The 'romans durs' by Simenon  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The "romans durs" (literally "hard novels") refer to 117 novels written by Belgian author Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989) in which Maigret is not featured. In English, they are referred to as psychological novels. They were written in the period 1931-1972.

These novels tend to be more literary constructed and stylistically sophisticated, additionally, Simenon gives his characters more psychological depth.

Many of Simenon "romans durs" follow a similar storyline: a man breaks with the routine of his life, gives up his job and relationship, leaves his familiar habitat and surrenders to some obsession. In these books, Simenon drives his protagonists to the limit: they cross borders, even up to the point where they commit crimes. As always Simenon abstains from any comment and remains true to his motto "Comprendre et ne pas juger" (To understand and not judge).


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