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 statesmen and biographers. In his library, hidden between the pages of a sumptuously produced work of privately printed pornography, is the self-condemning, handwritten confession of his former attaché, Chalamont — a confession that the premier himself had dictated and forced Chalamont to sign. Now the long-thwarted Chalamont has been summoned to form a new coalition in the wake of the government’s collapse. The premier alone possesses the secret of Chalamont’s guilt, of his true character — and has publicly vowed: “He’ll never be Premier as long as I’m alive… Nor when I’m dead, either.”
Inspired by French Premier Georges Clemenceau, The President is a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a probing account of the decline of power.
“While its attention to economic crisis, civil unrest and a precarious coalition government might explain the novel’s resurfacing after 40 years of neglect, Simenon’s eye for detail, for the tragicomedy of life’s trivialities, provides a refreshing shift of focus.” —The Observer
“It is impossible not to admire the accuracy, the unfailing psychological insight, the unfaltering eye for the small but convincing human details that he brings to his stories of men obsessed.” —Life
“Since most Simenon characters are driven and obsessive, their actions are outside the constraints of ordinary life and, as such, are of striking ethical and psychological interest. . . Simenon has often been compared to Dostoyevsky…” —New York Times