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Maigret Forum Archives 2009

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Maigret of the Month - January 2009: Maigret et le clochard (Maigret and the Bum)
1/1/09 – We're at the beginning of the 6th year of this Maigret-of-the-month feature, the 61st MoM.
The January 2004 Forum began with...

1/1/04 — To start off the New Year I'm initiating a new feature, which I hope many of you will participate in. My plan is to dedicate each month to a specific Maigret title, and present related material via the Forum, where everyone can react and contribute. I'm hoping we can (re)read the story together, talk about it, and collect our opinions and observations, background and related material – whatever – and then I'll arrange it onto a single page for that title, resulting in an "Annotated Maigret".

I think we've done pretty well so far! We had the great fortune to have Peter Foord as one of the contributors to that first MoM, and he continued to write about all of them until his death in April 2007. And fortunately for us, in May of 2006, Murielle Wenger began her regular contributions to the forum, which, happily, continue to this day. And thanks to Jérôme Devémy, who's been contributing from the beginning, we've been getting photographic views of the areas of the Paris novels. Many others have contributed over the years as well, but I'd like to reiterate that comments and contributions about the MoM are welcome from everyone. (All the 60 MoMs so far are accessible via their Plots pages.)

Here are a couple of what Murielle calls "Reminiscences" - references to other Maigret cases - which appear in Maigret and the Bum. Both are easy to guess from the French, even if you haven't read them, but at least one's harder in English... Can you see which cases are referred to?

One day, when a penniless and insignificant fellow had been killed in equally mysterious circumstances, Maigret had said to the Examining Magistrate, "The have-nots just don't get murdered."...

This was not the first time Maigret had conducted an inquiry on a barge. He remembered what used to be called a "stable boat" drawn along canals by a horse that spent the night on board with it's master...

Un jour qu'un bonhomme falot et sans fortune avait été assassiné dans des circonstances aussi mystérieuse, il avait dit au juge d'instruction:
- On ne tue pas les pauvres types...

Ce n'était pas la première fois que le commissaire enquêtait à bord d'une pé'niche, bien que cela ne lui fût pas arrivé depuis longtemps. Il se souvenait surtout de ce qu'on appelait jadis un bateau-écurie, halé, le long des canaux, par un cheval qui passait la nuit à board avec son charetier.

Steve

Maigret of the Month - January 2009: Maigret et le clochard (Maigret and the Bum)
1/3/09 – Photos of locations where some of the action takes place in Maigret et le clochard...

Quai d'Orléans - metal bridge... Crossing the metal footbridge, they had reached the Ile St. Louis...


Quai d'Orléans... "Can you give me her address?" "It's 29b Quai d'Orléans."...


Pont Marie from Île-St.-Louis... "It's on the Ile St.Louis... since the island became one of the most fashionable parts of Paris..."


Quai Bourbon... The two men walked along the Quai Bourbon as far as the Pont Marie...


Pont Marie... For a moment, somewhere between the Quai des Orfèvres and the Pont Marie, Maigret halted...

Ramp to the Pont Marie... They went down the unevenly paved ramp as far as the water's edge, not far from the barge...


Hôtel Dieu from the Seine side... Then they crossed over the Pont Marie. A few minutes later they went in under the gray archway of the Hôtel Dieu.

Jérôme

Simenon's 83rd Birthday... Paris Match 1986
1/6/09 –

Paris Match   (N° 1920)
March 14, 1986, p 40-43

 

GEORGES SIMENON

He celebrates his 83rd birthday in Lausanne
with his dear companion Teresa

Phillipe Buffon
Philippe de Bretagne

photos

original French

A quiet quarter in Lausanne. The silence impenetrable, the cold glacial. It's the kind of day to stay holed up at home, well-warmed, nose glued to the window, while the clock ticks off the minutes and the soup simmers, plunging the room into the atmosphere of a steam room. From a branch weighed down by snow flies off a black shape, awakened by the crunch of my steps. The famous cedar of Lebanon, classed a historical monument, at the foot of which Simenon had scattered the ashes of his daughter. It's already eight years since Marie-Jo, on May 19, 1978, put an end to the suffering of her heart with a 22-long bullet. But if today's snow hides her ashes from view, as the passing years have spread over the grief of the writer like a blanket for a cold sleeper, we feel it emerge. The house is behind the garden, a pink house of unassuming comfort like its owner, withdrawn into himself and his memories. And such memories! This past February 13, Georges Simenon celebrated his 83rd birthday. So many pages written! And also pages turned in these 70 years of writing of the most prolific author of the 20th century.

Georges Simenon lived his life like an attack of fever, wearing himself out at his work table until his shirt was soaking wet, wasting away for 1,000 women at a time, crossing Lapland by sleigh in -45° cold, dashing off the next moment under the burning sun of the tropics, Africa, the Pacific isles, Asia, the United States, and Australia at the time when it was only reachable after 45 days by steamship – rare are the countries he hasn't visited. See everything and be acquainted with everything, such is the motto of he who calls himself a "man of the globe". He would live everything. From the most extreme destitution to great riches, from hunger to satiety, riding a bicycle and a Rolls, living in attic maids' rooms and castles. Finally settling down after 70 years of a restless life where he denied himself nothing, he savors a tranquil convalescence in an isolated quarter of Lausanne (his 33rd domicile), far from the world, seeing no visitors.

Uncomfortable in society and disliking crowds, wherever he goes, he always sits "in the last row, near the exit". His only sorties consist of long walks with Teresa, his companion of many years, whom he doesn't marry, even though she represents for him the ideal woman. This woman, the real one, that he so long sought without finding. "Loving and maternal at the same time, without artifice, unpretentious, without ambition, without care for the morrow." He is against marriage. Absolutely. He has always been. Contrary to the vows exchanged before the priest, he knew in advance, when marrying Regine, his first wife, that he would not be faithful to her. Marriage? A fraud. Moreover, he's only gone to two wedding in his life. His own...

complete article
original French

Mme Simenon's Memoirs... Le Soir Illustré 1978
1/9/09 –
Le Soir illustré
July 13, 1978
N° 2403, pp 44-46

Mme Simenon's Memoirs
or
Mme Maigret's Marriage?

A psychiatrist analyzes

Marie-Louise Pottier

 
original French

The "footnotes of history", the failings and flaws of great men, fascinate the masses of readers. Who better than their spouses to reveal them? Strange spouses, sometimes adoring, sometimes self-important, sometimes treacherous.

Among these latter, there was Clara Malraux and her Memoirs.

Today, there is "A Bird for the Cat", (J.-Cl. Simoën. Paris 1978). The bird, Denyse Simenon. The cat, Georges Simenon.

There is nothing but the title in the genre of the Chief Inspector.

A book in which the wife of the novelist recounts the small and great troubles of every day, but above all the failings of "her" man. And still, "failings" is perhaps too kind a word. For, if we believe the author – and many magazines, especially women's magazines – we have a great writer and a very small Monsieur. With manias, psychological problems, a large dose of immorality, egotism and a diabolical will to destroy that which he had earlier taken from a happy and free life. In short, a wife dominated, deceived, beaten, destroyed.

In the beginning, there was Georges. He wrote novels, he was very charming. And then, Denyse, a young Canadian of a good family who had an excellent career. He courted her passionately until she became his mistress. She more or less accepted a ménage à trois until the time when his first wife would agree to a divorce.

She loved him so much that she would go as far as transforming herself to take on the appearance of Mme Maigret... she let her hair grow long, she, who had been so thin, gained weight to become more rounded. She dedicated herself entirely to the ceremonial maniac of writing, all the while trying to improve him by doing away with alcohol. She worked 18 hours out of 24 administering his business affairs...

Then, suddenly, the inexplicable... after 15 years of communal life and three children, love changed to hate, rejection, refusal.

Psychological problems of the writer or the harmful influence of a psychiatrist who became the director of the novelist's thoughts?

Perhaps, but then, what was behind this mysterious transformation of love into hate?

Moreover, everything seems mysterious and leaves the reader perplexed. When we're not troubled by the erotic exposés or viciousness, which strongly resemble a rather sordid settling of conjugal accounts. Even if Denyse defends herself well and affirms that she's only responding to a need to free herself by revealing the truth.

Georges Simenon has refused to respond to the book. In several interviews, he has tried to explain, not the monster, the giant or the accused husband, but "the man," he says, "his wife never accepted"...

complete article
original French

"A bird for the cat"
1/11/09 – I've never read Denyse Simenon's (1978) book, "Un oiseau pour le chat" (1/9/09), and I'd assumed the title, "A bird for the cat", was just clever word play. But reading Roger Stéphane's (1963) "Georges Simenon: Portrait Souvenir" today, I discovered that Simenon had referred to his mother with that phrase, which was apparently an idiom:
Voyez-vous cette femme qui a toujours été ce qu'on appelait à Liège un oiseau pour le chat, parce qu'elle était la treizième enfant, et qu'elle était souffreteuse? (p.29)

You see this woman who had always been what they called in Liege a bird for the cat, because she was the 13th child, and was sickly?

