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Simenon and his Inspector

Le Commissaire Maigret
Police Judiciaire
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!

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Here's a recent sample -

re: Maigret Voyage - Countess P...?
9/18/14 –

Countess Palmieri or Countess Paverini? Readers of Maigret voyage [VOY] may have noticed that the "little countess" of the novel changes her name according to the edition, and even inside the same volume (kudos to Arlene for her discerning reading!). But why does this character appear with two different surnames?

The key to this mystery can be found in a fine publication, produced under the auspices of Les Amis de Georges Simenon, written by Michel Carly and published in 2011 under the title The secrets of the "Maigret"s. I'll summarize for you here the explanation given by Michel Carly...

Maigret voyage was written between the 10th and 17th of August, 1957. It was the first novel written by Simenon after he'd moved to the château at Echandens. In the original text, the countess was named Palmieri. After revision, the text was sent to Presses de la Cité, and 60,000 copies were printed, dated December 2, 1957. Bookseller release was scheduled for March 5, 1958.

Meanwhile, there was a prepublication serial release in the newspaper Figaro, from February 18 to March 15, 1958. However, on February 24, the Figaro received a letter from an indignant reader, one Roger Palmieri, a lawyer at the Paris Court of Appeals, who believed that the honor of his name had been "tarnished" by association with the character of the countess, whose existence, in M. Palmieri's words, "proves terribly complicated and unedifying". In short, the lawyer called for Figaro to remove his name from the columns of the newspaper – and from Simenon's novel. The Figaro did so, and in the edition of February 27, we read, "an unwitting homonym has resulted in Georges Simenon's modification of the name of one of his characters, who will henceforth become the Countess Paverini."

But since the novel had appeared in bookstores on March 5, as the volumes had been printed well before this incident (with the colophon of December 2, as we recall), the name appearing therein was Palmieri. Further indignation from the lawyer Palmieri, who summoned Simenon to appear, on March 27, before the Civil Court of the Seine, which ordered the publisher and the author to replace the name Palmieri with Paverini in the next edition of Maigret voyage, and thankfully that was the end of it...

But the fact remains that we will find, in successive editions of the novel, one surname or the other for the countess. I don't have a copy of the novel in the original edition, but if someone happens to have one, this can be verified. On the other hand, in my 1971 edition, the countess has the name Paverini, and, on page 17, we find, "Paverini… P as in Paul, a as in Arthur, v as in Victor, e as in... Paverini, yes...", and on page 67, "Countess Paverini… Like "pave", r, as in Robert, i, Ignace, n, Naomi and another i at the end". In the 1982 edition, we find again the name Palmieri, on page 17: "Palmieri… P as in Paul, a as in Arthur, l as in Leon, m as in... Palmieri, yes...", but on page 45, as Arlene noted, once again Paverini, while on page 67, once more Palmieri, the text mentioned by Arlene. Probably when restoring the name to the original, the name Paverini sometimes eluded the proofreader. And we find that the Rencontre edition retains the name Paverini, while in the Tout Maigret edition, published by Omnibus, the original name, Palmieri, appears throughout the text...

original edition

1971 edition

1982 edition

Comtesse Palmieri ou comtesse Paverini ? Les lecteurs de Maigret voyage auront pu constater que la "petite comtesse" du roman change de nom au gré des éditions, voire à l'intérieur d'un même volume (bravo à Arlene pour sa lecture attentive et perspicace !). Pourquoi ce double patronyme attribué à ce personnage ?

La clé de l'énigme est à découvrir dans la belle publication, éditée par les soins des Amis de Georges Simenon, signée Michel Carly et publiée en 2011 sous le titre Les secrets des «Maigret». Je vous résume ici l'anecdote racontée par Michel Carly.

Maigret voyage a été écrit du 10 au 17 août 1957. C'est le premier roman rédigé par Simenon installé au château d'Echandens. Dans le texte original, la comtesse porte le nom de Palmieri. Après révision, le texte est envoyé aux Presses de la Cité, et un tirage de 60 000 volumes est effectué, avec un achevé d'imprimer au 2 décembre 1957. La parution est prévue pour le 5 mars 1958 en librairie.

Entretemps, une prépublication a lieu dans le journal le Figaro, du 18 février au 15 mars 1958. Or, le 24 février, le Figaro reçoit une lettre d'un lecteur indigné, un certain Roger Palmieri, avocat à la cour d'appel de Paris, qui estime que l'honneur de son nom est "sali" à travers le personnage de la comtesse, dont l'existence, selon les termes de Me Palmieri, "se révèle terriblement compliquée et peu édifiante". Bref, l'avocat demande au Figaro que son nom disparaisse des colonnes du journal – et du roman de Simenon. Le Figaro s'exécute, et, dans l'édition du 27 février, on peut lire: "une homonymie involontaire oblige Georges Simenon à modifier le nom de l'un de ses personnages qui, à partir de ce jour, devient la comtesse Paverini."

Mais, lorsque le roman paraît en librairie le 5 mars, comme les volumes ont été imprimés bien avant cette histoire (achevé d'imprimer du 2 décembre, on le rappelle), le nom qui y est mentionné est Palmieri. Nouvelle indignation de Me Palmieri, qui assigne Simenon à comparaître, le 27 mars, devant le tribunal civil de la Seine. On ordonne à l'éditeur et à l'écrivain de remplacer le nom de Palmieri par celui de Paverini dans la prochaine édition de Maigret voyage, et l'affaire s'arrête heureusement là…

Il n'en reste pas moins que l'on va trouver, dans les éditions successives des romans, un patronyme ou l'autre pour la comtesse. Je ne possède pas le roman dans sa parution originale, mais si quelqu'un a la chance d'en avoir un, il pourra vérifier la chose. Par contre, dans mon édition de 1971, la comtesse porte le nom de Paverini, et, à la page 17, on trouve: "Paverini… P comme Paul, a comme Arthur, v comme Victor, e comme…Paverini, oui…", et à la page 67: "La comtesse Paverini… Comme pavé, r, comme Robert, i, Ignace, n, Noémi et encore un i à la fin…". Dans l'édition de 1982, on retrouve le nom de Palmieri: page 17: "Palmieri… P comme Paul, a comme Arthur, l comme Léon, m comme… Palmieri, oui…", mais la page 45, comme le dit Arlene, a encore Paverini, alors que la page 67 a de nouveau Palmieri, avec le texte mentionné par Arlene. Probablement que, lors du rétablissement du nom de la version originale, le nom de Paverini a échappé parfois au correcteur… Notons que l'édition Rencontre a encore le nom de Paverini, alors que l'édition Tout Maigret publiée par Omnibus a rétabli le nom original de Palmieri, partout dans le texte…



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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