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TLS on Georges Simenon

Two startlingly similar short novels appeared in France in 1942, at the centre of each a conscienceless and slightly creepy young man, unattached and adrift, the perpetrator of a meaningless murder. One was Albert Camus’s L’Étranger, the other Georges Simenon’s La Veuve Couderc. Camus’s novel rose to become part of the literary firmament, and is still glittering, intensely studied and praised – to my mind, overpraised. Simenon’s novel did not drop, but settled, so to speak, went the way of the rest of his work – rattled along with decent sales, the occasional reprint, and was even resurrected as a 1950s pulp fiction paperback with a come-on tag line (“A surging novel of torment and desire”) and a lurid cover: busty peasant girl pouting in a barn, her skirt hiked over her knees, while a hunky guy lurks at the door – price twenty-five cents.



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