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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 -

The Sounds of Maigret...
11/15/14 –

The Sounds of Maigret

by Murielle Wenger

" get back into the atmosphere of the street, to hunt about in corners, to go into local bistros and listen to people..." (Maigret et l'inspecteur Malgracieux [mal])

original French

After the world of colors and that of odors, the time has come to study Maigret's relationship to sounds. While we recognize that he works primarily with his vision, and that he permeates himself with the atmosphere of odors, the world of sounds has its share of importance as well.

Sounds play a dual role in the text. On the one hand, they're used by the author to elaborate a setting, to show the subtleties. Particular sounds of the street, familiar echoes of home...

But Maigret also utilizes sounds as part of his detective work – it's often someone's tone of voice that reveals to him their state of mind, that refines his perception of their feelings. And it's also the sounds that may have been heard at the scene of a crime, by witnesses interviewed during the course of an investigation... the sound of a departing car, shots fired, a door opening or closing, a falling body, or the sound of footsteps... Sounds are also a sign, the acoustic symbol of an object, whose nature is thus clarified. And further, hearing is the sense Maigret uses to supplement the others when they can't be called on, as the sound of an object that must be guessed at because of the darkness of night, or something outside, heard through a window, or sounds heard from behind closed doors. Sounds are used by Maigret as tools in his understanding of the world around him, in search of truths which might otherwise elude him...

Let's enter into the world of Maigret's sounds, and try to find the ways his author uses to describe them, how he animates this world and makes it come alive.

1. An effective sound-track
2. Cries, tears, murmurs and laughter...
3. Footsteps
4. The mooing of cows and stamping of horses
5. The din of vehicles
6. The melody of the elements
7. All in music
8. The objects of everyday sound
9. Tobacco crackling, gun shots, and telephones ringing...
10. A policeman listening
11. The Chief Inspector's silences

  1. An effective sound-track

    When Maigret goes to a place, the visual scene set by the author is complemented auditorily. Simenon knows well how to bring a setting alive with an auditory description, often as clearly as by a visual one. And when we speak of the famous "Simenon atmosphere", no doubt we are not simply thinking of the scenery, but also adding a full symphony, a sort of "sound-track", something scenario writers attempting cinema or television adaptations must find very useful.

    Thus, at the time of the "first appearance" of Maigret at the beginning of the corpus (Pietr le Letton [LET]), when he goes to the Gare du Nord to await the arrival of Pietr, Simenon describes the station platforms in the storm, and then the arrival of the train... "The yellow speck of the train's headlamp appeared in the distance. Then came the usual hubbub, with porters shouting and passengers tramping and jostling their way towards the station exit."

    Here, a morning in Sancerre (Monsieur Gallet, décédé [GAL])... "In all the greenery outside the window there was a confused murmuring made up of birdsong, rustling leaves, the buzzing of flies and the distant clucking of chickens on the lane, all of it punctuated by the rhythmic blows of the hammer on the anvil in the forge."

    Here, in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien [PHO], a "morning concert of Liège": "For that morning the air was like a tonic that grew more bracing as the sun rose higher into the sky. A delightful cacophony reigned, of people shouting in a Walloon dialect, the shrill clanging of the red and yellow streetcars, and the splashing of the four jets in the monumental Perron Fountain doing its best to be heard over the hubbub of the surrounding Place du Marché." And, still in the same novel, the sound scene of a German brasserie, with "businessmen talking loudly over the tireless efforts of a Viennese orchestra and the clinking of beer mugs." And, in La tête d'un homme [TET], at the Coupole... "Four waiters were all shouting at once, accompanied by the clatter of plates and tinkling of glasses. Snatches of different languages broke in on all sides."

    In Le chien jaune [JAU], here is the soundscape of the evening after the attack on Mostaguen, while silence reigns in the hotel, and Maigret smokes placidly, watching Emma and Dr. Michoux... "The clock in the Old Town sounded the hours and the half-hours. On the pavement, the shuffling footsteps and talking died away. Then there was nothing but the monotonous moan of the wind and the sound of the rain beating on the windows."

    In La nuit du carrefour [NUI], early morning after an long interrogation at the PJ... "Footsteps sounded in the corridors. Telephones ringing. Voices calling. Doors banging. The charwomen's brooms."...

    complete text here


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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