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Maigret Forum Archives 2007

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
1/2/07 – A slightly belated Happy New Year to you, Steve, and to all contributors to the Forum.

Now on our 4th year of "Maigret of the Month"!

Maigret au Picratt's is one of my favourites, so I'm looking forward to re-reading it this month.

Best wishes
Roddy

Speaking of Maigret
1/2/07 – I just read the book The Green Train by Herbert Lieberman, and he mentions Maigret many times in the book. These extracts are from the French pocket edition, [translated back into English]:

Chapter 1 : (page 13)

"Stern washed; feeling shaky he reached for the little bag where he kept his travel tickets, medicine, and his papers, to which he'd added a good half-dozen Maigrets – accumulated at various airport kiosks to read on the trip."

Chapter 4: (page 117)

"Some, like Stern, attempted to read. But not even Chief Inspector Maigret could assuage his discomfort. Stern set himself to following the good Chief Inspector through the tortuous maze of little streets and alleys of the 18th arroundissement, on the trail of a psychopathic killer, but..."

Chapter 4: (page 128)

"At 10:00 pm, Stern , wedged into the seat of his compartment, feet in the air, was plunged into one of his Maigrets. He felt a great tenderness for the Chief Inspector from the Quai des Orfèvres. A sort of affinity drew them together. He imagined himself happily drinking a beer or a little Calvados with Maigret at the Brasserie Dauphine, around 11:00 at night, just before the Chief Inspector returned to his walk-up apartment on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir..."

Chapter 8: (page 343)

"He couldn't recover his good mood. Even his charm, Maigret, hadn't been enough to distract him..."

I guess the book he refers to in the 18th arrondissement is pretty easy to identify. The Green Train was written in 1986. Lieberman was born in 1933 and is still alive from what I gather from the web. He must like Maigret to speak about him like this in his own book.

Regards
Jerome

Maigret on YouTube
1/3/07 – At least two Maigret clips here. Gambon and Cervi.

David Derrick

Russian Maigret
1/5/07 – Where oh where did Mattias Siwemyr find his copy of Zalozhniki Strakha? [12/22/06]

Michael Jeck
Programming Manager, Films
MhZ Networks
[I'm the host of International Mysteries, which has by now shown 42 of the Bruno Cremer Maigrets.]

Russian Maigret
1/6/07 – I got my vhs copy from the website www.melofanas.lt, though it is now listed as not available.

Mattias

Maigret of the Month: Maigret au Picratt's (Maigret in Montmartre / Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper)
1/10/07 –

In July 1950 Simenon, his second wife Denyse with their son John moved from Carmel-by-the-sea in California to Connecticut where he bought Shadow Rock Farm at Lakeville. He was to live there for nearly five years writing 26 novels, 13 of which involve Maigret, and three short stories.

According to the terms of the divorce, Tigy, Simenon's first wife, set up residence with their son Marc and Boule at Salmon Creek in the village of Lime Rock just four miles from Lakeville.

Maigret au Picratt's, completed on the 8th of December 1950, is one of the more familiar novels and has had adaptations made for both French and British Television. In June 1985 it was part of the Jean Richard series, while in June 1992 Bruno Cremer played the part of Maigret in the episode entitled Maigret et les Plaisirs de la Nuit. In March 1993, on British Television, Michael Gambon interpreted the role of Maigret in the production of Maigret and the Night Club Dancer.

The main location of Maigret au Picratt's is centred in a small Montmartre nightclub in the Rue Pigalle, situated in the area of Paris just south of the Boulevard de Clichy.

This is not the first time that Simenon has used the name of Picratt's for that of a bar or nightclub. There is mention of it in two of the novels written under pseudonyms, as well as in three early short stories and a novel under his own name. For these works, although having various locations mostly in Montmartre, Picratt's is only indicated as a brief reference. It is in Maigret au Picratt's that Simenon uses the establishment as the focal point of the novel.

In this novel, Maigret is very much in his jurisdiction, in Paris, but before he becomes involved with an investigation, there is the scene of the small nightclub, Picratt's, closing about four o'clock in the morning with the various employees making their way home. But Arlette, one of the three young women who provide the cabaret entertainment in the nightclub, walks into the local police station to report a possible murder.

This lays down certain vague details that will lead to a full investigation on the part of Maigret and some of his team from the Quai des Orfèvres. In various ways several of his closest colleagues such as Janvier, Lucas and Torrence are involved, as well as Inspector Lognon who is attached to the local police station. But it is the young Inspector Lapointe who is the centre of attention as he has become emotionally involved with Arlette.

Maigret allows Lapointe to be part of the investigation, but keeps an almost paternal eye on him throughout. In spite of his feelings, Lapointe carries out his instructions in the correct manner, unearthing background information and unerringly following a suspect, but also playing a vital role at the climax of the investigation.

The novel encompasses not only the activities and atmosphere of the small nightclub, but the sordid world of the drug addict, as well as delving into the past of certain individuals and the search for a mysterious character known only by his first name.

At times Maigret makes Picratt's his base, soaking up the atmosphere when it is functioning and when it is not, gleaning as much information as possible from the patron, his wife and employees.

What makes the novel such an interesting narration is the way that the investigation ebbs and flows, with various strands of information obtained by Maigret and his team arousing curiosity and intrigue throughout.

There are two translations available of this novel. The British editions have the translation by Daphne Woodward, while the American have that by Cornelia Schaeffer. Both follow the author's French text closely, but with Cornelia Schaeffer having the edge when it comes to capturing the atmosphere of the novel.


The map shows the area south of the Boulevard de Clichy indicating several of the streets mentioned in the novel.
(Atlas Paris par arrondissements, Michelin 15, 1989).

Peter Foord
UK

Review of Simenon novel
1/15/07 – I came across this very positive review of Simenon novel...

Fine French novel of familial estrangement... For 18 years - ever since his wife ran off with another man - Hector Loursat, the protagonist of Georges Simenon's The Strangers in the House, has begun his day by going to his wine cellar and bringing up three bottles of burgundy to his study, where he spends most of his time. His daughter, Nicole - raised by Phine, the ugly, dwarfish cook, who despises Loursat - lives in another wing of Loursat's spacious house...

The full article will be available on the Web for a limited time: Philadelphia Inquirer

Joseph Allegretti

Maigret Book Lists
1/15/07 – Just a brief note to draw your attention to a couple of minor points.

In the Omnibus checklist "Maigret's Christmas" is described as "9 short stories..." whereas in fact it comprises 7 or 8 short stories (one of which does not include Maigret), depending on whether "Maigret's Christmas" itself is regarded as "short" -PLUS- a full- length novel, the excellent "Maigret in Retirement".

I'm not sure "Maigret's Memoirs" really belongs in the novel check- list because it is not in any real sense a novel but rather a literary conceit in which Simenon pretends to be Maigret himself writing and reminiscing about his acquaintance with Simenon and merely referring in passing to a number of cases, some of which seem recognisable from the novels. No actual case is pursued or solved. It is also very short.

With great appreciation of your excellent website,

Regards,
Rod Ball


Thanks, Rod. "Maigret's Christmas: Nine Stories" was the title of the Harcourt collection published in 1992, so there's little we can do about that except maybe regret it. Apparently "Nine Stories" was dropped from the title of the later Harcourt edition. As for "Maigret's Memoirs" there's no doubt that it's a unique item in the Maigret corpus, and maybe in literature as a whole. (cf Murielle's Maigret of the Month article on Memoirs. Of course, what you say is true - it isn't a mystery story at all... but since the most convenient grouping of the Maigrets is the simple division into two - novels and stories - it winds up with the former by default... since it can hardly be omitted!

ST

[translation]

Maigret of the Month: Maigret au Picratt's (Maigret in Montmartre / Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper)
1/15/07 –
1. Introduction of the characters

Simenon utilizes a very elegant process to bring us into contact with the world of Picratt's – at the opening of the novel, the policeman Jussiaume, witness to Arlette's exit, provides our view. Through his eyes, we discover the characters of Picratt's... silhouettes descending into the night, details to be filled in later...

"the boss, short and fat" - Fred Alfonsi
"a silhouette that looked like a kid" - the Grasshopper
"two men, one carrying a saxophone case" - the musicians
"another man" - the waiter, Désiré
"a woman in a light-colored fur coat" - Tania
"the last two, always together" - Betty and Arlette

2. Arlette, the "little night-bird"
The whole story is haunted by two characters – on the one hand the stripper, Arlette, and on the other, the mysterious Oscar. Arlette, the central character of the novel, is first presented to us in a quick sketch... physical (golden hair, lots of make-up, black satin dress) and personal (she had drunk too much, she seemed like a frightened child). Then, very quickly, we see her through the eyes of those she encounters, the contrasting relationships with each of them. The Sergent of the station house sees in her just "someone who takes her clothes off". With Lucas she presents herself more aggressively, and is someone he'd like to be rid of. Only Maigret sensed something else, and the first glance he gave her was already "a curious look". He even smiled at the retorts she tossed back at Lucas.
After her death, it's still through the eyes of others that we will discover her – Lapointe, then Fred Alfonsi, then all the characters she came into contact with at Picratt's.
This is a character filled with nuance, who will reveal herself to be both the personification of the stripper, with her powerfully erotic side (consider particularly the numerous mentions of her "woman's scent", the descriptions of her nudity, and the reports of those who had made love to her), and at the same time a young person, almost still a child, rebelling against her past and her family origins. Maigret sensed well the duality of her character... "Rarely had he met a woman giving so strong an impression of sexuality, in contrast to her look of a frightened little girl". Maigret's entire investigation will consist of tracing Arlette's past, questioning all those who'd known her, to try to understand to truth of this woman, and why she had become a stripper. At the same time, the discovery of Arlette's past will allow the Chief Inspector to work out the personality of her killer, the enigmatic Oscar...

Complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Speaking of Maigret
2/1/07 – I've been reading some of James Melville's Inspector Otani mysteries, and noticed on the cover of "A Haiku for Hanae (1989)" the blurb "The Japanese answer to Maigret - a sheer delight." (The Observor).

Jerome pointed out (in January, 2001) that Melville mentions Maigret in his "Wages of Zen" (1979). (He mentions Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot in "A Haiku for Hanae", but not Maigret.)

Now I've spotted this Simenon reference in "The Reluctant Ronin (1988)":

There beside a stack of old circulars from the National Police Agency, an ancient dictionary and a Japanese translation of Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon was a neat pile of newspapers with that day's Mainichi Shimbun on top. (Fawcett, p.98)

(2/2) And this for Maigret, in "The Bogus Buddha" (1990) :

"Even Professor Leclerc's started making sour remarks about Inspector Hara. Referring to him as Inspector Maigret and suggesting he might make better progress if he tried smoking a pipe." (Scribners, p.140)

Inspector Otani himself is a mystery fan, and he does remind me of Maigret...

ST

New Simenon Book
2/3/07 –I've been visiting your site for a couple of years now and want to say thank you for a fantastic Maigret/Simenon resource. This is the first time I've contributed; I hope it's of interest to the forum.

I work in a bookshop and whilst trawling through the new books in print list I found details of a new Simenon (not Maigret) book in translation. 'Les Trois Crimes de mes Amis' written in 1938 is being published by Hesperus Press (publishing date of 26/01/07) with the title of 'Three Crimes'. ISBN 9781843914211, with a price £7.99. Here is a link to the website: www.hesperuspress.com.

Here is the blurb from the site:

'Three Crimes marks the first translation into English of a thrilling and ultimately true story of murder and misdemeanour from the creator of Maigret.

Based on his own experiences, Simenon tells of a period in his youth when he was befriended by three men. Unbeknownst to him, these three would go on to commit a series of wholly reprehensible crimes, leaving behind the innocence of their childhood. Yet it was only by chance that these travesties inspired Simenon to become a crime writer rather than tread the path of evil himself.'

For all of those who enjoy French crime fiction, I've found a new publishing company which publishes new French fiction in translation. Gallic Books www.gallicbooks.com is publishing it's first two titles in May 2007. 'The Chatelet Apprentice' by Jean-Francois Parot and 'The Murder on the Eiffel Tower' by Claude Izner are both crime fiction titles and are the first books in two new series of period Parisian thrillers. The detective in 'The Chatelet Apprentice' is described thus;
'A new Maigret is born: Nicolas Le Floch' Madame Figaro
I've read all of the Fred Vargas, Pierre Magnan, Sebastian Japrisot and Daniel Pennac backlist in translation and am always on the lookout for new French crime and detection titles. Hope these are good reads. Keep up the good work!

Many thanks,
Sarah Preston

"The Simenon Year" in Le Soir, Feb. 12, 2003
2/4/07 –
Le Soir magazine
February 12, 2003
N° 3686, pp 8-14, 32-33


The father of Maigret
would be 100 today

The Simenon Year


Simenonville remembers...
Simenon in Paris
A star never honored
An immense œuvre
Simenon in the Pléiade
The treasures of the Simenon Collection
Intimate memoirs of a son
His final residence
A life of breaks and changes
On the menu of the Simenon Festival
Simenon's production
They all played Maigret
At the movies, 57 films

original French

A baker's dozen of short articles from Le Soir's issue marking the Simenon Year - Simenon's birth centenary, and the Expo commemorating him at Liege... on a much smaller scale than their 1989 All Simenon issue at his death.
Le Soir maintained a Simenon website throughout 2003, with dozens of articles and reviews. I've managed to restore much of it via the Internet Archives, and it's available here (in French).

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret en meublé (Maigret rents a room / Maigret takes a room)
2/6/07 – Here are some photos from the Rue Lhomond, and the butcher's in the Rue Mouffetard...

Regards
Jerome

Which was the first Maigret?
2/6/07 – I want to start to read the Maigret novels and am wondering which was the first one?

best,
Gill Scott


Looks like an easy quesion, but a lot of ink has flowed already trying to answer it. I suppose Simenon's "official" response would be "Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett". Anyone want to try a more detailed response? Would that be your choice for the Maigret to start with?

ST

Which Maigret to Read First? (Which was the first Maigret? 2/6/07)
2/7/07 –

1. Which was the first Maigret?

[translation]

Comme le dit Steve, on a beaucoup écrit à propos des débuts du commissaire Maigret. Si Simenon a donné une version officielle sur la naissance de son personnage, on sait que les choses ne sont pas aussi simples, et le mieux est de vous renvoyer à l'article de Menguy et Deligny.

En résumé, le personnage de Maigret fait son apparition dans ce que les spécialistes ont appelé les proto-Maigret, à savoir "Train de nuit", "La jeune fille aux perles", "La femme rousse" et "La maison de l'inquiétude". Le premier roman de Maigret que Simenon a signé de son vrai nom est "Pietr-le-Letton", mais le premier qu'il a publié est "Monsieur Gallet, décédé" (dont le lancement fut fait à grand fracas à l'occasion du bal anthropométrique).

Ceci nous amène à la seconde question, car on peut effectivement se demander si la meilleure façon de découvrir Maigret est de suivre l'ordre chronologique, ou alors de choisir une autre façon d'aborder le monde de notre commissaire.

2. Would that be your choice (i.e. LET) for the Maigret to start with?

A mon avis, il n'y pas qu'une seule façon possible d'aborder Maigret, mais au contraire nous avons le choix entre plusieurs possibilités, que je vais vous proposer ici:

a) 1ère façon: si on désire connaître l'évolution à la fois chronologique et psychologique du personnage de Maigret, sans doute faut-il choisir la voie "classique", c'est-à-dire lire le premier roman où apparaît le commissaire; et encore avons-nous le choix de le faire en ne prenant en compte que le cycle "officiel", et donc commencer par "Pietr-le-Letton", ou alors travailler de façon plus "érudite" et découvrir le personnage dans sa version "rudimentaire" des proto-Maigret.

Mais personnellement, je ne choisirais probablement pas cette façon de faire, et je crois que pour bien entrer dans le monde de Maigret, je commencerais par un autre roman, où le commissaire est déjà plus "semblable à lui-même". D'où les possibilités suivantes:

b) 2e façon: commencer par un roman de la "période Gallimard", lorsque Simenon, qui croyait pouvoir abandonner son personnage, revint à celui-ci presque "malgré lui". Les six romans de la période Gallimard (à savoir CEC, MAJ, JUG, SIG, CAD et FEL) sont parmi mes préférés, et ils évoquent à merveille le monde du commissaire. Nous avons donc le choix: soit commencer par "Les caves du Majestic", le premier en date de ce cycle, soit par "Cécile est morte", qui résume à lui seul l'"atmosphère" caractéristique de ces romans: importance du temps qu'il fait, évocation d'une foule de personnages, description de la PJ, etc. Ce n'est sans doute pas un hasard si le premier "Maigret" de la série avec Jean Richard à avoir été tourné est "Cécile est morte", qui est un peu comme un condensé de ce que l'on peut découvrir dans le cycle des Maigret.

c) 3e façon: mais on peut aussi être d'avis que le "plus authentique" des Maigret est celui de la période "Presses de la Cité", le plus important des cycles en nombre de romans, et celui où Simenon va mettre de plus en plus de lui-même dans le personnage. Comme l'écrit Lacassin (in "Métamorphoses de Maigret", dossier établi pour "Maigret entre en scène", paru chez Omnibus): "Les amateurs de romans strictement policiers […] préfèrent les Maigret de la cuvée Fayard. Les amateurs de Simenon préfèrent la cuvée Presses de la Cité."

As Steve said, much has been written about the debut of Chief Inspector Maigret. While Simenon has given an official version of the birth of his character, we know that things are not so simple, and best is to refer to the article by Menguy and Deligny.

In brief, the character Maigret made his appearance in what the specialists call the "proto-Maigrets" – "Train de nuit" [Night Train], "La jeune fille aux perles" [The Girl with the Pearls], "La femme rousse" [The Red-head] and "La maison de l'inquiétude". [The House of Anxiety]. The first Maigret novel that Simenon signed with his true name was "Pietr-le-Letton" (Maigret and the Enigmatic Left), but the first which was published was "Monsieur Gallet, décédé" (The Death of Monsieur Gallet) (the launching of which caused such a sensation on the occasion of the Anthropometric Ball).

This leads us to the second question, because we can effectively ask whether the best way to discover Maigret is to follow the chronological order, or to choose some other fashion of approaching the world of our Chief Commissioner.

2. Would that be your choice (i.e. LET) for the Maigret to start with?

In my opinion, there is not just one possible manner of approaching Maigret, but rather we have a choice among a number of possibilities, which I will propose to you here:

a) 1st way: If you'd like to trace the evolution, both chronological and psychological, of the character Maigret, no doubt you should choose the "classical" path, that is, to begin with the first novel in which Maigret appears , in which case we have the choice of beginning with the "official" cycle, and so starting with "Pietr-le-Letton", or to work in a manner more "erudite" and discovering the character in his "rudimentary" version in the proto-Maigrets.

Personally, however, I would probably not choose this way of proceeding, and I believe that to best enter into the world of Maigret, I would begin with a different novel, where the Chief Inspector is already more "like himself". Which leads us to the following possibilities:

b) 2nd way: To start with a novel from the "Gallimard period", when Simenon, who'd thought he'd be able to abandon his characrer, returned to him almost "in spite of himself". The six novels of the Gallimard period (CEC, MAJ, JUG, SIG, CAD and FEL) are among my favorites, and they evoke marvelously the world of the Chief Inspector. So we have a choice: to start with "Les caves du Majestic", the earliest in date of the cycle, or with "Cécile est morte", which typifies by itself the characteristic "atmosphere" of these novels: the importance of the weather, the presence of a crowd of characters, description of the PJ, etc. It's no doubt not an accident that the first "Maigret" of the Jean Richard series was "Cécile est morte", which is a little like a condensation of what can be found in the Maigret cycle.

c) 3rd way: But we might also consider that the "most authentic" Maigret is that of the "Presses de la Cité period", the most important of the cycles in number of novels, and where Simenon puts more and more of himself into the character. As Lacassin put it (in ["The metamorphoses of Maigret", a survey developed for "Maigret steps on stage"], from Omnibus): "The lovers of strictly detective stories … prefer the Maigrets of the Fayard vintage. Those who are Simenon fans, prefer the Presses de la Cité vintage."

continued   in English   en français

Murielle Wenger

Which Maigret to Read First? (Which was the first Maigret? 2/6/07)
2/8/07 – In response to Gill Scott, I have a suggestion. I apologize not not giving a fully detailed response, but I didn't think to write the information down as I read the books.

I would start with Maigret's First Case, which played out in 1913 and goes foward in time from there. The ending point would be Maigret and the Loner, which played out in 1965. This is a chronological order of a different sort.

OK, I know that the dates the stories played out in are not directly mentioned in most of the stories. For that handicap, it is still possible to get a general time period for each story from things mentioned in them. I'm refering to the lack of police cars, policemen wearing capes and riding bicycles, long distance calls having to be placed through an operator ("Please don't cut me off, mademoiselle...") the existence of trams/streetcars in Paris, steam locomotives, references to Maigret's wardrobe and other little clues such as makes of cars that no longer existed in later years. I don't think the exact order is as important as getting the stories' settings into a general order that reflects a progression by at least decade. With some of the stories, it won't be possbile even to do that with any great certainty. All the same, I think this would make an interesting project for the members to work on.


