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L'uomo che guardava passare i treni

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,430 ratings  ·  101 reviews
La sera di un giorno qualsiasi, Kees Popinga si appresta a fumare un sigaro. Anche la sua vita è qualsiasi, e questo lo rallegra. Impiegato di una solida ditta olandese, è abituato a spartire le sue ore con perfetta regolarità. I suoi sentimenti non usano deviare, se non impercettibilmente, come per esempio per «quella certa emozione furtiva, quasi vergognosa, che lo turba ...more
Paperback, Gli Adelphi #27, 212 pages
Published March 2009 by Adelphi (first published 1938)
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While discussing Black Swan with friends the other day, I realized this novel has a similarity or two with Darren Aronofsky movies. Remember those movies ( Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Wrestler, Black Swan ) where we have one or more characters going on with their lives when somehow things begin spiraling out of control. And how!. The Man Who Watched Trains Go By has a similar premise, except the transition in the protagonist's life is relatively more sudden. He steps around a corner from where

Kees Popinga , the main character of The man who watched the trains go by , is an exemplary husband and caring father of two teenage children. When we meet him for the first time he could serve as a shining example of a man . He avoids like plague bars , bravely opposes to physical desires and it so successfully that he never had gone to a public house . In the firm of Julius de Coster earns quite a good money so that allows him to look after his family .

Mr. Popinga lives in a large villa , is
Those who leave by night- trains leave for ever
- Kees Popinga from
The Man Who Watched The Trains Go By

Kees Popinga is a dull man who lives in a well-ordered existence, where everything including his wife is admirably above-board, "one might have said of her..that she was the ' best make' of Dutch wife;" his house the "best planned;" his neighborhood in the "healthiest and most attractive part in Groningen." He is Simenon's psychologically marginal archetype - "a middle-aged man, after years of
This was diverting, though not my favorite of the six or so Simenons I have read so far, all on the New York Review Books imprint. Kees Popinga, a buttoned down manager of a ships chandlery in Holland, goes on a bit of a rampage after his boss tells him that he has run the business into the ground. This is the same business, the watchword for rectitude and probity in the little port town in which it operates, into which Kees has invested every cent of his savings. Kees subsequently (inadvertentl ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: David E.
Shelves: crime-fiction
as to Simenon's writing Method:

"On a large yellow envelope, he would over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whatever else he knew about their lives and backgrounds: their ages, where they had gone to school, their parents' professions. The envelope might additionally contain street maps of the novel's setting, although it would never say a word about the book's eventual plot. Once he was satisfied with these notes, he would enter the hermitage and knock of the b
Feb 24, 2008 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to those who want to change their living habits...
Another classic 'human' study by Simenon. The theme has been used before in literature, but I never get tired of it. A person who wants to forget their current life and become another identity or break out of their 'mode' of living. And yeah bad things happen. But what's more important bad things are happening in your old life. The strict order of doing things, working at the same company year after year - well, you are going to break down!

For instance, me trying to write five book reviews a day
Rosa Ramôa
Sobre a devastação de uma existência*
Kees Popinga amava i dettagli e le abitudini. Vivere ogni giorno come la copia del giorno precedente, senza mai concedersi uno sgarro, per garantire un ordine giusto nel suo universo, quello familiare, e quello cittadino; nella città di Groninga in Olanda, dove tutti si conoscevano e dove tutti venivano a sapere l'indomani qualsiasi cosa non andava. Kees voleva bere in qualche birreria, ma si tratteneva. Gli sarebbe piaciuto entrare in quella casa dove dalle tendine tirate s’intravedevano donnin ...more
Camille Stein
Cuando usted reciba esta carta, ya no me llamaré Kees Popinga ni seré el criminal que huye de la policía. Tendré un nombre honorable, un estado civil indiscutible y formaré parte de esa clase social que puede permitírselo todo porque tiene dinero y cinismo.

No existe prisión mientras no se perciben los barrotes que delimitan el espacio que nos rodea y el consiguiente cautiverio que conllevan. Kees Popinga descubre sus limitaciones, los márgenes de su propia existencia. Y lo hará de la mano de s
My first Simenon but not, barring unforeseen horrific circumstances, my last.

