Le Commissaire Maigret
36 Quai des Orfèvres
The Maigret Forum This is not a static website. It changes almost daily. The Maigret "Forum," an open bulletin board for notices, opinions, information and discussion related to Maigret and Simenon, has become the most active feature of this site. It's where new books, websites, articles and features are first announced and displayed, and includes an indexed archive of the entire past Forum... back to 1997!
Click here for the current Forum.
Here's a recent sample -
Postmistresses, nurses, parish priests...
in Simenon's gallery of characters by Murielle Wenger
A Maigret novel obviously doesn't exist without the presence of its hero. However, to exercise his talents, the Chief Inspector needs a foil; and thus appear the "second fiddles", victims, witnesses and suspects, whom Maigret confronts. Without forgetting, of course, Mme Maigret and his inspectors, who receive his affection.
However, that is not yet enough to give scale to the scene... add to these a host of extras, who will furnish the space, and allow the novel to come alive. It's Simenon's talent to offer us a gallery of secondary characters, who appear more or less fleetingly, but who are nonetheless necessary to the plot. Sometimes described in just a few words, sometimes in a few sentences, the brevity of their appearance detracts nothing from the force of their presence at the heart of the plot.
And so the reader finds a certain pleasure in discovering, in the course of the story, these sketched characters, while the compulsive Maigret-lover – like me! - increases their happiness by making a collection of these findings...
And so here, after the maids, concierges, housekeepers, judges and so on, a little review of some others of these secondary characters.
1. The Postmistresses
The telephone is a tool often required by Maigret. In a time when there were not yet any of the mobile devices which have made today's communications so banal, the police had to find other ways of getting in contact or finding information. In Paris, when he's working away from his office, the Chief Inspector often goes into a café to telephone - a good excuse to order at the same time a little white wine or a brandy - which may explain why Maigret never uses public telephone booths, which could already be found at his time in the streets of the capital.
In the cases he investigates outside of Paris, Maigret also finds the need to phone. When it's not from his hotel room, he naturally goes to the post office, where he meets the first of the characters examined in this study, the postmistresses. In the Maigrets, it's always a woman who takes care of the postal service and telephone, in the suburbs or the country.
Five postmistresses are described in some detail in the corpus:
In La maison du juge [JUG], Maigret only encounters the attendant via the telephone... situated in city hall, he will need the assistance of the young woman to find out some information for him, Polite and affable, he presents himself graciously, beginning with a sort of apology...
"Hello, Mademoiselle. ... I'm at city hall, and I'm afraid I'll have to bother you somewhat frequently..."
Later, greeting her amiably...
"Then he turned the crank of the telephone, greeting the attendant with a pleasant 'Bonjour'".
And finally allowing himself some more pleasantness...
"Hello, Mademoiselle! Still another call, if you don't mind? ... Thanks so much... But of course, I know you're doing everything you can, and before I leave I'll bring you some chocolates. You prefer glazed chestnuts? I'll remember..."
"It's me again, Mademoiselle... I'll have to double the quantity of those chestnuts..."
"Hello, Mademoiselle... Yes, it's me, yes... My debt of chocolates... No, that's right, you prefer glazed chestnuts... My debt grows greater and greater"
A phenomenal author and his phenomenal character
Georges Simenon was by many standards the most successful author of the 20th century, and the character he created, Inspector Jules Maigret, who made him rich and famous, ranks only after Sherlock Holmes as the world's best known fictional detective. There is nothing commonplace about the life of Georges Simenon, and he and his works have been the subject of innumerable books and articles. The Maigret stories are unlike any other detective stories the crime and the details of unraveling it are often less central to our interest than Maigret's journey through the discovery of the cast of characters... towards an understanding of man. Simenon said he was obsessed with a search for the "naked man" man without his cultural protective coloration, and he followed his quest as much in the Maigrets as in his "hard" novels.
Although most of Simenon's work is available in English, it was originally written in French. Simenon was born and raised in Belgium, and while Paris was "the city" for him, the home of Maigret, he was 'an international,' a world traveler who moved often and lived for many years in France, the United States, and Switzerland.
Because he wrote in French, and for the most part lived in French-speaking countries, most of the books and magazine articles about him were written in French as well. Unlike his own books however, many of these have never been available in translation. Because Simenon lived to be nearly 90, and left a legacy of hundreds of books from which more than 50 films have been made, along with hundreds of television episodes there is much to collect, to examine, to display and discuss.
This site takes Maigret as its theme, and Simenon as its sub-theme. There is much here about all aspects of Simenon and Maigret, but not so much about Simenon's other, non-Maigret books. There are full texts of many magazine and journal articles, including many translated into English here, as far as I am aware, for the first time. In this way non-French-speaking Maigret fans can now share, in a time-compressed form, articles about Simenon and Maigret spanning more than 70 years, as well as a forum for discussion and contribution which...
Enough. There's a lot here. Enjoy your visit. Come back again, and feel free to contribute to the Forum. Corrections, comments, and suggestions are welcome.Steve Trussel
Bibliography: booklists etc.
This site, first opened on August 29, 1996 as "Inspector Maigret," has spread in various directions from its beginning as primarily a bibliography of editions in English. The "new look" reflects various aspects of this development, but the bibliography remains a central feature.Counting Maigret: statistics etc.
For the forty-year period from 1931 through 1972, a new Inspector Maigret investigation appeared at the average rate about 2.5 per year: 75 novels and 28 short stories, 103 episodes of what has been called George Simenon's "Maigret Saga."
Texts: Maigret on-line
Full-length texts - reviews and articles about Maigret and Simenon, as well as new translations of stories, articles, (and even a novel!) which have never appeared in English.
Index to the texts and articles on various pages.
Articles from the Simenon symposiums, journals, program listings, and other not-Maigret-only Simenon material.
Gallery: Maigret covers and photos
Maigret paperback covers, postage stamps, theme music, locations... more.
Plots of all the Maigret novels and stories.
Shopping for Maigret: books on-line
The one-button, quick-links to the main on-line book dealers are still available, for shopping for Maigret titles.
Maigret on Screen: films and videos
Various aspects of Maigret on film and video.
Maigret on the Web: Links
Links to the rest of the on-line world of Maigret on the Internet.
background photo: adapted from "Two models for Maigret,
Commissaires Massu and Guillaume." [Ph. Keystone]
"Quai des Orfèvres on the Cité Island at night" [Jean-Pierre Ducatez]
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