I see that Jerome is taking over some of my photographic duties in Paris. I guess I need to spend rather less time at Paris Jazz Corner and Jussieu Jazz (secondhand music shops, I prefer the first) and get some more locations done.

Regards,
Joe

Maigret and the Early Talking Pictures
2/8/07 – The fact that despite the initial success of Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels, only three films based on them were made, stems from the distaste he developed for the film industry. This is not unique; other authors have come away with the same feelings after their first contacts with it. To the end of his life Erle Stanley Gardner would fume about the seven films made by Warner Brothers in the 30s that he felt made a mockery of his books. Agatha Christie, though her reactions to the earliest adaptations never seem to have been recorded, would in the 60s say "Don’t talk to me about film rights! It makes my blood boil!" 

Compared with the changes to the works of these authors, the alterations inflicted on Simenon in these early films seem very slight indeed, so it is very difficult today to understand what the fuss was all about. Unlike the above mentioned writers, whose creations were changed almost beyond recognition: Perry Mason into a wisecracking drunk and Miss Marple (in the guise of Margaret Rutherford) into a comical old woman, Maigret remained more or less the same as in the novels. 

In his biography of Simenon, Pierre Assouline found that it was more Simenon’s lack of control over the projects that caused his animosity to the film industry than the films themselves. In fact, the film he disliked the most, "Le Chien Jaune", was the one in which he seemingly had no input whatsoever. In the case of "La tête d’un homme" he was originally supposed to write the script, a fact he made sure was widely publicised, but in the end another man finished the project. This is not very surprising if one takes into consideration that these films were made at the height of the depression. The producers understandably had little patience with enthusiastic amateurs who, if left to themselves, could cause enormous damage, especially an author who seems to have been so much in love with his work as Simenon. After this, Simenon’s pride was so wounded that he refused to have any of his books filmed for seven years, which is more our loss than his as he seemingly was well paid. 

In fact, it would not be until the 1980s that changes similar to the ones earlier brought on Gardner and Christie would be made to Maigret in a perfectly awful TV-film starring Richard Harris. At this point, ironically, Simenon had lost all interest and did not care about any changes, however fundamental. 

Two of these early efforts, "La Nuit de Carrefour" and "Le Chien Jaune" were briefly released on VHS in the 90s, shortly before the DVD takeover, and I was lucky enough to get hold of them. 

Much has been written about "La Nuit de Carrefour", the first film made based on a Simenon novel – concerning an alleged missing reel which was supposedly lost or never filmed at all. After having seen the film, however, I very much doubt this. True, my French is not very good, but it seems to me that the film has a clear beginning, middle and end, and all the main characters are there. Could it be that the difficulty in understanding the film is due to the source novel? I know this might be a controversial view, but in some of the early novels it is rather difficult to understand just how Maigret actually arrives at the solution, and "La Nuit de Carrefour" is one of these. In a book the author can also describe and explain the actions and describe the thoughts of the characters, whereas in films (and especially in early talkies like this) there is not much more for the director to do than follow a script that is much more limited. 

The strength of these early films is that they show us a France that is long gone; they give us a fascinating glimpse of small towns in the 30s. The crossroads with its garage is well used and the rainy and windswept landscape combined with the gloomy interiors do the rest to create an atmospheric piece of cinema. 

The film starts with the discovery of the murdered diamond merchant in the garage and then we are taken to Maigret’s office like in the book. Our introduction to the very first cinematic Maigret (Pierre Renoir, brother of the director) comes when a young waiter comes to deliver sandwiches and beer during the interrogation of Karl Andersen. Through the door we see the back of Renoir who is fiddling with his stove – this is a Maigret who is quite true to Simenon. In order to show the passing of time the director uses a newspaper vendor’s kiosk where customers ask for first Le Matin, then Le Midi and finally Le Soir. We are never shown any faces. 

It would take too long to describe the film in detail, but it follows the novel quite closely and as mentioned before, all the main incidents and characters are there, even the doctor in the dress coat. The motive of the killer is even expanded upon and made clearer than in the book. So much for the film being hopelessly confusing. 

A word about the actors: Pierre Renoir is quite similar to Simenon’s creation: taciturn, calm and with a pipe clenched between his teeth. The mysterious Danish siblings are played by Georges Koudria (who seems to have disappeared into obscurity almost immediately) and Winna Winifried (or Winfried) – they actually have some dialogue in Danish. Winifried was Danish herself and just like her partner she seems to have vanished completely from the screen after 1940. The rest of the cast seems largely to have been made up of unknown actors.  

Next Time: The previously promised review of "Le Chien Jaune".

Mattias Siwemyr

Behind the scenes at the police
2/8/07 –
[translation]

Following the invaluable information provided by Jérôme (Forum, Nov. 19, 2006), I was able to get a copy of Simenon"s book, "[My apprenticeship: articles 1931-1946]" (Omnibus),where the author tells, among other things, of his visits to the Quai des Orfèvres. These texts are very interesting, and just to make your mouth water, I'd like to present you here with an extract from "Behind the scenes at the police", 12 articles published in January and February 1934 in Paris-Soir. This is taken from the beginning of the third article, "From the Detective Novel to Reality". We note here, once more, the finesse of the humor so characteristic of Simenon...

"On January 24, at noon, three armed individuals burst into the premises of the Baruch Bank, threatening the employees, wounding one, and fleeing with the contents of the safe, some 135,000 francs.

What would happen in a detective novel? Chief Inspector Maigret would arrive at the scene, ponderous and secretive, smoke a dozen pipes, send for beer and sandwiches, and finally leave, hands in the pockets of his overcoat.

Over the course of three days and three nights, we'd follow him into bistros, lodgings, into the streets, always smoking, drinking more and more beer, waiting to place his heavy hand on the shoulder of his prey, sighing, "The jig is up, my boy!"

Sherlock Holmes, accompanied by Doctor Watson, would take some measurements, scrape together 3 grains of dust, and shut himself up in his Baker Street apartment, then play the violin for a few hours, finally stopping to declare,

"At least one of the robbers, 5'9" tall, with two gold teeth, lived in 1913 between the 22nd and 13th degree of latitude north. Another is divorced. The third has sensitive feet.

I'm going to tell you how things happen - and I can add, how they always happen, in reality.

Of course we begin by interviewing M. Baruch, who states, "I believe the robbers spoke with a Yugoslav accent."

Another employee or two repeat, "They had Yugoslav accents."

But the cashier was right there, and he affirms forcefully, "They were speaking Hungarian to each other! I'm sure! I know the language!"

This doesn't look like much, but you'll see!

Six thousand Hungarian suspects, more or less, living in Paris and the suburbs, are known to the Prefecture of Police. 6,000 files are thus carefully checked. Women, old men and children are set aside, and there remain, in the first sifting, 600 Hungarians capable of having hit the Baruch Bank.

And the whereabouts of these individuals on the day of the robbery have to be verified!

Do you have any idea what that represents? 600 men of all social levels, living all over the place! And our inspectors, who are not reimbursed if they go by taxi, go from one address to another. Are you still laughing now, speaking of their hob-nailed boots?

"I was in such-and-such a café!" responds a Hungarian.

Now, his alibi has to be verified, checked with the patron, the customers.

"Me, I was in such-and-such a store."

The saleswoman is of course on her day off, and there's nothing to be done but to come back tomorrow.

That takes three days, during which time there's a certain emptiness at the Quai des Orfèvres. And then they learn that the cashier was wrong, that M. Baruch was right – the bandits weren't Hungarians, but Yugoslavs, and everything has to start all over. "

original French

Murielle

1959 filming of "Simenon" in Jours de France
2/12/07 –

Jours de France   (N° 251)
September 5, 1959, p 56-57

Simenon plays Simenon:

first photos of the filming

reporting : RAPHO-DALAIN

original French

This two-page spread is essentially three photos and a brief text about the making of the 1959 short (23 min) film "Simenon" by Jean-François Hauduroy. This is the second article we've seen here on the making of the film. The first, lengthier, from the 9-10-59 L'Illustré appeared on the Forum in May, 2004. I don't have much more on the finished film itself. Anyone?

The imdb shows:
Simenon (1959)

directed by Jean-François Hauduroy
written by Jean-François Hauduroy

cast:
Paul Meurisse .... Récitant/Narrator (voice)
Georges Simenon .... himself
Michel Simon .... himself

original music by Philippe Arthuys
cinematography by Guy Delattre, Pierre Goupil

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret en meublé (Maigret Takes a Room / Maigret Rents a Room)
2/15/07 –
1. The movies and escargots, or: Maigret's "infidelities"

We learn in Ch. 1 that Mme Maigret is away from Paris, at the bedside of her sister who is going to have an operation. This absence of his wife will weigh on Maigret's conduct throughout the novel. Not only because he doesn't like to find himself alone in his apartment, which seems so empty to him, "almost foreign", without the reassuring and indispensable presence of Mme Maigret, but also because without her, the Chief Inspector feels himself more exposed to temptations.

While the conjugal fidelity of Maigret is proverbial (cf. the article by Jouanny), the Chief Inspector is nevertheless prey to temptations, and these can take the symbolic form of... gastronomic infidelity ("His wife doesn't like escargots. He rarely eats them. He decides to treat himself to them that evening, so as to 'take advantage' of her absence". Or a breaking of a family custom (Maigret decides to go to the movies without his wife, whereas they usually go together: "I'll take advantage of it and go to the movies, he'd answered." and later: "Up to the movies, which made him feel almost guilty to enter alone."). But all that leads the Chief Inspector, well in spite of himself, into the path of temptations more "carnal": "A woman stared at him pointedly, and he almost blushed, for she seemed to have guessed that he was temporarily a bachelor. Was she waiting, her too, for him to take advantage of the opportunity?"

2. Mlle Clément, or: the substitute for Mme Maigret

We can ask ourselves whether the connection created between Mlle Clément and Maigret isn't also on the level of those "infidelities"... Consider the end of Ch. 2, when Maigret, installed at Mlle Clément's, receives a phone call from his wife: "And, like the night before on the boulevards, he was a little embarrassed, feeling almost guilty.". In Ch 3, Maigret telephones Lucas, who asks him "You're still at Mlle Clément's? Did you sleep well?" There was no mockery in Lucas's voice, but the Chief Inspector made a face nonetheless. In Ch. 4: Maigret said to Lucas: "If there's anything new, phone me. – At Mlle Clément's? You'd think that at moments like that the Chief Inspector was touchier than usual. He gave Lucas a nasty look, as if he suspected him of sarcasm. – At Mlle Clément's, yes!".

In fact, I think that paradoxically, there was nothing to it, and that Mlle Clément would simply, in reality, take on the role which Mme Maigret couldn't fill because of her absence: she unpacked Maigret's bag, brought him his coffee in the morning, got him a beer in the evening, which he passed in tête-à-tête with her ("It was a curious sensation to be there, in an armchair, a little like being at home" Ch. 2). And very soon, Simenon's description of her makes us think of a double for Mme Maigret, "a sort of Mme Maigret, a Mme Maigret who didn't have a man to take care of, and who consoled herself by pampering her lodgers" (Ch. 2). Like Mme Maigret, she has a comforting stoutness, a cheerful character, and she also knits. It's almost without reservation, or at any rate without the feeling of guilt which he'd felt at first, that Maigret finds himself at her side during the night in the scene in the kitchen. Despite the fact of her being in chemise, and Maigret in his trousers, suspenders on his thighs, with no jacket, the scene is for him only "very amusing", without equivocation... And Maigret will retain a "maternal" image of Mlle Clément: "I thank you for your care and kindness" he says to her on leaving (end of Ch. 8).

continued in English   original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret in Polish
2/18/07 –
Another previously-unpublished-in-Polish Maigret has appeared - Rewolwer Maigreta (Maigret's Revolver). Suprisingly, it was published by Wydawnictwo Dolnosląskie - a publisher which had decided to no longer publish Maigrets. Luckily they changed their policy!

best regards,
Przemek

Simenon story: "The Missing Finger"
2/20/07 – I am trying to track down an allusion in a Samuel Beckett text and I am interested in a Simenon story called "The Missing Finger" that appeared in Lilliput magazine in [Jan] 1948. Have you heard of it and do you know where I might get a copy of the tale?

Cordially,
David Hatch

2/23 - Thank you Simon and Steve for your generous and timely help with this matter. - DH

French film reference site
Tout Maigret - 75th Anniversary site

2/21/07 – Some links in French

Searching for Maigret on BiFi brings some results and references to journals like "Maigret à Pigalle / Jean-Louis Comolli. - [1] p., p. 73. In Cahiers du cinéma, n° 192, juillet-août 1967." For movies, the list of actors seems very complete (40 to 50), possibly useful to complete or find some new reference...

For the 75th Anniversary of the Maigret novels, Omnibus is publishing "Tout Maigret" in 10 volumes... the first volumes released 15th February, and the remaining during 2007. The for-the-occasion Tout Maigret website looks very interesting, with many pictures of old covers and postcards. And there's a small competition about Maigret but with only three easy questions...

Jerome

And Murielle noted this article by Francis Matthys at lalibre.be along with the Tout Maigret site, "which appears to be by Michel Carly"....

Inconsistencies
2/23/07 – I have just started re-reading "Maigret at the Crossroads" and can't help noticing a lack of logic of the kind I have spotted elsewhere in these stories.

In the 1963 Penguin at page 19 Maigret saw "a little man walking along the road...a pipe between his teeth..." Then on the next page the man turns to Maigret and offers him a cigarette. Now I know it is possible but, having been a pipe smoker in my youth, I know that I didn't carry a packet of cigarettes--in fact I hardly ever bought them at that time.

I have noticed similar lapses of "continuity" detail in other Maigret stories and wonder if they can be attributed to the speed with which Simenon worked. Did he read over his work before submitting it? Did his editors look for these details?

Paul Thomas

Two Dutch Maigrets

Kees Brusse

Jan Teulings

2/25/07 – Finally some light has been shed on the Dutch Maigret mystery. For some reason it has been impossible to find any information on the net about the series with Jan Teulings (not Teuling_ as many sources insist). That there was such a series is only fleetingly mentioned. Then the name Kees Brusse that noone seemingly had heard of turned up on the Internet Movie Database and confused Maigretophiles everywhere.

Well, today while surfing this site [imdb], I found that someone (God bless his/her heart) had finally submitted information about a Kees Brusse series. It turns out that this was in fact based on the teleplays for the Rupert Davies series which is not as strange as it may seem. The Germans, for example, made their own Sherlock Holmes-series and Francis Durbridge-serials the same way.

Anyway, the Dutch series is said to have been made 1964-68, which probably means that Teulings took over after Brusse. I have found the following instalments:

Maigret en de kruidenier (29 January 1964) [Maigret at the Grocer's]
Maigret en de inbrekersvrouw (23 October 1964) Le voleur Paresseux?
De moedwillige vergissing (20 November 1964) Une erreur de Maigret?
Moord op Montmartre (18 December 1964) Maigret au Picratt's
Maigret op kamers (26 February 1965) Maigret en meublé
De vriendin van mevrouw Maigret (26 March 1965) L'amie de Madame Maigret

Perhaps someone can shed some light on the unidentified sources?

Mattias Siwemyr


Once again, fine detective work by Mattias. I'd guess two different sources for the (?) titles though - for Maigret en de inbrekersvrouw: Maigret et la Grande Perche (Maigret and the Burglar's Wife), and for De moedwillige vergissing: Maigret se trompe (Maigret's Mistake). [Maigret at the Grocer's] remains a mystery title if it's actually based on a Maigret in the corpus... it's not even similar to any of the (very creative) Rupert Davies episode titles...

ST

Dutch Series Titles
2/27/07 – I think the source of Maigert en de kruidenier is "Maigret and the Flemish Shop." This shop sold provisions to passing bargemen and it was run by a Flemish family. Some of the passing barges would have been from Flanders and Holland so I would expect that this story was a natural choice for a Maigret TV program to be shown in Holland.

From my pretty elementary knowledge of Dutch, Steve's choices for the other two unknown titles seem correct.

Regards,
Joe


2/26/07 – Of course "Maigret en de inbrekersvrouw" is based on "Maigret et la grande perche", sorry! The title in English translation is "Maigret and the Burglar's Wife" and the same scriptwriter, Roger East, is listed for both episodes.

Mattias

Maigret of the Month: Maigret en meublé (Maigret Takes a Room / Maigret Rents a Room)
2/27/07 –
Having completed Maigret au Picratt’s on the 8th of December 1950, Georges Simenon, about ten weeks later, followed this novel with another Maigret entitled Maigret en meublé which he completed on the 21st February 1951.

There are several parallel factors linking both these Maigret novels, apart from the locations being in Paris.

In the first novel, the young Inspector Lapointe is emotionally involved with the first victim, Arlette, the striptease artiste working in Picratt’s nightclub. In the second, another of Maigret’s close colleagues, Inspector Janvier, is shot and seriouly wounded whilst on duty keeping watch on a boarding house.

When Maigret takes over the investigations in both cases, he decides to leave his office on the Quai des Orfèvres in order to immerse himself at the centre of the crime scene. In Maigret au Picratt’s, he spends some time in the nightclub questioning the people who work there, whereas in Maigret en meublé he moves into the boarding house.

Another link between the two novels is that there emerges two enigmatic male characters, although their identity and their part in the investigation does not come to light until near the end.

Off duty, Maigret is much on his own as his wife is visiting her sister who is about to have an operation in Alsace. It is when he is preparing for bed that he receives a phone call from Torrence to inform him that Inspector Janvier has been shot whilst on duty in the Rue Lhomond on the left bank in the fifth arrondissement and has been taken to the nearby Cochin hospital.

At the hospital, having ascertained Janvier’s condition and welfare, Maigret takes on the investigation completely. Inspector Janvier had been put in charge of an investigation involving a couple of young men who had robbed a small nightclub of the night’s takings. A boarding house in the Rue Lhomond had been identified as the hideout of one of the men, hence the surveillance of the establishment.

Having moved into the boarding house in the Rue Lhomond, Maigret proceeds to investigate thoroughly his environment.

Simenon takes the opportunity to explore and concentrate on a few characters, the main one being Maigret himself, where the Chief Inspector characteristics are brought to light during the course of his investigation. There is the rapport with the boarding house lodgers — more a community — the persistant pouring over his notebook when he reaches an impasse and the frustration the goes with it, his disturbed sleep and occasionally “escape” to the bistro down the street for the odd drink — chracteristics that are more stated than in some of the other novels.

The boarding house is run by the tall and fat Mademoiselle Clément who outwardly seems to have a diposition of contentment with her boarders, and then later Maigret’s attention is gradually focused on the house opposite and Madame Boursicault who is mainly confined to her bed.

It is an investigation that ends far removed from the beginning with the nightclub robbery.

The only English translation is by Robert Brain who follows Simenon’s French text faithfully.

The map shows the Rue Lhomond on the Left bank with the nearby Rue Mouffetard where there is a long established market (Michelin, Atlas Paris par arrondissements, 1989).

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret of the Month: Maigret en meublé (Maigret Takes a Room / Maigret Rents a Room)
3/4/07 – "Maigret en Meuble": one of my favorite Maigrets, and one I've read over and over. Simenon accurately reports the concerns (though minor) of a faithful husband whose wife is away. In a way it's amazing that an author who himself was not at all faithful to the marriage bond got it so right.

As for the mysterious relatives of Mme. Maigret, my feeling is she had only one sister (though didn't she also have a brother?). Any discrepancies are just errors of memory on Simenon/Sims' part.

Oz Childs

Article about Maigret...
3/6/07 – Last week, in the French newspaper "La Croix", there was an article about Maigret with an interview of Michel Carly... at: www.la-croix.com

Jerome

Maigret and the Elements
3/9/07 –
[translation]
Maigret and the Elements

by Murielle Wenger

original French

"It was raining. The weather was grey and mild."
(Madame Maigret's Friend, Ch. 9)

1. Introduction

In this study, I'd like to analyze Maigret's relationship with the weather. We know how important the weather is for our Chief Inspector's moods, and the importance he attaches to the elements at the time of his investigations. At least that's the feeling we get after reading several Maigrets, but what exactly is the place of meteorology in the novels, what is the weather that Maigret encounters most often, which season is evoked most, how does Simenon describe the seasons, a particular month of the year... Such are the questions to which I'd like to provide some response.

Once more, I've ranged through the corpus, attempting an analysis of the Maigret cycles at a time quantitative, statistical and semantic. I hope that you, dear Maigretphile friends, will find in reading this study as much pleasure as I've had in researching it...

2. Season of writing and season of the action

"Simenon had no memory for dates, as he himself recognized. But he retained a precise recall of circumstances, seasons and atmosphere down to the least detail: colors, odors, lighting…" (Lacassin in "Métamorphoses de Maigret", an essay written for the [1999] Omnibus edition, "Maigret entre en scène" [Maigret takes the stage]).

We can, justly, it seems to me, wonder about the influence of the season in which Simenon wrote a novel, on the season chosen for the action of the novel itself, so much does the weather described in the Maigrets play an important role in the unfolding of the investigation. In other words, is the season selected by Simenon for a novel dependent on the season in which it was written? Is it the same? Or on the contrary does he select a season unlike that in which he lives, in a sort of nostalgia for a past season?

