to bed with women (ten thousand at his first public estimate, later amended to ‘tens of ...

Quite a Show

Tim Parks: Georges Simenon, 9 October 2014

A Man’s Head 
by Georges Simenon, translated by David Coward.
Penguin, 169 pp., £6.99, July 2014, 978 0 14 139351 3
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A Crime in Holland 
by Georges Simenon, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Penguin, 160 pp., £6.99, May 2014, 978 0 14 139349 0
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... with 11 servants to a small house in Lausanne where he lived with his second wife’s ex-maid, Georges Simenon dictated his Letter to My Mother, Henriette Simenon née Brüll, who had died four years earlier. He wants, he says, to understand her at last. To accomplish this he returns to the week he spent with her in ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... had to deal with a minor ethical point. He had flown to Switzerland with a film unit to interview Georges Simenon, still in his prime and turning out five or six novels a year. Wheldon was fascinated by Simenon’s method of work: the preliminaries of choosing names and backgrounds for his characters, undergoing a ...

Miss Maigret

Patricia Highsmith, 4 October 1984

Intimate Memoirs, including ‘Marie-Jo’s Book’ 
by Georges Simenon, translated by Harold Salemson.
Hamish Hamilton, 815 pp., £14.95, August 1984, 0 241 11219 2
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... This book is already celebrated for its suggestion of an incestuous relationship between Simenon and his only daughter, Marie-Jo, a suicide at 25 in 1978. Any such relationship seems to have been one-sided – on the daughter’s part, and that only in her head. Marie-Jo’s contribution to Intimate Memoirs takes up the last 150 pages, and is called ‘Marie-Jo’s Book ...

Not a Belonger

Colin Jones, 21 August 1997

The End of the Line: A Memoir 
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 229 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 7195 5460 8
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... days – told of tutorials spent with him variously asleep, drunk, talking for hours about Georges Simenon and other favoured French novelists, or going down on all fours and barking like a dog. His teaching life was interspersed with wild carousing, scandalous behaviour, perpetual spats with the Master of his college; he was thrown out of more ...

Op Art

Joshua Cohen: Joshua Sobol, 3 March 2011

Cut Throat Dog 
by Joshua Sobol, translated by Dalya Bilu.
Melville House, 270 pp., £10.99, November 2010, 978 1 935554 21 9
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... commercial conventions were perfected in the US – finds its most cerebral innovators abroad: Georges Simenon (Belgium), Leonardo Sciascia (Italy), Bernhard Schlink (Germany). What must be its mandarin masterpiece was written in French in 1969: Georges Perec’s La Disparition is a lipogram, from the Greek ...

Barriers of Silliness

J.I.M. Stewart, 1 July 1982

The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations 
by Julian Symons.
Orbis, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 85613 362 0
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Critical Observations 
by Julian Symons.
Faber, 213 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 571 11688 4
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As I walked down New Grub Street: Memories of a Writing Life 
by Walter Allen.
Heinemann, 276 pp., £8.95, November 1981, 0 434 01829 5
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... more pausing before than is here attempted. The obsessional life and astonishing output of Georges Simenon are reviewed briefly but with authority, and bold claims are made for him which are not readily to be refuted. Simenon writes with a recording angel’s understanding and impersonal sympathy about all ...

Maigret’s Room

John Lanchester: The Home Life of Inspector Maigret, 4 June 2020

... Nobody​ is sure how many books Georges Simenon wrote. All sources give different totals. He himself didn’t know, indeed he couldn’t remember all of them. He had many pseudonyms, dating back to the time when he was starting out as a hyper-prolific hack in his Belgian youth. To complicate things further, many of his books were published serially and are of a length somewhere between longish short story and shortish novella, so people of good faith can disagree about whether they count as books ...

Creative Accounting

David Runciman: Money and the Arts, 4 June 1998

Artist Unknown: An Alternative History of the Arts Council 
by Richard Witts.
Little, Brown, 593 pp., £22.50, March 1998, 0 316 87820 0
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In Praise of Commercial Culture 
by Tyler Cowen.
Harvard, 278 pp., £18.50, June 1998, 0 674 44591 0
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... and scepticism in equal measure, and transformed him, if such a thing is possible, into the Georges Simenon of the American locker-room, the object of a whole new kind of attention. And third, there is his improbable place at the heart of modern American political philosophy. It was, peculiarly, Wilt Chamberlain on whom the libertarian philosopher ...

Having Fun

David Coward: Alexandre Dumas, 17 April 2003

Viva Garibaldi! Une Odyssée en 1860 
by Alexandre Dumas.
Fayard, 610 pp., €23, February 2002, 2 213 61230 7
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... tally for such as Barbara Cartland, who could dictate six thousand words between lunch and tea, or Georges Simenon, who rarely spent more than a fortnight on a novel. But Dumas was not merely a novelist: he also wrote plays, travel books, memoirs, histories, accounts of great crimes plus a mass of ‘occasional’ writings which include his vast Grand ...

Heart-Squasher

Julian Barnes: A Portrait of Lucian Freud, 5 December 2013

Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud 
by Martin Gayford.
Thames and Hudson, 248 pp., £12.95, March 2012, 978 0 500 28971 6
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Breakfast with Lucian: A Portrait of the Artist 
by Geordie Greig.
Cape, 260 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 224 09685 0
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... accounts of Freud’s behaviour reminded me at times of two unlikely novelists: Kingsley Amis and Georges Simenon. When Amis’s second wife and fellow novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard, saw him, at eleven o’clock on the morning he was due to lunch at Buckingham Palace, standing in the garden punishing an enormous whisky, she said, ‘Bunny, do you have ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... in Paris. It was there, decades later, that The Little Sister was published alongside Hammett and Georges Simenon in the Série Noire that gave film noir its name. French homages to noir – the Jean-Luc Godard/Jean-Paul Belmondo Breathless, made the year Chandler died, and the François Truffaut/Charles Aznavour Shoot the Pianist – fulfilled the form ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... kitsch hurried after it, producing not only Rockwell, Guest and the Saturday Evening Post but also Georges Simenon, John Steinbeck and the New Yorker (‘high-class kitsch for the luxury trade’). With kitsch running wild, like the capitalism which propelled it, authenticity needed defending. For nearly fifty years, Greenberg shouldered the ...

Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley, 20 January 2011

The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... Alli’s organisation, which puts Wheatley in the company of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Georges Simenon and the Mr Men. When I asked about their plans for him they would say only that they hope to license publication soon and that several publishers have expressed interest: the corporate equivalent, I believe, of a shrug of the shoulders. It is ...

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