Statue de Georges Simenon, Liege

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Simenon, Georges (1903-89). Belgian-born novelist, one of the best-known and most prolific writers of the century. Born in Liège to a childhood of genteel poverty and promising studies cut short by his father's ill health, he was reporter and columnist on the Gazette de Liège before moving to Paris in 1922 to work as secretary to a novelist, and to an aristocrat. Over the next dozen years he wrote, under 20 or more pseudonyms, thousands of short stories and hundreds of popular novels. His independence thus assured, he began travelling the world, living in various places in France and the USA before settling in Switzerland at the end of the 1950s. His restless travelling is as legendary as his womanizing.

The 200-odd novels signed with his own name, from Pietr-le-Letton (1931), which introduced Commissaire Maigret, to the last, Maigret et Monsieur Charles (1972), use elements of his own experience: Le Pendu de Saint Pholien (1931) recounts an incident from his youth; the avid, ill-assured provincials of Les Noces de Poitiers (1946) and other titles are reflections of Simenon himself. He began his autobiography with Je me souviens (1945) and Pedigree (1948). His novels and stories, like his journalism, explore self-knowledge and dignity in perpetually renewed developments on the basic pattern of closed settings in which misplaced characters come to some realization.

In the 80 or so Maigret novels and stories the detective, by empathizing with victim and situation, achieves understanding of the killer's vérité humaine. After the first dozen Maigrets, Simenon began to publish novels without the character, though murder remained frequent: the first non-Maigret novel, Le Passager du ‘Polarlys’ (1932), is scarcely different; Il pleut, bergère (1941) contains a man-hunt, but turns on a child's realization of how trivialities can provoke adult quarrels. In Maigret (1934) the detective is retired until Maigret revient (1942), after which the number of Maigret titles rises gradually to about half of the six or so books published yearly.

Abandoning novels in 1972, Simenon returned to autobiography; the first of a score of volumes, Un homme comme un autre (1975), is significantly titled: Simenon's short novels take ordinary people in ordinary settings developed to the point at which they overturn into the exceptional.
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  • This monument stands in tribute to Georges Simenon, a prolific Belgian writer and journalist who wrote over 500 novels. The bronze sculpture features a bench and a seated Simenon, inviting you to take...  more »
  • I liked finding this statue - not least because it was the meeting place for our guided walking tour. An obvious stop for pictures as the knees of both his legs are well worn. I'm now interested in re...  more »
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  • famous writer monument
  • Beautiful Maigret in an awful neighborhood! shame
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