To answer this question, we have to examine the corpus. For this study I have only included the novels, ignoring the stories, considering the quantity of these to be representative. I've included 74 novels, leaving aside Maigret's Memoirs (which is a unique enough case since it's not limited to the telling of a single investigation), and Maigret's Christmas, whose length hovers between that of a novel and a story (cf. the study by Steve Trussel).

Here is a graph summarizing this analysis:

correspondence between the writing and the action

We can conclude from this analysis that the season of the writing has a clear influence on the season of the action of the novel, but with some nuances...

- of the 14 novels written in autumn, 7 (50%) take place in autumn. The remaining novels occur mainly in the summer, as if the memory of the season just gone by influenced the novelist's writing.

- of the 16 written in the spring, 13 (76%) take place in the spring. It's apparently more difficult for Simenon to impose on his Chief Inspector another season when he is living in springtime, probably his favorite season (see below)…

- for the 27 novels written in winter, the division is more equal... 10 novels (38%) take place in winter, 8 (31%) in spring, and 7 (26%) in autumn. Winter seems to have less influence on the author than the other seasons.

- of the 17 novels written in the summer, 10 (58%) take place in summer. Here the season of the writing has a double influence, since none of the novels written in the summer are set in the winter, the most distant season and perhaps more difficult to describe when you are living in the midsummer heat…

Complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et la Grande Perche (Maigret and the Burglar's Wife)
3/11/07 –
Simenon completed this Maigret novel at his home in Connecticut on the 8th of May 1951.

In his office on the Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret receives a visit and request from a certain Ernestine Jussiaume for an interview. When he meets her he finally recalls that she is a person from his early days in the police when as Ernestine Micou she played a trick on him when he tried to arrest her.

Characteristically tall and thin, the "Grande Perche" of the title (literally "beanpole") for several years has been married to Alfred Jussiaume, a character known to the police with some affection as "Sad Freddie", who started his career working for an organisation that installed safes, but somewhere along the line he switched to become a safe breaker. His hope is that one day he will find sufficient money in a safe in order to retire into the countryside.

The purpose of Ernestine's visit to Maigret is to inform him that in breaking into a house her husband discovered a dead body.

The location of the house is in the Neuilly area of Paris in the Rue de la Ferme that runs parallel to the Boulevard Richard-Wallace.

It was between 1936 and 1938 that Simenon rented an apartment in the Boulevard Richard-Wallace so that the area was very familiar to him.

At first, with only Ernestine's statement, Maigret is sceptical and is reluctant to act, but then decides to visit the house in the Rue de la Ferme taking with him a colleague who has known "Sad Freddie" for some years.

With only Ernestine's statement and no other information, Maigret meets the two people who live at the house, Guillaume Serre, in his fifties, who runs a dental practice from his home, and his seventy-eight year old mother.

Maigret is left with no evidence of a crime being committed or of a burglary having taking place.

What is intriguing about the whole investigation from Maigret's first visit to the Serre home is how he sets about gradually and patiently working away at as many aspects of the case with the help of some of his colleagues and later a forensic team led by Moers.

The main aim becomes the whereabouts of Guillaume Serre's Dutch born wife who supposedly left the Rue de la Ferme to return to the Netherlands.

Maigret explores and exploits as many leads as he can however tentative, interviewing the daily help Eugénie, contacting a Dutch friend of Serre's wife in order to place a missing person's statement, having the forensic team go over the house, garage and car, interrogating Guillaume Serre and his mother until he arrives at the truth.

The English translation is by Julian Maclaren-Ross who stays close to Simenon's French text.


Part of a map that shows both the Rue de la Ferme and the parallel Boulevard Richard-Wallace (Michelin, Paris Atlas 11, 2003).

Simplified part of a map that indicates the position of Neuilly-sur-Seine to Paris, butting on to the northern border of the Bois de Boulogne (Michelin, Atlas Paris par arrondissements 15, 1989).

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et la Grande Perche (Maigret and the Burglar's Wife)
3/12/07 –
Here are some pictures from rue de la Ferme... there is no more "hotel particulier" but a lot of small buildings, 3-4 stories tall, with luxury flats. You can see a general view of the street, but there are no more bars or pubs, no shops... it doesn't look like it did 50 or 70 years ago.


facing the Bois de Boulogne


"Horses and livestock not allowed on the sidewalk" - a sign on a nearby street

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et la Grande Perche (Maigret and the Burglar's Wife)
3/15/07 –

[translation]

1. Discovery of a new milieu

"At other times, one might have attributed different motives to him, wondered if he didn't take a more or less malicious pleasure in turning the house upside-down. They had seldom been given the chance of working in a home like this, where everything was peaceful and serene…where, after hours of exhaustive searching, they hadn't come across even one questionable detail." (Ch. 6)

It's a constant to find in the Maigret cycle that the Chief Inspector has the occasion to enter into milieus which would normally be closed to him, that he can have access to certain social strata through the expedient of the investigation which he must lead. We recognize Simenon's ambition to know Man in all his forms and in all conditions, to discover, under the "varnish" of the social surface, the "naked man". We recall as well that Simenon had imagined, in his first popular novels, the character Jarry, who could take on any identity. Cf. this text often cited, "I had begun to do a character named Jarry [whose] sole ambition was to live a number of different lives – a refined Parisian in Paris, a wooden-shoed fisherman in Brittanyand then Maigret came along and supplanted him, and I see that he himself is a transposition of Jarry. But it is into the lives of others that he inserts himself for a moment."

In his role as a policeman, Maigret has by definition the ability to meet people of very different social levels, and it is no doubt this idea which attracted Simenon when he chose an occupation for his character. Consider in this regard this extract from "Maigret and the Millionaires": "'A policeman – the ideal policeman – should feel at home in any surroundings.' Maigret had said this one day, and all his life he had striven to forget the surface differences between men, to scrape away the varnish and discover the naked human being under the various appearances." (Ch. 2)

We have, in "Maigret and the Burglar's Wife", a particularly striking illustration of the Chief Inspector crossing the social strata. An old acquaintance of his, Ernestine, a streetwalker with whom he'd had a run-in long ago, comes to say that her husband, a safe-cracker, had discovered a woman's body in a well-to-do house in Neuilly. This will give Maigret the opportunity to both traverse the capital according to the "personal geography" that Simenon depicts of Paris – a geography which is also a function of the social grouping of its inhabitants ("According to the Chief Inspector, there is a necessary correspondence between the district, and thus the street, where a person lives, and his social status." Marco Modenesi, in "Streets, alleys, dead ends and boulevards: Maigret and the Parisian space") – and at the same time to enter into the surroundings of the wealthy class in which he often feels ill at ease. As we know, he has retained from his childhood as the son of the steward of a chateau, a certain "respect" with regard to those of the higher social classes, a respect which we might suspect to be mixed with a touch of envy, or at any rate a certain discomfort. And we might go so far as to say that he experiences a certain pleasure at "cracking the varnish of respectability", as Maigret says in MEM, of those in these elevated social strata. Examples abound in the corpus, but we will content ourselves to find that this intrusion into the closed world of the higher social classes – an almost perverse little pleasure for a Chief Inspector who himself is of the middle class – is not only a constant in the corpus, but a "habit" which Maigret has fallen into since his debut with the police, proof of which we can find in the Gendreau-Balthazar affair in "Maigret's First Case".

In "Maigret and the Burglar's Wife", it's the milieu of the wealthy "good middle class" that Maigret will "tackle", this milieu dominated, according to Maigret-Simenon, by the cult of money and fortune, and where they will do anything to preserve this fortune. This theme is shared by many novels in the Maigret cycle, and in others outside the cycle.

What's interesting here is the manner utilized by the novelist to insert his Chief Inspector into the milieu – if Maigret gets into the Neuilly house, it's in some sense through the intermediary of Ernestine, that is, a girl from the other end of the social scale. This is Simenon's opportunity to paint the contrasts between two worlds, symbolically represented by the districts the characters inhabit. On one side the private mansions of the Rue de la Ferme, "peaceful and provincial", paralleling Boulevard Richard-Wallace, and on the other the crowded square of Puteaux where Eugénie, the Serre's housemaid, lives. ("I selected a vast apartment on the boulevard Richard-Wallace… and had it furnished in a refined fashion by a decorator. … When I was bored, I crossed the bridge to rediscover Puteaux, its everyday people..." Simenon, in "Un homme comme un autre" [A man like any other], in "Mes Dictées" [My Dictations]), or the bistro on the Quai de Jemmapes where Ernestine lives.

We note, for the record, that Maigret had investigated in an apartment on Boulevard Richard-Wallace in REV, and that he had "trudged" the length of the Saint-Martin Canal, Quai de Jemmapes and the Quai de Valmy, in COR...

Complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

French police ranks?
3/18/07 – Forgive me my ignorance. I have read many Maigrets but have not been able to definitively work out Lucas' relative rank in comparison to "the inspectors". In the UK a sergeant would be subordinate to an inspector, but Lucas does not seem to be so and indeed often appeears to co-ordinate them on behalf of Maigret. There are two models I think possible and I swing between one or the other depending on the circumstances in the individual texts:
  1. the "inspectors" are more closely equivalent to the UK detective constable and so Lucas is a detective sergeant and their senior.
  2. otherwise, his might be a position similar to that of a sergeant in the army, technically serving under the junior officers (inspectors) but remaining somewhat above them in terms of know-how and experience.
It is hard to work out from the novels which of these models is the correct one - can someone please elucidate.

Graeme Sutherland
Coventry, England

Simenon at 57
3/19/07 –

L'Écho de la Mode   (N° 39)
Sept. 25, 1960,
pp 8-9, 11

 

 

The Écho
visits Simenon

Jérôme Lefranc

original French

A little article about a brief visit to the Simenons' chateau in Enchandens in 1960, by a reporter from a French fashion magazine... I often enjoy these "little" articles more than the "major" retrospectives done on various anniversaries (like The Simenon Year last month). They give us a contemporary picture of a living Simenon, not yet totally shrouded in myth... for there he is in the flesh, greeting us at the station, smoking his pipe, his wife at home, children alive and well...

ST

Simenon at 83
3/25/07 –

Télé7Jours  
(N° 1350)
April 12-18, 1986
pp 58-59

Simenon tells of the birth of Maigret

Patrick LeFort

original French

Another "little" article, this one from the April 1986 issue of Télé-7-jours, a weekly television guide magazine, which includes a brief retelling of the famous Delfzijl/Pietr anecdote of Maigret's origins. Although the article appears to be based on an interview, that's not stated, and as almost all the information had been previously published, it may actually have been compiled from archived material.

ST

Maigret's Paris - Easter Tour!
3/27/07 – Fans of Maigret, Simenon and Paris!

Having organized the third trip to Maigret's Paris, we will meet on Friday, April 6th, 2007, in Paris and have a closer look at Maigret and Simenon places. There will be six tours and we will also visit some quarters where you would probably not look for the author or his famous hero but definitely find their traces.
Oliver Hahn (www.maigret.de) will join us. How about you? The price for six tours is 200 €, we will stay in a more than acceptable **-hotel. Have a look at the prices under www.hotelalhambra.fr.
If you are interested in our journey I shall gladly stand by for closer information. Details are also available on www.maigret.de --> "Mit Maigret nach Paris". Translation of the article? Just tell me.

Salutations d'Allemagne
Régine Zweifel

Simenon's death at 86 in September 1989 Télérama
3/28/07 –
KAREL/SYGMA    

Simenon's pipe has gone out

Monique Lefebvre

original French

A "quick-and-dirty" (some of the more obvious errors are noted) television-guide reaction to Simenon's death at 86 in Lausanne on September 4, 1989. From a weekly French television magazine, the September 16, 1989 issue of Télérama.

ST

Maigret in Polish
3/28/07 –
Next Maigret in Polish will be published April 14th: "Maigret w portowej kafejce" [Au Rendez-Vous des Terre-Neuvas].

Best wishes,
Przemek

Simenon in Crossroads magazine
3/30/07 –
Voici un article de 18 pages disponible dans le magazine Crossroads sur GEORGES SIMENON intitulé "LES FANTÔMES DE SIMENON". ici www.banditscompany.com.

There's an 18-page article on Georges Simenon in the March 2007 issue of Crossroads, "LES FANTÔMES DE SIMENON" [Simenon's Ghosts], which can be seen here: www.banditscompany.com.

cordialement,
Cédric JANET

Simenon in Crossroads magazine
4/1/07 – I was able to buy a copy of the the March Crossroads magazine with the 18-page article on Simenon. It's a list of the books adapted as movies and those not adapted yet.

Regards,
Jerome

Forum Anniversary
4/1/07 – Jerome has pointed out that coming up on April 7th is the 10th anniversary of this Forum. (The actual anniversary of this Maigret site passed without notice... it first appeared on August 29, 1996 as "Inspector Maigret Bibliography. A listing of 'all' of Simenon's Inspector Maigret novels and stories in their various English language editions".) Jerome's question... "Which Maigret was mentioned most in the Forum over these 10 years?" (I notice Jerome first appears in the Forum on 11/21/98!)

ST

New Maigret Story Found !?
4/1/07 – Unconfirmed reports are circulating in Paris of a new Maigret story found among Simenon's papers in the archives at Liège. It is said to be 15 pages long, and the title is reported as "Maigret et le poissonnier" [Maigret and the Fishmonger].

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Maigret, Lognon et les Gangsters (Inspector Maigret and the Killers / Maigret and the Gangsters)
4/2/07 –
When Simenon finished writing this Maigret novel on the 8th of October 1951, he had more or less settled into a pattern of producing novels. From about 1950 he was writing between five and six novels a year, alternating a Maigret novel with one or two of his others.

Maigret, Lognon et les Gangsters is very different from Simenon’s previous Maigret novel, Maigret et la Grande Perche written five months before. The latter shows how painstaking Maigret can be when faced initially with little evidence of a crime, but determined to seek out the truth. It is an investigation that is quietly probing with Maigret exhibiting quite a degree of patience.

By contrast, Maigret, Lognon et les Gangsters has Maigret, incensed, going from one Parisian location to another.

The reason for this is the events that happen to Inspector Lognon. Although not a member of Maigret’s team at the Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret has empathy for Lognon’s plight.

Based at a police station in the ninth arrondissement and on night duty carrying out surveillance of a drug dealer, Lognon witnesses a “body” being dumped from a car a few yards away from him. This leads to him being targeted, his home visited, being kidnapped and beaten, requiring hospital treatment.

Maigret learns that the perpetrators are two dangerous American criminals who, with another, are residing in Paris and he it determined to track them down. It is Maigret’s approach to the investigation that gives the pace to the novel, without much respite.
 

The English translation is by Louise Varèse who follows Simenon’s French text closely. This translation was first published in the United States in hardback format by Doubleday in 1954, but the first British edition only appeared from Hamish Hamilton in 1974.


Part of a map of the ninth arrondissement which shows the location of the church of Notre Dame de Lorette next to the Rue Fléchier where Inspector Lognon was on surveillance duty at the beginning of the novel (Michelin, Paris Plan, 1988).


A section of a map of the seventeenth arrondissement with the Rue des Acacias (the location of Pozzo’s bar and restaurant), the Rue Brey and the Rue Brunel (Michelin, Paris Plan, 1988).

Peter Foord
UK

New Maigret Story Found ???
4/2/07 – Did you notice anything fishy about the April 1 report of "Maigret et le poissonnier" [Maigret and the Fishmonger]??? In French, "poisson d'avril" (April fish) = April Fool!

ST

Clive James on Simenon
4/3/07 – from The New Yorker (4/9/07) - "Blood On The Borders"

"...it was Georges Simenon, Maigret’s prolific inventor, who really gave the modern crime novel its aspirations to seriousness. Helping to fuel the aspiration, but hindering its fulfillment, is the familiarity provided by a recurrent detective hero. There had always been a space-warp area in which gifted writers wrote noir books that hovered trembling between thrills and thoughtfulness, but without a star detective the gifted writers had trouble writing enough of them, and one of the imperatives of the genre-fiction business is that you must publish enough books to survive in a market where everybody else is publishing a lot of books for the same reason. It helps to have your own sleuth and to get people hooked on him. Simenon, with the organization and instincts of a Colombian drug runner, got the whole world hooked on Maigret.

Not only did Maigret sell by the million in every tongue and in all media; literary critics praised his author’s stripped-down style. Though it could be said that the style was stripped-down because Simenon was essentially styleless – he said that he spent hours taking out the adjectives, but he also said that he was irresistible to women – the Maigret novels acquired such prestige that Simenon’s action novels without Maigret in them started counting as proper novels, the absence of the star turn being thought of as a sign of artistic purity....

Roddy

Maigret and the April Visitor
4/6/07 – As Jerome noted last week, tomorrow, April 7 is the 10th anniversary of this Forum, and Murielle has done me – us – the honor of producing a new Maigret pastiche to commemorate the event! Many thanks, Murielle, and to all the others who have contributed to this site over the years!

ST

Maigret and the April Visitor

by Murielle Wenger

original French

The papers on his desk rippled at the slightest puff of air. The window was wide open, letting in the noises of the street and the characteristic odor of Parisian springtime. Maigret lit a new pipe, sighed as he regarded with a reluctant eye the report he was working on, then got up and went to the window, like someone giving in to a desire too long held in check. His look wandered over the quays, the Seine, which was this morning the same fresh green as the chestnut buds, and the passers-by, among them women brightly dressed in their first spring outfits, giving patches of color.
 

The telephone rang, and Maigret regretfully left his observation post to answer. At the other end of the line, he heard Janvier's voice...

"We've done it, boss! We've located Stan!"

"Where are you?"

"In a café on the corner of the Rue Saint-Antoine. Verduret is watching the entrance to the hotel right across the street. We've been following the Polish woman since yesterday, and this morning she went into this hotel. Verduret, who took over at 8:00, just told me that he saw a guy go in whose description matches Stan's. What should we do?"

"I'll send Lucas over. He's in charge of this case so it's for him to finish it up."
 

Lucas had hardly left with Maigret's final instructions when the phone rang again. This time it was Torrence.

"Is that you, Boss?" (as if it could have been anyone else!) "Thouret just left his house and is heading toward the metro. What should I do, follow him?"

Maigret wanted to shrug his shoulders. He grumbled, "Of course you should follow him! What else do you want to do?"

"Me, I don't know. I was thinking that maybe you..."

"Don't think too much, Torrence… For the moment, simply follow Thouret. All I want to know at this point is who he meets, who he talks with, etc. Clear?"

"Clear, Boss," replied Torrence, sounding like a little boy who'd been scolded.

Maigret returned with a sigh to reading his report. He'd only finished a single sentence when the telephone rang once more. The Chief Inspector stared at it as if considering sending it flying across the room. He decided, however, to lift the receiver...

Complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: Maigret, Lognon et les Gangsters (Inspector Maigret and the Killers / Maigret and the Gangsters)
4/8/07 – Here are some photos to illustrate how the locations at the beginning of Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters look today...


Place Constantin-Pecqeur from Rue Caulincourt


the side of the Place Constantin-Pecqeur with residential buildings


the side of the Place Constantin-Pecqeur with residential buildings


Rue Caulaincourt, the south side of the Place Constantin-Pecqeur


Rue Fléchier from Rue de Chateaudun


from the pub in front of the Rue Fléchier, the church and pavement are on the right; probably where the body was thrown by the gangster


another view of the Rue Fléchier


Rue St. Lazarre, where the first car left


Rue St. Vincent, at the corner of place Constantin-Pecqeur. Sacré-Coeur can be seen at the top, highly touristic.

Regards,
Jerome

More about the Dutch Maigret series
4/16/07 – Since my first posting on this subject (2/25/07) the following information has been added about the Jan Teulings series at the Internet Movie Database:

Season 2
EpisodeOriginal Air DateTitle
14/11/67Maigret en zijn dode (Maigret et son mort)
24/25/67Maigret en de blauwe avondjurk (M and the Blue evening dress)
35/23/67Maigret in de verdediging (Maigret se défend?)
46/6/67Het geduld van Maigret (La Patience de Maigret?)
56/20/67Maigret viert kerstmis (Un Noël de Maigret)
67/4/67Maigret en Pieter de Let (Pietr-Le-Letton)

Mattias Siwemyr

Two new Maigrets in Hungarian / Man of London at Cannes
4/19/07 –
Two new Maigret novels have been published in Hungary:

  Madame Maigret barátnője (L'amie de Madam Maigret)
  Maigret New Yorkban (Maigret à New York)


A film made from Simenon's novel "The Man from London" will be shown on the programme of the Cannes Film Festival on the 16th of May, 2007. The director is Bela Tarr, Hungarian. Shooting started more than two years ago, but the French producer suddenly died when they had just started the filming. Many from many different countries contributed to the film. The main character (Maloin) is played by Miroslav Krobot (well-known - at least here in Central Europe - theatre director and actor), and the woman is Tilda Swinton (British). The film was shot in Corsica (Bastia).

Best regards,
Viola Bátonyi
Budapest

It's Doom Alone that Counts
4/20/07 – Here's an excerpt from an interesting article on Simenon, It's Doom Alone that Counts by Marco Roth, from the April 19 issue of Nation, online at www.thenation.com...

...Red Lights is but one of the nearly 200 novels Georges Simenon published under his own name. In his lifetime, he made his reputation as the creator of the popular Inspector Maigret series, but tales of the ultra-bourgeois detective with his omnipresent pipe are only a fraction of a total output that includes investigative journalism, pseudonymous crime novellas, a multivolume memoir, as well as the work he considered his best, the psychological novels often known by the alluringly pornographic moniker les durs--the hard ones.

