|L' inspecteur Cadavre - 2|
hampers the determination even more is that it is not quite obvious
where this novel was written. In general this is not an issue
for the determination of a locality in Simenon's work. He seldom writes
about the place where he is residing at that particular moment. He's
very much like Maigret when he tries to solve a case. He absorbs and
observes, he takes in impressions and facts
about peoples and places and uses them, often much later, in a novel.
Yet in this case it is significant. Saint-Aubin-les-Marais resembles very much Saint-Mesmin-le-Vieux the little village where Simenon lived from end of 1942 until the end of the war. Although it is not where Saint-Aubin must be situated geographically according to the description in the novel - in between Niort and Fontenay-le-Comte - there are many points of similarity:
|- both villages are situated in the department of the Vendée
- both villages must have had roughly the same number of inhabitants (St.-Mesmin: 1600).
- both villages have a railway-track running trough the outskirts of the village.
- the village of Saint-Aubin, its inhabitants, the atmosphere and the way of life is characterized by Simenon very similar as to what he encountered in Saint-Mesmin.
The Simenon family does not meet with a warm welcome in Saint-Mesmin. The locals are suspicious about their way of life. The Simenons don't fit in with the manners and morals of this peaceable, rural, extremely Catholic society.
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course this description could fit thousands of villages in France back
then, but at least this resemblance could give an indication
towards a solution.
But is it possible?
According to Maurice Piron in "l'Univers de Simenon" this novel is dated in Fontenay-le-Comte in 1941, although it was not published by Gallimard pending 1944.(4)
In the "Tableau synoptique d'après les dates de redaction"(5) in the same work, under the year 1941 Maurice Piron again presents "l'Inspecteur Cadavre" (Maigret's Rival) but makes a restriction by referring to Claude Menguy who dates this novel in March 1943.(6)
Pierre Deligny (7) states: " 1943 - Saint-Mesmin, Achève l' Inspecteur Cadavre le 3 mars..." (1943 - in Saint-Mesmin,..Completes 'Maigrets Rival' on the March 3rd...).
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it be assumed from these indications that Simenon started writing the
novel in Fontenay and finished it in Saint-Mesmin, almost two
years later? It's possible but not likely. It does not correspond with
his normal procedure. Certainly not when writing Maigret-novels, which
he looked at as a kind of diversion.
So his experiences and impressions of Saint-Mesmin could have played a role when composing the locality-background for this story.
|Was there a reason for Simenon not to set the story in Saint-Mesmin?
There certainly was. As mentioned before he and his family were not welcomed in an open-minded and unprejudiced way. The locals doubted their good morals and intentions. This would hardly have been a motivation for Simenon to conceal the true locality in which his novel played. What presumably tipped the scales were the accusations of collaboration with the German occupational forces loaded on him.(8) Therefore he was watched by the local resistance and even more handled with suspicion by the inhabitants of Saint-Mesmin.
Simenon was frightened. Which seems a sufficient reason not to evoke any more unfriendliness with the local population. Maybe this was the motive for anti-dating the novel.
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|From top to bottom:
- Map by:Route 66, Route Europa 2000, Copyright Route 66 Geographic Information Systems B.V., Ede (NL). Adaptation by G. De Croock .
- Cover of the Dutch edition "Maigret als ongewenste gast" Zwarte Beertjes 847, A.W. Bruna & Zoons Uitgeversmij b.v., Utrecht, 1985.
- Cover "Maigret und sein rivale", Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1962, from the website: Quai des Orfèvres
Normally it didn't take publishers this much time to publish Simenon's
work. However, the shortage on paper during the war could
explain why edition of certain novels was delayed.
(5) "Summarized index according to the dates of writing"
(6) According to Maurice Piron in L'Univers de Simenon, Presses de la Cité, Paris, 1983, p.300. this novel is dated in Fontenay-le-Comte in 1941, based on "Simenon, Oeuvres complètes, direction: Gilbert Sigaux, Editions Rencontre, Lausanne, 1967-1973. However in the "Tableau synoptique d'après les dates de redaction" on p.473 it is mentioned that Claude Menguy situates this work in 1943. Researcher C.Menguy, is convinced that some dates are inaccurate and that some of the novels were anti-dated.
(7) In: Georges Simenon, Simenon - Mes apprentissages, Reportages 1931-1946, Etablie et présentée par Francis Lacassin, 2001,Omnibus. Repères biographiques 1928-1946 by Pierre Deligny, p. 1039. Excerpt translation: G. de Croock.
(8) These accusations derived primarily from his cooperation with Continental - in name French but in fact a German - production house for the movies from his books. The ongoing troubles caused by these accusations, even after the war, compelled Simenon to move to the U.S.A. In the end he was acquitted.
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