I wonder if the title was a nod to that quote...

ST

re: "A bird for the cat" (A propos de "Un oiseau pour le chat")
1/12/09 –
  • L'expression "un oiseau pour le chat" revient plus d'une fois sous la plume de Simenon, pour décrire un être qui a en quelque sorte un statut prédestiné de victime.

    On trouve, entre autres, l'expression dans un Maigret: Au rendez-vous des Terre-neuvas, au chapitre 7: Maigret donne à Mme Maigret son opinion sur Pierre Le Clinche:

    "- Quel âge a-t-il ? demanda Mme Maigret.
    Et son mari, renversé dans son fauteuil, les yeux mi-clos:
    - Dix-neuf ans... Un gamin... Je crains bien que ce ne soit désormais un oiseau pour le chat...
    - Pourquoi ? ... Il n'est pas innocent ?
    - Il n'a probablement pas tué... Non ! ... J'en mettrais ma main au feu... Mais je crains bien qu'il soit perdu quand même..."

  • D'autre part, suite à l'article du 9 janvier à propos du livre de Denyse, il peut être intéressant de relire ce que Simenon en dit lui-même dans ses textes autobiographiques. Voici deux extraits de On dit que j'ai soixante-quinze ans (écrit en 1978), une des Dictées de l'auteur:

    "Un livre est paru récemment, écrit par une femme qui me hait, et qui est rempli de contre-vérités. En outre, cette personne, pour assurer sa publicité, se donne pour Madame Maigret en oubliant que celle-ci existait et partageait la célébrité de son mari quinze ans avant que je ne fasse sa connaissance, cinquante ans avant la publication du livre.

    Pendant près d'un mois les journalistes m'ont assailli pour me demander de répondre à cet ouvrage, et je me suis contenté d'une seule phrase, la même pour chaque journal:

    Ce livre ne me concerne pas, pas plus qu'il ne concerne Maigret ou Madame Maigret, car il relève plutôt de la psychiatrie.

    "Personne ne m'a jamais vu pendant les heures que je passais à la machine à écrire. [...] Personne non plus, rigoureusement personne, n'a connu, à la veille d'un roman, le sujet de celui-ci. Personne, à mesure que les chapitres se succédaient, n'a su ce qui se passerait par la suite. Pas même moi, car ce n'est qu'en écrivant le dernier chapitre que je découvrais l'épilogue. Pourquoi D., tant qu'elle y était, n'est-elle pas allée jusqu'au bout ? [...] Puisque nul ne m'a jamais vu écrire, pourquoi ne pas affirmer que je n'ai pas écrit ? Et pourquoi [...] n'est-ce pas D. qui, en réalité, a écrit mes livres ?

    D'ailleurs, sur la bande qui entoure le volume, ne se donne-t-elle pas elle-même comme Madame Maigret ?

    Madame Maigret, en l'occurrence D., écrivant les livres de Simenon !

    Elle n'y a pas pensé. C'est dommage. Dommage aussi qu'elle n'ait pas été la vraie Madame Maigret, car nous aurions fait un couple parfait et on ne me l'aurait pas arrachée pour la mettre dans une clinique psychiatrique."

    Ce deuxième texte est le dernier dicté par Simenon avant qu'il n'apprenne, une semaine plus tard, que sa fille Marie-Jo s'est suicidée. Dans les semaines qui suivent, les textes dictés s'adressent directement à Marie-Jo, et dans l'un deux, voici ce qu'écrit Simenon:

    "Je viens de passer deux jours à lire et à relire les confidences que tu as écrites à mon intention depuis plusieurs années et dont je n'avais jamais eu connaissance. Cette lecture a été pour moi un cauchemar, comme une grande partie de ta vie en a été un, bien plus pénible, tandis que tu luttais vaillamment contre tes fantômes. [...] De savoir enfin, je ne t'en aime que plus tendrement encore et je t'admire d'avoir tenu bon si longtemps.

    Il me reste à lire les annotations que tu as écrites en marge de "Un oiseau pour le chat". En réalité, l'oiseau sacrifié, c'était toi et je n'ai jamais été le chat, tu l'as compris."

  • The expression "a bird for the cat" appears more than once from Simenon's pen, to describe someone who has in some way a predestined condition of being a victim.

    One place we find this expression, among others, is in a Maigret, The Sailor's Rendezvous, Ch. 7. Maigret gives Mme Maigret his opinion of Pierre Le Clinche:

    "How old is he? asked Mme Maigret."
    And her husband, lying back in his deck chair, his eyes half closed, "19... A boy... I'm afraid that he hasn't much of a future [that he'll be a bird for the cat]..."
    "Why? ... Isn't he innocent?"
    "He probably hasn't killed anyone, no... I'm pretty sure of that... But I fear he'll be lost all the same..."

  • In addition, with regard to the January 9 article about Denyse's book, it may be interesting to consider what Simenon said about the book himself in his autobiographical texts. Here are two extracts from They say I'm 75 (written in 1978), of the author's Dictations:

    "A book has appeared recently, written by a woman who hates me, and which is filled with untruths. Furthermore, this person, to assure her publicity, takes herself for Madame Maigret, forgetting that Mme Maigret existed and shared Maigret's celebrity 15 years before I made her acquaintance, 50 years before the publication of her book.

    For almost a month journalists have assailed me asking for my response to this work, and I've contented myself to a single sentence, the same for every paper:

    This book doesn't concern me, any more than it concerns Maigret or Madame Maigret, for it is rather a matter for a psychiatrist.

    "No one has ever seen me during the hours I spend at my typewriter. ... And no one, absolutely no one, has ever known, the day before a novel, its subject. No one, as the chapters develop, has known what will happen. Not even me, for it's only in writing the last chapter that I discover the conclusion. Why doesn't D., as far as she's gone, take it all the way? ... Since no one's ever seen me write, why not affirm that I didn't? And why ... isn't it D. who, in reality, wrote my books?

    Moreover, on the band wrapping the volume, doesn't she present herself as Madame Maigret?

    Madame Maigret, in the form of D., writing Simenon's books!

    She didn't think about it. It's too bad. And too bad that she wasn't the real Madame Maigret, for we would have made a perfect couple, and it wouldn't have been necessary to have her put in a psychiatric clinic."

    This second text was Simenon's last dictation before learning, a week later, that his daughter Marie-Jo had committed suicide. In the following weeks, the dictated texts are addressed directly to Marie-Jo, and in one of them, here's what Simenon wrote:

    "I've just spend two days reading and rereading what you've confided in me over many years and which I never recognized. This reading has been a nightmare for me, like a great part of your life has been one, or even more painful, since you battled valiantly against phantoms. ... To finally know, I only love you more tenderly, and I admire you for having held on so long.

    It only remains for me to read the annotations which you've written in the margins of "Un oiseau pour le chat". In reality, the sacrificed bird was you, and I was never the cat, as you understood."

Murielle

This site... Simenon in French
1/12/09 – This is a great site - I'm so glad I found it!

Although previously aware of Simenon, I got very emotionally involved with the Rupert Davies Maigret series and was determined to read the books in the original language. Over the years when I had time I dug out my long forgotten (and not very good in the first place) O level French and made myself plough through 500-page classics (Balzac, Zola, Maupassant etc} from verious libraries. Simeon is an absolute breeze after that and probably more rewarding as most of my attention can be on his brilliance with not too much dictionary work.

Thanks,
Jane Gwinn

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le clochard (Maigret and the Bum, Maigret and the Dosser)
1/12/09 –

The year of the writing of this novel, 1962, was an important year in Simenon's life. It was the year he began his intimate relationship with Teresa, the final companion of his life, it's when the construction of the great villa at Epalinges was completed (where the family would move at the beginning of 1963), and it's when Denyse, Simenon's second wife, began to give the first serious signs of mental derangement, which led to her stay in a psychiatric clinic in 1963.

The first half of that year of 1962 was so busy that Simenon didn't write any "hard" novels, but a trio of Maigrets (CLI, CLO, COL). It wasn't until October that he went back to a "hard" novel, The Bells of Bicêtre (The Patient).

This month's novel, Maigret and the Bum, is part of the best vein of the corpus... a special case, a "victimless crime", since the clochard survived the attack, but one in which the interest rests in the manner with which the Chief Inspector approaches the affair, his obstinate search for the truth, his almost relentless attempts to try and understand the human, everything bathed in the special atmosphere of springtime in Paris, which Simenon knows so well how to describe – and experience – through his hero.

We find once more in this novel the theme of the clochard, which Simenon has dealt with more than once in his work, he who claimed to be attracted to the clochards, confessing his recurring desire to become one.

In the Maigrets, we find numerous examples of this theme of a character who quits his familiar milieu to go and live in the streets. Sometimes not exactly in the streets, but at least a complete change of social strata... in that, Francois Keller, former Mulhouse physician, is not so far from Jean Darchambaux, the old Toulouse doctor who'd become a bargeman (PRO). The theme of the man who leaves his family and children to plunge himself into a solitary life in the streets, will be dealt with again in Maigret and the Loner (SEU), in the character of Marcel Vivien.