To posterity, then, the Belgian-born writer appears as one of literature's great graphomaniacs. Where other novelists had moods, fantasies and love affairs that may or may not have influenced their work, Simenon seemed to turn every mood, every passing fantasy, every love affair into a novel. And there were quite a lot of fantasies and affairs. On the rare occasions when he wasn't writing, Simenon had lots of sex: with prostitutes, mistresses--even with wives (he had two, although his preferred mode was a ménage à trois that included a housekeeper or personal secretary). It usually took him between six and fourteen days to produce a novel. The affairs often took an equivalent amount of time, while the marriages averaged twenty years...

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Maigret, Lognon et les Gangsters (Inspector Maigret and the Killers / Maigret and the Gangsters)
4/21/07 –

1. France 1 - USA 0

This novel is somewhat distinctive in the Maigret cycle. While it takes place in Paris like the two preceding ones (MEU and GRA), it shows the intrusion of American gangsters into the French context. Since he'd been living in America, Simenon had written a number of Maigrets (in fact, all of those published by Presses de la Cité since NEW), but only in NEW and CHE had Simenon made any allusion to Maigret's relationship with the US. It's as if the author had suddenly felt the need to make a connection between life in the US and Maigret's life in France, and from the confrontation of the two worlds is born a battle whose events are a treat for the reader, who has no doubt that the victor will inevitably be… French! If it's often mentioned in the novel that the American gangsters are "strong", that they have – at least in appearance – a certain superiority over the French police, it was nevertheless Maigret, we knew, who would win the match. Assisted by his knowledge of the terrain (after all, they were "on his turf" in the city of Paris, and while a good part of his irritation in the story comes from the fact that he doesn't accept the intrusion of the American gangsters – who act "like they're at home" with no embarrassment – all the same Maigret knows the city – his city – better than they) he can follow their trail and locate them. At the same time it's his ability to put himself into the skin of others, which leads him, paradoxically, to act in the same way as those he pursues, and to arrest them using the "American method" of gangster films."He had all the same shown them... perfectly!" who was the stronger!

2. Like in the movies...

Hand's up, dear sir!

From a stylistic point of view, Simenon uses various processes to create the "gangster film" atmosphere which bathes the novel... the physical descriptions of Cicero and Cinaglia, the description of Pozzo's bar, allusions to the "American methods" by Pozzo and Luigi, the use of slang to create the ambiance, and the description of the three attacks– against Lognon, against Maigret in the Rue Grange-Batelière, and finally the exciting arrest of the killers at the "Bon-Vivant".

3. Tragi-comic

The novel opens with Maigret's visit to Mme Lognon, who seems a tragi-comic character, at once pitiful and laughable... we are more inclined to laugh than to shudder when she tells of the visit of the gangsters. This tragi-comic aspect will recur numerous times in the course of the novel, as when Simenon describes the appearance of the wounded Lognon... Maigret can't stop himself from smiling when he sees Lognon's face with its swollen eye next to his bandaged nose. And again in Ch. 4, which alternates between Maigret's visit with Luigi, who explains to him American methods, setting a menacing tone, and Maigret's visit with Adrienne, whose appearance and outspokenness gives a lighter mood. And finally, a third example when Maigret finds Baron at home, Baron's description of rather dramatic events contrasting with his hung-over condition.

If you have the opportunity, I recommend seeing the episode based on this novel in the Jean Richard television series... the tragi-comic aspect is particularly well rendered.

4. Reminiscences and allusions

Let's collect here some elements which remind us of other novels (a little game which, as you will have noticed, I always pursue with pleasure!):

  • Bill Larner, the American con artist – this technique is mentioned a number of times in the Maigrets. We find a notable example in JEU (it's the "métier" of Julius Van Cram).

  • Maigret's meeting with Luigi at La Coupole – this famous bar on the Boulevard de Montparnasse is a principal site of the action in TET.

  • Helen Donahue, the American woman who was putting up the gangsters, made me think of Rosalie Bourdon who put up Fernand's gang in PAR.

Finally, let me add some supplementary information about two of the details which appear in the text...

    Edouard Belin and his Bélinography

  • Ch. 4, Bélinography (in Varèse's English translation as "telephoto"), invented in 1907 by Edouard Belin (1876- 1963). This device allowed long-distance transmission of texts, documents, and above all, photographs. It was much-used by newspaper reporters 1960-70. The information was sent using telegraph, later telephone lines, and then after 1920, by radio. The document was placed on a rotating cylinder, then analyzed line by line by a photoelectric cell which moved along the rotating generator drum. The levels of grey were transformed into frequencies (high for white, low for black) and sent over the wire. At the other end, a synchronized system, with an identical cylinder in a dark room, with a small bulb to mark the photographic paper, reproduced the document. To send a 5"×7" (13×18 cm) black-and-white photograph took about 12 minutes.

  • Ch 8, Harry Pills had "the name of some singer". This is a reference to the singer Jacques Pills (1910-1970). Under his real name, René Ducos, he started in music-halls in the revues of the Casino de Paris, as Mistinguett's dance partner. He teamed with Georges Tabet as a duo in the 1930s (one of their successes was "Couchés dans le foin" [(they) slept in the hay], a song by Jean Nohain and Mireille). Pills and Tabet separated in 1939. Jacques Pills continued his career solo. Married to the singer Lucienne Boyer, he recorded the songs of Bruno Coquatrix. After an American tour, he met Edith Piaf, whom he married in 1952. He wrote her a song "Je t'ai dans la peau" [I've got you under my skin], with music written by Jacques Pills's pianist, Gilbert Bécaud. Jacques Pills and Edith Piaf performed successively on the same stages, Moulin Rouge in 1954 and the Olympia in 1955. After their divorce in 1957, Jacques Pills was unable to recapture his earlier success. From 1967 until his death in September, 1970, he directed the school of the Olympia music-hall created by Bruno Coquatrix.

5. A little poetic image as an ending

I'd like to end this little text with a quotation from the novel, both as an illustration of Simenon's talent for poetic description of atmosphere, and to point out the contrast between this image and the context of the action, as it precedes the rather "physical" arrest of the gangster made by Maigret and his men (Ch. 8) :

"A fairly stiff, very cold wind had risen, and it gave an odd character to this night. For there were two distinct banks of clouds in the sky. The lower one, thick and dark, driven swiftly before the wind, made the darkness for the most part complete. But occasionally there would occur a sudden rent, and then you could see, as though through a crack between two rocks, a lunar landscape where, very high, fleecy, moonlit clouds stood motionless." [Varèse translation]

Murielle Wenger

Original French

Peter Foord

4/22/07 – I have just received the very sad news that Peter Foord passed away on Tuesday, April 17, at the age of 74, after a short illness. Although it seems like he was always with us, Peter's wonderful contributions to this Forum began only four years ago, in May 2003.

His Maigret of the Month columns began with the very first one, Le Chien Jaune, in January 2004, and continued without a break until his last submission earlier this month. These columns are noteworthy for his unique blend of insight into Simenon's life at the time of the writing, his analysis of the book itself... and his accompanying maps to clarify the settings. If you search the archives over the past four years for his numerous contributions, you will see how knowledgeable and insightful Peter always was.

I was thrilled at his first posting, for I recognized Peter Foord as the author of the only significant bibliography of Simenon in English, his 1988 "Georges Simenon A Bibliography of the British First Editions..." from Dragonby Press. I felt that our Maigret Forum had acquired a "resident scholar"... and for four short years we had. Many times when I posted a challenging question received in the mail, I thought, "Ah, I hope Peter will respond to this..." and when he did, the issue was clarified.

He will be sorely missed.

ST

very sad news
4/23/07 –
Je viens de lire la nouvelle du décès de Peter Foord dans le forum…

Je suis aussi très triste: ses contributions vont nous manquer. Cette dernière année, c'était devenu pour moi comme une sorte de "challenge" de préparer un MoM, et comme un petit jeu amusant d'arriver à être la première à l'avoir terminé, i.e. avant Peter Foord. Je ne pensais pas du tout à mesurer mes modestes connaissances face à sa grande érudition, mais il me plaisait d'apporter un petit supplément à ses excellents articles….A présent, je vais me sentir bien seule pour préparer les MoM….

Une seule consolation: nous pourrons toujours relire les articles de Peter Foord dans les archives du Forum, et à ce propos, j'ai une suggestion à vous faire: ce serait un joli hommage à lui rendre que de prévoir dans ces archives une entrée pour une rubrique qui regrouperait tous les articles que Peter a écrits pour le forum…Qu'en pensez-vous ?

Meilleures salutations

I've just read the news in the Forum of the death of Peter Foord…

I'm also very sad... his contributions will be missed. For the past year, it had become for me a sort of challenge to prepare a MoM, and as a private little game, to be the first to finish... in other words, before Peter Foord. I wasn't thinking at all of matching my modest knowledge against his great erudition, but I enjoyed providing a little supplement to his excellent articles…. Now I'll feel lonely preparing the MoMs….

A sole consolation... we can always reread Peter Foord's articles in the Forum archives, and in this regard I have a suggestion... it would be a fine homage to him if there were a way to find in the archives a link which gathered together all that Peter wrote for the Forum...What do you think?

Best regards

Murielle

Finding articles, MoMs...
4/24/07 – Murielle suggests (below) creating an easy way to locate all the articles Peter Foord wrote for the Forum. Actually, it's fairly easy to find them now.

To locate a Maigret-of-the-Month (MoM)...
At the bottom of this Forum page, (click the link at the top), are all the MoMs thus far, and those scheduled for the current year. Clicking on the title link brings the "Plots" page for that novel, where there is a link to the MoM for that title. All the MoMs can be accessed in this way.

For articles outside the MoMs, consult the Author index on the Text Index page, where Peter's other major articles can be found.

ST

Maigret in Le Point
4/24/07 – I was told that in this week's edition of "Le Point" there is a short article on Maigret. I will try to buy it tomorrow morning...

I checked the web site and did not see it but found some old articles on Simenon and Maigret like this one

There is a short interview with Assouline, and you can probably find three or four interesting articles, even if they are two or three years old.

I was sorry to hear the news about Peter... he will be missed by all of us.

Jerome

Peter
5/2/07 – I would like to voice my sorrow too at the sad passing of Peter Foord. His contributions were always a pleasure to read, giving a concise summary of each novel and adding a sense of place with his maps, as well as insights and little-known facts. The Forum will be the poorer without him.

Roddy

Visit to (Maigret's) Paris
5/3/07 –

Visit to Paris

April 13 - 16, 2007

Murielle Wenger

Almost 25 after my first and only stay in the French capital, here I am returning to Maigret's city. For a long time I've wanted to walk the streets and boulevards described by Simenon. What remains of the city told by Simenon? Does the shade of Maigret still haunt the Parisian streets? Can we find in the city of today traces of the passage of our favorite Chief Inspector?

A map of Paris in one hand, Michel Carly's book ([Maigret, across Paris]) in the other, I started on the search for my memories…

So the "route" I'll describe is a condensation of my walks, focusing on Simenon's places, without being too concerned with their chronological position. On the other hand, the route can be done, but it depends on how much time you have and how much you want to walk. Certainly I think that the best way to discover the city is on foot, like Maigret, an unrepentant stroller…

The itinerary I propose is of course but one variant among many others you could take to cross the capital, and it's obvious that it can't be done in a single day. But it will still be possible to take up the route from a described location, and use it as a point of reference.

Course A:   The Latin Quarter
Course B:   Île de la Cité
Course C:   The Louvre and Tuileries
Course D:   The "beaux quartiers"
Course E:   Montmartre
Course F:   Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Course G:   The Marais
Course H:   Boulevard Richard-Lenoir and Quai de Valmy
Course I:   The Grand Boulevards

Complete article
Original French

Maigret Day TV
5/7/07 – I wonder how many fans are watching Maigret Day on ITV 3 today? A great pity that it is not the BBC series!

Bill Lee

[translation]

Maigret of the Month: Le revolver de Maigret (Maigret's Revolver)
5/12/07 –

1. In the style of Peter Foord...

I'd like to begin this article as a sort of posthumous homage to Peter Foord, by writing a few lines somewhat in his fashion... Had you noticed that he began his "Maigret of the month" articles by establishing the novel in the context of Simenon's life at the time of writing? Of course, I can't compete with his great erudition, but I'd like to say once more how much we'll miss his articles. To write the following few notes, I used the text "Simenon, une vie, une œuvre" [Simenon, a life, a work], the new chronology established by Michel Carly for the volume "Tout Simenon 27" from Omnibus.

On March 11, 1952, Simenon, his wife Denyse, son Johnny and the faithful Boule departed from New York aboard the Liberté, for a triumphal voyage to Europe. From March to April, it was Paris, with the official reception, April 18, at the Quai des Orfèvres. In May, Simenon was warmly welcomed in his birth city of Liege, and on May 10, in Brussels, he was made a member of the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature of Belgium. Then he returned to the U.S., to Lakeville, Connecticut, where he wrote, from June 12 - 20, Maigret's Revolver.

2. "Through to the end, this was an investigation unlike any other."

This sentence, taken from Ch. 8 of the novel, matches my own opinion... the somewhat "strange" aspect of the novel not exactly in line with the "classical" Maigrets. I find the atmosphere closer to that of Simenon's "hard novels", with the pathetic character of Baron Lagrange, and Simenon's severe portrait of Jeanne Debul, this woman without scruples who blackmails men from whom she's extracted secrets.

Moreover, the investigation led by Maigret in this novel is also atypical, in the sense that the Chief Inspector doesn't confine himself to Paris, with three of the nine chapters taking place in London. It's a relatively rare case that Maigret goes in pursuit of a suspect beyond the border... only in Maigret and the 100 Gibbets, and At the Gai-Moulin, and we must wait for Maigret and the Millionaires to see him on the trail of another woman outside of France.

3. "Concerning a baby, calf's head mock turtle style, and a boulevard…"

Some information about some subjects alluded to in the novel

* Ch. 1, "Baby Cadum" to whom Lagrange is compared – In 1907, an American manufacturer, Michael Winburn, was cured of persistent eczema by a salve prepared by the pharmacist Louis Nathan, produced by in his laboratory in Courbevoie. Winburn was director of a chemical products firm and an advertising agency, and he decided to go into business with Nathan. The Cadum trademark was registered, the name coming from "cade", one of the ingredients, a Provencal word for a southern juniper. In 1912, Winburn entrusted the painter Arsène-Marie Le Feuvre with the design for the Cadum product advertising. The image of the baby, clean and innocent, was chosen to represent hygiene and the way to achieve it... Cadum Soap. Le Feuvre designed a poster presenting a baby on a sheet, in front of a bathtub, with at his feet the soap and sponge to wash him: "Cadum Soap for the bath". From then on, the happy smiling baby was the symbol of the brand. A great publicity campaign was launched, and the infant's angelic face was painted on walls, posted throughout the city, in the newspapers, and decorated the walls of drug stores. Here's what it looked like:

* Ch. 9, Dr. Pardon (in fact, it's in this novel that he appears for the first time) proposes to Maigret to try "veal's head en tortue (mock turtle style)". You can find the recipe for this dish, requiring lengthy preparations of which Mme Maigret knew the secret, in Courtine's nice little book, "Simenon and Maigret sit down to eat". You'll also find there the recipe for brandade de morue, cassoulet and the other dishes from the novel…

* In Ch. 1, Dr. Pardon lives on Boulevard Voltaire (though in other novels, Simenon has him living on Rue Popincourt). Here, in a detail of a photo of a building on Boulevard Voltaire, taken during my visit to Paris in April, doesn't it seem like "the balcony railings printing in inky black their wrought-iron arabasques." (Ch 1)?

4. Reminiscences… again and always…

As usual, here is my customary little "game" of searching for reminiscences and reminders, where we play at recovering traces in the novel to another story, like playing hop-scotch around the corpus…

* Ch. 1, the revolver had been given to Maigret at the time of his trip to the US, alluded to in CHE.

* Ch. 4: the residents of the building on Boulevard Richard-Wallace: at the risk of repeating myself, it seems that Maigret often visits the concierges when "dissecting" the little world of the building: cf BRA and PAT.

* Ch. 6: the inevitable episode of the pickpocket, which has so marked Maigret that he has recalled it many times, as for example in MEM.

* the relationship with Alain Lagrange (Ch. 7 and 8) and Maigret's "nostalgia for fatherhood", a theme which recurs frequently, cf Paulus in MEU and Lecoeur in BAN.

* Ch. 8: Maigret says, "I also lost my mother when I was very young, and I was raised by my father". Simenon had wanted to give his character a past, to give him a certain psychological "depth" after having recounted his past in FIA and MEM, he recalls it here in a small stroke, simple revealing...

* Ch. 7: The story of the cat which Maigret tells to Alain to "tame" him, makes me think of the story of the squirrel Maigret tells in waiting for Pigoud in VIN.

5. Humor, always…

And we'll finish with some pieces of Simenon's humor, which, with regards to his Chief Inspector, is filled with amused affection:

* Ch. 5: Maigret with Georgette, Jeanne Debul's maid:

"You're not how I'd imagined," she declared, finally.

"How did you imagine me?"

"I don't know. You're better."

* Ch. 7: Maigret, who'd had to stand around waiting in the hotel without finding time to eat, on the phone with Lucas:

"You've already eaten?"

"Very well, Boss."

"Not me!"

* a little further, in the same chapter, Maigret is still a "prisoner" in the hotel lobby...

"He didn't have the right to take a taxi either, nor the right to go for a walk, no rights but to stay there like an imbecile."

Murielle Wenger

Original French

Jean Richard's Maigret series
5/16/07 – I found at INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel) there is a special section for the 75 years of Maigret movies. It is possible to buy 51 episodes of the J. Richard television series. Short passages can be seen for each episode if you go to the "En savoir plus" section and then "Les enquêtes du Commissaire Maigret" where all 51 episodes are available

Regards
Jerome

Simenon in Paris - Quai des Orfèvres 1952
5/18/07 –
Voici, raconté par l'auteur lui-même (dans "Mémoires intimes"), la visite de Simenon au Quai des Orfèvres le 18 avril 1952:

"Je fais partie, en nom, du jury du prix du Quai des Orfèvres. A un déjeuner chez Lapérouse, je retrouve mon vieil ami Maurice Garçon ainsi que le docteur Paul, médecin légiste, gourmand, gourmet, bon vivant, admirable conteur d'histoires.

Il nous explique qu'il découpe ses cadavres les mains nues, la cigarette au bec (le meilleur antiseptique, selon lui), et s'interrompt parfois pour manger un sandwich. Il s'amuse, dans les dîners mondains dont il est la coqueluche, à mimer les autopsies les plus macabres avec jubilation. Brave docteur Paul, complice de Maigret dans tant de mes romans!" […]

Un grand déjeuner officiel à la Préfecture de police. Turbot Dugléré et canard à l'orange. J'apprécie ces deux plats, mais le hasard fait que l'on nous en sert presque chaque jour, une fois même à midi et le soir. Le préfet de police, entouré des commissaires divisionnaires du Quai des Orfèvres, m'offre solennellement une plaque en argent de commissaire au nom de Maigret.

Un peu plus tard, il me confie en souriant:

- Savez-vous que certains de mes agents ont hâte que vous soyez parti ?

Comme je m'étonne, il m'avoue:

- Votre fils est surveillé dans tous ses déplacements, par crainte d'un enlèvement. […]

On reconstitue, en petit, le "Bal anthropométrique" donné autrefois à la "Boule blanche", le bal martiniquais de Montparnasse, qui a marqué le lancement des Maigret. Au vrai bal, plus de cinq cent personnes se serraient. Cette fois, nous sommes une quarantaine à table, y compris le préfet à qui un prestidigitateur que j'ai connu à New York parvient à subtiliser sa montre et son portefeuille,

- Je vous engagerais volontiers pour donner des leçons à mes inspecteurs."

Here, as told by the author himself (in "Intimate Memoirs"), Simenon's visit to the Quai des Orfèvres on April 18, 1952:

"I'm nominally a member of the jury for the Prix du Quai des Orfèvres. At a luncheon at Lapérouse, I meet my old friend Maurice Garçon as well as Dr. Paul, the coroner, gourmet, bon vivant, and fine story-teller.

He tells us that he cuts up his cadavers barehanded, with a cigarette in his mouth (the best antiseptic, according to him), sometimes taking a break to eat a sandwich. He says that at fancy dinners where he is an honored guest, he likes to describe his most macabre autopsies, with great gusto, complete with gestures. Good old Dr. Paul, at Maigret's side in so many novels!" …

A big official luncheon at Paris Police Headquarters. Turbot Dugléré and duck à l'orange. I like both those dishes, but by chance we're served them almost every day, once both at noon and in the evening. The Chief Commissioner, surrounded by the chief inspectors from the Quai des Orfèvres, solemnly presents me a silver inspector's badge in the name of Maigret.

A little later, he confides to me smilingly, "You know that some of my agents will be happy to see you leave?"

