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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 -

First names in the Maigret Corpus
1/5/15 –

First names
in the Maigret corpus

by Murielle Wenger

original French

Which first names does Simenon give his characters in the Maigret corpus? Which are used most frequently? How have they evolved over the years? Does the author use certain names for the various types of characters he creates?
Such are the questions I'll try to answer in this new study...


    In exploring the corpus, novels and stories, and checking against Steve's list in the Maigret Encyclopedia (for which I offer my thanks, since his prodigious work allowed me to verify and correct my own data), I've been able to inventory over 400 first names. By regrouping some of them that I've considered to be variants of a single name (for example, Ernest and Ernesto; Fred, Freddo and Freddy; Marie and Maria; Hélène and Helen), variations I'll return to when they're semantically relevant, I come up with 209 different occurrences of masculine first names, and 207 feminine. I call a "different occurrence" the case of a name applying to a particular character in a particular novel or story.

    We note first off that of the 209 masculine names, 86 (41%), and of the 207 feminine names, 103 (50%), appear but a single time in the corpus (ignoring, of course, the number of times a name is mentioned within the text – only counting the application of the name to a particular character). About a third of both male names (68, 33%) and female names (66, 32%) appear betwen two and four times in the corpus. (In other words, on average, one out of three names appears in three different texts). 14% of both masculine (29) and feminine (30) names appear between five and nine times in the corpus.

    Names occurring ten times or more (the names most frequently used by the author) in the corpus number 26 (12%) for the masculine, and only eight (4%) for the feminine.

    Lastly, we note that new names appear regularly with each new novel – we could say the novelist "renews his stock" each time he advances the corpus, and numerous characters are given a name not previously used in the corpus: With every new novel, Simenon employed some names he'd never used before.


    1. The least frequently used masculine names

      1. names with a single occurrence

        As mentioned above, a large number of the names in the corpus appear in it only once. Among the 86 masculine names used, 47 (55%) apply to a main character in the text (25), or a secondary character (22). The other 39 are used, either to name a character who is merely tangential to the story (as, for example, Horace Van Usschen in La maison du juge, Stuart Wilton in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), or to mention a character who does not actually appear in the action of the story (as, for example, Aldo de Rocca, Dorothy Payne's second husband, in Maigret voyage, Claude Besson, Charles's son in Maigret et la vieille dame), or the mention of a name without actually referring to a specific person, (as in Maigret à New York, this sentence describing a bar, "Everyone's called Bob, Dick, Tom, or Tony"), or the second or third name of a compound name of a character, (as, Aldebert Ramuel's third name in Les caves du Majestic).

        So there are 25 names which the author has reserved for a single principal character in the corpus, as if the name in question could only apply to such a character, and weren't transferable to another. (Although perhaps chance also plays its role here, as when a name the novelist "had at hand" at a certain moment did not come to mind again during the writing of later works.)

        These 25 are Adrien (Josset in Une confidence de Maigret), Alban (Groult-Cotelle in L'inspecteur Cadavre), Aristide (Fumel in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), Conrad (Popinga in Un crime en Hollande), Cornélius (Barens in Un crime en Hollande), Dan (Mullins in Maigret chez le coroner), Daniel (Maigret's nephew in Maigret et l'inspecteur Malgracieux), Dieudonné (Pape in Maigret et le corps sans tête), Fédor (Yourovitch, alias Hans Johannson in Pietr le Letton), Fouad (Ouéni in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), Georges-Henry (Malik in Maigret se fâche), Guillaume (Serre in Maigret et la vieille dame), Jean-Charles (Gaillard in La colère de Maigret), Joachim (Maura in Maigret à New York), Maxime (Le Bret in La première enquête de Maigret), Michael (O'Brien in Maigret à New York), Mike (O'Rourke in Maigret chez le coroner), Norris (Jonker in Maigret et le fantôme), Olaf (Swaan, alias Pietr Johannson in Pietr le Letton), Omer (Calas in Maigret et le corps sans tête), Prosper (Donge in Les caves du Majestic), Ronald (Dexter in Maigret à New York), Tiburce (de Saint-Hilaire in Monsieur Gallet, décédé), Vicente (Alvaredo in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), and Vladimir (the sailor in Le charretier de la Providence). We note that a fair number of these names are not French, and are probably used by the author to give "local color" to a character, a device we will encounter again with other names in the corpus...

        Complete article
        Original French


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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