Other themes dealt with in this novel form part of the famous "reminiscences" of which Steve wrote a little, and which, in fact, I love to seek out across the corpus. Here are some examples...

  • Jef Van Houtte and the world of barges... Examples abound, from Lock 14 (Maigret Meets a Milord) (PRO) to The Lock at Charenton (ECL), from the seamen who discover Calas's remains in Maigret and the Headless Corpse (COR), to the one who discovers the cadaver of Sabin-Levesque in Maigret and Monsieur Charles (CHA), not counting the short story Two Bodies on a Barge (pen). Maigret enjoys maneuvering in this maritime world, which, we should remember, is his cradle, at least according to the official version of his birth! Born in an abandoned barge in a Dutch canal, baptized with gin, the Chief Inspector can't help but find himself in his element aboard the Zwarte-Zwaan of the Fleming!

    So neither is it astonishing that Maigret, when he plants himself at the window of his office in the Quai des Orfèvres, is interested first of all in the barges which pass on the Seine...

    complete article
    original French

    Murielle Wenger

Maigret in Icelandic (and Simenon in Basque)
1/18/09 – Thanks to Dirk Soenen for submitting this Maigret in Icelandic - Skuggar Fortíðarinna, a translation of Le pendu de Saint Pholien (Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets). That's the 34th Maigret language we've located!

Dirk also sent an image of Simenon translation in Basque, though not a Maigret... Enigmak... a partial translation of Les 13 enigmes (7 stories translated).

Thanks Dirk!

Maigret of the Month - February 2009: La Colère de Maigret (Maigret Loses His Temper)
2/8/09 – Photos related to some of the action in La Colère de Maigret...


Rue des Rondeaux... where Émile's body was found outside Père Lachaise Cemetery


The entrance to Père Lachaise Cemetery


Rue Victor Massé, where Émile lived and the Train Bleu was located

Some Montmartre cabarets...

Jérôme

Speaking of Maigret
2/13/09 –I am currently reading "The World at Night" from Alan Furst and I found a reference to Maigret in the chapter called "16 April 1941". He writes...
Sunday night, late - one thirty in the morning when he looked at his watch. He was reading, wearing an old shirt an slacks. Restless, not ready to sleep. Blackout curtains drawn, light of a single lamp, a very battered Maigret novel, The Nightclub, he'd bought at a stall on the Seine.

Looks like there is a mistake as "The Nightclub" ("L'Âne rouge") is a Simenon, but not a Maigret.

Regards
Jérôme

Maigret stories to help my French...
2/14/09 – Found your site a few years ago now and have 'popped in' occasionally to see what's added. As a long time Maigret reader it was great to find. I first started reading Maigret stories that I borrowed from our local library when I was about 13 and have loved them ever since. I guess it was seeing the Rupert Davies TV versions that got me reading them because I would have been 13 in 1964.

My husband and I have been visiting France since the early 80s but only as often as we could afford to and always wanted to try living in France but the longest we've spent there was nearly 3 months in Normandy a couple of years ago. Unfortunately circumstances mean we can't consider living there but I'd like to improve my French enough to read Maigret in the original language.

I wonder if anyone can help me with the following:

I remember reading somewhere that P D James learned French by reading Maigret stories in French. To that end I bought a couple of the stories in French plus CDs of the books being read in French but found that the CD must be an abbreviated version as I can follow is so far but then it seems to jump to a different part of the story, even though I'm following it in the French copy not an English translation. I wonder if anyone can recommend the best audio version of any of the stories so that I can try my hand at following it with the text.

Great site - wonderful resource. Keep it up please.

Regards,
Jane Jinks

Maigret of the Month: La colère de Maigret (Maigret Loses His Temper)
2/18/09 –

Rather than an analysis based on the heart of the novel, this time I'd like to dwell on a couple of elements "picked up" from the text, and which made me want to – once more! – make a foray into the corpus. And so here are two "mini-analyses", in which I hope, fellow Maigretphiles, you will find some pleasure...

1. The methods of murder

"Now, neither Maigret, nor Lucas, in spite of numerous years of service in the police, could remember a single underworld murder committed by strangulation. Each quarter of Paris, each social class, has, you might say, its own way of killing ... There are quarters for stabbing, others where they prefer a bludgeon, and those, like Montmartre, where firearms dominate." (Ch. 1)

I have, in a previous study, analyzed the motives – according to Simenon as seen throughout the Maigrets - which push someone to murder. I'd like to take up this base once more to study this time the "methods" utilized to put down a victim, to see if there's any correlation between the motive and the method – always according to Simenon's texts.

To make this analysis, I proceeded in the following fashion: I extracted the principal murders described in the novels (totaling 85), ignoring the short stories, and divided them according to the "method" used. Which gives us the results summarized in this graph...

We note that in his career, Maigret has above all investigated murders committed with firearms (more than a third of the murders described were done in this manner). The other types of murders are distributed fairly equally among murders by strangulation, by a "sharp instrument" (of various forms, collected here under the term "knife"), by a "blunt instrument" (collected here under the term "bludgeon"), and finally by various "methods" (summarized by the term "other"), for example, suffocation (Mme de Caramé in FOL), needle plunged into the heart (Torrence in LET), or accusatory letter (the countess in FIA). Murder by poison remains rarer, conforming thus to the theory, mentioned in more than one novel, according to which murders by poison often go unpunished.

Another interesting area is to study the correlation between the method used for a murder and its motive. We can divided the 85 murders described into seven categories of motive:

  • murders for vengeance, often following a humiliation felt by the murderer. (example: Chabut's murder in VIN).

  • murders committed in the framework of an "underworld" affair, often connected with a theft (example: Goldberg's murder in NUI)

  • murders "by accident", in which the murderer didn't actually have the intention to kill (example: Josée's murder in ENF)

  • murders "out of necessity"... the murderer must get rid of a troublesome witness (example: Lucile's murder in VAC)

  • murders committed out of self interest, to preserve a fortune or social position (example: Rose's murder in DAM)

  • murders of madness (example: the women's murders in FOU or TEN)

  • murders for various other reasons (example: Hélène Lange's murder in VIC)

Showing the relationship between these motives for murders and the methods used to commit them, we can discover the following...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Duplications in the audiobook list
2/23/09 –
Three Questions:
  1. Looking down the list of Maigret audiobooks I see that there are seven titles by Chivers Audio and that the four titles from Audio Partners appear to be the same recordings, possibly published in a different country or at a different time. Am I correct in this assumption?
  2. Also, do you have any idea whether the Four on Maigret listed, published by Dercum Audio, are dramatisations or read stories?
  3. Finally, I am having great difficulty finding the one Geoffrey Hutchings Listen for Pleasure tape that I haven't got - Madame Maigret's Admirer. Is there anyone out there who has this and who is prepared to copy onto a blank tape I could send them until I can source it?

Many thanks
Keith

Re: Maigret stories to help my French...
3/1/09 – (Reply to Jane 2/14/09)... I reckon books are best left to the imaginations of the original author and the reader without any interferrence from a translator! Get a teach yourself French book to sort out the grammar - verb tenses and stuff like that and a big old dictionary (mine's a second hand 1946 edition) and a modern pocket dictionary. Then choose a Maigret book and read it looking up every word you don't know. It's a bit painful at first but very rewarding but you'll need to work at the grammar a bit as well!

Jane Gwinn
London

Maigret (and others) in (old) Yugoslavia...
3/4/09 – Just found out about this great site, while looking for the contents of the Penguin editions of Simenon Omnibuses with his “romans durs” in them, which, sorry to say, I prefer to the Maigret novels. Anyway, I would want to contribute a trivia. Perhaps somebody will find this a bit interesting. I have some time to spare.

Concerning Simenon’s opus in [old] Yugoslavia, I believe it was published in its entirety, at least concerning his Maigret work. Speaking of that, I own around 25 of his novels [and 15 of his romans durs], mostly in cheap, old pocket books. What else you have to have in mind, concerning ex-Yugoslavia, with its communist government of Josip Broz Tito, was that the country was almost completely free with publishing nearly every foreign book and song and what-have-you, and that it was not closed-off and pseudo-self-contained like most communist nations during the Cold War. Case in point, just a few days ago, among my books I bumped into a decrepit film catalog of a major movie distributor from the early seventies, that promoted about dozen great Hammer horror movies, among many other American, French and Italian goodies, in its yearly bioscope repertoire. At the same time, of all the communist countries, Yugoslavia was the most relaxed in the matter of tourism, so much that entry visas could be acquired with little formality right on arrival at the major airport [Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, etc.], and its citizens had visa-free entry throughout whole Europe.

To cut the story short, Yugoslavia also had a few crime authors, the best of whom was certain Milan Nikolic, now totally, completely unknown. He was born 1924 in Croatia and died there in 1970. He published 32 novels in the Balkans [around 700,000 copies were printed in all, but this is too a free assessment] and was first professional crime author in Yugoslavia.

