Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Simenon non-noir

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 06 Apr 2001


Small is beautiful… very big is, most of the time, so heavy and so short-sighted…

Concerning Simenon, the book you're publishing (Les 13 Coupables) must be one of the 3 short-stories volumes all with 13 in the title. The "13 Coupables"(published in French in 1932), was written around 1928-1930, and, as far as I know, is considered as pre-Maigret mystery stuff. Finally, except for his huge production for pulps and novelettes during his first years as a writer, there is rather few Simenon collections of crime/mysteries short stories. Well, I estimate these to be around 15 (anyway less than 20) books … which for this author can be qualified as a low output.

Amongst these collections, there was a rather successful assembly of non-Maigret short stories - quite forgotten now- called : Le Petit Docteur (The Little Doctor)-1943- that gained a second fame by a series of radio shows (plays) during the early fifties ( in French by the Belgian adio} based on it … It's whodunit Simenon style and a little bit unconventional; I do not know if it was ever translated in English, but, if it was, I do not think it was not re-published recently.

I can understand your feeling of noir in some ambiance of Simenon's mysteries; I personally think it's more
"grayish", with a meaning like the word "grisaille" in French (word applied to climatic conditions for gray skies, as well as in a symbolic way to places or moods, or even way of living- grayness maybe in English).

When, recently in France, Ellroy was asked which French authors he knew, he answered: Simenon and Manchette…. (Simenon was Belgian, but his works belong to French language literature)

E.Borgers Polar Noir

--- wrote:
> Etienne
> Thanks for the note on Simenon-noir. My microscopic
> company, Crippen &
> Landru, will publish the first translation in
> English of Simenon's early
> collection, LES 13 COUPABLES. A very traditional
> detective collection, but
> Simenon--with the rain in Paris, and the
> waiting--always seems to me to
> have a noir sensibility.
> Doug G

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