As I'm astonished, he explains, "Your son has to be kept under surveillance wherever he goes, for fear of kidnapping." …

They've redone, in miniature, the "Anthropometric Ball" that had been held at the "Boule Blanche", the Montparnasse Martinique nightclub which had been the site of the launching of Maigret. At the original one, over 500 people had packed in. This time, we're about 40, including the Chief Police Commissionar and a magician I know from New York, who was abole to lift the Chief's watch and wallet.

"I'd like to hire you to give lessons to my inspectors," the Chief tells him."

Murielle

Maigret in Polish
5/22/07 –
Soon, there will be published another, never before translated, Maigret - Głowa skazańca [A Man's Head]..

Best wishes,
Przemek

Simenon and Maigret
5/28/07 –

[translation]

Simenon and Maigret

In search of the Chief Inspector in Simenon's "intimate texts"

Murielle Wenger

  1. Introduction

    New study theme… In reading Simenon's "Dictations" and "Intimate Memoirs", I've found, here and there, the author's allusions to his character, various remarks and comments which elucidate the relationship between Simenon and Maigret... Leading to the idea of this study, in which I'd like to underscore the mutual influences between the author and the character…

    The texts, gathered under the heading "Memoirs" (volumes 26 and 27 of the Omnibus Tout Simenon edition), which I have considered, are of three types:

    1. the three notebooks written between 1960 and 1963 collected under the title "When I Was Old", published in 1970 by Presses de la Cité (abbreviated here QJV)

    2. the 21 texts dictated by Simenon into the tape recorder, published between 1975 and 1981 by Presses de la Cité, collected in the Omnibus edition under the title, "My Dictations" (abbreviated MD)

    3. the "Intimate Memoirs" written in 1980 and published in October, 1981 by Presses de la Cité (MI)

  2. The identification of an author with his character… or perhaps the reverse…

    If Simenon often denies being Maigret (for example, in MD: "I've created a great number of characters with whom I have no connection, even, despite the claims of some critics, Chief Inspector Maigret", or in MI: "But I am not Maigret, despite the claims"), that doesn't stop him from often making allusions, in his "intimate texts", to attitudes and feelings which he could share with his character. Thus, in his way of looking at the world:

    "Just like Maigret, I do not think." (QJV)

    "It has also been said that I was Chief Inspector Maigret. That's both true and false. In the beginning, Maigret, whom I'd only expected to use in one or two books, and who was not more than a rough sketch, took on certain of my characteristics, for example in having more faith in his intuition than in his intelligence, and also believing that a man, at his deepest level, is never guilty, but is the product of circumstances which befall him, and befall the human condition. … [I've always had the desire] to understand more or less the fate of those I rub shoulders with. In fact, that was perhaps also the principal passion of Maigret…. In the end, to understand people, to understand the why of their weaknesses, without ever judging them." (MD)

    "My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I've always conformed to it. It's the one I've given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points... "Understand and judge not." "(MD)

    "My motto has always been, like that of my friend Maigret, to try to understand, and not to judge." (MD)

    "I would have liked to learn everything at once, to go everywhere, to rummage everywhere, to know what was happening behind every wall, behind every door, within the mind of each passerby." (MD)

    And consider how Simenon describes himself as he discovers Paris...

    "pipe in his mouth, hands in the pockets of his raincoat, he stands on the platform of the Madeleine-Bastille bus, regarding with never satisfied curiosity the cafe terraces, the deluxe department stores of the Grand Boulevards, the crowd becoming denser with the approach to Boulevard Saint-Martin as they passed République"

    Doesn't that sound like a description of Maigret himself when he crosses his city?

    complete article
    original French

    Murielle Wenger

Speaking of Maigret

6/1/07 – James Melville is apparently fond of mentioning Simenon and Maigret in his Inspector Otani mysteries. Here's the fourth example noted so far

in Kimono for a Corpse (1987) :

"[Otani] was a particular admirer of Simenon, and in lighter moments much enjoyed Emma Lathen and the late Rex Stout, envying Nero Wolfe his sybaritic life-style but finding that pushing his lips out and in did nothing to help his own though processes."

(St. Martins's Press, Ch. 15, p.118-19)

ST

Visit to (Maigret's) Paris
6/13/07 – What a wonderful photographic journey [5/3/07] Ms. Wenger has given us!

She regrets, with good reason of course, the gradual change in the city Maigret (and Simenon) knew. But that is inevitable, and we can be grateful that compared to many major European cities, Paris has more buildings that date back to, say, 1927 than most. What has changed, often -- and what must change in any city that is still alive -- is the uses to which the buildings have been put, and the occasional fits of remodeling and sprucing up that disappoint those who know the street "back in the day", but which also serve to save the street from terminal collapse (Rue Mouffetard is what comes to mind -- the buildings are much the same, but the atmosphere seems to have leaped three centuries in a single bound).

My own feeling is, you never forget the Paris you first saw. Or, I'll amend that to say, you never forget the Paris you first explored on your own -- guided tours don't count. In my case, the day in February, 1966 when I wandered from the Right Bank to the Left, and just happened upon the Rue Mouffetard, passing any number of places well known to Simenon. Even though the Maigret books are set a decade or two earlier, whatever I saw then is what I think of when I read them.

By the way, although I don't think the Palais Royal figures largely in the Maigret books, that particular square feels to me like it hasn't changed that much since Maigret was promoted to La Maison.

Oz Childs

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et l'homme du banc (Maigret and the Man on the Bench, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard)
6/15/07 –

[translation]

1. A fine novel

This novel is one of my favorites, but for reasons which are hard to explain. Nonetheless, here are some... first, it's a story with a rather sad tone, very much like Simenon's "gray novels" (of the non-Maigrets), but with some lighter touches (Santoni, Schrameck), a mixture which leaves us with a strong and lasting impression. Then, the characters evoked by Simenon are well-drawn, and the author shows us once more his talent in the art of presenting a procession of well-rendered protagonists. And lastly, the plot is woven between these quite different characters, but linked to the central figure of Thouret. He's an example of a character often portrayed by Simenon, the "poor soul", whose commonness is apparent, but who, thanks to – or at least because of – particular circumstances, reconstructs for himself a life of his wishes, but a life which, inevitably for the novel, he cannot enjoy for long... for Maigret to discover the originality of this life, he has to be brought to know the person who led it, and for this he has to be inevitably murdered... that is the price for the Chief Inspector to make contact with him…

2. I like to stroll the Grand Boulevards…

For the most part, the action of the novel takes place in one of Maigret's favorite Parisian locales... "Maigret had always had, without trying too hard to understand why, a certain predilection for the portion of the Grand Boulevards between the Place de la République and Rue Montmartre." (beginning of Ch. 2). It's a chance for Simenon to evoke, through several street names, a characteristic area of Paris. To help you find your way, I've presented a simplified map of the area:

In Ch. 1, Louis Thouret was killed in a cul-de-sac off the Boulevard Saint-Martin, behind a building on Rue Meslay (to the left on the map). The local police station is but a few steps away, on Rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth (letter A on the map). Mme Thouret tells Maigret that her husband worked at Kaplan et Zanin, on Rue de Bondy. Rue de Bondy has become today Rue René Boulanger (at the X on the map). Monique Thouret sometimes lunched with her father in a restaurant on Boulevard Sébastopol (C on the map). In Ch. 2, we learn that Maigret goes to the movies with his wife almost every week on Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, which adjoins Boulevard Saint-Martin. Maigret goes to Kaplan et Zanin, coming to the intersection in front of the Théâtre de la Renaissance (marked by on the map). In Ch. 3, Maigret meets Neveu in a bistro on Rue Saint-Martin (between C and A on the map). Neveu tells him that Thouret bought gaufres (pastry) on Rue de la Lune (E on the map).

3. Variations on a theme

The theme of the "poor soul" who invents a parallel life for himself has already been done by Simenon in the Maigrets, in the short story, "Death of a Nobody" (1946), whose framework is very similar to that of the present novel. It's a theme which comes often from the pen of Simenon, and which haunts him to the extent that he used it twice with his Chief Inspector. Just for fun, I've made a little table to compare the story (pau) and the novel (BAN), to show their differences and similarities.

 Death of a NobodyMaigret and the Man on the Bench
DifferencesJuliette Tremblet is "disoriented by events" Emilie Thouret wants to control the entire life of her family
Francine, the daughter, is "softer"; her father gives her money so that she doesn't have to work Monique, the daughter, is "hard", she blackmails her father for money
The Tremblets live in an apartment, in a popular quarter in the heart of Paris The Thourets live in a house in the suburbs
Tremblet's money came from the lottery Thouret's money came from thefts
The investigation takes place in fine weatherThe investigation takes place in bad weather
Tremblet's killer is a "friend", who kills him out of "annoyance" Thouret's killer is a "low-life"; he kills him for his money
Similarities The two are married to women who "don't suit them"
Both daughters are aware, at least in part, of the double lives of their fathers
Both men have a "banal" and routine job (cashier, shopkeeper), and both pretend to their family that they continue to work at it
Both men have a second lodging
Both men keep canaries
Both men have a mistress
Both men have in their second home piles of books, which they can read "in peace"
Both men wear different clothes for their second life

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et l'homme du banc (Maigret and the Man on the Bench, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard)
6/16/07 – There are also similarities between this novel and "M. Gallet, décédé" [Maigret Stonewalled]:

The two men are married to women who don't suit them.
The child (a son in this case) is aware of the double life of his father.
Both men have a "banal" and routine job (travelling salesman in this case), and both pretend to their family that they continue to work at it.

Mattias Siwemyr

More about the Dutch Maigret series
6/16/07 – There have been new additions at the Internet Movie Database about the Jan Teulings series:

Jan Teulings series Season 3

Season 3, Episode 1: Maigret en de Kabeljauwvissers
Original Air Date: 9 April 1968
(Maigret and the Cod Fishermen)
Au Rendez-vous des Terres-Neuvas (?)

Season 3, Episode 2: Maigret en het meisje voor dag en nacht
Original Air Date: 23 April 1968
(Maigret and the Maid)
Félicie est là (?)

Season 3, Episode 3: Maigret met vakantie
Original Air Date: 7 May 1968
(Maigret on Holiday)
Les Vacances de Maigret

Season 3, Episode 4: Maigret en de drie gehangenen
Original Air Date: 21 May 1968
(Maigret and the Three Hanged Ones)
Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (?)

Mattias Siwemyr

Sing-Sing like Radek
6/18/07 – I started re-reading several Simenon books a couple of weeks ago (in English and Spanish translations), and I've been greatly enjoying your site, especially the "Maigret of the Month" sections.

Reading the comments on "Le Chien Jaune", I notice that the short story "Sing-Sing ou la Maison..." is given as a precedent for the novel, with Peter Foord pointing out the plot similarities.

One small detail I noted: that very same short story has a brief sequence/scene that Simenon used in another of his Maigret novels from that period. The way Sing-Sing behaves at the Hotel (defiantly placing a hundred-franc note on the table after being asked if he's capable of paying; his ordering coffee and then staying there for an hour or more, etc.) is quite similar to the way Simenon described Radek's behavior in "La Tete d'un homme" ("A Battle of Nerves").

Rodrigo Baeza

'Le Crim' to relocate
6/20/07 – In an article entitled "Paris police close book on Maigret's legendary home", the UK Independent reports today that
"The Paris Brigade Criminelle or "Crim" is to quit the dark and pokey headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres that have served as its headquarters for almost 100 years for a hi-tech building in another part of the city."

It goes on to imagine Maigret's reaction:

"In the novels by Simenon, Inspector Maigret worked mostly alone, often as much against his superiors as his suspects. He would have detested the kind of bright, open-plan offices proposed for the Police Judiciare, at a site still to be decided."
What a shame!

Best regards,
Rob Adlington

PS I too was very sorry to hear about the passing of Peter Foord. His informative, erudite, and finely-crafted articles were always a pleasure to read.

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et l'homme du banc (Maigret and the Man on the Bench, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard)


6/21/07 – A small comment on Maigret et l'homme du banc. Reference is made to a subway station "Saint-Martin". This station is not on any modern map of the subway because it was closed in September 1939 as men had to leave for the army and were not enough to keep all stations open. Here's a link.

Jerome

'Le Crim' to relocate
6/23/07 – Another site for the article: Belfast Telegraph - Paris police close book on Maigret's legendary home.

Roddy

New Simenon Title in English (non-Maigret)
7/4/07 – The "Fantastic Fiction" website gives a listing of Simenons; it is somewhat confusing compared to this site's listings but I have gleaned the following with regard to differing titles of the same non-Maigret titles and their translators.

The following title was published in 2002 according to the information at the following URL; the story is "Les 13 Coupables" and this is its first publication in English apparently:
13 Culprits
(An offer of the book at ABE Books includes the following description - "Astoundingly, this is the first edition in English of Simenon's widely praised Queen's Quorum collection; pre-Maigret, these short tales originally saw print in the magazine Detective in 1929 and 1930, and then were gathered for the 1932 Les 13 Coupables")

The following title, "The Truth about Bebe Donge" is a new translation of what was "The Trial of Bebe Donge", a translation by what your site states to be the sometimes "unreliable" Geoffrey Sainsbury. The new translation, printed originally, apparently, in 1992, is by Louise Varese.
The Truth About Bebe Donge

The same site also gives a 2003 publication of "Dirty Snow" which looks like a reprint of "The Stain on the Snow"; I am not sure whether it is a new translation into English or not: one copy of the title on "Abebooks" has it described as "newly revised".
Dirty Snow

On "Abebooks", I found the following about the first English edition : "The Stain on the Snow (La Neige Etait Sale), by Georges Simenon, translated from the French by John Petrie."

About an early US edition, I found the following: "The Snow Was Black". "Simenon, Georges; Translated By: Varese, Louise ". This was a 1956 Signet editon.
The more recent "Dirty Snow" is described in one entry as being by "Simenon, Georges; Varese, Louise; Romano, Marc" possibly indicating that it is a revision of the Louse Varese translation.

Also the following:

The Suspect
This appears to be a reprint of "Le Suspect" which was originally titles "The Green Thermos" in English. I think from "Abebooks" entries that it is the same translation as both are described as being translated by Stuart Gilbert.

Similarly, Stuart Gilbert is responsible for the translation "The Shadow Falls" and the new 1991 US printing "Donadieu's Will" of the original book.
Donadieu's Will

Rob Stevens
Melbourne, Australia

Identify Maigret reader for a prize
7/4/07 – I saw this at a bookshop and later at Tout Maigret – the contest question for the summer is based on this picture. "Cet homme lit une traduction américaine du roman Le Chien jaune. De qui s’agit-il ?"

Do you know this man? I think it might be from a movie but I don't know it...

Regards
Jerome

Interview with Michel Carly about Maigret
7/6/07 – "Maigret est un ministre de l'identité française" is an interview of M Carly about Maigret in Le Monde, July 5. He is in charge of the new edition of the "Tout Maigret" books.

Jerome

What Order to Read the Maigrets?
7/16/07 – I’m an avid reader of Maigret and Simenon generally.
Do you know if there is a list in existence of the chronological order in which Maigret should be read? There are obviously pointers in the books, but the publication/English translation dates don’t always seem to follow a logical order in terms of Maigret’s life and career.

Regards
Tim Julier
Surrey


See, for example, Murielle's article Which Maigret to Read First?, (and others nearby) in the archives.

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret a peur (Maigret Afraid)
7/16/07 –

[translation]

1. Final American period...

Maigret Afraid is the eighth novel of the 13 written by Simenon in Lakeville (Connecticut). He had been there since 1950 and stayed until 1955, when he made his definitive return to Europe. This Lakeville period was a very productive one for the writer, who, besides the 13 Maigrets, wrote 14 other novels there.

The year of Maigret Afraid (1953) was marked, for Simenon, by the birth of his daughter Marie-Jo, born a month before the writing of the novel. But there is no connection between the two, contrary to Simenon ("In fact, Marie-Jo, in March, the month following your birth, I wrote a novel: 'Maigret Afraid'. But I am not Maigret, no matter what they say", wrote Simenon in 'Intimate Memoirs'). For him, this period of the early infancy of his daughter was one of great fortune, but it was the beginning, for Maigret, of a change in his manner of leading investigations. The character moves further and further from a simple "detective style" to reflecting on the questionings of his creator, on the culpability of man, the legitimacy of justice and the police machinery. The title of the novels to follow indicate this evolution well... Maigret's Mistake, Maigret's Failure, Maigret Has Scruples and Maigret Hesitates.

Maigret, in this novel, shows his "vulnerability" and human frailties, which makes him a sort of "anti-hero", in the sense that he isn't super-hero infallible and invincible, but paradoxically, is more endearing for it, as he, like each of us, has his "doubts and moral questions" (Alavoine, in "Les enquêtes de Maigret", Encrage).

We also note that, besides the doubts which start to haunt the Chief Inspector, beginning with this novel, Simenon refers more and more to Maigret's approaching retirement. The "internal chronology" of the character is increasingly oriented toward the end of his career... if we refer to the table set up by Forest and Drake, we see that the majority of the cases presented in the novels to come take place several years before the end of the Chief Inspector's career.

2. "You know the Vendée..."

The novel takes place in Fontenay-le-Comte, a location far from unknown to Simenon. He lived there in 1940-41, wrote seven novels there, including Maigret and the Spinster and Maigret and the Fortuneteller, and it was there that the radiologist of the city had made his misdiagnosis of Simenon's health, telling him that he had but two or three years left to live, motivating Simenon to write for his son the history of his family, in I Remember...

This unpleasant memory, added to the period of the uncertainties of the war, allows us to imagine that Simenon had a score to settle with this town, and wonder if therein lies the reason for his rather negative portrait. Furthermore, the region (or in any rate some of its inhabitants) is not shown in any more favorable light in Inspector Cadaver. As for Maigret himself, he probably doesn't recall the Vendée with the fondest of memories either, since it's where he was sent for his year of exile (see Maigret in Exile, a novel which is alluded to in Ch. 1 of this one).

3. Rain, rain, always the rain...

I won't talk here about the importance of the weather for Simenon, and in particular for Maigret, already presented elsewhere, but note the importance of the rain in this novel, which could be as well called the "novel of the rain" as the "novel of fear". This deluge which drenches everything and everyone in a glacial and windy humidity, becomes almost as obsessive as the fear which haunts the city and the novel, messing up the streets and transforming the more or less pleasant recollections which Maigret might have of the visits of his youth to his friend Chabot, into a sad and somber reality.

We can also note that the novel Inspector Cadaver (above) begins as well in a train wet with rain.

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Where's Guido?
7/19/07 – One of my favorite English-language Maigret websites has been Guido de Croock's Maigret's Journeys in France, which he opened early in 2003. (It's listed at the top of the English links.) Guido researched the locations of (14) Maigrets set outside of Paris, visited the locales, photographed many of the locations, and put together a fine picture of the actual places the stories were set.

I went to his site, www.maigret-in-france.net, to check and see if he'd done this month's MoM, Maigret a peur (below), and was shocked to discover that the site was gone! It apparently closed at the beginning of last year. Does anyone know what happened? Where's Guido!?

I checked the Internet Archive, and fortunately was able to reconstruct much of the site here. Unfortunately, on many of the pages, there are images missing. I hope Guido will contact me, or if you have his address, please let me know. If you have any of the missing images, please send them in, and we can reconstruct even more of his fine site.

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret a peur (Maigret Afraid)
7/23/07 – Reading "Maigret a peur" reminds me of 2 other Maigret books. First "Le fou de Bergrac". The plot is also set in a small French town and Maigret did not intend to go there (in Maigret a peur he did intend to but it was not his goal). Another similarity is the death of the couple at the end and in each case the man being a doctor and the woman he loves in "Le fou de Bergerac" (nearly dies in "Maigret a peur"). Was Simenon partial to doctors after one of them wrongly diagnosed him so he lets them die or kills some of them in his books?

The other book it reminds me of is "Le chien jaune". There is the same atmosphere about the rain and the people afraid at the start of the book:

"Il pleuvait. Les rues étaient pleines d'une boue noir" [It rained. The streets were full of black mud] (chap 2);

"La peur règne sur Concarneau" [Fear reigned in Concarneau] (chp 3)

"La pluie trouble ressemblait à de la neige fondue". [The murky rain seemed like melted snow] (chap 5)

Regards,
Jerome

Collection of Simenon books and tapes
8/1/07 – My late husband was a great fan of Monsieur Simenon's work, and I have a large cardboard box full of books (in English and French) and audiotapes, both Maigret and non-Maigret, as well as a letter from Monsieur Simenon to my husband. Is there such a thing as a Simenon society in Britain to whom I might donate this collection? Alternatively, would anyone on this forum be interested? There would be no charge other than P&P, although I would like to keep the collection together and donate it as a whole.

Marga Scott

Maigret of the Month: Maigret se trompe (Maigret's Mistake)
8/20/07 –

1. A novel on women

The most characteristic aspect of this novel is that it presents a succession of portraits of women, whose bond is created by their more or less direct relationship with Dr. Gouin. Six women orbit the doctor, and what gives power to Simenon's description of them, is their strongly featured characterization, determined in good part by their pasts and their lives.

The first portrait is that Louise Filon, called Lulu. Starting at the bottom of the social scale, she has risen several levels, at least in the material aspect, for she is being maintained in a deluxe apartment on Avenue Carnot. But her life remains for the most part that of the "girl" she had been: her real love is a musician in a dance band in the Chapelle district, she keeps her "treasures" in a shoebox in her room, as "would have been normal to find somewhere in the Barbès district" (Ch. 3). Marked out in some way since birth to be a victim of life and society, it's certainly as a victim that she ends up, becoming the stake in Mme Gouin's battle with her "rivals"...