Largely he wrote crime and spy stories [he was somewhat of a spy himself, worked for the government at one point of time, as a translator, and knew to converse in more than a few foreign languages], but if he wanted to earn any money he also needed to write western stories, a literary genre pretty popular in the seventies on the Balkans (Luke Short, Max Brand, Louis L’Amour, G.F. Unger, Walt Coburn, Lewis B. Patten, and the rest of the batch); he even wrote one SF novel which, as a matter of fact, was a crime story in disguise, but it also reasonably worked on science-fictional level. I own 15 of Nikolic’s novels, modeled eventually to sound sometimes like Spillane, but most of the times like Simenon’s Maigret novels.

Which brings us to one of his novels I do not own. Liberally translated, it’s called The Conflict on the Coast [Obracun na obali, 1958], his third. One of his first recurring protagonists was Mickey the reporter, another pipe-smoker. And in Dubrovnik, on a beautiful Croatian seacoast, Micky, or Miki [as we write that name], completely by chance, of course, meets Maigret, with whom he starts a murder investigation – which, I read somewhere, sounds like a typical [good, though] Sherlock Holmes-Dr. Watson story.

As a matter of fact, Nikolic wrote a letter to Georges Simenon to ask him for his permission to use his Maigret character, or even his collaboration [the goal of Nikolic’s unknown letter is a little wispy, as you hopefully will deduce], on this particular novel. So this rather mechanical letter/reply arrived in town of Virovitica, where Nikolic lived. It is transcribed here word-for-word:

August 16, 1958

Dear Sir,

Your letter of July 7th finally reached [us] on our peregrinations around the canals of Holland. I apologize for the delay in answering. Indeed, my husband entrusts me with the care of all his correspondence. In this particular instance, he bids me to tell you you must not apologize for your English which is quite adequate. He is touched by what you say of his works and thanks you for your kind words.

However, since my husband writes very few detective novels, one or, at the most, two a year of his usual six, and since these have very little to do with the field of detection proper, he cannot see how he could be of any help to you in your endeavor. And furthermore, as I told you above, he does not attend his correspondence himself, devoting all his time to the creative field. And I am sure I cannot be of any assistance at all. I am sorry.

With best wishes for you in your work, I am
Yours very sincerely,
[signed]
(Mrs. Georges Simenon)

Addendum:
Four more titles for your 'Maigret in Serbo-Croatian' section of your site:

Megre i gangsteri [Maigret, Lognon Et Les Gangsters], 1961
Megre i njegov mrtvac [Maigret Et Son Mort], 1964
Megre putuje [Maigret Voyage], 1965
Sahrana gospodina Buvea [Enterrement de M. Bouvet], 1965

Best Regards,
Ratko
from Montenegro, Europe

New at LES ENQUETES DU COMMISSAIRE MAIGRET... Maigret's Office
3/6/09 – New on Murielle's site: Le Bureau de Maigret... Even if you can't read French, this section of the site is loaded with stills from the Jean Richard television series.

ST

Maigret of the Month - March 2009: Maigret et le fantôme (Maigret and the Ghost, Maigret and the Apparition)
3/8/09 – Photos related to some of the action in Maigret et le fantôme...


Rue Caulaincourt, Montmartre. "In the middle of the square was a stone sculpture of a couple, one of the woman's breasts revealed in the folds of her clothing. The statue was black where the rain hit it." Ch. 1


One side of Square Constantin-Pecqueur


Ave. Junot from the bottom (near Square C-Pecqueur)


A building, Ave. Junot. Note the high windows at the top to let in the light.


A villa, near the middle of Ave. Junot with high window, to let in the light.


A nice building entry, Ave. Junot. Lots of buildings from around the 1930s.


Building across from the villa, Ave. Junot


Ave. Junot from the top.


Town Hall of the 18th arrondissement, the police entry is on the right side (sign visible). This is where Lognon was based.


The old entrance for Bichat Hospital

Jérôme

Maigret pastiches
3/21/09 – In searching for Maigret pastiches, I came across your reference to the Grosset series by Alain Le Bussy.

I've been able to determine that the "Le Spatiandre" nouvelle relates to Maigret, but do you know whether the other two nouvelles do, too? Incidentally, I have not found a definition for "spatiandre," but I project it means "spaceship."

Thanks,
David Simmons


Since the name of the series, "Grosset" is a pun on "Maigret", and the "Grosset" image with pipe appears on all three, they're apparently all Maigret pastiches. Jérôme says "spatiandre" is a made up word that would be understood as "space suit".

ST

About some Maigret editions...
3/22/09 – I have recently taken a liking for the Maigret world and have started to accumulate the books. Your site has been both interesting and invaluable for which I thank you.

I have come across a couple of points of interest in relation to the books that may be useful.

1) On the Penguin Maigret section you have the 3'6 (1966-68) group. The last one listed is "Maigret on the Defensive". In common with the images of "Maigret Sets a Trap" and "Maigret and the Saturday Caller" there is no price on the front of the book but that on the back shows the UK price as 4'- (not 3'6) along with other commonwealth pricing.

2) In the main bibliography you mention a single edition hardback book just called "Maigret" with six stories that were covered by the Granada TV series with Michael Gambon. The book you mention was dated 1992 and published by BCA. The copy I have acquired appears to be the same book and the back of the slip cover mentions the TV series of 1991 which stands well with your date of 1992. The rest of the book however makes no mention of BCA or their truncated numbering in place of ISBN's. The book indicates it was a Hamish Hamilton compilation of the same six stories from 1983. I wondered if this was an error on the publishing page, but then where is the BCA reference, or perhaps an earlier edition which had perhaps determined the selection of the episodes for the TV and copies of which had been re-covered with a TV tie in slip cover at a later date.

I hope these two occurences may prove of interest. Thanks again for the highly informative website.

Regards,
Gavin Fletcher


Thanks, Gavin. As for the Penguin, it's actually the same as my copy... but I'd missed the price change... now updated.

As for the Omnibus, David McBrien wrote to the Forum in September 1998, that

"...all six were included in a hardback omnibus published in 1992 by Book Club Associates (by arrangement with Hamish Hamilton who may have produced an edition for normal retail sale - I can't be sure because I have only seen the BCA edition of which I have a copy)".

All the copies I've seen offered which indicate "BCA" show 1992, the Hamish Hamiltons, 1983. It looks like your copy is a 1983 Hamish Hamilton edition, in a new dustjacket.

ST

Maigret, Malgret, and Grosset - Maigret pastiches
3/23/09 –
Thanks, Steve and Jérôme. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. I completely missed the punning of Maigret into Grosset.

By the way, I've been interested in Maigret pastiches for some time, but only just ran across these two: Malgret, Tome 1 : Malgret et l’affaire Saint-Pouacre by Pierre Veys et Chrisophe Alvez. Robert Laffont France 2007 Malgret Tome 2 : Malgret à Monaco by Pierre Veys. Robert Laffont France 2008

Also, that spatiandre means spacesuit makes sense. A scaphandre, from the Greek skaphe (boat) and andros (man), is a device that allows man to dive under water. A scaphandre spatial, which allows man to dive into space, contracts nicely into spatiandre.

David Simmons



Here's apparently another Maigret pastiche (1953), currently on eBay (without dustjacket):

Editions Vinay / Champs Fleuris. In-12 broché sans la jaquette illustrée . Très bel état. Savoureux roman gai & pastiche de Maigret & Simenon par Marcel-E.Grancher. Edition originale.

ST

Simenon in English?
3/26/09 – Simenon, as we know, lived few years in America. Was Simenon fluent in English? Did he write anything in English? I just saw a movie that is based on a novel originally written in a foreign language. I liked the movie, but find difficult reading the book. I guess this is not the book, probably the translation. Few of participants on this forum are fortunate to know both, French and English. Would be interesting to know if they read Maigret in French only?

Cheers,
Vladimir

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le fantôme (Maigret and the Ghost, Maigret and the Apparition)
3/29/09 –

1. Introduction

This novel, one of the shortest in the corpus (the only one, in any case, to have the unusual number of 7 chapters, see MoM of November 2008), is, however, one of my favorites. First of all because the plot unfolds in the Montmartre district which Maigret particularly likes, and to which he always returns with pleasure, and then because the novel teems with allusions, reminiscences and details that the author seems to enjoy scattering throughout the text, as if he wanted once more to show his attachment to his character, whom he places once more with evident pleasure at the heart of an investigation, finding again with delight memories of other cases, in a sort of game to which Simenon invites the reader, as if to say, "Do you remember such-and-such a case, when Maigret did this or that?".

Before occupying ourselves with these famous reminiscences already evoked numerous times, I'd like to turn to several other points which set me to thinking...

