Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is it those eyes want to say?

Another Simenon novel, another bullet to my head.

The Hand, by Georges Simenon, is true to form. Ah, the mind games old married couples play.
"You're going through a crisis typical of almost all men your age..."

If she thinks that, she's mistaken. I know myself. It isn't the infatuation of a man growing old. Besides, I am not in love. Neither am I plunging into some kind of pathological sexuality.

I remain composed, attentive to what is happening inside me and around me and am alone, no doubt, in knowing that there is nothing new in my innermost thoughts, except that I have finally dared to look at them in the light of day.

So, what is it those eyes want to say?

"I pity you..."
This novel might have been as effectively called The Eyes. The eyes are his wife's, the hand his mistress's. Her eyes are a mystery to him — what do they see? — full of curiosity and judgment.

The hand, however, is a compulsion, entirely passive but under his male gaze beckoning. The novel is barely about that hand, but trust the male to choose to make it about that hand.

The Hand starts with a snowstorm. One of their party is lost to the elements. Donald Dodd meanwhile loses his bearings.
"The important thing," my father used to say, "is to make the right choice to begin with..."

He was talking about choosing not only a wife but a profession, a way of life, a way of thinking.

I thought I had chosen. I have done my best. I have worn myself out doing my best.

And, little by little, I have wound up hoping to see approval in Isabel's eyes.

What I had chosen, in the end, was a witness, a benevolent witness, someone who, with a glance, would let me understand that I was keeping myself on the right path.
This is quite a good novel. At under 200 pages, it's an easy diversion but still thought-provoking. I've read enough Simenon to know when to read him; one must take care, as it can send one's soul flying into dangerous territory.

I am at times tired of hearing how the poor hero has been emasculated and has no control over his life, a victim of the various women in his life, fighting societal convention to prove himself to be more than an empty shell. Sometimes I want to read those women's stories.

I marvel that, for all the hundreds of books Simenon wrote, any novel of his could hope to feel original. The Hand is a slow burn with a great pay-off. I should've seen it coming, but I didn't see it coming.
She heaved a sigh, as on every evening, to mark the end of her day and the beginning of a night's rest.

1 comment:

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Good post, loved the way you wrote it and carried it till end. Never lost my interest on it, thanks for sharing it and keep posting such posts