The second portrait is that of the culprit, Mme Gouin. She also began life lowly enough, and she also has risen the ladder, thanks to her husband. But she has higher ambitions, and intends to maintain the privileges she has acquired. Attracted by both money and social position, she kills, not only out of jealousy, but we could say from ambition – if she "eliminates" Louise, it's because she represents a risk – if Gouin acknowledges Louise's child, some of the inheritance would go to him, thinks Mme Gouin, and her own share would be diminished...

The third portrait is that of Désirée Brault... She is one of a long line of housekeepers, more or less embittered, whom Maigret meets on many occasions during the course of his investigations. Moreover she has a past similar to that of Lulu, and she serves in a way as a "counterweight" to the portrait of Louise... with age, the moving young woman could become like her, "hard and cynical" (Ch. 4). Except for Antoinette, Mme Gouin's sister, she is the only one able to resist the "charm" of the doctor, whom she tries to blackmail; Antoinette is satisfied to avoid him. She, however, whose hatred for men (not just Gouin, but apparently all men in general) unites her with the love/interest of her sister, supports her to fulfill their passion completely and perpetrate a crime.

In contrast to Désirée Brault, whose hatred for Gouin is not really directed at the man himself, but rather at what he represents socially, the concierge, Mme Cornet, has an admiration for the doctor tied to the fact that he'd saved her son's life. She attempts, like all the women who esteem Gouin, to protect him "against any and all opposition".

This is also the case with Lucile Decaux, but this final portrait is more complex... it's a "cerebral" passion which motivates the doctor's assistant, and she admires in him less the man, than the function: the doctor's description of her, as harsh as it is, corresponds nonetheless to a certain reality: "She would love any boss, as long as he was famous" (Ch. 8).

Finally, none of these women show a disinterested love for the doctor (not even Louise, who seeks through him a certain security, the assurance to never "starve to death"), and — happily for him, you might say — neither is he seeking to be loved for himself.

2. A hard and tragic portrait of the "ladies' man"

The other essential feature of this novel is the character of Dr. Gouin. He is both a "double negative" of Maigret, and, in certain aspects, equally a double of Simenon. Of him, he has the sexual appetite, and of the Chief Inspector, he has more or less the same vision of the world. But, as opposed to Maigret, Gouin has no empathy for people. If Maigret delays so long the confrontation with the doctor, (we have to wait until the next to the last chapter for that to occur), it's probably because he dreads finding before him someone he resembles, but in negative, and he has perhaps some fear of seeing, like in the mirror, that which he could have become. And if he may be afraid of "not being on a level with" his interviewee, he can reassure himself: Simenon doesn't "let down" his hero, and shows him — once more — winning. Beneath the cold and semi-inhuman aspect of Gouin, Maigret ends up discovering the "flaw", that which makes him a "naked man" like the others. This man, who uses others almost like objects, has also his weakness – he is afraid of dying alone. And in the end it is this solitude which makes him a tragic character. Maigret, himself, if he has not many more illusions about people than Gouin, puts himself "on the same plane as them", and this empathy protects him from the moral solitude felt by Gouin. Even deep into an investigation, Maigret is never completely alone... his "resources" are his wife, his inspectors, his friend Dr. Pardon, and his other collaborators, like Dr. Paul.

3. From the debut of the novels...

The first chapter of the novel opens with a scene in the Maigrets' home on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. Reading it, I wondered if it was often the case that a Maigret novel started in the couple's home. So I did a mini-analysis of the corpus, the results of which I've shown below. I considered 77 novels, that is, the 75 "classic" novels, to which I've added the two stories Maigret's Pipe and Maigret's Christmas. I examined where the first scene took place in each case, shown here as a graph:

The novels are shown in the chronological order of the corpus. The yellow bars represent those novels which begin at the Quai des Orfèvres; the red bars are those which begin at the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, and the blue are those which begin elsewhere (this might be another area of Paris, elsewhere in France or in a foreign country).

Summarizing in terms of percentage, the frequency of each type of beginning: 29 novels begin at the Quai des Orfèvres, 38%; 15 begin at Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, 19%; and 33 novels begin elsewhere, 43%.

A second analysis seemed interesting to me, the frequency of each type as a function of the chronology of the writing, and in particular, the publishing cycle (i.e. Fayard, Gallimard and Presses de la Cité). Here are the results:

An obvious correlation is immediately evident: in the Fayard cycle, the novels clearly begin more often elsewhere than the QdO and the Maigrets' home, which is not surprising, considering the number of novels in the cycle which take place outside of Paris: Simenon had Maigret travel often in the first cycle.

This is also the case in the Gallimard cycle. Let's not forget that JUG and CAD take place outside of Paris, that FEL begins in Jeanneville, and that MAJ opens with Charlotte's return to her house in the suburbs. The case of CEC is special, since the novel begins as Maigret leaves his home to walk to the QdO, a setting in a way "in the middle", between the QdO and Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.

In the Presses de la Cité cycle, Maigret investigates more often in Paris, and it's most often in his office that the novels open. We note an increase in the beginnings at Maigret's home, and the relatively frequent number of novels which begin with a telephone call awakening Maigret in the middle of the night, as he sleeps beside his wife in their Boulevard Richard-Lenoir apartment.

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: Maigret se trompe (Maigret's Mistake)
8/24/07 –

Seeing the reference to Maigret se trompe I decided to re-read it before looking at Murielle Wenger's analysis -- which is interesting and perceptive. This was a productive period in Simenon's œuvre -- Maigret et l'homme du banc, featured last month, has always been one of my favorites.

For some reason, "Maigret se trompe" is one of the few Maigrets that I have that is not a relatively recent reprint. In fact, it may be a first edition, since the previous owner wrote what I assume is the date of purchase on the inside front cover, "31 Aug. '53", and the book is copyright 1953. I thought Forum members might like to know some details.

First, the cover is totally plain -- a black pipe with "presses de la cité" superimposed in red on the pipe stem. Two partial smoke rings above -- "Simenon" in an italic type resembling handwriting in the top one, and the book title in the lower one. The cover stock is light blue. On the back, a black silhouette of a man with a hat, and a pipe in his mouth (the same pipe, it continues across the back of the book to the front cover).

On the flyleaf, opposite page 1, the publisher announces "Il a eté de la presente edition 100 exemplaires sur papier pur fil de lana, numerotes 1 a 100"

*Has anyone ever *seen* one of these extra-special editions?*

And in back, as is often the case, a list of all of Simenon's works to date -- first those published by Presses de la Cité, Collection Maigret, Romans, and "Trio", which are novels (not Maigret) reprinted in groups of 3. Then on the next page, "Aux Editions Fayard" with those early Maigrets, novels, and story collections. Underneath, "A la N.R.F." including "Maigret Revient", "Signé Picpus", and "Les Nouvelles Enquetes de Maigret"

*What is (or was) N.R.F.?*

Then, "Edition Collective sous couverture verte" No Maigrets in these omnibus editions -- but I don't know if they were paperback or hardcover. Finally, a "Série Pourpre" with just one volume (I think) containing three novels.

What you will note is, that while the Fayard editions are listed, the Gallimard books are not.

*Is this because Presses de la Cité bought the rights to Fayard's editions and was reprinting them?*

Oz Childs

French Maigret editions
8/24/07 – At least 40 Maigrets were published in in the '50s and '60s by Presses de la Cité in the format described by Oz Childs (below)...

The motif was picked up for Claude Menguy's (2004) Simenon bibliography from Omnibus (Presses de la Cité)...

and was used for the June 24, 2003, Sotheby's Simenon auction catalog...

which offered a number of these titles in the "deluxe edition" (p.78)...

Based on the descriptions, besides the special paper and numbering, most of these included black paper jackets and cases by Thérèse Treille, with the title in yellow on the spine of the jacket. (Chemise et étui de papier noir de Thérèse Treille, titre en jaune sur le dos de la chemise.) [It's possible that these were specially made for the copies in the sale.]

N.R.F., La Nouvelle Revue Française, is a publishing arm of Gallimard, the name of the publisher's flagship literary journal, founded in 1908 under the patronage of André Gide. Gaston Gallimard became editor in 1911. (see Wikipedia).

ST

(It's times like this we really miss Peter Foord's input...)

Old Maigret cover
8/27/07 – I havbe in my library one of the old Maigrets with that "pipe and smoke rings" cover. As Oz Childs describes (below), it should be seen with the back of the book as it is only complete with both covers.

In the bottom part of the back there are the initials T.L.C., which must be the initials of the designer. Do you know who that could be?

Regards,
Jerome

Marnham on Simenon and "Three Crimes"
8/28/07 – It is quite some time since I last corresponded on a matter of Maigret. I wish on this occasion to draw attention to an article I have just read in The Spectator (www.spectator.co.uk) of 14 July 2007. The piece is written by Patrick Marnham, who, you will know, has written a biography of Georges Simenon, The Man Who Wasn't Maigret, published by Bloomsbury. It is a review of Three Crimes by Georges Simenon, translated by David Carter (Hesperus, ₤7.99, pp. 130, ISBN 9781843914211).

I thought it really interesting; and worth drawing to the attention of Forum readers. I won't attempt to summarise an article which should be read in its entirety except to note that it brings a focus on Simenon's early days in Liege. Marnham informs us that this is the first time Three Crimes, originally entitled Les trois crimes de mes amis, has been translated into English.

Kind Regards,
D.J. Greenfield

The Spectator, July 14, 2007

Back in the dark and the rain
Patrick Marnham

Three Crimes
Georges Simenon

Hesperus, pp.130pp, £7.99, ISBN 9781843914211

In 1931, a Belgian pulp-fiction writer living in Paris and churning out four titles a month using various noms de plume decided to publish a series of detective stories under his own name. His publisher had to ask him what his real name was; everyone in Paris knew him as ‘Sim’. Georges Simenon, as he identified himself, proved to have a flair for publicity: he had already made a small fortune from his pulp fiction and he could afford to launch the new series with an all-night party in a club in Montparnasse. The vulgarity of this gesture was mocked in Le Canard enchainé but the party — attended by gossip columnists, senior police officers, professional strippers, hundreds of gatecrashers and le tout Paris — was a riot and the detective stories, about a fictional police inspector named Jules Maigret, were an immediate success.

Three years later, having published 19 Maigret titles, Simenon put the fictional inspector into extended retirement and announced that he would embark on a third career, as a writer of romans durs, or 'psychological' novels. He declared that in developing the skills he had learned while creating Maigret he would win the Nobel Prize. Over the next nine years he published 45 romans durs as well as the book that now appears in English for the first time as Three Crimes, written in Paris in January 1937 and originally entitled Les trois crimes de mes amis. Three Crimes has always been described as a novel but it is in fact a 'memoir', a fragment of autobiography in which the author has not bothered to invent any new characters, or even change their names.

Simenon was unusual among crime writers in that he knew the criminal world from the inside. As he once said, 'I was born in the dark and in the rain, and I got away. The crimes I write about are the crimes I would have committed if I had not got away...' He was thinking of his childhood in Liège during and after the Great War when he saw how defeat, occupation, fear and hardship had corrupted normal standards. When the war ended Simenon was briefly drawn into that demi-monde and ten years later, shortly after launching his Maigrets, it came back to haunt him. He learnt that two men he had known in Liège were to be tried for murder.

The title of Three Crimes, as the translator David Carter points out in his introduction, is misleading. There were in fact five crimes, including four murders; of the murders, one was committed by a friend, the others were the work of a man Simenon knew well but never liked. But the first suspicious death described in Three Crimes did not involve either of these two men, it involved Simenon himself. In 1922, Joseph Kleine, a failed art student and a drug addict, was living in extreme poverty in the student quarter of Liège. Early one winter morning his body was found attached by the neck to the handle of a church door. He had spent the previous evening drinking with Simenon. At that time, Simenon, aged 19, was employed on the Gazette de Liège as a junior reporter. His duties included the daily round of police stations writing up crime reports and he wrote an unsigned report on the death of Kleine. The eventual verdict was suicide, although it seems more likely that Kleine had been murdered by his drug dealer; in any event the police did not waste much time inquiring...

complete article at The Spectator

New Maigret in Esperanto
8/30/07 –
Le Chien Jaune in Esperanto as La flava hundo, translated by Daniel Luez. (Click here or on the image to read Chapter 1 in Esperanto!)

Istvén Ertl

On the 18th anniversary of Simenon's death
9/6/07 – Interesting article from PEN blog marking 18th anniversary of Simenon's death:

PEN America
A Blog for Writers and Readers
Tuesday, September 4, 2007 "
The Most Famous Unknown Writer of the 20th Century"

That’s how writer and critic Luc Sante once described Georges Simenon, who died 18 years ago today. Sante affixed that label to the prolific Belgian author back in 2005, at the first PEN World Voices festival. Since then, NYRB Classics has published five more of Simenon’s novels in English translation, to go along with the three they published in 2003 and 2004. Those books have garnered reviews in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and elsewhere. It seems this "unknown writer" is becoming more famous-- in the US, that is-- each year.

Sante had much else to say of interest in his talk, which was published in our seventh issue. “Somewhere along the line,” Sante writes, Simenon “made a signal discovery”: Much of what passes for literature merely consists of studies of people in their clothing—that is, people operating within the rigid confines of social codes. He, on the other hand, wanted to write about the naked human, who is forced by circumstances to confront life without the usual protections. Those same social codes made him an outsider and kept him one, even at the height of his fame. He had served his apprenticeship writing pulp fiction and had cemented his reputation with detective novels. Furthermore, he was Belgian. He also lacked a writing style detectable by the belletristic apparatus of the prewar era. Therefore, he was forever barred from being accepted as a man of letters by the people in Paris who decided such things.

In the wake of Flaubert and subsequent adherents to le mot juste, Simenon may also have hurt his case for a literary reputation-- among "the people in Paris who decided such things," that is-- with his prodigious productivity: He wrote over 400 books, some published under pseudonyms.

Given that enormous output, where should a newcomer to Simenon begin? Sante mentions Dirty Snow (“a supremely bleak evocation of the horrors of the Second World War… that can be usefully compared with the works that Sartre and Camus were issuing at the same time”) and Pedigree (“an autobiographical novel of his youth… which achieves an epic grandeur of thought and a beaverish accumulation of mundane details”).

This month, however, one could do worse than reading The Engagement along with the good folks at Words Without Borders, who are hosting an ongoing, online discussion of the 135-page mystery on their blog, as part of their “Reading the World” series. The discussion will be led by Chad Post, of Three Percent (“a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester”), and Mark Binelli, the author of Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! They'll be joined by the book’s translator, Anna Moschovakis, and others.

For more, watch this site.

(And for more of Sante's thoughts on Simenon, check out his long Bookforum piece from January.)

Roddy Campbell

And here's the imdb link for Simenon

John Simenon speaking about Georges Simenon
9/10/07 – As part of Ming Books celebration of 25 years selling Crime Fiction we are sponsoring the following event at The Scottish Book Town Festval, 28th September -7th October 2007...
Saturday 6th October at 3pm County Buildings

John Simenon
My Father, Georges Simenon

Cost 5 pounds
Details can be obtained from

www.wigtownbookfestival.com

or email: mingboks@yahoo.com

Marion and Robin Richmond
Ming Books Wigtown Scotland
Web site www.mingbooks.pbwiki.com
mingbooks@yahoo.com
telephone 01988403241
Beechwood Acre Place
Wigtown DG8 9DU
SCOTLAND
also in Rahway New Jersey USA
twenty five years in business 1982-2007
Members of IOBA and the District of Wigtown Chamber of Commerce

[translation]

Maigret of the Month: Maigret à l'école (Maigret Goes to School)
9/20/07 –

1. Immersed in a new world

This is a very fine little novel, with our Chief Inspector thrown into a world he rarely enters, where the suspects and witnesses he must confront are children. It takes time for Maigret to enter into this world of childhood, and also to arrive at understanding the life of a little village and its inhabitants. He is aided in this by both his faculty of empathy, and by a return to his own childhood memories, which permit him to find his own childish feelings, and stories he knew in his own village.

He can understand the feelings of Jean-Paul, because he had experienced a similar situation: "'Do the other boys hold it against him that he's the teacher's son?' Maigret knew about that too. He remembered it from his own childhood. The tenant-farmers' sons had held it against him that his father was the estate manager... " (Ch. 1).

He can understand the stories and rivalries of the villagers... "Hadn't there been a woman like that in his own village? In his day, it was the woman who ran the notions shop, Tatin's mother, who had that role..." (ibid.)

Finally, he can understand the stories the children had among themselves, by recalling his own childhood "It came back to him from so far that he was surprised. This was the first time, it seemed to him, that he had ever recovered such vivid memories from his own childhood..." (Ch. 6)

However, fascinated as he'd been from the beginning of his investigation by this world he was trying to understand, there would come a moment when he'd discovered its secrets, when there would be born a feeling of "disgust" which he knew often at the end of a case, and when he only wanted to return to his world of Paris, his city.

Maigret "escapes" from Paris for a time, attracted by the odor of a memory of oysters and white wine, and images of the sea.

But in the end, he literally flees the village – and his childhood memories, to return to Paris, the only place where he feels truly at ease to best ply his trade, where he is completely himself.

2. Oysters and white wine: or, when an almost trivial motive moves you to investigate elsewhere...

The theme "oysters and white wine" is like a leitmotif throughout the novel, spanning the investigation from beginning to end.

If Maigret decides to go to Saint-André, it's less for the generous motive of helping Gastin than because he feels an almost palpable desire for the air of springtime, "an air you wanted to drink in like a little white wine, and which tightened the skin of your face" (Ch. 1). To learn that Saint-André was in the Charentes, reminded Maigret of "the beach at Fourras in the sun, the oysters he'd eaten... on the terrace of a little bistro, washed down with a bottle of local white wine, in the dregs of which there'd been a little sand." (Ch. 1). "If the sun hadn't been as it was on that morning, if a little later, the Chief Inspector hadn't caught a whiff of Fourras, oysters and white wine" (ibid.), no doubt Maigret would not have gone, announcing to his wife gaily, "I'm going to the seashore, in the Charentes. To the land of oysters and mussels." (ibid.)

Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on the fact that it was time of the neap-tide, was disappointed to discover that Saint-André wasn't at the seashore, and that it "was like any country town and a poor match for his picture of oysters accompanied by white wine, on a terrace by the sea." (Ch. 2), to which was added the bad news:

"What would you like to eat, Chief Inspector?

"Do you have oysters?"

"Not during the neap-tide."

"How long will that last?"

"Another five or six days."

Since Paris, he'd been thinking of eating oysters and drinking white wine, and now he probably wasn't going to get any during his stay." (Ch. 2)

If he recognizes that he'll have to do without the oysters, (he's still trying, in spite of the evidence, in Ch. 4: "The rabbit will be ready." "Still no oysters?" "No oysters", finally obliged, in Ch. 5, to be resigned and to tell his wife on the phone, "No, no oysters... Because there aren't any..."), happily, he can drink the white wine... offered to him by Dr. Bresselles, a wine "with greenish reflections... dry and light, with a pronounced earthy taste." (Ch. 2)... at Paumelle's bistro, which seemed "almost exactly the idea he'd had of his trip to the sea. The air was the same color as the white wine, with the same taste" (Ch. 4), and with Julien Sellier, the pleasant "We could hear the sound of the cork being pulled from the bottle, the gurgle of the golden wine splashing into the two glasses." (Ch. 5)

Reduced to giving up on his oysters, Maigret sets himself to learning the little world of the village, and meets Mme Gastin, to whom he didn't dare "admit that it was because of the first spring sunshine in Paris, a memory of oysters and white wine, that he had suddenly decided to come." (Ch. 3)

From Ch. 6, after his dream and Léonie's burial, and above all the interview with Jean-Paul, his mood changes, and he forgets - a little! - his desire for white wine and oysters to concentrate on the children's stories which preoccupy him. After having gotten the doctor to talk when they met for lunch (we note in passing that meals with a witness are often also, metaphorically, for Maigret, a way of getting them "to sit down at the table"). Once the Chief Inspector has understood why Marcel lied, he no longer thinks of drinking... "Even the smell of wine made me sick " (Ch. 7).

Having discovered the truth, and so having fulfilled his mission, without having satisfied his desire... "Maigret seemed a little sad, or tired, like almost every time he'd finished with a case. He'd come to eat oysters and drink local white wines." (Ch. 8), the Chief Inspector wants only to be back with his wife, with the brightly lit Grands Boulevards, and to forget as quickly as possible this little lost village, his spoiled trip to the seashore. He hurries to buy the Paris newspapers which finally talk to him about his city...


complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Lettre à mon juge on stage
9/21/07 – I found on the French newsgroup fr.rec.arts.polar that Simenon's "Lettre à mon juge" will be played in theatre. ..

the link is at perso.orange.fr

"Nous signalons que les prochaines représentations de notre spectacle se dérouleront (pour l'instant) les 12/13/14/ décembre à la Comédie de Picardie à Amiens et qu'à partir de janvier 2008 nous serons au Théâtre du Lucernaire à Paris tous les soirs pendant 2 mois."