2. Maigrets and non-Maigrets

Realizing that this Maigret was the only one written in 1963, although the three preceding had been written in the single year, 1962, I wondered why. My first idea was that it stemmed from the fact that Simenon had written more non-Maigrets that year. Consulting a bibliographic list, I verified that that was not the case, since only two other novels were written in 1963. I wondered if there were some more general connection between the quantity of Maigrets written during a year and that of other novels. Using Michel Carly's latest research on the chronology of the Maigret writings, I first did an analysis of the number of Maigrets written by Simenon each year. Here are the results:

We note the following points:

  • After the "record" years of the first Maigrets, when Fayard accepted publishing the series, while "insisting" in return on Simenon's prolific production necessary to its success (nine novels written in a single year, 1931), the "Maigret" production settled down to one or two novels per year, for Simenon was embarked on other novelistic writing, and from that point would divide his time between the Maigrets and the non-Maigrets.

  • The years '46 to '54 count among the most prolific with regard to Maigret production. They correspond to the author's "American" years — years of great production, particularly 1949, which inspired Simenon to write four Maigrets, of which two were written in December (DAM and MME). Simenon was comfortable with his character, whom he endowed little by little with humanity and a past filled with details (and furthermore it was in 1950 that he wrote his Chief Inspector's Memoirs).

  • After his return to Europe, the production of the Maigret novels ran constantly between one and two novels per year, with the exception of 1962, when three novels of the Chief Inspector's cases were written.

More interesting perhaps is the comparison by year between the production of the Maigrets and that of the non-Maigrets....

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Introduction by Georges Simenon
3/30/09 –
Except for Courtine's "Madame Maigret's Recipes" or other works related to the author, I don't remember having seen any introductions by Simenon. So I was surprised on opening Magdalen Nabb's 1983 "Marshal Guarnaccia" mystery, "Death in Springtime", to find...

Introduction by Georges Simenon

Dear friends and fellow author,

What a pleasure it is to wander with you through the streets of Florence, with their carabinieri, working people, trattorie, even their noisy tourists. It is all so alive: its sounds audible, its smells as perceptible as the light morning mist above the Arno's swift current; and then up into the foothills, where the Sardinian shepherds, their traditions and the almost unchanged rhythm of their lifestyle, are just as skillfully portrayed. What wouldn't one give to taste one of their ricotta cheeses!

You have managed to absorb it all and to depict it vividly, whether it is the various ranks of the carabinieri, and of course the ineffable Substitute Prosecutor, or the trattorie in the early morning hours. There is never a false note. You even capture that shimmer in the air which is so peculiar to this city and to the still untamed countryside close at hand.

This is a novel to be savored, even more than its two predecessors. it is the first time I have seen the theme of kidnapping treated so simply and so plausible. Although the cast of characters is large, they are all well etched in a few words that their comings and going are easily followed.

Bravissimo! You have more than fulfilled your promise.

Georges Simenon
Lausanne, April 1983

ST

New TV Simenon in development
4/01/09 –

MIP NEWS: Eyeworks has teamed up with producer/director Jan De Bont to develop a television series based on Georges Simenon’s psychological novels.

Belgian-born Simenon, known for his crime novels featuring Commissaire Maigret, also wrote a number of psychological novels, which Eyeworks and De Bont (Speed, Twister, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) will now turn into a thriller/mystery anthology series, aimed initially at the US market...

complete article

Roddy

New at LES ENQUETES DU COMMISSAIRE MAIGRET... Maigret's Apartment
4/6/09 – New on Murielle's site: a study on the Maigrets' apartment on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir... And, a new feature, a Forum, offered as a "trial balloon", with especial interest in the televised episodes of Jean Richard, bien sûr!

ST

Maigret in English
4/06/09 – Like Vladimir [3/26/09], I originally read a couple of Simenon books in English and was not captivated as I had been by the Rupert Davies Maigret tv series. I find the French novels absolutely riveting and have just treated myself to four more from French Amazon! Maybe people wouldn't be so impessed by his work if he hadn't been born a French speaker!

Jane Gwinn

Updated at LES ENQUETES DU COMMISSAIRE MAIGRET... Maigret Covers
4/20/09 – Updated at Murielle's site:
more Maigret cover images at
Bibliophilie...

ST

Simenon's Productivity Secret?
4/26/09 – Murielle Wenger in her recent well researched and insightful posting, as well as other Simenon's biographical material, indicate how quickly Simenon wrote his works. Amazingly, he used to spend less time on writing a novel than many of us spend on writing a letter?! Every time I read about such super-achiever productivity, I wonder: What is Simenon's secret? Is it possible that Simenon had assistants who did the non-creative parts of work, like editing, proofreading, fact checking?

Cheers,
Vladimir

Non-Maigret Title?
4/26/09 – A while ago I read a Simenon novel. Setting was in America, main character worked as supermarket manager and leads a quiet life. Then he had to deal with sudden changes which started after he got a note about accidental death of his German-born mother under mysterious circumstances.

Can anyone give me the title of this book. I got it from library, but cannot find it again.

Thanks,
Vladimir

The Secret of Simenon's Productivity
4/27/09 –
A propos du "secret de productivité" de Simenon, on pourra dire la chose suivante: il est évident que Simenon avait à ses côtés des gens pour l'aider à gérer les "à-côtés" de sa production, entre autres une secrétaire (Joyce Atken) et sa seconde épouse, Denyse, s'est aussi occupée des questions d'éditions. Il n'en reste pas moins que la "méthode d'écriture" de Simenon était particulière, parce qu'il arrivait à travailler dans une très grande "concentration", pas seulement au niveau du temps qu'il mettait à écrire un roman, mais aussi dans la façon d'aborder cette écriture: les deux ou trois jours qu'il prenait pour un roman étaient consacrés uniquement à cela, Simenon y mettait toute son énergie, il restait plongé dans son histoire jusqu'à ce qu'elle soit terminée, et il en sortait relativement épuisé. Cela explique peut-être aussi pourquoi, avec le temps, il écrivait de moins en moins de livres par année: cette technique d'"investissement total" dans l'écriture est sans doute très fatigante et nécessite des périodes plus longues pour "se remettre". With regard to the "secret of Simenon's productivity", we could say the following... It's evident that Simenon had people alongside him to aid in managing the "side-aspects" of his production. Among others, a secretary (Joyce Atken), and his second wife, Denyse, concerned themselves with matters of publication.
There remains significantly that Simenon's "method of writing" was special, because he worked in great "concentration", not only on the level of the time he put into writing a novel, but also in his way of approaching the writing. The few days that he took for a novel were dedicated uniquely to that. Simenon put all his energy into it, staying immersed in his story until it was finished, exiting from it relatively exhausted. This may also explain why, with the passing of time, he wrote fewer and fewer books per year. This technique of "total investment" in the writing is undoubtedly very tiring, and necessitates longer periods to recover.

A propos du roman dont Vladimir cherche le titre: il s'agit de La boule noire. Je ne l'ai pas lu, mais j'en ai trouvé la référence ici, dans cet excellent site qui fourmille de détails sur la bibliographie simenonienne.

With regard to the novel whose title Vladimir is seeking, it's "The Black Ball" ("La boule noire"). I haven't read it, but I found the reference here, in this excellent site overflowing with details of Simenon bibliography.

Murielle

Maigret of the Month: Maigret se défend (Maigret on the Defensive)
4/27/09 –

1. Introduction

From the bio-/biblio-graphic point of view, this novel is interesting in a number of ways...

* First, it forms – and this is a unique case in the corpus - with the following novel, The Patience de Maigret, a sort of "diptych", since the story begun in this novel finds its epilog in the next, where we meet once more the two characters Aline Bauche and Manuel Palmari.

* Next, it's one of the only two novels (the other being The Little Saint) written in that year by Simenon, who had in 1964 a less prolific year from a literary viewpoint – No doubt we have to consider the fact of great activity in the author's personal life (moving into the house at Epalinges, various family events), but it's all the same rare for Simenon to only write two novels in a year, Maigret and non-Maigret taken together. Here, furthermore, is what he wrote in his Intimate Memoirs: "In July I wrote my first novel of the year 1964, the first at Epalinges, for it's my métier to write, I feel the need, having stayed too long unfaithful to my machine: "Maigret on the Defensive".

This novel is also interesting because its author evokes, once more, elements of the biography of his character... The Chief Inspector's age, the time of his debut as a policeman, with precise details – which is not always the case in the novels – permitting us to make a "chronological dating". Thus we learn in Ch. 1 that Maigret is 52, that he's been the head of the Crime Squad for 10 years, that he's been in the Police Judiciaire for more than 30 years, and that he is three years from retirement. Which, parenthetically, lets us perform an amusing calculation. It says in the novel that Dr. Mélan, now 38, was 14 at the time of the German invasion. That occurred in 1940, from which we deduce that the novel is set in 1964. Which leads us to say that Maigret himself was born in... 1914. Which leads obviously to a great contradiction with, among others, the novel Maigret's First Case, which is set in 1913...

Other elements of the personality of Maigret are taken up in the novel, including, for example, the little health annoyances of a Chief Inspector getting on in years, Maigret's relationship with drink, and his way of leading an investigation.

