Claude Simon

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Claude Simon (1913–2005), Nobel Prize Winner for Literature 1985. Portrait approx. 1932.
Claude Simon, 1967

Claude Simon (born October 10, 1913 in Tananarive , Madagascar , † July 6, 2005 in Paris ) was a French writer. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1985 .


Simon was born in what was then the French colony of Madagascar as the son of an officer in the marine infantry . The family returned to France in 1914, and the father died in Flanders at the beginning of the First World War . Claude Simon grew up near Perpignan , his mother's homeland.

When the mother died in 1924, one of her cousins, a retired cavalry officer , became the 11-year-old's guardian. He came to the Catholic College Stanislas in Paris. After finishing school, Simon attended painting courses. In 1934/35 he did military service in the 31st e régiment de dragons . After his discharge from the military, a friend gave him a membership card of the French Communist Party . He traveled to Barcelona to the headquarters of the republican side in the Spanish Civil War (later the subject of his novel Le Palace ), but returned to France after two weeks because he could not find a meaningful job there. In France, he was part of a group that organized an arms transport as supplies for the Republicans. In 1937 he went on a big trip to Europe (Berlin, Warsaw, Soviet Union, Istanbul, Greece, Northern Italy). He made the first literary attempts that he classified as insignificant.

With the Second World War approaching , Simon was drafted back into his old cavalry unit at the end of August 1939. During the war, his squadron in Belgium was wiped out, he himself was captured and deported to the POW camp Stalag IV B near Mühlberg / Elbe . He later processed his war experiences in various novels ( La Route des Flandres , Les Géorgiques , L'Acacia ). Simon managed to be transferred to another prisoner-of-war camp for French colonialists in France, from where he was able to escape. He reached Perpignan, in the part of France that was not occupied by the Germans . When the authorities of the Vichy government became aware of him, he went to Paris in 1944 to avoid his arrest.

During this time he wrote his first novel Le Tricheur ( The Deceiver ), which was published in 1945 and went just as unnoticed as the three that followed, which were written by the mid-1950s. In 1956 he met Alain Robbe-Grillet , who worked for the Editions de Minuit publishing house and suggested that he publish there. The publisher was the nucleus of a literary movement that would later become known as the Nouveau Roman . In the period that followed, Simon's fame and artistic recognition grew, and his texts have now also been translated into other languages. In 1961 he received the L'Express magazine prize for La Route des Flandres , and in 1967 the Prix ​​Médicis for Histoire . In 1985, to the surprise of large numbers of experts and the general public, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature . In 1987 Simon was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1996 he received the Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Art .

Simon's literature

Simon's literary work consists mainly of novels. As part of the literary movement of the Nouveau Roman , his works differ significantly from the classic examples of this genre from the 19th century . B. the lack of an omniscient narrator who guides the reader through an exciting or at least interesting story with a chronological, continuous plot. Even the narrator does not seem to have any deeper insight into what is happening, he is largely limited to an external description, without the details appearing clearly recognizable in a higher-level plot. There is no psychological characterization of the characters in the novel or an explanation of their actions, instead one learns something about the thoughts and motives of some protagonists in extensive passages from the Inner Monologue and Experienced Speech . The novel as a whole is made up of a string of numerous fragmented storylines that break off suddenly (sometimes in the middle of a sentence) and can be resumed later in the text. In terms of content, the strands are linked to one another by a dense network of relationships, but without anything like a chronological plot.

Recurring themes in Simon's novels are history, including his own family history, war and the experience of extreme violence made in it.


