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Five Fascinating Facts about Georges Simenon

Interesting trivia about the Maigret author

1. Georges Simenon, creator of Maigret, is one of the most prolific novelists of all time. The Belgian author Georges Simenon (1903-1989) published over 200 novels under 17 different pseudonyms and a further 220 novels under his own name. He also produced three volumes of autobiography. However, he’s best remembered for creating the detective Jules Maigret. (What distinguishes Maigret from other detectives such as Sherlock Holmes is the fact that he doesn’t appear to use analytical ‘deduction’ to get his results. He’s more of a ‘plodder’.) Simenon was born on Friday 13 February, 1903, in Liège, Belgium. Because his mother was superstitious, his birth date was recorded a day early. To this day, Thursday 12 February is often erroneously cited as his date of birth.

2. Simenon was, in fact, something of a writing machine. As Mason Currey notes in his informative book Daily Rituals, Simenon could write up to 80 pages of typescript in a single writing session. Alfred Hitchcock once Georges Simenonrang Simenon only to learn the prolific author was in the process of writing a novel. ‘Let him finish,’ Hitchcock quipped; ‘I’ll hang on.’ It’s true that he could write a novel in eight days and would take only a few days to read through the typescript and make any necessary corrections. When a French publisher announced that a writer was publishing ‘his first novel for three years’, Simenon produced an advertisement trumpeting ‘the first Simenon for eight days’.

3. Indeed, Simenon always wore the same clothes while writing a particular novel. This is another of Simenon’s ‘daily rituals’ which Mason Currey mentions. Presumably, wearing the same clothes helped Simenon stay focused on the novel he was writing. In fact, given how productive he could be in a single sitting, it’s unlikely Simenon wore the same clothes for more than a week or two at a time, so things probably didn’t get too whiffy in the Simenon study – with the notable exception of his trademark pipe-smoke.

Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. – Georges Simenon

4. Georges Simenon weighed himself before and after writing each of his novels. This was partly to measure how much each novel made him sweat. He reckoned that writing a book cost him one-and-a-half litres of sweat.

5. Writing wasn’t the only thing he did a great deal of. Simenon’s energy seems to have been directed towards two primary goals: writing and having his end away. He claimed in 1977 that, since he turned 13 some 60 years earlier, he had slept with over 10,000 women (though his second wife put the figure at a more conservative, though still considerable, 1,200). He was evidently a busy man, both at the writing desk and in the bedroom.

Image: Georges Simenon in 1963 by Erling Mandelmann, Wikimedia Commons.

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About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on April 4, 2016, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. His books that do not feature Maigret are very good as well. Such as ‘Monsieur LeMonde Vanishes’ or ‘The Man who Watched The Trains Go By’.

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