2. Streets of Paris

"The car ascended the Champs-Elysées, rounded the Arc de Triomphe, and went down Avenue Mac-Mahon, making a left on the Rue des Acacias." (Ch. 1)

"He returned home by Boulevard Beaumarchais and the Rue du Chemin-Vert." (Ch. 7)

If the Maigret novels have so much success and speak to us so well, it's not only because the principal character, the "hero", is granted a humanity so strong that it pushes us inevitably to sympathize with him, but also because this character is anchored, planted, embedded in a particular setting, this Paris, object of so many fantasies... The streets of Paris in which Maigret strolls in search of a truth, form an integral part of the framework of the novel, they are there as much as a background as to give a particular color to the ambiance in which the character evolves. And it's Simenon's power to succeed at evoking these streets with a simple mention of their name, without entering into a detailed description, so it's enough for a reader to read the words "Rue Rambuteau", "Rue du Chemin-Vert" or "Place Blanche" for his imagination to do the work of placing the Chief Inspector in the milieu of the scene...

Allow me to cite Michel Carly, in his work "Maigret, across Paris"...

"Simenon's Paris is not a scene, it's a breath, a tame and familiar presence. ... The Paris of the Chief Inspector is the geography of the writer, private, emotive, subjective, sensory. Poetics of space, emotional relationship... A Paris at once reinvented and simplified... Rarely have a city and a literary character been joined to this extent. The one identifies the other."

I'd now like to present a "mini-analysis" of the streets of Paris cited by Simenon in the Maigrets...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Play about the birth of Maigret in Delfzijl
4/29/09 –
By Branko Collin, 24 Oranges

The story goes that Alfred Hitchcock phoned prolific French detective writer Georges Simenon (1903 - 1989) once, only to be told by the great man’s secretary that he could not be interrupted, as he had just started working on a new novel. “That’s all right,” Hitchcock said, “I’ll wait.”

In 1927 Simenon had his boat Ostrogoth built, a cutter modelled after the fishing vessels of the English Channel. In 1929, when he arrived in Delfzijl, Groningen, he noticed a leak, the repairs of which kept him there for four months. “I still have vivid memories of my discovery of this pink town, surrounded by dikes, with its walls that weren’t meant to keep out attackers, but were there to keep the streets from flooding with sea water during bad weather,” he writes in a companion article to the 1966 Dutch edition of Le Château des Sables Rouges.

He wrote that novel then and there (”I was still in the habit of writing two or three chapters a day back then”), and when he had finished it, he wondered what the next step would be. Drinking genever one morning in café Het Paviljoen—two, three glasses?—he saw the outlines of a broad-shouldered man through the alcohol induced veils of his imagination. A pipe followed, a bowler hat, a warm overcoat with velvet collar. In short, a proper police commissioner.

Theater te Water will stage a play about the birth of this most famous of all French detectives, Jules Maigret, in Delfzijl starting May 12. The play, called Noord Moord (’Northern Murder’), will be performed on a boat. Where else?

(Link: Dagblad van het Noorden. Photo of a Pieter d’Hont statue of a Georges Simenon character by Wikipedia user Gerardus, who released it into the public domain.)

Roddy

Non-Maigret Title
5/03/09 –
Thanks to Murielle for giving the title of the book I was trying to find. Just a note that English translation, however, goes by diffferent title "The rules of the game". I was told by our librarian that it is quite unusual to publish a translation by a totally different title while the original title has an exact literary and simple translation ("La boule noire" simply is "The black ball"). And once we are on the subject of non-Maigret favorites, I also liked "The innocents" (English title).

Vladimir

Maigret of the Month: La Patience de Maigret (The Patience of Maigret)
5/9/09 –

Maigret of the Month - April: Maigret se défend (Maigret on the Defensive)
5/10/09 – Photos related to some of the action in Maigret se défend...


40 Bd de Courcelles, there is no number 42. In "Un échec de Maigret", Fumal is living at number 58, not far away.


Bd de Courcelles in front of Parc Monceau


Rue des Acacias.


a building on rue des Acacias.


Avenue Mac-Mahon with Arc de Triomphe in the background.


The Sorbonne.


The Sorbonne.

Jérôme

Maigret Entitled... A mini-analysis of the titles of novels in the corpus
5/12/09 –

Maigret Entitled....

A mini-analysis of the titles of novels in the corpus

by Murielle Wenger

 
original French

translator's note: As this is an analysis of
Simenon's original titles and their translations,
the French titles have been kept in their original forms.
(French title index)

Here is a new subject for study, the titles which Simenon gave to the novels in the Maigret corpus. I'd like to do an analysis at once syntactic and semantic, using certain criteria I have defined and chosen.

1. The Presses de la Cité titles

  1. The first part of my analysis is devoted to novels from the Presses de la Cité period, including the three stories, La pipe de Maigret, Un Noël de Maigret, and Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux. Thus I'm concerning myself with titles in which the name 'Maigret' is present.

    In the novels of the Fayard and Gallimard periods, Simenon used titles in another style, similar to those given to the non-Maigrets. The name of the Chief Inspector appears in but one sole novel of this period, the last of the Fayard cycle, when the author, thinking he'd finished with his character, symbolically entitled the novel "Maigret", with the idea that he was going to finish with him, and that the name of the Chief Inspector would thus end a phase. This name does not reappear in the titles of the novels until the Presses de la Cité period. We know that it was Sven Nielsen, founder of that publishing house, who suggested that Simenon use the Chief Inspector's name in the titles. It was a good idea, not only because it indicated that they were part of a sort of collection, but also because it allowed, from an aesthetic point of view, interesting variations in the graphic compositions of the book covers.

  2. If we consider the titles of the Presses de la Cité period, we note that they can be grouped into various categories, according to the words used.

    • From a syntactic point of view, the name 'Maigret' is either accompanied by another substantive (Maigret et le fantôme, Une confidence de Maigret), or a verb (Maigret se fâche), or both (Maigret a peur, Maigret tend un piège)

    • From a semantic point of view, the substantives accompanying the name 'Maigret'are of four types:

      1. a noun designating an object or an abstract idea (Le revolver de Maigret, Un Noël de Maigret)
      2. a place (Maigret à New York)
      3. an emotion (La colère de Maigret)
      4. a person (Maigret et la jeune morte).

      These are summarized in the following table:

verbsubstantive
objectplaceemotionperson
Maigret se fâche La pipe de Maigret Maigret à New York Un échec de Maigret Mon ami Maigret
Maigret se trompe La première enquête de Maigret Maigret au Picratt's Les scrupules de Maigret Maigret et son mort
Maigret tend un piège Maigret tend un piège Maigret en meublé La colère de Maigret Maigret et la Grande Perche
Maigret s'amuse Un Noël de Maigret Maigret à l'école La patience de Maigret Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters
Maigret voyage Les Mémoires de Maigret Maigret aux Assises Maigret a peur Maigret et l'homme du banc
Maigret se défend Le revolver de Maigret Maigret à Vichy Une confidence de Maigret Maigret et la jeune morte
Maigret hésite Maigret et l'affaire Nahour  Maigret chez le ministre
Maigret a peur Les vacances de Maigret  Maigret et le corps sans tête
    Maigret et la vieille dame
    Maigret chez le coroner
    Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux
    L'amie de Mme Maigret
    Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants
    Maigret et les vieillards
    Maigret et le voleur paresseux
    Maigret et les braves gens
    Maigret et le client du samedi
    Maigret et le clochard
    Maigret et le fantôme
    Le voleur de Maigret
    L'ami d'enfance de Maigret
    Maigret et le tueur
    Maigret et le marchand de vin
    La folle de Maigret
    Maigret et l'homme tout seul
    Maigret et l'indicateur
    Maigret et Monsieur Charles

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Maigret of the Month: La patience de Maigret (The Patience of Maigret)
5/18/09 –

1. Bio-bibliographical issues

This novel is unique in the bibliography of its author, in that it's the only novel which wasn't written "in a single stretch" – in fact, the writing was interrupted by the flu, but Simenon, contrary to his habit, succeeded in taking up his text again and finishing it in a few days.

The novel, whose plot follows that of Maigret on the Defensive, some of whose characters reappear, finishes up the affair of the jewel thieves, a case on which Maigret had worked for 20 years. The evocation of these 20 years of memories, besides those related to the death of Palmari, also brings to the surface other of Maigret's memories, those of his beginnings in the police, of his childhood, of his earliest time in Paris. The whole novel is, in effect, colored by memories.

From Maigret's debut as station secretary (PRE) to his "longest interrogation" evoked in numerous novels, from the Polish gang (sta, CEC, MOR, among others) to Judge Coméliau, from the "pair of wildcats" (Aline and Barillard) which reminds us of another couple (CLI) to the "almost terrifying monolith" (Ch. 6) represented by Maigret, and which recalls the "block carved of old oak" (LET) of Maigret's beginnings, everything is subject to evocative reminiscences for the Maigretphile reader...