  • La Corde raide , Roman, Ed . du Sagittaire, Paris 1947
  • Le Vent. Tentative de restitution d'un rétable baroque , Roman, Les editions de minuit, Paris 1957
    • German: The wind . Attempt to restore a baroque altarpiece , translated by Eva Rechel-Mertens , Piper, Munich 1959 and Rowohlt, series rororo 1135, Hamburg 1969
    • New translation by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-5865-2 .
  • L'Herbe , Roman, Les Éd. de Minuit, Paris 1958
  • La Route des Flandres , Roman, Éditions de Minuit, Paris 1960 (1959)
  • Le Palace , Roman, Éd. de Minuit, Paris 1962
    • German: The palace. translated by Elmar Tophoven, Piper, Munich 1966
    • New translation by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 2006
  • Femmes. Sur 23 peintures de Joan Mirò . 1966, reissued in 1983 as La chevelure de Bérénice
    • German: Berenike's hair. translated by Silvia Ronelt, Residenz-Verlag, Salzburg 1994,
    • newly translated by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-8321-7960-7 .
  • Histoire . 1967 novel
    • German: history. translated by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-7701-4867-3 .
  • La Bataille de Pharsale , novel, 1969.
    • German: The battle at Pharsalus. translated by Helmut Scheffel , Luchterhand, Darmstadt 1972
  • Orion aveugle . 1970, a text that was largely incorporated into Les corps conducteurs . The volume contains the illustrations on the basis of which Simon wrote it and a foreword "Les sentiers de la création" (= title of the series in which the book appeared) reproduced in his handwriting.
  • Les Corps conducteurs . Novel 1971.
    • German: The guide body. translated by Irma Reblitz, Luchterhand, Darmstadt and Neuwied, ISBN 978-3-472-61636-8 .
  • Triptyque . Novel 1973.
    • German: Triptychon. translated by Eva Moldenhauer, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1986, ISBN 3-498-06192-5 .
  • Leçon de choses , novel 1974
    • German: Object lesson translated by Christine Stemmermann, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1986, ISBN 3-498-06196-8 .
  • Les Géorgiques . Novel 1981
    • German: Georgica. translated by Doris Butz-Striebel and Tresy Lejoly, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-498-06195-X .
  • Album d'un amateur illustrated book 1988
    • German: Album of an amateur. translated by Werner Zettelmeier, Rommerskirchen,

Remagen-Rolandseck 1988, ISBN 3-926943-07-6 .

  • L'Invitation . Without generic designation 1987
    • German: The invitation. Translated by Christine Stemmermann, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-498-06232-8 .
  • L'Acacia . Novel 1989
  • Photographies 1937–1940 , illustrated book, Maeght, Paris 1992, ISBN 2-86941-181-2 .
  • Le Jardin des Plantes . Novel 1997,
    • German: Jardin des Plantes. translated by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-7701-4466-X .
  • Le Tramway . Novel 2001
    • German: The tram. translated by Eva Moldenhauer, DuMont, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-8321-5866-9 .
  • with Brigitte Ferrato-Combe: Novelli ou leproblemème du langage. Les Temps Modernes, Paris 2005
  • Archipel et Nord , Éd. de Minuit, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-7073-2065-0 .
    • German: Archipel / North. Small writings and photographs. Translated by Eva Moldenhauer, with a foreword by Brigitte Burmeister, Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-88221-027-9 .
  • The fish as a cathedral. Four lectures , translated by Eva Moldenhauer. With an afterword by Andreas Isenschmid, Berenberg, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-937834-72-6 ; it includes the lectures The Fish as a Cathedral (1980), "... those missing in all ostriches" (1982), Writing (1989) and Literature and Memory (1993)
  • Le Cheval , with an afterword by Mireille Calle-Gruber: Nolay, Éd. du Chemin de Fer, 2015, ISBN 978-2-916130-79-8 .
    • German: The horse. translated by Eva Moldenhauer; with an afterword by Mireille Calle-Gruber, Berenberg, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-946334-17-0 (first published in 1958 as a magazine print)