Here's my problem: as it's a well-known fact that Georges Simenon wrote in excess of 7.6 trillion books during his lifetime, I'm a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out which ones to read. I mean, it's impossible that they're all equally good, right? And since I could read a Simenon book every day for the rest of my life and still barely make a small dent his oeuvre, I'd love to have some guidance on which to try out fir
Oct 09, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
From the very beginning, Monsieur Simenon gives us all of Popinga’s thoughts, feelings and desires. He paints the world in which he lives in broad strokes, but fills in the minute details – all with even, crisp prose. Throughout the book, we see how the self-enforced delusions that regulated Kees’ life as a stolid, successful citizen morph into those that make him a monster in the eyes of others. Everyone has darkness in their psyche, its just a little darker in our protagonist’s mind. While the ...more
Simenon was one of a long tradition of Francograph writers who churn out good books with relative ease - Balzac, Zola, Dumas(but he cheated and used ghostwriters). Simenon was used to the speed of some 10-40 per year! Makes Vollmann look like a obsessive haiku poet who only releases one volume every 20 years by comparison (No offense, Bill).

This book follows a perfectly respectable man from a perfectly respectable background who throttles people and goes on the run, and his misadventures. A murd
Jun 27, 2012 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: Megha
Shelves: novels, read-in-2012
maybe 5 stars. finished this on the train to Bruges, fairly near where some of the action takes place. Beautiful city by the way with the rudest and sarkiest waiters I have ever come across. Dead funnny. Anyway this book is a classic noir fiction (and as this is 1938, one of the first) - it has all the tropes: murderer on the run, prostitutes, playing a game with the inspector, the arrogant protagonist and his increasingly weak grip on reality, seedy motels, escapes from windows, knives flashing ...more
È la sera di un giorno qualunque per il protagonista del romanzo, Kees Popinga. Anche la sua vita è qualunque, e questo lo rallegra. Popinga ama i dettagli e le abitudini. Ama vivere ogni giorno come il precedente, senza mai concedersi una deviazione, per garantire un ordine corretto nel suo mondo, quello familiare e quello cittadino nella città di Groninga in Olanda; dove tutti si conoscono e dove tutti sanno immediatamente se qualsiasi cosa non va. Popinga vorrebbe dal bere di tanto in tanto i ...more
Over the last few years, I’ve been going through Georges Simenon’s “hard novels” published by the New York Review of Books. They’re generally quick, gritty reads that are slightly ahead of their time.

If Simenon is the Belgian equivalent of Jim Thompson, then The Man Who Watched Trains Go By would be his The Killer Inside Me. Kees Popinga, a respectable Dutch businessman, embarks on an ill-considered crime spree. Like Thompson, Simenon’s reputation casts a long shadow over the work. The translato
Ben Winch
I didn't see the point of this. The style is dry, sterile, the type of writing that fetishises objects in an attempt to create 'realism'. Nor do any of the characters really seem to interact. And despite the protagonist's moving restlessly across the map it all seemed somehow intrinsically static, as if what movement there was were just currents on the surface and the depths remained still. Well-executed, yes, as far as it went, but to me that didn't seem very far. Anyone who thinks this 'outdoe ...more
What would you do if you lived a quiet, comfortable life and everything was suddenly taken away?

Kees Popinga is a managing clerk for a shipping firm in the small Dutch town of Groningen. He has a wife "Mum" who looks to him for guidance and two children in the best private schools, a maid and a nice home. He is a respected man who loves to play chess at the local club and is quiet good at it. One night while making his rounds and checking on the ships that are loaded with fuel and cargo he finds
Come tutti voi, ho conosciuto centinaia di Popinga. Sia del genere di quelli che hanno “passato il Rubicone” e il treno l’hanno preso, sia del genere di quelli che sono rimasti, rimpiangendo ogni giorno di non averlo fatto.