But the novel also provides echoes of Simenon's own memories, in particular those of WWII, whose evocation is made more and more present in the novels of the last part of the Maigret corpus. Here, it's the bombing of Douai station, and the story of the Belgian refugees, also found in the novel The Train. But it's also Simenon's memories of debarking at Paris, superimposed on those of Maigret, and this sentence in Ch. 3 could be applied as well to the Chief Inspector as to his author, "When he first arrived in Paris, he could spend an entire afternoon at a sidewalk cafe on the Grand Boulevards, or Boulevard Saint-Michel, watching the moving crowd, observing the faces, trying to guess what they were all thinking about."

2. Maigret's desserts...

Reading of the memorable meal shared by Maigret with Judge Ancelin, I was reminded, once more, of the great analysis done by Jacques Sacré, in his book, Bon appétit, commissaire Maigret, of the culinary habits of the Chief Inspector. I've already evoked numerous times Maigret's relationship with food, and this time I'd like to focus on the desserts he's partaken of. As noted by Jacques Sacré, desserts are not so often mentioned in the corpus, relative to other parts of the menu. Maigret is not a great lover of sweets, preferring the stimulation of a pâté sandwich or the tart aroma of a choucroute...

Here, in detail, the list of desserts taken by Maigret...

  • cakes and pies
    • a "tiny piece of almond cake" at the Hotel de la Loire (GAL), and another almond cake at the Brasserie Dauphine (CHA)
    • the cake served with three different kinds of cream, at the lunch at Van Hasselt's (HOL)
    • Anna's rice tart (FLA)
    • Mélanie's mocha cake (CEC)
    • strawberry cake at a restaurant on the Place des Victoires (FOL)
    • Mme Pardon's rice cake (CON)
    • plum tart at Chez l'Auvergnat (PAT)
    • Dr Bresselles' sister's apple pie (ECO)
    • cherry pie (men)
    • marzipan tart (a specialty of Mme Maigret) (ceu)

  • creams
    • Mme Maigret's citron cream, a "masterpiece" (FOU), and again from her, a chocolate cream (amo) and a caramel (CEC)

  • pastries
    • Mme Chabot's profiteroles (PEU)
    • the mille-feuilles eaten in the company of Ricain (VOL)
    • the baba au rhum at a little restaurant on Rue de Miromesnil (HES) and at the inn at Meung (TUE)

  • other desserts
    • crêpes Suzette, eaten at Les Halles with Mr Pyke (AMI)
    • œufs au lait (COR); yet another of Mme Maigret's specialties!

  • fruit
    • a peach and some melon (ENF), a pear, walnuts, figs, almonds (VIN), another peach (SEU)

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

New Maigrets in Hungarian
5/19/09 –
Two new 'Maigrets' in Hungarian, both published for the first time in Hungary:

Maigret és a varázslatos sziget
Mon ami Maigret

Maigret és a Dél keresztje
Le charretier de La Providence

Best wishes,
Viola Bátonyi

Maigret in Icelandic
5/22/09 –
The following books by Georges Simenon have been translated into Icelandic. I expect not all of them are about Maigret, but most of them are:
  • Dularfulla morðið (La Tete d’un homme) Later released under the name: Taugastríðið
  • Skuggar fortíðarinnar (Le Pendu de Saint Pholien)
  • Ekki með vopnum vegið (L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre)*
  • Sannleikurinn um Bébé Donge (La Vérité sur Bebé Donge)*
  • Maigret og kona innbrotsþjófsins (Maigret et la grande perche)*
  • Hótunarbréfin (Un échec de Maigret)
  • Í helgreipum efans (Les Scruples de Maigret)
  • Vegamót í myrkri (La Nuit du carrefour)

These are the books I know about at this time; some of them were published as serials in newspapers and were never published as books. The ones that appeared as serials are marked with a star.

Best regards,
Jóhann R. Kristjánsson
Reykjavík, Iceland

Jean Gabin (as Maigret) on 2001 German stamp
06/06/09 –

This was Gabin in his first Maigret, Maigret tend un piège. I'm sorry it took me so long to learn about this one, but thanks to Jeff Dugdale for pointing it out to me. I've added a page for it at my Detective Fiction on Stamps site, where there's more about this stamp and many others...

ST

Maigret in Welsh... and other languages

06/09/09 –
For those of you collecting Maigrets in various languages, here's a relative rarity currently on eBay: Maigret a'r corff - a 1980 Welsh edition of Maigret et la jeune morte (Maigret and the Dead Girl). It's only the second Welsh Maigret we've noted so far. (Thanks to Roddy for the first!)

Welsh is one of 35 languages we've located Maigrets in, but for a number of them, only half a dozen titles or fewer... Hebrew 6, Bulgarian 4, Esperanto 4, Thai 4, Korean 2, Lithuanian 2, Vietnamese 2, Welsh 2, Albanian 1, Estonian 1.

Can you add any?

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et l'affaire Nahour (Maigret and the Nahour Case)
6/16/09 –

1. A story of Jules...

The novel opens with a phone call which awakens Maigret in the middle of the night. Since he has a hard time extracting himself for the unpleasant dream in which he is immersed, his wife has to call him. And she calls him by his first name, which is rare – in fact, she has rather the habit of calling him by his family name. Let's see what the corpus shows us...

From the first dialogue (from the point of view of the chronology of the corpus, not the internal chronology of the biography of the Chief Inspector) between Maigret and his wife, she calls him by his family name: "'Tell me, Maigret...' she said when she came back." (LET, Ch. 19, Maigret returning after Pietr's suicide.) [N.B. In Daphne Woodward's (Penguin) translation: "'Tell me, dear...' she began when she came back."]

In the very great majority of cases, Mme Maigret uses this family name to address her husband. For several reasons...

    "She called him Maigret under certain circumstances, when she recognized that he was the man, the master, the power and intelligence of the household!" (FOU)

    "First of all, for many years, no one had called him Jules, to the extent that he had almost forgotten his first name. His wife herself had the habit, which made him smile, of calling him Maigret." (FAC). She'd called him "Jules" at first, when they'd met, and at the beginning of their marriage... "What are you thinking about, Jules? She didn't call him Maigret yet, at that time, but she already had for him that sort of respect he was due" (PRE), but Mme Maigret had quickly understood that her husband had little affinity for his first name, which he didn't seem to particularly like. He told it reluctantly to the Americans (CHE, REV, LOG), and the very rare people who used it were old schoolmates, for the most part characters not presented favorably in the corpus (for example Malik in FAC, Fumal in ECH, and Florentin in ENF).

    So it's not surprising that Mme Maigret prefers to call him by his family name (and we note that already in PRE, while she calls him Jules throughout the novel, she slips in "Tell me, Maigret!" in Ch. 5)... even on the phone "'Is that you, Maigret?' His wife. For his wife had never gotten used to calling him other than by his family name." (NEW)

  • The cases where she still calls him Jules are rarities... besides the one in NAH, there's only this:

    ""Is there something on the tip of my nose?" he ended up grumbling.
    "No."
    "So why are you laughing at me?"
    "I'm not laughing. I'm smiling."
    "Like you're making fun of me. Is there something funny about me?"
    "There's nothing funny about you, Jules."
    It was rare for her to call him that, and it was only when she was feeling tender." (COR)

  • "For the longest time, maybe because once they'd done so and laughed about it, they'd called each other Maigret and Mme Maigret, and they'd almost gotten to where they'd forgotten they had first names like everyone else." (cho). In fact, this way of calling each other had become a game, but also a kind of complicity, a tenderness at the heart of the couple... "He didn't call her by her first name, nor she by his. She didn't call him dear, nor did he her. What for, since they felt in a way that they were the same person?" (FAN)

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Simenon Festival at Les Sables d'Olonne
06/19/09 –

June 13 - 21 2009

Maville.com

www.festival-simenon-sablesolonne.com

 
 

Roddy,
Jerome

Maigrets from Gallimard period reprinted
06/20/09 –

I just saw today that the French publisher Folio has reprinted Cécile est morte and La maison du juge, two Maigrets of the Gallimard period. They were both hard to find in France, probably never reprinted for a long time. I had to order mine when I bought them in the '90s.

Les caves du Majestic and Signé Picpus are not yet reprinted... I hope they will follow, for those wanting to buy them.

Also La Pleiade has just published a large book (1,744 pages) with Pedigree, a very nice present for eveyone liking Simenon:

PEDIGREE ET AUTRES ROMANS :
Les Gens d'en face - Les Trois Crimes de mes amis - Malempin - La Vérité sur Bébé Donge - Pedigree - Je me souviens... - Les Complices - Les Autres - La Chambre bleue. Appendice : Lettre à ma mère [2009] .
Édition de Benoît Denis et Jacques Dubois, 1744 pages, rel. peau, 105 x 170 mm.
Collection Bibliothèque de la Pléiade (No 553), Gallimard -rom. ISBN 9782070117987. Parution : 07-05-2009. 55,00 €

Regards
Jérôme

Maigret in Belgium
06/22/09 – I was happy to see your Simenon site. I am pursuing a ‘Reading Globally’ challenge where I need to read a book where the author is ‘from’ Belgium and the book is set in Belgium. Did Simenon ever write a Maigret or other novel which takes place in Belgium? I read this page and it was not clear to me.

