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L'uomo che guardava passare i treni

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,995 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Come un uomo qualsiasi, «che guardava passare i treni» e sognava la vita che vi si nascondeva, possa improvvisamente abbandonare tutto in una fuga dove si mescolano il delitto, il terrore, l’ebbrezza e la lucidità.
Paperback, Gli Adelphi #27, 212 pages
Published June 1991 by Adelphi (first published 1938)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Glenn Russell
Feb 28, 2017 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This captivating page-turner is not a Detective Maigret novel but one Simenon termed roman durs, meaning uncomfortable or hard on the reader. With The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, each chapter begins with a brief epigraph, for example, the epigraph for Chapter 1 reads “In which Julius de Coster the Younger gets drunk at the Little-Saint George, and the impossible suddenly breaches the dykes of everyday life.” Here's my choice of epigram for the book itself: "The Case of Kees Popinga, or how upo
Aug 09, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kees Popinga is a chief clerk for a shipping company. Wife and two kids. A heavily-mortgaged home. A solid Dutch burgher. He takes a walk one night and spies his boss drunk in a dive bar. The boss confesses massive fraud and explains that Popinga's cushy life will soon be unraveling.

I've read Simenon before ( Red Lights) and been unimpressed. But this one grabbed me when Popinga returned home from his impromptu meeting with his boss and his wife notices something is wrong with him:

"You're white
Jan 14, 2012 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, nyrb, 2012, reviewed, noir, simenon

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 a memb
Mar 07, 2011 Megha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

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
Camille Stein
Dec 11, 2013 Camille Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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
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 o
Mar 30, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jan 02, 2013 Roberto rated it really liked it
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
Anna [Floanne]
Feb 29, 2016 Anna [Floanne] rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, _francese
Una volta che lo si é conosciuto, Kees Popinga è un personaggio impossibile da dimenticare. Un uomo fino ad un attimo prima apparentemente normalissimo, serio, impegnato, meticoloso, un buon padre di famiglia, da un giorno con l'altro, trascinato dagli eventi, diventa uno spietato assassino e, ricercato dalla polizia, comincia a vagare da Amsterdam a Parigi. Trrasformandosi pagina dopo pagina in un folle (o forse semplicemente cedendo a quella pazzia che da sempre si portava dentro, celata diet ...more
Filipe Miguel
Jun 30, 2015 Filipe Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, crime, thriller
Popinga, ou a verdade que não existe?

"O Homem que Via Passar os Comboios", de Georges Simenon, é o homem moderno – 1938 – não refém dos seus fantasmas e na plenitude do seu inconsciente.

Kees Popinga, protagonista, vive, página após página, libertado das amarras que o prendem à realidade dos dias, entregue aos seus pensamentos. O pseudo-assassino que tem em si, detentor de uma calma admirável, erra no meio da multidão, na procura de fugir a um padrão expectável de comportamento, isolando-se sem o

Aggiornamento dopo il favoloso messaggio di Simo (copiato alla fine della recensione) che ha risposto ai miei dubbi.



Sono io l'unico scemo che non lo sapeva?

Sono solo io che ho passato anni al liceo senza imparare niente?

A scuola non mi sembra di aver studiato Simenon tra gli importanti scrittori del novecento dalle forti tematiche psicologiche.

Nella mia testa ho sempre associato il nome di Simeno
Feb 09, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 02, 2014 Rosa Ramôa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobre a devastação de uma existência*
Feb 29, 2012 Alessandro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2012 Arwen56 rated it it was ok
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,
Aug 20, 2015 Ingrid rated it really liked it
Secondo romanzo che leggo di Simenon, lo considero uno scalino più in basso di Luci nella notte che, non ho ancora capito il perché, lo reputo quasi perfetto.
Kees Popinga è un uomo qualunque che lavora come impiegato presso una ditta di forniture navali. Vive a Groninga con la moglie e i due figli e conduce una vita monotona e noiosa. Una sera il padrone Julius de Coster gli rivela che presto l'azienda sarà dichiarata fallita e che simulerà il suicidio per non rispondere delle colpe e poter fugg
Dec 16, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Sep 13, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, mystery, fiction
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
Apr 01, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 03, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Jul 02, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE MAN WHO WATCHED TRAINS GO BY. (1938). Georges Simenon. ****1/2.
This is one of Simenon’s roman durs – books in which he displays a sympathetic awareness of the emotional and spiritual pain underlying the routines of daily life. “Kees Popinga is a solid Dutch burgher whose idea of a night on the town is a game of chess at his club. Or so it has always appeared; but one night this model husband and devoted father discovers his boss is bankrupt and that his own carefully tended life is in ruins.
Jun 13, 2015 NobilisGughy rated it really liked it
Se non esiste verità, nulla ha importanza.
Si tratta di smettere di vivere per abitudine. Spogliarsi, una volta e per sempre, dei panni troppo stretti e puliti, troppo convenzionali, che un non so chi ha deciso che noi dovevamo indossare. Non è semplicissimo? Perché fuori, nella notte, echeggia seducente il fischio dei treni, pieni di vite che non sono la nostra.

Ma d’altro canto, non c’è salvezza. Spezzata la farsa della vita borghese, non rimane che chinarsi su se stessi e spingere lo sguardo n
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
Feb 08, 2009 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 06, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Το συγκεκριμένο μυθιστόρημα του Σιμενόν, τρίτο δικό του που διαβάζω, είναι από τα πιο γνωστά και πολυσυζητημένα έργα του. Ουσιαστικά δεν πρόκειται για αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα, αλλά για συνδυασμό υπαρξιστικού δράματος και μαύρης κωμωδίας, με λίγο από έγκλημα μέσα. Όπως και να'χει, το βιβλίο είναι πολύ καλό και ενδιαφέρον.

Ο Ολλανδός Κέες Πόπινγκα είναι ένας μέσος άνθρωπος, με μια συμπαθητική οικογένεια και μια καλή δουλειά. Όμως μια μέρα μαθαίνει από το αφεντικό του ότι η εταιρεία χρεοκόπησε, με απ
Sep 01, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: francia
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
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NYRB Classics: The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, by Georges Simenon 1 4 Oct 28, 2013 12:16PM  
  • Fatale
  • O Senhor Ventura
  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • Era Bom Que Trocássemos Umas Ideias Sobre O Assunto
  • Fanny Owen
  • The Emperor's Tomb
  • A Costa dos Murmúrios
  • Wellen
  • The Shadow-Line
  • Bronsteins Kinder
  • Gente Feliz com Lágrimas
  • Uomini e no
  • Don Giovanni in Sicilia
  • To Each His Own
  • Balada da Praia dos Cães
  • Il partigiano Johnny
  • Diario di un killer sentimentale
  • Sinais de Fogo
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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“Si parte da un dettaglio qualsiasi, talvolta di poco conto, e senza volerlo si giunge a scoprire grandi princìpi.” 4 likes
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