Les Fiançailles de M. Hire
|Original title||Les Fiançailles de M. Hire|
Les Fiançailles de M. Hire (Monsieur Hire's Engagement) is the title of a short novel by Belgian writer Georges Simenon. It is among one of the author's first self-described roman durs or "hard novels" to distinguish it from his romans populaires or "popular novels," which are primarily mysteries that usually feature his famous Inspector Maigret character.
The novel is divided into eleven chapters, and is written using the third-person narrative mode.
Mr. Hire, a little crook of Jewish origin, is isolated without any female relationship (apart from his visits to the brothel). Unpopular with his neighbors, he becomes the ideal suspect for the murder of a young prostitute whose corpse was found in a vacant lot near his home. The police have the suspect under 24-hour surveillance. They are only waiting for him to make the inevitable mistake and give himself away.
Once a week, Hire is the unlikely star of a Parisian bowling club, where people think he works for the police. Apart from his passion for bowling, Hire is a peeping Tom and obsessed with the voyeuristic observation of his neighbor Alice. During his nocturnal observations, he was able to identify the perpetrator of the crime who is none other than Alice's boy friend. Believing himself loved by Alice, he does not denounce the offender in order to protect Alice. At the moment of his arrest, with the lynching mob at his tail, Hire takes refuge on the roofs but makes a fall and dies in the arms of firefighters.
English language editions
Les Fiançailles de M. Hire has been translated into English twice: once by Daphne Woodward as Mr. Hire's Engagement for Hamish Hamilton in 1956, and a second time by Anna Moschovakis as The Engagement for New York Review Books in 2007. The former version also appeared as The Sacrifice, comprising Mr. Hire's Engagement and Young Cardinaud as well as in one of the Simenon Omnibuses; the latter edition contains an afterward by John N. Gray.
The book has been filmed as Panique by Julien Duvivier in 1947 and stars Michel Simon and Viviane Romance.
The book has also been filmed by Ladislao Vajda in 1947 in Spanish as Barrio  and, with a different cast, in Portuguese as Viela (Rua Sem Sol).
The book has also been filmed as Monsieur Hire by Patrice Leconte in 1989 and stars Michel Blanc and Sandrine Bonnaire
Simenon, Georges: The Engagement. New York: New York Review Books, 2007.