7 Followers
23 Following
NGE

A little tea, a little chat

I've been a compulsive reader, writer and theatre goer all my life. My book blog is here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/ Mostly food at the moment but also knitting is here: http://cathyingeneva.wordpress.com/

Currently reading

Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
Sheldon S. Wolin
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Gustave Flaubert
Nebula Award Stories 3
Harlan Ellison, Gary Wright, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, J.G. Ballard, Anne McCaffrey
Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe
Helge Kragh
Gantenbein
Max Frisch

The Heart of a Man

The Heart of a Man - Georges Simenon I wonder if this one was particularly close to Simenon's heart? It strikes me as he writes about the artist, who lives only for his work, and the way in which his life is conducted that it shares much with Simenon's own existence. I am thinking of his famous interview in The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Is there anything else you can say to beginning writers?

SIMENON

Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.

INTERVIEWER

Why?

SIMENON

Because, first, I think that if a man has the urge to be an artist, it is because he needs to find himself. Every writer tries to find himself through his characters, through all his writing.

INTERVIEWER

He is writing for himself?

SIMENON

Yes. Certainly.

INTERVIEWER

Are you conscious there will be readers of the novel?

SIMENON

I know that there are many men who have more or less the same problems I have, with more or less intensity, and who will be happy to read the book to find the answer—if the answer can possibly be found.


Much in this story echoes those words as the great actor realises he has always been searching for something, running from....and running to. The character is ghastly and yet we feel sympathy for him, that uneasy sympathy that Simenon (and Highsmith) invoke, uneasy because we know this is a truly awful person and yet...

From the Paris Review interview again:

SIMENON

When I did a commercial novel I didn’t think about that novel except in the hours of writing it. But when I am doing a novel now I don’t see anybody, I don’t speak to anybody, I don’t take a phone call—I live just like a monk. All the day I am one of my characters. I feel what he feels.

INTERVIEWER

You are the same character all the way through the writing of that novel?

SIMENON

Always, because most of my novels show what happens around one character. The other characters are always seen by him. So it is in this character’s skin I have to be. And it’s almost unbearable after five or six days. That is one of the reasons my novels are so short; after eleven days I can’t—it’s impossible. I have to—it’s physical. I am too tired.

INTERVIEWER

I should think so. Especially if you drive the main character to his limit.

SIMENON

Yes, yes.

INTERVIEWER

And you are playing this role with him, you are—

SIMENON

Yes. And it’s awful. That is why, before I start a novel—this may sound foolish here, but it is the truth—generally a few days before the start of a novel I look to see that I don’t have any appointments for eleven days. Then I call the doctor. He takes my blood pressure, he checks everything. And he says, “Okay.”


Poor artist. Poor Simenon.