Jerome

Concarneau - the setting of Le Chien Jaune
9/27/07 –

We have just returned from an enjoyable week’s holiday in Concarneau, where one of my favourite Maigret stories – Le Chien Jaune – was of course set. I was pleased to be able to visit some of the locations that feature in the book and, coincidentally, our hotel turned out to be situated right opposite La plage des Sables Blancs.

In the novel, written I think in the early 1930s, Les Sables Blancs was still very much under construction, although it was where the mayor already had his ‘somptueuse demeure méritant le nom de château’. Nowadays it’s a large suburb referred to (perhaps somewhat optimistically) as the ‘Cité des Sables Blancs’ on the local road signs, and the little Concarneau tourist train turns round right by our hotel before returning its passengers to the town centre.

We liked the town itself which, whilst welcoming tourists, remains primarily very much a working fishing port. There is still a Bar Restaurant l’Amiral which could well be the l’hôtel de l’Amiral where Emma worked, situated as it is on the corner of the Quai de l’Aiguillon and the square, and ‘l’horloge lumineuse de la vieille ville’ continues to dominate that side of the town.

We also checked out La Pointe du Cabélou, where Léon Le Glérec hid out in ‘l’ancien poste de veille’ and which seemed pretty much unchanged from the description in the book.

There was one minor incident that I thought a bit curious, not to mention a little spooky. I’d been boring my wife with numerous references to the book during the week, and she had not shown a great deal of interest. Anyway, one evening we were walking into the old town when two young couple emerged from the shadows and began talking to another middle aged couple just ahead of us, whom they didn’t appear to know. Twice I heard one of them ask about ‘Le Chien Jaune’ without eliciting much of a response. I mentioned this to my wife who promptly instructed me not to get involved. However, the girl (I thought it was a girl but my wife insisted it was a bloke – I don’t have an enviable track record in these matters) then approached me and asked me if I’d heard of a book called ‘Le Chien Jaune’, to which I naturally replied ‘Oui’. Then she asked if I knew who it was by, I answered ‘Oui – Georges Simenon’, she returned to the young man and said something on the lines of ‘Le monsieur avait raison – c’est par Simenon’ and off they went.

Now, given that I’d only finished re-reading the book a few days earlier, I really did find it very strange that they should approach me with that question (even if I was only their second choice). It’s not a hugely popular work like Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings that the world and his wife seem to be reading at any given time after all. The only possible explanation I could think of for it being on the locals’ minds was a poster in a bookshop window proclaiming ‘L’Association Chien Jaune organise la 13e edition du Festival du Polar Concarneau – Place du 8 Mai du 20 au 22 Juillet 2007’ but I still think it’s a huge coincidence.

Best wishes.
Michael Newman
Chelmsford UK

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et la jeune morte (Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl, Maigret and the Young Girl)
10/4/07 –

Maigret et la jeune morte translates literally into English as Maigret and the young dead girl, and it has appeared in English under two titles, first as Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl, and then as Maigret and the Young Girl, both the translation by Daphne Woodward. It was last published in English almost 35 years ago, and so is somewhat difficult to find. One of only five Maigrets not published in a Penguin edition, apparently the only paperbacks of the title were the U.S. Avon edition (1957) , and the British Arrow editions (1958, 1965).


Avon (1957)

Arrow (1958)

Arrow (1965)

Interesting how the blue dress of the story – the first clue – has changed color on those two covers…

It's unfortunate that it's not more easily obtainable (though used copies of the Companion Book Club edition (1956) are fairly easy to locate on the net) because in many ways it's almost an archetype of the Chief Inspector's legendary ability to get into the skin of a victim or perpetrator… At the denouement of the story, we find the marvelous dialogue spanning Chapters 8 and 9, which begins,

"How did you guess?"
Maigret replied calmly, "I didn't guess. I knew at once…
You see … at first glance your story is perfect, almost too perfect, and I'd have bought it if I hadn't known the girl." …
"You knew her?!"
"I came to know her quite well…"

From there Maigret goes on to tell what he knows must have happened, as opposed to the lies he'd been told, in what must have seemed a stupifying display of clairvoyance. It almost rings of Sherlock Holmes!

And there's more to the resemblance between this novel and Maigret's Dead Man (Maigret et son mort) than just the titles. Both begin with the discovery of a body, dumped from a car in a public square, where the identity of the victim is unknown, and where the discovery of the victim's identity forms the first part of the mystery. In both cases it's Maigret's empathy with the victim which leads him to the discovery of the criminals. As Murielle wrote of Maigret et son mort (MoM - May '06), "...it's one of most typical with regard to the way the Chief Inspector "works" with his intuition, and it also illustrates the relationship that he can form with a victim he is involved with." The same might well be said to apply to Maigret et la jeune morte.

However, in this case, Maigret has the "assistance" of Inspector Lognon, whose portrait Murielle assembled for us last year in her Lognon Special. Here we get to see him as a tireless, astute, and, for the most part, successful investigator... until the critical moment when fate catches up with him, as it always seems to...

This is the only novel in which I recall Maigret longing for onion soup... I'm hoping Murielle will fill us in on this, as well as perhaps the references to the "Exchange", the central clearing house for the call boxes all over the city which seems to crop up in the stories now and then...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et la jeune morte (Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl, Maigret and the Young Girl)
10/11/07 –

[translation]

1. Concerning Maigret, Lognon and young girls....

This novel is one of my favorite Maigrets, for a number of reasons. First, it is characteristic, in the sense that in it Simenon describes the "little world of Paris", with its cast of more or less picturesque characters. And, as Steve wrote, he shows us Maigret at work in his empathetic way of leading an investigation. It's not by brilliant logical deduction that the Chief Inspector discovers the truth, but because he has gotten to know Louise, from the inside, we might say... by his extraordinary faculty of "putting himself into the skin" of others, he has succeeded by knowing that the behavior the young girl was purported to have shown in Albert's bar did not gibe with that of Louise at all.

This novel is one of those in which Maigret deals with young girls, and this rapport which he establishes with young females is one of the most interesting aspects of the Chief Inspector's investigations... In the long train of young girls or young women encountered by the Chief Inspector, we can certainly note Félicie (FEL), Cécile (CEC), Arlette (PIC), Berthe and Emma (SIG), another Emma (JAU), Else (NUI), Anna (FLA), Julie (POR), Céline (eto), etc. In this regard we can examine once more Robert Jouanny's text. Let's also note this significant detail, emanating more or less unconsciously from the author... have you noticed that numerous young girls and young women, with whom Maigret develops a special relationship, are named Louise? Consider Louise Sabati (PEU), Louise Fillon (TRO) and Louise Laboine. Even more significantly, Mme Maigret herself is named Louise...

Finally, I also like this novel because the adaptation which was made for the television series with Jean Richard is one of the most successful, and the actor knew well how to render the "intimate" rapport which was established between the Chief Inspector and the victim.

It's true that this novel evokes Maigret's Dead Man (Maigret et son mort ) in many aspects, but it also makes me think of Maigret in Montmartre (Maigret au Picratt's), in the sense that there, also, a very strong rapport is established between Maigret and Arlette. By small strokes, Simenon draws the two young girls closer together, even if there are great differences between their lives. For example, Louise is found missing a shoe, we see "her toes through the silk stocking"; with Arlette, the same image, "a shoeless foot, whose toes show through the silk stocking". Also, in both stories, we find Maigret grappling with Lognon, who has not at all the same attitude as the Chief Inspector with regard to victims. Lognon reacts in a "professional" way, following Louise's trail as a policeman should, but without having recourse to the intuition which is Maigret's strength, and which leads to his triumph... "Technically, [Lognon] made no errors, and no police course could teach him to put himself into the skin of a young girl" (Ch. 9), but...! It is just this power of empathy which permits Maigret to discover the truth...

2. Where we discover Emergency Services (Police-Secours) and those in Criminal Records...

I don't mind answering Steve's questions with regard to Police-Secours and onion soup... I'll get to the soup in a little while, as for the moment we'll make a visit to Police-Secours. In fact, mention of this locale does not occur before the story The North-Star, written around 1937-38. This can no doubt be explained by the fact that Simenon didn't actually "discover" it until the 1930s, when Xavier Guichard invited him backstage at the police, as reported by Simenon in texts appearing in 1934 in Paris-Soir. In 1937, he would put out another series of texts, entitled "Police-Secours, or, The New Mysteries of Paris", in which he describes precisely the locale of Police-Secours and the activities taking place there. These two sets of texts have been collected in the volume, "Simenon, my apprenticeship" (Simenon, mes apprentissages)", from Omnibus. Here are some extracts...

"In the large room with the iron door, but two windows open to the night, there are four, four peaceful officers, with two of them wearing gray smocks... On the left, an enormous piece of furniture which resembles a telephone switchboard, in which hundreds of little lamps are ready to light. On the right, a telegraphic device which runs from one moment to the next. Finally, above... we hear the steps of a "solitary", a fifth officer who, he alone, waits before his equipment to send out radio calls. ... Just now a lamp, as big as a lozenge, lights up on the map of Paris attached to the wall. It's the lamp of the 13th arrondissement and its blinking signifies that the Police-Secours car of that arrondissement has just left. ... Already the operator has taken up the telephone which will put him in direct connection with the principal station of the 13th. ... The station there, Place d'Italie, is not yet aware. It's one of their agents who has broken the glass of the call box on the Rue de Tolbiac, thus requesting reinforcements. ... I am once again in this vast room at Police Headquarters where hundreds of bulbs, lit or unlit, are such witnesses of the dramas of Paris. ... I am for the last time at the heart of this network of lines which transcribe to the illuminated table of the Central Bureau all the diverse facts of Paris. It is night. There are five of us in the midst of the apparatus which goes on and off intermittently."


complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

La Jeune Morte, Concarneau
10/12/07 – I have just discovered your forum and enjoyed the write-ups on La Jeune Morte and also the piece about the trip to Concarneau ("A Face for a Clue").

On La Jeune Morte, please note that there is no 23rd arrondisement in Paris. A glance at the French version shows XIIIeme that is the thirteenth, where of course, the Place d'Italie may be found.

Turning to Concarneau, I too have enjoyed looking for Maigret's surroundings, and to this end my girlfriend and I went over to Neuilly one day to find La Rue de la Ferme (Maigret and the Burglar's WIfe). In particular we were looking for No 43, home of Guillaume Serre and his mother. Sadly, the street ends at No 41! And there is no café with a terrace across the road, so we had to travel a bit so I could enjoy a pastis.

Best wishes,
Paul Leclercq

Subtitles on the Jean Richard DVDs?
10/13/07 – Bruno Cremer's "Maigret" DVD's, have English subtitles. Do the Jean Richard "Maigret" DVD's have the same facility.

Martin Cooke


No, they don't.    ST

The Maigret Citroën
10/17/07 – There was an article in the newspaper (Independent online, Oct 16, 2007) on classic cars... the Citroën type 7... written by Andrew Roberts. It salutes the peerless Traction Avant... It starts off...
"Readers who watch archive television may have encountered the 1960 -1963 tv Maigret, in which even the briefest excerpt of a black Citroen 15/6 purring along the Champs-Elysees makes an indelible impression. Forty three years after the last episode, the Traction Avant is a Gallic icon..."

Unfortunately the first paragraph is technically untrue as Maigret is not shown on archive television... maybe one day? We can hope... The article then gives us a good history of the car, before telling us that...

"The BBC Television series Maigret used two very late 15cvs, one of which was bought by the leading man, Rupert Davis, and is still owned by his family to this day..."

The article finishes by telling us that...

"The last British built model left Slough in 1955 and the last TA left France in 1957."

David J.
Liverpool


More on Maigret's Citroën from the Archives...

Simenon - Ian Fleming interview, Bazaar 1964
11/6/07 –
Harper's Bazaar
November, 1964, p. 156

The World of Bond and Maigret


The ensuing dialogue between Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, and Georges Simenon, creator of Jules Maigret, had gone to press when the sad news came of Fleming's death. This, their only meeting, was arranged and recorded by Gordon Young.

Fleming's low-slung black Avanti – black leather upholstery, crimson-lettered dials on its dashboard, a top speed of 220 m.p.h. – had just driven up to the ancient Château d'Echandens outside Lausanne.

The talk takes place in Simenon's study. High-vaulted castle windows look out on a quiet park; white walls are sparsely decorated with a few family photographs and a painting by Fernand Léger. Simenon, young at sixty, sits back at his desk in a white open-necked silk shirt and flannel trousers. The fifty-five-year-old Fleming, ostentatiously casual, in a crumpled gray sports shirt and black woolen cardigan, looks like Bond on a holiday. Perched on a stool is Denise, Simenon's French-Canadian wife.

FLEMING: I read your first books in 1939 on my way to Moscow. I stopped in either Amsterdam or The Hague and there on the bookstall was a whole collection of those very good jackets you had in those days, those graphic jackets. I bought three or four to take to Moscow, and I absolutely adored them. And I think, of course, that if it hadn't been for those jackets I probably shouldn't have bought them for years. I think jackets are very important for books. But the publishers don't seem to think so.

SIMENON: Oh, yes, now they care a lot about jackets, especially in America. They study a jacket for weeks, sometimes, and try five, six, seven jackets.

FLEMING: Do they give you a chance to comment on your jackets?

SIMENON: They give me the chance, but I don't bother. I never care about a book when it's finished.

FLEMING: Really? Don't you mind the way it appears and how it's printed?

SIMENON: Not at all.

FLEMING: Oh, I'm very keen on that.

SIMENON: As soon as the book is out of this room, I don't care about it.

FLEMING: What about correcting? I mean who does the correcting for you? Does your publisher correct and then send corrections back to you and suggest things or not?

SIMENON: No.

FLEMING: Nobody does?

SIMENON: No.

FLEMING: I find I make stupid mistakes which they correct for me.

SIMENON: My publisher has not the right to change a comma – not even to suggest to change a comma.

FLEMING: Very interesting. But I find I keep on getting into bad habits: I get a word which I use too often. At the moment I'm going through an awful period of using the word 'just.' "It was just five miles away" . . . "He was just going to jump into his motor car" – I keep putting this damn word in.

SIMENON: I have exactly the same trouble – but the word changes for each novel. In one book

I will always use the word 'mais' – 'but'; in another, always 'perhaps,' so it takes me three days to take out all the perhaps's.

FLEMING: Well, I do most of that myself, but I still find . . . you see, I've got a very good publisher's reader, William Plomer, who's a great poet and an extremely nice man, and he said some time ago that I never put in any exclamation marks. This stuck in my mind, and so in my last book I put in exclamation marks like pepper. And my publishers stupidly enough left them in. Then I get a fierce review from The New York Times saying not only is Ian Fleming a very inferior writer but he has the girlish trick of putting in exclamation marks all over the place. I think a little help occasionally from a good reader is a very helpful thing. How many people read your typescript?

SIMENON: My wife reads the copy every day, but she doesn't correct anything and she doesn't speak to me about it.

FLEMING: Well, my wife rarely reads my books even when I've finished them.

SIMENON: My wife reads the pages every day and then she doesn't read it again.

MME. SIMENON: Well, I usually look at the proofs when they come back.

FLEMING: That's what I mean. Who does the proof correcting?

MME. SIMENON: Well, I weed them out a bit.

FLEMING: You just get the MS and then a page proof and then finish?

SIMENON: But I don't even give away my manuscripts. When I've corrected the manuscript, instead of typing it again it's photostated, and it's the photostat which goes to the publisher. So the MS never leaves this house. I prefer some little mistakes to a too cold correctness.

FLEMING: Well, you write the most wonderful French. I read your books always in French when I can. You have one of the most beautiful styles I know.

SIMENON: Some French critics have said I have no style at all! And they are almost right, because what I have tried for forty years now is to avoid everything which is like literature...

complete article

Simenon - Ian Fleming

11/7/07 – An account of Simenon's recollection of his meeting with Fleming is contained in the book "For Bond Lovers Only" (Panther 1965). While the piece repeats verbatim parts of the Harper's Bazaar article, it also sets outs both authors' views on the business of writing at some length.

Stuart Radmore

Simenon and Fleming
11/17/07 –
For Bond Lovers Only
Dell, 1965, pp. 81-97

Simenon and Fleming discuss

The Thriller Business

FREDERICK SANDS, internationally famous roving correspondent, who writes for the world's top newspapers and magazines, and was, at one time, a special correspondent for the Kemsley newspaper chain when Ian Fleming was its Foreign Manager, lives in Lausanne. Also a resident of Lausanne is the unique Georges Simenon. Sands went to his home to obtain this story of a meeting between Simenon and Fleming . . .

ONE OF THE MEN IN THE ROOM WAS SHORT AND STOCKY. He spoke fluent English, but with a French accent. His briar pipe seemed an almost permanent fixture in his mouth. The second man - tall, lean, tending to be florid, had an impeccable English accent and chain-smoked cigarettes from an elegant holder.

Georges Simenon, creator of Inspector Maigret of the Sûreté, author of some 200 books, with an average of three books published every week in thirty-two countries, was enjoying the company of Ian Fleming for the first time, and discussing the business of thriller writing.

It was a unique occasion. The world's two most successful thriller authors, exchanging views and comparing their completely individual attitudes to work.

Fleming had been a Simenon fan for years, but Simenon, although he knew all about Bond and Fleming's style from critics and newspaper and magazine articles, had not, as yet, actually read any of the 007 books.

I have visited Simenon's thirty-room, sixteenth-century chateau overlooking Lake Geneva, on several occasions. This time I had gone to ask him for his memories of that meeting with Ian Fleming, and to compare Fleming's work approach with Simenon - the novelist he admired above all others.

We entered the heavy oak door of Simenon's office on the first floor of the château, and made ourselves comfortable beside his antique writing-desk. There were pipes everywhere - on his desk, on racks in an alcove, and there were also six large glass jars of tobacco. His charming, French-Canadian wife, Denise, who is also his brilliant business manager, was with us.

Simenon started to recall his discussion with Ian Fleming, in this same room, on the business of thriller writing . . .

'Fleming said he had first read my books just before the last war when he was on his way to Moscow. He had-stopped off en route in Holland and had seen a display of my books on a stall. He was attracted by their jackets and bought three or four to take to Russia. The appeal of the jackets really made him buy them.

'He was particularly keen on jacket-appeal, and was surprised when I told him that I never worried about a book once it was finished.

'As soon as a book is out to the publisher, it is out of my life...

complete article

Maigret of the Month: Maigret chez le ministre (Maigret and the Calame Report)
11/17/07 – An unusual Maigret, but I'll bet it's no one's favorite... too many of our best-loved features are missing. That it's not a murder might get by, but the fact that Maigret himself is annoyed to have to deal with the case at all, that it's about politics – far from near and dear to both Simenon and Maigret – well... Even his inspectors are irritated.

And there are really no attractive characters... the Minister himself is mostly interesting only because he resembles Maigret... How many of those have there been? More often adverseries I think. Off hand I can come up with the dentist, Guillaume Serre [GRA], and the barge owner, Émile Ducrau [ECL], but I'm sure there were more.

About the only things that caught my attention were the list of authors on Piquemal's shelves – Engels, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, St. Augustine, Karl Marx, Father Sertillange, Saint-Simon – and the description of the precursor of today's photocopy machine. I suspect Simenon had one of his own...

ST

New Book on Maigret

11/20/07 – A new book on Maigret has just come out (in French):

Les nombreuses vies de Maigret by Jacques Baudou (Oct. 2007), Les Moutons Electrique... You can find it at Amazon.fr...

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Maigret chez le ministre (Maigret and the Minister, Maigret and the Calame Report)
11/21/07 –

[translation]

1. A visit to the Maigrets'

The novel opens with the Chief Inspector's arrival at his home on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. Whereas we experienced in the two preceding novels (ECO and JEU), an opening at the Quai des Orfèvres, here we have another familiar locale for Maigret, that of his apartment. These two places are are like two poles between which the Chief Inspector navigates during the course of his investigations, leaving the one in the morning to go to his office, returning from the other after his day of work. At the QDO, it's the daily routine of the investigation, where his faithful inspectors await him; The Boulevard Richard-Lenoir (BRL), is his haven of rest, "a bourgeois apartment where the good odors of simmering dishes await him, where everything is simple and neat, clean and comfortable" (MEM). On the one hand, the QDO and the streets of Paris, the many places discovered by Maigret in the course of his investigations, when he plunges himself into unknown areas which he must learn to familiarize himself with; on the other, the BRL, where he finds his daily life, reassuring, at the side of Mme Maigret, where he can forget the torments of his exhasusting quest for a truth which sometimes escapes him... "it was good to find once more the voice of Mme Maigret, the smells of their apartment, the furniture and things in their places" (PEU); "the door of their apartment opened as usual and Maigret found again the light, the familiar odors, the furniture and things in their accustomed places of so many years" (SCR); "as he reached the landing on his floor, his door opened, forming a rectangle of warm light and letting out the odors of the kitchen"; "he sank into his familiar universe"; "the Chief Inspector recovered the quiet atmosphere of his apartment" (ASS).

We note the indispensable presence of Mme Maigret in the apartment, of which she is like the soul... as proof of which, without her, that which is the essence of the apartment no longer exists, and Maigret, in the absence of his wife, avoids entering a "chez-lui" which isn't one... "Maigret didn't like to stay in Paris without his wife. He ate, without appetite, in the first restaurant he came to, and he sometimes slept in a hotel to avoid going home." (GUI); "there was no light under the door, no odor of cooking to welcome him"; "Was it only for the investigation that he set himself up on the Rue Lhomond, or because he hated to go back to an empty apartment?" (MEU).

