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.”