Work editions


  • Irene Albers : Photographic Moments with Claude Simon. (= Epistemata - literary studies. 402). Königshausen & Neumann , Würzburg 2002, ISBN 3-8260-2202-5 .
  • Irene Albers and Wolfram Nitsch, eds .: Transports. Les métaphores de Claude Simon. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-631-54269-0 .
  • Elsbeth Bellina-Hennermann: Change and continuity in Claude Simon's prose using the example of the novels "Histoire", "La bataille de Pharsale", "Les corps conducteurs" and "Triptique". (= European university publications. Series 13, 183). Lang, Frankfurt 1993, ISBN 3-631-46053-8 .
  • Claude Simon. Pictures of storytelling. (= You (magazine) for culture. Issue 691). Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-908515-24-6 .
  • Beeke Dummer: From Narration to Description. Generative text constitution with Jean Ricardou, Claude Simon and Philippe Sollers. (= Bochum work on linguistics and literary studies ). Gruener, Amsterdam 1988.
  • Mireille Calle-Gruber with the participation of Peter Brugger: Les Triptyques de Claude Simon ou l'art de montage. Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-87854-438-1 .
  • Ilana Hammerman: Forms of storytelling in contemporary prose. Using the example of Philippe Sollers, Robert Pinget and Claude Simon . Klett-Cotta , Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-12-933210-3 .
  • Thomas Klinkert: Preserve and delete. To the Proust reception with Samuel Beckett, Claude Simon and Thomas Bernhard. (= Romanica Monacensia. 48). Narr, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-8233-4788-8 .
  • Till R. Kuhnle: Chronos and Thanatos. On the existentialism of the "nouveau romancier" Claude Simon. (= Mimesis. 22). Niemeyer, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-484-55022-8 .
  • Jochen Mecke: Michel Butor , "La Modification" 1957; Claude Simon, "La Route des Flandres" 1960. In: Wolfgang Asholt (Ed.): 20th century. Novel. Interpretation of French literature. Stauffenburg, Tübingen ISBN 978-3-86057-909-1 .
  • Wolfram Nitsch: Language and Violence in Claude Simon. Interpretations of his novel of the sixties. (= Romanica Monacensia. 39). Narr, Tübingen 1992, ISBN 3-8233-4306-8 .
  • Liisa Saariluoma: The Post-Individualist Novel . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1994, ISBN 3-88479-874-X .
  • Dorothea Schmidt: Writing after the war. Studies on the poetics of Claude Simons. (= Studia Romanica. 89). Winter, Heidelberg 1997, ISBN 3-8253-0552-X .
  • Stefan Schreckenberg: In the field of stories. Forms of historical meaning in Claude Simon's "Les Géorgiques". (= New forum for general and comparative literary studies. 18). Winter, Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 3-8253-1521-5 .
  • Vera Szöllösi-Brenig: The "murder" of existentialism or the last engagement. Artistic self-discovery in the early work of Claude Simon between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty . (= Romanica Monacensia. 46). Narr, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-8233-4786-1 .
  • Rolf Vollmann: Acacia and Orion. Forays into Claude Simon's fictional landscapes . Dumont, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8321-7880-5 .
  • Barbara Vinken: The Stained Paper: Claude Simon's Leçon de choses. In: Yale French Studies. Special issue The French Novel Today. 1988, pp. 35-45.
  • Barbara Vinken: Paper waste or the difficulty of reading: Claude Simon. In: Poetica. Issue 22, 1989, pp. 403-428.
  • Theo Rommerskirchen: Claude Simon. In: viva signature si! Remagen-Rolandseck 2005, ISBN 3-926943-85-8 .
  • Brigitte Burmeister : The senses and the sense. Exploring Claude Simon's linguistic world . Matthes & Seitz Berlin , 2010, ISBN 978-3-88221-686-8 .
  • Mireille Calle-Gruber: Claude Simon: une vie à écrire. Ed. du Seuil, Paris 2011, ISBN 978-2-02-100983-5 .
  • Marcel Beyer : leaf, barrack, bark, brothel. Claude Simon in Mühlberg on the Elbe. In: Sense and Form . 1/2014, pp. 91-100.
  • Dictionnaire Claude Simon , 2 volumes. ed. v. Michel Bertrand. Editions Champion, Paris 2013, ISBN 978-2-7453-2649-2 .
  • Irene Albers, Wolfram Nitsch: On the 100th birthday: Claude Simons ways to Germany. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . October 4, 2013, accessed December 29, 2017


  • 2013/2014: Claude Simon in Germany , Bibliotheca Reiner Speck, Cologne.

See also

Web links

Commons : Claude Simon  - collection of images, videos and audio files