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The Man Who Watched Trains Go By

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,774 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Kees Popinga is an average man, a solid citizen who might enjoy a game of chess in the evening. But one night, this model husband and devoted father discovers his boss is bankrupt and that his own carefully tended life is in ruins. Before, he had watched impassively as the trains swept by; now he catches the first one out of town, and soon commits murder before the night i ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Penguin Books (first published 1938)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  2,774 ratings  ·  206 reviews


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Glenn Russell
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books


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
...more
Steven Godin
Cool as a cucumber, Dutchman Kees Popinga wonders around Paris with plenty of cash. Drinking, smoking, playing chess, entertaining women, seemingly without a care in the world, sounds great!. Oh, I forgot to mention the police are on his tail, as he is wanted for being the 'Amsterdam sex maniac', Kess himself sees this tag as a bit of an insult, that makes him mad (which he clearly is) believing he is nothing of the sort. Although he is a killer, you wouldn't think it.
Leaving his family behind a
...more
Luís C.
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By

Too long caught up in the daily routine of his life as a Dutch petty bourgeois, the good father of the family Popinga has just been fired free of the job, he intends to take example on his former boss, have a mistress like the beautiful Pamela but he twist the blow like a duck.

Became a fugitive, Popinga jumps on a train ... a very good thriller without his famous Simenon character Maigret. There, point of investigation, it is enough to follow the character who cha
...more
Tony
Aug 09, 2016 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
...more
Guille
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Empiezo a pensar que tuve la mala suerte de comenzar a leer Simenon con la que ya sospecho es su mejor obra, La nieve estaba sucia, una vara de medir que pienso me está perjudicando sus otras lecturas.

Aquí podría escribir prácticamente lo mismo que ya comenté en mi reseña de La casa del canal: un planteamiento de lo más atractivo que, sin embargo, no me ha provocado la inquietud, el desasosiego, que desde que leí la obra citada busco siempre en el autor. Afortunadamente, Simenon nunca aburre, s
...more
Agnieszka
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

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 bars like the plague, he opposes bravely to physical desires and does it so successfully that he never had gone to a public house. He works in the firm of Julius de Coster where he earns quite a good money that allows him to look after his family. Mr Popinga lives
...more
Teresa
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-belgica, 5e
O homem que via passar os comboios tem uma vida maravilhosa: um bom emprego; dois, bem comportados, filhos adolescentes; uma esposa da "melhor qualidade" - como o imponente fogão que dá calor à casa. Após o jantar, dormita, ouve rádio e observa a "mamã" a colar cromos num álbum.
Um acontecimento inesperado, relacionado com o trabalho, liberta-o. Kees Popinga abandona a "vida boa" para realizar os seus desejos. Deixa mortos e feridos pelo caminho, claro, pois quando se vira a mesa abruptamente a
...more
Camille Stein
Dec 11, 2013 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
...more
Megha
Mar 07, 2011 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
...more
Aggeliki
Για την ακρίβεια 2.5 αστεράκια. Μου άρεσε πολύ λίγο. Δεν μπόρεσα να μπω στο κλίμα. Ελπίζω να μην είναι όλα έτσι. Όσα έχω διαβάσει με επιθεωρητή Μαιγκρέ μου άρεσαν πολύ.
William2
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
Nicole~
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
...more
Sandra
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Roberto
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia, thriller
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
Jessica
Mar 30, 2012 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
...more
Anna [Floanne]
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _francese, classics
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
piperitapitta
Lesa maestà

Devo fare una confessione: non ho mai letto niente di Simenon.
Complice un ricovero ospedaliero, qualche anno fa, decisi di portare quest'agile volumetto con me.
All'inizio mi piaceva anche, ma con le dimissioni dall'ospedale, dal quale ogni volta la protagonista tragica che è in me crede sempre che non riuscirà ad uscire viva, mi scordai di proseguire nella lettura.
O meglio, abbandonai, senza grandi rimpianti, Popinga in un garage francese nel quale si era andato a nascondere.
Probabilm
...more
Ingrid
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Fil
SIAMO IO E SIMO GLI UNICI SCEMI?

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

-----------------------------------------------

SONO IO L'UNICO SCEMO?

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
...more
Filipe Miguel
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, thriller, favorites
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
...more
Tosh
Feb 09, 2008 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
...more
Rosa Ramôa
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobre a devastação de uma existência*
Banushka
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simenon'u, onun insan psikolojisini derinlikli anlatımını zaten çok severim ama bu kitabı çeviren ya da yeniden yazan sait faik olunca, hakkaten tadından yenmedi :)
sait faik çevireyim diye oturduğu kitapla uğraşırken bir bakmış sayfalar dolusu yazmış kendiliğinden, bazen da atlaya atlaya gitmiş, bunları kitabın önsözünde özdemir asaf tanıklığıyla okuyoruz. evet günümüz için çok şaşırtıcı ama eskiden agatha christie çevirileri bile biraz böyleydi, gönül suveren çevirileri genelde eksiktir, bazı y
...more
Alessandro
Feb 29, 2012 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
Arwen56
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,
...more
Tittirossa
Ho letto pochissimo Simenon quindi non so dire se questa è la sua forma poetica (nei non-gialli), ma lo trovo così simile a Lettera al mio giudice che potrebbe essere lo stesso romanzo.
Un uomo normale, incasellato in un tran-tran così perfettamente costruito, che non ha mai intuito che dentro di sé potrebbe esserci altro, e che a un certo punto esplode.
Un'esplosione tranquilla (pur con conseguenze letali), che gli fa invertire rotta senza un fremito, un ripensamento, un rimpianto.
A tratti app
...more
Jessica
Dec 16, 2011 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
...more
Mike
Oct 09, 2012 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
Hadrian
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french, mystery
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
...more
Alan
Apr 01, 2011 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
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Goodreads Librari...: please combine these editions 2 16 Aug 03, 2017 10:08PM  
NYRB Classics: The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, by Georges Simenon 1 5 Oct 28, 2013 12:16PM  

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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
“Si parte da un dettaglio qualsiasi, talvolta di poco conto, e senza volerlo si giunge a scoprire grandi princìpi.” 4 likes
“That feeling about trains, for instance. Of course he had long outgrown the boyish glamour of the steam-engine. Yet there was something that had an appeal for him in trains, especially in night-trains, which always put queer, vaguely improper notions in his head - though he would have been hard put to it to define them. Also he had an impression that those who leave by night-trains leave forever - an impression heightened the previous night by his glimpse of those Italians piled into their carriage like emigrants” 0 likes
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