1. Act of Passion

    Roger Ebert wrote the introduction for Act of Passion by Georges Simenon, the recent addition to our series of his roman durs (hard novels). Here’s half of a paragraph that explains the book very well:

    Act of Passion is essentially a question posing as an answer. As Charles Alavoine [the protagonist and narrator] writes his long letter to an examining magistrate, he implies that if the judge could understand him and knew the conditions of his life, it would become clear why he committed murder—why anyone would have. The novel expresses the faith of the narrator that to understand him would be to forgive him. Not to exonerate him—he accepts his guilt—but to understand why he did what he did, and to accept that we might have done the same thing. ‘You are afraid to be precise, of what has happened to me,’ he writes to the magistrate.

  2. Joan Acocella on Act of Passion

    The October 10th edition of The New Yorker had a piece by Joan Acocella on Georges Simenon, particularly the roman durs (literally: “hard novels”). Here’s what she had to say about Act of Passion, which we published this week:

    "This is a classic dur, in which a man, Charles Alavoine, escapes from what he feels is a mediocre existence in favor of a sort of self-immolation. Near the end, he has just made love with the woman, Martine, for whom he gave up everything. He is holding her in his arms and stroking the place on her thigh that he likes best. ‘And to think that I shall have to kill her one day,’ he says to himself. Then he goes on caressing her thigh.”

  3. Publication Day for Georges Simenon’s Act of Passion

    Today we are publishing Georges Simenon’s Act of Passion and wanted to share the opening lines of the novel:

    "Monsieur Ernest Coméliau
    Examining Magistrate
    22 bis Rue de Seine
    Paris (VII)

    Your Honor:

    I should like one man, just one, to understand me. And I would like that man to be you.

    We spent many long hours together during all the weeks of preliminary investigations. But at that time it was too soon. You were a judge, you were my judge, and I would have seemed to be trying to justify myself. But now you know, don’t you? it has nothing to with that?

    I have no idea what your impression was when you came into the courtroom—familiar to you, of course. As for me, how well I remember your arrival! I was alone between my two guards. It was five o’clock in the afternoon and the twilight was beginning to gather in clouds, as it were, around the courtroom.

    It was one of the reporters—their table was near the prisoner’s dock—it was a reporter, as I say, first complained to his neighbor that it was getting too dark to see clearly. The neighbor spoke to the journalist next to him, a rather sloppily dressed old man with cynical eyes, probably a habitué of the law courts. I don’t know whether I am mistaken, but I think he was the one who wrote in his paper that I looked like a toad in ambush.

    Perhaps this is why I wonder what impression I made upon you. Our dock—that is, the prisoner’s dock—is so low that only the head can be seen above it. It was therefore perfectly natural to keep my chin resting on my hands. I have a wide face, much too wide, which gets shiny easily. But why a toad? To make his readers laugh? Through pure malice? Because he didn’t like my looks?”