Gran brutta razza di gente quella dei “Popinga”, superbamente descritta da Simenon. A differenza di quella cui appartiene il signor Monde, che pure, a un certo punto, sente la necessità di “staccare la spina” e allontanarsi da un mondo che percepisce come falso e artificioso,
Il mio approccio con Simenon è stato positivo.
Ho apprezzato il suo stile asciutto ed elegante.
Il protagonista del romanzo è l'Inetto che si ribella, decide di vivere come vuole lui, senza curarsi delle leggi e delle convenzioni, considerato dalla gente come un pazzo.
Quello che ci ho visto sono i temi del romanzo novecentesco, in special modo pirandelliano ("uno, nessuno e centomila", o "il fu Mattia Pascal"), il contrasto tra ciò che si pensa di essere e ciò che gli altri pensano di noi.
Il roman
Antonio Fini
Più leggo Simenon, più lo apprezzo!
Questo lo ritengo un capolavoro.
Attenzione, perché è la storia (possibile) di ognuno di noi.
Di noi "normali" cittadini, mariti/mogli, padri/madri di famiglia che guardiamo passare quel treno che è la nostra vita.
A volte, qualcuno improvvisamente decide di salirci, su uno di quei treni, e le conseguenze sono spesso tragiche.
Anche perché se alla fine anche un abile giocatore di scacchi come Kees Popinga ha perso la sua partita, come potremmo mai cavarcela noi med
A very elegant portrait of a man jolted out of a conservative petit bourgeois lifestyle into a semi-sane criminal existence on the lam. There were some very good parts in the second half where I was so thoroughly inside the protagonist's head that his actions seemed perfectly sane, while I was at the same time aware that they were anything but. The ending was anticlimactic for someone with crime fiction sensibilities, but perfectly appropriate for the dark literary character study this novel ult ...more
Dec 21, 2007 Stephan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Alberto Moravia and Neo-Realists
Outstanding. I was re-directed in the bookstore to "Mystery" to find this. I thought I was getting myself into something campy. But if this is what the whole mystery genre is like (which, I'm sure it isn't), then I'm in. This book is sparse, psychological, short and so fluid. It follows one mans slow self-inflicted breakdown after he learns everything in his life he paraded is gone.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
THE MAN WHO WATCHED TRAINS GO BY is the chronicle of an honest man's descent into madness.

Kees Popinga is an honest man, married with two children, a nice home he's paying for, the family eats well, good at his job, and one night a week he goes down to his club for a night of chess. He's the general manager of Julius De Koster and Sons and as part of his job, one night he goes down to the docks to check on the ship getting ready to depart. Part of his job involved getting everything to the ship
Best known as the creator of Inspector Maigret (one of the top sleuths in detective fiction), Georges Simenon also authored more than 100 romans durs -- hard or difficult novels -- which he considered his real work. Of the four I've read (hardly a representative sample), I thoroughly enjoyed two -- The Man Who Watched Trains Go By and Red Lights -- while finding the other two wanting -- Dirty Snow and The Strangers in the House. All four are short (150-200 pages), written in simple unadorned pro ...more

It's another thoroughly enjoyable look at the dark side of the human psyche from master storyteller Simenon. I was really quite hesitant to try anything other than the entertaining Maigret series but two great roman durs out of two attempts have given me cause to reassess and conclude that I should probably be hesitant to go back to Maigret if anything.

I hope that it is not simply because of the Parisien setting but from the moment Kees decides to board the
He was a quiet man. That’s what they always say about the guy who one day picks up an axe and wipes out the whole family. Kees Popinga, the central character of Georges Simenon’s The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, is just such a fellow. He’s got everything dialed nice and tight. He’s obsessed with having constructed a first rate life: a wife, a daughter, a stove, and a house all of the “highest quality.” And then in the course of one evening, as Popinga discovers that the company that helped prov ...more
Patrick McCoy
I first became aware of of Georges Simenon from Akira Kurosawa who said that he intended Stray Dog to be a Simenon mystery and actually wrote the screenplay as a novel at first. Paul Theroux is also a big fan-he mentioned reading Simenon, and enjoying his novels, while traveling in his book Ghost Train To The Eastern Star-also he wrote an article, The Existential Hack for The Times. The narrator of Truman Capote's Breakfast At Tiffany's mentioned in one scene that he had a night cap of bourbon a ...more
Thomas Strömquist
In Kees Popinga, Simenon created one of these absolutely fascinating characters - the reliable, dependable and invisible member of society - that decides to do something outrageously out of character and who channels doubts, moral questions and frustrations in actions leading to a downward spiral. Unmissable.
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NYRB Classics: The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, by Georges Simenon 1 2 Oct 28, 2013 12:16PM  
  • Era Bom Que Trocássemos Umas Ideias Sobre O Assunto
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  • Fanny Owen (Colecção Mil Folhas, #31)
  • Gente Feliz com Lágrimas (Colecção Mil Folhas, #29)
  • The Emperor's Tomb
  • Húmus (Colecção Mil Folhas, #57)
  • Il partigiano Johnny
  • O Caso Morel (Colecção Mil Folhas, #87)
  • Don Giovanni in Sicilia
  • Uomini e no
  • Nação Crioula
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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...
Dirty Snow The Yellow Dog Pietr the Latvian (Maigret, #1) The Strangers in the House Three Bedrooms in Manhattan

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“Si parte da un dettaglio qualsiasi, talvolta di poco conto, e senza volerlo si giunge a scoprire grandi princìpi.” 3 likes
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