The Black Notebook


After visitng Concarneau I must admit the town looks nothing like I expected. Today it is not the quaint small fishing village that Simenon describes back in the early 1930’s. Quite the opposite, it is much bigger and less provincial. Yet this is not what surprised me the most. Modernisation can easily cause this to happen. What shocked me the most was that the town is “upside down”. Quai de l’Aiguillon lays to the left of the Hotel Admiral why I expected it to be on its right. And the Admiral hotel itself faces the wrong direction.

The old watch tower at Cabelou was another surprise. I had imagined an old abandoned tower not far out from the city. On the other hand when we made the trip out to visit it we found it to be much further away than anticipated. The abandoned fort, unlike how I had anticipated, was relatively big and a small house shaped building lay on the inside of it. The tower itself on the other hand much smaller that expected. Despite it not reflecting what I had imagined the walk out to Cabelou Point and the visit to the Fort were probably my favourite part of the trip. Sitting on the rocks overlooking the sea and the Glenan Islands, the fort had a magical atmosphere about it. Maybe this was because our visit there was accompanied by the beautiful musical notes made by two locals who were playing their instruments out there in the forest. I nearly felt bad intruding on them.

Having imagined the town Simenon depicts in the novel and seen the Concarneau one can find today, the two are very different. Yet this was no great disappointment. After all I believe that books are made to remain in the imaginary. An author does not write them so we can un-pick them and analyse them word for word. Maybe when writing The Yellow Dog  and describing Concarneau Simenon did not remain fully truthful to the towns layout. But after all he wrote a novel not a travel guide. The locations he describes serve the purpose of creating the setting necessary for The Yellow Dog mystery to unfold. In no way do I fell that was the trip disappointing because of this or the novel less enjoyable.


  1. Thank you again for these entries and for your energy and enthusiasm during the fieldwork. I am beginning to do the analysis on these over Easter, using open coding from Kathy Charmaz' work.


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