In the beginning of the corpus, Simenon was satisfied to have his Chief Inspector make merely brief stops at home, stopping only to pick up a suitcase before departing (NUI), or hardly taking the time for a cup of hot coffee without speaking with his wife (TET). It's also true that a large portion of the novels of the Fayard cycle took place outside of Paris, and that therefore Maigret hardly had the opportunity to stop at the BRL... Nonetheless, it already constituted, from this first cycle, a place of "R&R" that the Chief Inspector, after his odysseys in the provinces or outside the coutry, would return to at the end of the novel. In this manner Maigret returns to his apartment in the final chapter of LET, GAI, OMB, FLA, and LIB.

After having described a little the BRL apartment in the Gallimard cycle (see some examples below), Simenon began the Presses de la Cité cycle with his Chief Inspector in retirement, and we have to wait until "Maigret's Special Murder" to enter further into the intimacy of the domicile of the Maigret couple. From that point, Simenon won't stop adding little descriptive touches to the BRL apartement, noting here and there details of the furnishings (see below).

If you'd care to join me, we're going to explore a bit this "small and warm " apartment (MOR), with its "slightly syrupy tranquility" (PAR), but so necessary to the "replenishment" of our Chief Inspector. Come along, I invite you on a visit to the Maigrets'...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Another New Maigret Book: "La France de Maigret"

11/26/07 – Here's another new "Maigret" book, on France in the '20s and '30s with pictures by well known photographers of the time. (Found in an article in the 11/25/07 Strasbourg newspaper, Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, reproduced here.

Dans « La France de Maigret », la voix de Simenon fait écho aux images de grandes signatures de la photographie :

In "Maigret's France", Simenon's voice is echoed in the images of the great names of photography:

Willy Ronis, Brassaï, Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, Janine Niepce ou Edouard Boubat.

Available at Amazon.fr...

Jerome

Accessing the Japanese Link?
12/3/07 – Help! In Links you cite: "Paris du Commissaire Maigret - Yuji Utsushihara's fine site - in Japanese and French." But I can't figure out how to get it in French. Can you direct me?

If you set your browser's character encoding (on the View menu) to Japanese (EUC-JP) you should be able to see both the Japanese and French together, at least on the home page. You should find something like the image below there. I clicked the first few links and the character encoding changed to Japanese (Shift-JIS)... you may have to do a little experimenting... try Japanese (Auto-Select) if available. (Not everything in the Japanese has been put up in French.)

The depth and breadth of your site is truly amazing. Sometime, please describe how you do it!

Thanks, David. Assuming you're not asking about technical aspects, here are three stories... located on other pages of this site: story 1, story 2, story 3.

ST

Thanks
David Simmons

A French Pronunciation Question from that Japanese Link...
12/3/07 – When I went over to Yuji Utsushihara's site Paris du Commissaire Maigret (below), I noticed a recent question on the forum there, about the French pronunciation of the name "Calas", as in Aline Calas, of this month's Maigret of the Month, "Maigret and the Headless Corpse". In the Japanese transliteration on Yuji's site it's written カラス as if it were pronounced [kalas], and apparently that's how it's pronounced in a Japanese-dubbed television version. The question is, are these mistakes? Should it actually be the expected [kala]?

Would a native French speaker please supply the answer?

ST

French Pronunciation Question: Calas is [kalas]
12/4/07 – Thanks to Jerome and Murielle for responding to this and confirming that the French pronunciation of Calas is, as suggested on the Japanese site, [kalas]...

For me, being a native French speaker, there is no doubt that it must be pronounced [kalas]. I know a small village in the south of France called Calas, where my parents spent a few years, and the final "s" is pronounced by the inhabitants.

Jerome

En règle générale, les noms communs terminés en "-as" se prononcent sans le "s" final, donc [a], comme par exemple compas [kõpa], matelas [matəla], judas [jyda], etc.
Font exception quelques mots dont l'origine est encore identifiée comme étrangère: papas (prêtre de l'église grecque) prononcé [papas], palmas (battement rythmé des mains dans le flamenco) prononcé [palmas], kwas (boisson de seigle fermenté), prononcé [kvas].
Un cas particulier, le mot ananas, qu'on peut prononcer soit [anana], soit [ananas].
Il semblerait donc logique d'appliquer cette règle au nom Calas, et le prononcer [kala]. Cependant, ce nom évoque son homonyme Calas, nom de ce négociant de Toulouse qui fut accusé faussement d'avoir tué son fils pour l'empêcher d'abjurer le protestantisme, et qui fut supplicié en 1762. C'est Voltaire qui va se battre pour obtenir sa réhabilitation en 1765: c'est la fameuse "Affaire Calas", à l'occasion de laquelle Voltaire va écrire son "Traité sur la tolérance". Or, le nom de ce négociant se prononce [kalas] avec le "s" final. C'est pourquoi, tout naturellement, un locuteur francophone prononcera le nom de famille d'Aline avec le "s" final, donc [kalas].... C'est d'ailleurs ainsi qu'il est prononcé dans l'épisode de la série avec Jean Richard....

As a general rule, common nouns ending in "-as” are pronounced without the final “s”, as [a], as for example, compas [kõpa], matelas [matəla], judas [jyda], etc.
As exceptions, certain words whose origins are considered foreign: papas (priest of the Greek church), pronounced [papas]; palmas rhythmic hand-clapping in flamenco) pronounced [palmas]; kwas (fermented rye drink), pronounced [kvas].
One special case, the word ananas, which can be pronounced either [anana] or [ananas].
So it would seem logical to apply this rule to the name Calas, and to pronounce it [kala]. However, this name recalls its homonym Calas, the name of the Toulouse merchant falsely accused of having killed his son to keep him from renouncing Protestantism, and who was tortured in 1762. It was Voltaire who fought to clear him in 1765, in the famous "Calas Affair", on the occasion of which Voltaire wrote his "Treatise on Tolerance". The merchant’s name was pronounced [kalas], with the final "s". That’s why, naturally, a French speaker will pronounce Aline's family name with the final "s" as [kalas]. And that's how it's pronounced in the series episode with Jean Richard…

Murielle

A Vist to Maigret's Office
12/7/07 – Murielle has once more provided us with one of her wonderful "encyclopedic" studies of an aspect of the Maigret series... this time Maigret's place of work. If you've missed any, some of her other studies include... Beginnings of Novels, Chapter Headings, Clothes, Maigret's Collaborators, Concierges, Criminal Women, Drink, Emergency Services, Lognon, Maigrets' Apartment, the Metro, Mme Maigret's Family, Maigret's Pipe, the Sea, the Seine, Simenon and Maigret, Train Stations, the Waiting Room, the Weather, and Young Girls!

Not to mention her Maigret-of-the-Month articles (in which some of these appear), her pastiches and other commentary. These topics above can be accessed via the Reference page, and those, like this one, which are not included in other articles, can also be found via the Texts page.

Thanks, Murielle!

Here's her latest...

A Visit to Maigret's Office

by Murielle Wenger

[French original]

I'd like to take you along today, for an encounter with our Chief Inspector in one of his essential places... his office. The second pole of his activity (see MoM Nov. '07), his office plays an important role in the course of his investigations – it's simultaneously his workplace, where he assembles the elements of a case (reading reports, using the phones and the centralizing information), a place of reunion, where he meets with his faithful collaborators, and a "confessional" where he pushes his "clients" to their final confession. We also remember that it was chronologically the first place described in the corpus, the setting for the opening scene of "Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett".

For this visit, I'll follow a route marked out in Simenon's text, "Police Judiciaire" (indicated here as "POL"), written in 1933 following his visit to the Quai at the invitation of Xavier Guichard. This was published by Omnibus in the volume "Mes apprentissages" [My Apprenticeship].

  1. 36, Quai des Orfèvres

    "Police Judiciaire" is still repeated in all the detective stories. Now I've come to the realization that the general public either has no idea of what this famous judicial police is like, or has a mistaken one. Would you like to stroll along with me and find out? The P.J. (for that's how it's familiarly called) is found at the Quai des Orfèvres, embedded in the immense block of the Palais de Justice. The Seine flows beneath its windows. We can see a laundry barge, the arches of the Pont-Neuf, and, if we lean over, the statue of the Vert Galant. ...

    We enter the great paved courtyard. ... The walls are dark, it's true, and there are no curtains on the windows. ... It's cool, in spite of the sun. ... let's take the great staircase with the iron banister up to the second floor, where the principal offices of the P.J. are."(POL)

    1. "I decided that my real life would not begin until the day I would enter ... by the great staircase, the house of the Quai des Orfèvres" (MEM)

      "He hurried under the arch of the P.J. where there was always a draft, made straight for the stairs, and then, suddenly, struck by the characteristic odor of the place, the pale green light of the still-lit lamps, he felt sad that in such a short while, he would no longer come there every morning." (TEM)

      Following Simenon, it's Maigret who arrives at the Quai... he greets the orderly with a wave of his hand (VIE), passes the "glacial" porch (CEC), "always dark" (MAJ), surmounted by a "stone arch where it's always colder than elsewhere" (VOY), crosses the "glacial" courtyard (LET) and starts up the stairway.

      This stairway holds a not insignificant place in the Maigret corpus. The Chief Inspector ascends and descends this staircase innumerable times in the course of his investigations, and almost every time Simenon describes it... First, Maigret has his way of taking the stairs – most often, he climbs slowly (OMB; LOG, ECH, DEF), heavily (SIG), with slow steps (GRA, FAN), with his step heavy (FEL), both because he anticipates the difficulties of an investigation (see MME: "Maigret had a way of climbing the stairs to the second floor of the Quai des Orfèvres, seemingly indifferent at first, at the base of the stairway, where the outside light was fairly direct, then more preoccupied as he penetrated the gloom of the old building, as if the cares of the office enveloped him as he approached."), and because this "ascension" towards his office is like the beginning of an almost invariable ritual ceremony... after the staircase, there comes the length of the hallways, the greeting of the old orderly, the traditional showing his face in the inspectors' room, and finally entering his own office, with a new series of ritual gestures... events described below.

      More prosaically, the climbing of these stairs is also slow for Maigret because he shows a certain weight, and not just psychological! And that's why he climbs the stairs "breathing heavily" (pip), arriving at the top "always slightly out of breath" (ECO), and in the end he's had enough of this climb, if we can believe his comment in his last case (following the chronology of the writing): "They've modernized the place," grumbled a breathless Maigret, "but they didn't come up with the idea of installing an elevator."(CHA) An elevator?! Heaven forbid! What would become of the poetry of the staircase, "with the slanted rays of the sun like you see in a church" (MEM)...

      What is this stairway like? It's large (MEM; LOG, BAN, ECO; ECH, AMU, VOY, SCR, ASS, VIE, CLO, FAN, DEF, VOL, IND, CHA), vast (MAJ, CEC); wide (FEL, CLI, PAT, ENF, FOL), grayish (BAN, VOY, ASS, CLI, ENF ), drab (MAI, MOR), but above all dusty (OMB, CEC, SIG, FEL, pip, MEM, MEU, ECO, MIN, CLO, COL, DEF, VOL), with a very special dust, which is "like a fog of dust in the sun" (GRA). The stairway is also poorly lit (CEC; REV, VOY, CLI), with a weak bulb here and there (MAJ). And if the stairway manages "even in summer, on the brightest morning, to be sad and gloomy" (ASS), what can be said of its condition in fall and winter... "the wind which rushes through it" (LET), "winter, reigning always with its deadly drafts" (FEL), "shining with watery streaks" (CEC), "wet footsteps mottling the stairs" (BAN), "a damp draft ran through it and the wet footsteps on the stairs didn't dry" (ASS).

      On these stairs, Maigret has unchanging gestures – and habits... that of sniffing "with pleasure, the familiar odor" (MEU), that of "looking deeply into the stairwell behind him" (FEL) and that of mechanically casting a glance into the glassed-in waiting room with the green velour armchairs. But for today, let's leave the waiting room aside (we've already visited it in MoM Sept. '07), and follow Maigret down the hallway...

      complete article
      original French

Murielle Wenger

Two new Maigret in Hungarian
12/13/07 –

In November two new titles were published by Park Publishing House in the Maigret series: Maigret és a csökönyös leányzó /Félicie est là and Maigret és a csapodár közjegyző/Maigret et Monsieur Charles
 

Best wishes for the New Year,
Viola Bátonyi
Budapest

Judge Coméliau and Maigret and the Judges
12/16/07 –

Judge Coméliau

and

Maigret and the Judges

by Murielle Wenger

"As usual, Coméliau was losing his temper, his mustache quivering." (CON)

1. Coméliau before Maigret

The character Coméliau had already appeared, in his function as judge, in novels preceding the Maigret cycle, and thus before Simenon's work signed "Simenon". We find the judge mentioned for the first time in "Mademoiselle X", a novel signed Christian Brulls. The following comment is from a page at www.nocesdencre.ch about this novel...

"In "L'autre univers de Simenon" [Simenon's other universe], Michel Lemoine reports somewhat mischievously that "Mademoiselle X" is the novel in which Simenon presents Judge Coméliau for the first time, even if he's still just a name. In charge of the investigation of the murder of a notary, cited three times with no other characteristics, this future enemy of Maigret is thus the first character recurring in the later novels which gushed from the pen of the novelist... and the subconscious of the creator. The anti-Maigret thus appeared in Simenon's work before Maigret himself; the judge crops up before the mender of destinies, which is not without meaning..."

Coméliau plays a part in four novels signed Georges Sim, "La femme qui tue" [The woman who kills], "En robe de mariée" [In a wedding dress], "L'homme qui tremble" [The man who shakes], and "L'épave" [The wreck].

We also note that Coméliau is present in the last of the "proto-Maigrets", The House of Anxiety. He is not yet the "private enemy" of Maigret that he will become later. On the contrary, he seems rather amiable toward the Chief Inspector... the only words he addresses to him at the beginning of the investigation are, "Of course, you will take charge of the case... I'll make the first reports and leave you free rein... What do you think?" and "Just let me know if there's anything new... With you on the case, I can relax!" Not yet any rivalry at all between the two men, the judge lets Maigret work as he pleases... even if this polite withdrawal of the judge doesn't seem to be appreciated at face value by the Chief Inspector, who "welcomes flattery with the amenity of a porcupine." Hmm! If Maigret had known what was coming in his future relations with the judge, perhaps he would have had a greater appreciation of Coméliau's amiability...

And finally, we see that this character of Coméliau is strongly enough present in Simenon's imagination for him to make him the recipient of the "Letter to my Judge" (a novel by Simenon written in 1946), that Dr. Alavoine, convicted for the murder of his mistress, writes to explain the motives that had pushed him to kill. And in this novel we learn that the judge's first name is Ernest, that he lives at 23 bis, Rue de Seine. A few other details are revealed as well... Coméliau was born in Caen, and married the daughter of a doctor; he's nearsighted and wears glasses, and in his chambers there's a cupboard containing an enamel basin (well, well...). And we learn that the first impression he gives to Alavoine is that of a man who is seeking to understand... Astonishing similarities between the judge and the image of Maigret....

complete Coméliau article
original French

complete Judges article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Richard Vinen's introduction to The Madman of Bergerac
12/17/07 –
Reading Richard Vinen's interesting introduction to the 2003 Penguin edition of The Madman of Bergerac, I noticed that near the end he refers to David Drake's chronology:
An American admirer has ingeniously proposed that Maigret must have been in London carrying out secret work for de Gaulle, but this is an unconvincing explanation, if only because the Gaullist secret service spent most of its time spying on the British and Maigret speaks almost no English. Besides, Maigret is not a rebel...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le corps sans tête (Maigret and the Headless Corpse)
12/24/07 –

[translation]

1. Bibliographic points

Simeon's last "American" novel (the last Maigret written in the USA (January 1955), and thus the last novel the author wrote at Lakeville. The next novel, a non-Maigret, will be The Black Ball that Simenon wrote after his definitive return to Europe, while he was spending some time in Mougins, in the French Maritime Alps). It's also one of the best Maigrets, at least in my opinion... Rereading it, I felt that I'd certainly include it in my "top ten" favorite Maigrets... Which got me to considering which I'd include in my "top ten", and I tried to make a list. A distressing experience, and a terrible ordeal... not only was it very difficult for me to "grade" among all the novels in the corpus those that I considered the 10 best, for I had to abandon along the way some good ones, but it still remained to attempt to organize the 10 remaining ones... Finally, I decided to keep 12, since making a choice was truly too difficult. So, I tried, and here are my results...

1. Maigret and the Fortuneteller (Signé Picpus)

2. Maigret in Society (Maigret et les vieillards)

3. Maigret's Special Murder (Maigret et son mort)

4. Maigret and the Young Girl (Maigret et la jeune morte)

5. Maigret Takes a Room (Maigret en meublé)

6. Maigret Goes Home (L'affaire Saint-Fiacre)

7. Maigret and the Toy Village (Félicie est là)

8. Maigret and the Headless Corpse (Maigret et le corps sans tête)

9. Maigret in Montmartre (Maigret au Picratt's)

10. Maigret and the Man on the Bench (Maigret et l'homme du banc)

11. Maigret and the Bum (Maigret et le clochard)

12. Maigret Mystified (L'ombre chinoise)

Fellow Maigret fans, won't you do me the favor of trying it yourself, and coming up with your own "top twelve"?

2. Three reasons (among others) to like this novel

Why is this novel on my favorites list? For numerous reasons. First, the action takes place in an area of Paris which is one of the symbolic views of the city... the Saint-Martin Canal, bordered by the Quai de Valmy and the Quai de Jemmapes. Next, it reminds me very much of another of my favorite Maigrets, Maigret's Special Murder – in the two novels, Maigret is confronted with the little world of a bistro of the quarter, into which he tries to "integrate" himself. And finally, in COR, Simenon has given life to a character undoubtedly one of the strongest in the corpus, that of Aline Calas, with whom Maigret establishes a special relationship...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le corps sans tête (Maigret and the Headless Corpse)

12/24/07 – The location of "Maigret et le corps sans tête" is along the Canal St-Martin on the west bank. The opposite bank of the canal is Quai de Jemmapes. This is well known because Marcel Carné's film "Hôtel du nord" was set there. This movie was produced in 1938 and is a very good "témoignage" on how this part of Paris was just before the war, and it is considered one of the best French movies. Those a two good reasons to see it. Here's a link to it at IMDB

Merry Christmas,
Jérôme

Guillaume's Memoirs back in print
12/26/07 –
I noticed this afternoon that Commissaire Guillaume's memoirs -- originally published in 1938 -- have been reissued. Here at fnac...

Regards,
Jérôme


Here's what the the cover of the original edition looks like, and a short excerpt... More at the Commissaire Guillaume page.

Maigret in Chinese
12/27/07 –

There is a new series of Maigrets translated into Simplified Chinese and published by Yilin Press in China in 2006:


Le Chien jaune 黄狗
L'Ombre chinoise 窗上人影
L’Ami d’enfance de Maigret 她是谁杀的
Liberty Bar 酒吧悲情录
La Nuit du carrefour 十字街头之夜
La Tête d’un homme 人头重案
Le Charretier de la Providence 天命号马夫
Maigret et Monsieur Charles 麦格雷与夏尔先生

Best regards,
Kah Hui Teo

Missing Maigret Short Stories
12/28/07 – I am in the process of compiling a complete set of Maigrets and only need 8 more titles. My question concerns these remaining titles, which are:

No Vacation for Maigret
Maigret at the Coroners
Lock No. 1
Maigret and the Flemish Shop
Maigret Returns
The Unlikely Monsieur Owen
Death Threats
The Group at the Grand-Café

Your Maigret Lengths page lists the last three as 25 pages or less and only one of them is more then 100 pages (the first title at 103pp). I was wondering if they were published separately or in a book of short stories like Maigret's Pipe and Maigret's Christmas?

Congratulations on your excellent site which I use frequently. Let's hope the BBC takes heed of the petition that you are compiling and gets your Rupert Davies episodes into their shop. I'm sure they'd make a decent profit.

I'd like to sing the praises of Abebooks to other collectors by the way as their wants lists really work. I've just purchased Maigret's Little Joke through them and that is the second or third title they have found for me in quite a short space of time.

Cheers!
Keith Marr


Thanks, Keith!
The lengths shown aren't necessarily the lengths of the published translations, of course... they're the lengths of the French originals in the Tout Simenon series. Except for the last three, all your missing novels are available in single volume editions. Click on the links I've added to the titles above, and you can see the various English editions on the main bibliography page. Those three stories, however, to the best of many knowledge, have never appeared in English, except for my translations on this site. (see The Other Maigrets)

Credit for the Rupert Davies/BBC petition should go to Robert Fairbanks, who submitted it to the Forum last year.

ST

Wrong Translator
12/31/07 –
The translator of this (2007) US Penguin edition of The Hotel Majestic is shown as David Watson, who did the new translation of The Bar on the Seine... Another new translation? No! When compared with the Caroline Hillier translation (in the 2003 Penguin edition, for example)... it is identical! The listing of David Watson as the translator must simply be an error.

ST

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