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The President

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  97 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Restored to print for the first time in more than forty years, The President was hailed by the New York Times as a “tour de force”

At 82, the former premier lives in alert and suspicious retirement—self exile—on the Normandy coast, writing his anxiously anticipated memoirs and receiving visits from statesman and biographers. In his library is the self-condemning, handwritte
Paperback, Neversink Library, 152 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Melville House Publishing (first published 1958)
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11th out of 35 books — 23 voters
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Community Reviews

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Simenon has crafted a thoughtful, interesting short novel about a former French Premier, who, in his prime, had been a master political operator and adroit manipulator of people. Now, in his early 80s, retired from politics, quasi infirm, and living on a small estate in Normandy with a small staff attentive to his needs and whims, he reflects upon his life and career. He comes to realize that for all his secretive, circumspect ways, he is being spied upon. But by whom? What's more: his former pr ...more
Every once in a while, I fall in love with a particular publisher. The first time I remember it happening was with Soft Skull Press. Then, the New York Review Books. There have been other, more fleeting crushes, of course, but when I'm fully in love with a publisher, I haunt their website, constructing long wishlists of titles. I consider how many books I'd have to buy at once to get the wholesale discount. In bookstores, I look for a certain spine dimension, color scheme, logo. Right now, I am ...more
L Fleisig
In his heyday the former Premier of France bestrode France and Europe like a colossus. A larger than-life figure he was at once feared, respected, admired, and often hated. It seemed that whenever the French Republic had a crisis, be it monetary, labor, social strife, or war the President of France would call on him to save the republic one more time. Now, at age 82 he is sick and living in relative seclusion in a house off the Normandy coast. He is watched over by a personal secretary, a cook, ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Frank rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Frank by: John Banville
This isn't the edition I read, but apparently this novella is out of print in English, unless it is combined in some other way. The edition I read was combined with another novella, The Train (about which more separately).

The titular Premier is, at 82, long retired from the French government, living a rather curmudgeonly life on the coast of Normandy, and provided for by a staff (driver/valet, secretary, cook, nurse, security men and even physicians) apparently still on the government payroll.
a book about growing old and the loneliness of living a public life, when the greatest downfall is when the public stopsmcaring about you. the "you" in this case is the french premiere, who is in his twilight days and is feeling sustained only by the closeness of his enemies, since they're the only ones whose feelings about him are strong enough to care. there are plenty of comparisons made eqsily available in american politics, but richard nixon is the first to come to mind. a slow and thoughtf ...more
Martin Spellman
One to read several times because there is a lot of symbolism here behind Simenon's deceptively simple style. A retired statesman keeps lots of secrets hidden in his library and more still in his head. Will he 'spill the beans' and let the world know? Who is it that is prying to find out what he knows? A national crisis over forming a government may hook him in one last time. But the electricity is off and then the telephone also. Cutting him off from the world? But he still has his car radio to ...more
Elegantly structured, Mr. Simenon uses a 24 hour period to paint a lifetime. The President is an enjoyable read, and fans of Mr. Simenon's roman durs, published by NYRB Classics, will recognize the power of Mr. Simenon's psychological portraits but may miss the raw underbelly exposed in Dirty Snow, et al. This is no "when bad things happen to bad people" romp. However, all of Mr. Simenon's literary powers are on display here, from his ability to tantalize by slowly unfolding a scandal to a surpr ...more
The Premier; Penguin

A slow paced story that imperceptibly draws you in to the life and thoughts of a man near the end of his life. Having scaled the heights of a political career, apparently based on Clemenceau, he looks back on his life with objectivity while clinging to the vestiges of power. As the story develops this objectivity becomes more coldness and a darker side of humanity. An apparently simple story, that belies its complexity and compelling nature.
Niet slecht, maar had er op basis van de revivalhype meer van verwacht. Interessant portret maar niet verrassend, stilistisch strak, soms wat te mager naar mijn smaak.
Jay McNair
My second Simenon novel, and while I happened to like The Train more (much more), this was good enough to convince me to keep reading Simenon. He apparently wrote hundreds of books. I find that hard to believe, because he writes so well.
Heather Clitheroe
I thought it was a beautiful book: slow and ponderous, yes, but meant to be. The story of an old man should never be hurried or exaggerated.
Jun 12, 2013 Elena rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ok
Fun to read in holiday or a day off - quick read. The book has a lot of introspection, keeps you in suspense.
An interesting character, but I found the book somewhat tedious to read. Not based on a historical person.
Read it in English - a novelette about fame,ignominy and dying - pas mal!
Ilseanne marked it as to-read
Oct 30, 2014
Jet added it
Nov 10, 2014
Stef Smulders
Stef Smulders marked it as to-read
Sep 30, 2014
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Aug 27, 2014
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Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75
More about Georges Simenon...
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