Thanks
Shawn Dolley


A Maigret that takes place in Belgium is Maigret at the "Gai Moulin" (La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin). Another in which much of the story is set in Belgium is Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets (Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien).

ST

Maigret of the Month - June: Maigret et l'affaire Nahour (Maigret and the Nahour Case)
7/05/09 – Photos related to some of the action in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour...


the hotel at the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Place Vendome


the real Hotel du Louvres, near Place du Palais Royal


Parc Montsouris (there is no Avenue du Parc Montsouris, only rue or villa du parc Montsouris)

Jérôme

Maigret of the Month: Le voleur de Maigret (Maigret's Pickpocket)
7/8/09 –

1. Simenon and the cinema: from the illusion of glory to the disillusion of reality

Beyond the intrigue surrounding this criminal who "believed that he was smart", Ricain, this novel swings between the evocation – always more present as we advance through the chronology of the corpus – of Maigret's memories, and the evocation of the slightly artificial world of the cinema... We have the impression that Simenon, here, had wanted, albeit with discretion, to settle accounts with this milieu. We know that the relationship that the author had with the cinema had been far from simple. Attracted since his youth by the ambiance of movie halls, the author would soon discover "the other side of the screen", with regard to the experience he would have with the first cinematographic adaptations of his novels. The commercial failures of the first films (La nuit du carrefour, Le chien jaune, La tête d'un homme) diverted him from wanting to produce his own cinematographic adaptation, but that didn't stop him from profitably managing the financial returns on the adaptation rights he granted. His relationship with the grand screen had its highs and lows... some friendly encounters (Jean Renoir, Fellini, Michel Simon and Jean Gabin), the presidency of the jury of the Cannes Festival in 1960... But there was also his reticence the see the adaptations of his work on the screen, which he sometimes exposed,

"In writing a novel, I see my characters and know them down to the smallest detail, including what I don't describe. How can a director, or an actor, portray this image which only exists in me? Not by my descriptions, always short and summary, since I want to leave the reader in charge of using his own imagination." (in Mémoires intimes).

If you'll join me, let's look through several autobiographical texts drawn from the Dictations, to lay the groundwork for following the intrigue of the first Maigrets adapted to the cinema.

Saturday, August 15, 1931, Simenon is in Deauville for a book-signing of his first Maigrets...

"That August 15... I'd just gotten my first four or five Maigrets published. I wasn't expecting a thundering success. I myself called them "semi-literature". At that time ... every August 15, Librairie Hachette set up near the boardwalks of Deauville and Bar du Soleil, and invited the best-seller of the year to come sign his books in public, on a table set up outside, facing the bookstore. To my great astonishment I had been chosen that year, and I admit that I was pretty excited about it. I went to Deauville, not by train, nor by car, but aboard my boat, the Ostrogoth, which had just crossed the North Seas, waiting to anchor at Morsang, a little north of Corbeil and near a lock with a pretty name, la Citanguette. So I had come down the Seine and I was anchored in the yacht harbor. I remember that I was wearing an extraordinary canary yellow shirt with thin blue stripes. ... I signed, signed, signed, as if I were an intimate friend of all those who brought me their copies. ... This passion, born in so little time, dazzled me, I admit, and I lived the rest of that August 15 as if in a dream. ... And that was the only time in my life when I let myself get caught up in vanity. ... I was very young, not yet 30. I don't deny that the blood had rushed to my head. ... My basic store of realism quickly cured me of this flash of what I could call notoriety. Two days later, the Ostrogoth left the sumptuous port of Deauville and I set off to moor, some 30 or 40 km. from there, in a little fishing port, Ouistreham, where I no longer rubbed shoulders with bankers, industrialists and nobility, but with simple fishermen. ... One fine morning I saw a Bugatti stop in front of my boat, and an already rather corpulent man get out. It was Jean Renoir, who has become not only a friend, but like my brother, and who came to buy the rights for my first film, La Nuit du carrefour. He was followed by many others. But this meeting with Jean Renoir, all of whose films I'd passionately watched ... profoundly marked my future years. I no longer agree to do book signings, especially outdoors on the most snobbish beach in the world. That August 15 and the days which followed, nonetheless marked a stage of my existence." (in Vacances obligatoires)

So this is how the first Maigret film was born...

"I've spoken elsewhere of the birth of Maigret. It was at Deauville ... that he received his confirmation. I didn't stay long in Deauville, maybe two or three days, then back at sea with the hope of finding a peaceful port to continue the 10 or 12 Maigrets which I'd been contracted to write. I wound up discovering the port of Ouistreham ... . One morning, after I'd finished writing my chapter, I was on the bridge of the Ostrogoth when I saw a racing Bugatti arrive like a whirlwind, and stop right at the edge of the gangway with a great screeching of brakes. ... A man, a little older than me, jumped out and headed my way. He had a face that I would call angelic, if somewhat chubby, and goodness oozed from his entire being. He walked towards me, kissed me on both cheeks and said, "Simenon... finally!" It was Jean Renoir ... His first question was "Are the film rights available for La Nuit du carrefour?" We were still at the first Maigrets published. No one had proposed to adapt them for the movies. My heart was beating strongly. I said yes, naturally. To be adapted by Jean Renoir, whom I admired more than all the other directors of the epoch... I would happily have given him the rights for nothing. ... We talked for a long time. And the more we talked, the closer we felt to each other. A friendship, or rather an affection which has not changed in more than 50 years...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

New Maigret in Esperanto
7/13/09 –
New Maigret in Esperanto:

Maigret eraras
Maigret se trompe

Best wishes,
István Ertl
(whose translation of "Le charretier de ‘La Providence’" in Hungarian came out in February)

 
read Chapter 1 here

Simenon in new Magazine Littéraire

7/20/09 – "Le Magazine Littéraire" has just published a special issue about detective fiction, which contains 2 articles about Simenon:

Entretien avec Georges Simenon, propos recueillis par Françis Lacassin (p. 46)

Inédit, Simenon par Simenon, par Pierre Assouline (p. 52)

The last one is about a forthcoming book on Simenon by P. Assouline due this fall.

Regards
Jérôme

Maigret Movies on France 2 television

7/26/09 – For those with access to France 2 television channel, next week, France 2 will broadcast 5 Maigret movies with B. Cremer at 14 h 45 from Monday to Friday.

Regards
Jérôme

Squatters at Simenon's house in Epalinges
8/04/09 –
A photo report by Yann André on Simenon's old house in Epalinges, near Lausanne, Switzerland, taken February 3, 2009. Abandoned for twenty years, this 24-room house, built and lived in by the writer between 1963 and 1970, is "squatted" by the "Full moon group". The new owner would like to convert the house into a number of apartments and build on the land.

The house is a work of imagination by Simenon which has never been seen in print. He participated in its construction. He selected the site: a panoramic view of the Alps, Geneva, Evian, Mont-Blanc... an office for writing, another for visitors; a special clock giving the time in every country; a double hospital door against noise, a clinic, a pool...

here it is... (click on the image for the slide show)

Roddy


the house at Epalinges
references to Epalinges on this site

What to read that's like Maigret?
8/05/09 –Suggestions please! I have read all of the Maigret books in English at least 3 times each over the last 3 years. For a respite before I go back to them again, can anyone suggest other mysteries in the same vein [in English please]. Thanks

Harry Hinson

Simenon/Maigret on Dutch Stamp
8/07/09 – A Dutch stamp issued June 16, 2009 for Delfzijl, includes an image which appears to be Simenon as Maigret... Simenon's profile in Maigret's bowler.

Delfzijl is often referred to as "the birthplace of Maigret", and was the setting for "Maigret in Holland" (Un crime en Hollande).

More details, mini-sheets, etc., at Detective Fiction on Stamps.

ST

Re: What to read that's like Maigret?
8/09/09 –There is no-one like Maigret really; however, I suggest trying Magdalen Nabb, whose Marshall Guarnaccia has something of Maigret about him. Interestingly, Simenon praised her writing.

Cheers
D.J. Greenfield


(Don first recommended the Marshall Guarnaccia books in this Forum about five and a half years ago. I mentioned this one, which I enjoyed, and for which Simenon wrote the introduction, here in March.

The Forum archives can be searched using the search forms at the bottom of this page and the home page... which is how I located these two references to Nabb.)

Magdalen Nabb [1947-2007]

Maresciallo Guarnaccia series

Death of an Englishman, 1981
Death of a Dutchman, 1982
Death in Springtime, 1983
Death in Autumn, 1985
The Marshal and the Murderer, 1987
The Marshal and the Madwoman, 1988
The Marshal's Own Case, 1990
The Marshal Makes His Report, 1991
The Marshal at the Villa Torrini, 1993
The Monster of Florence, 1996
Property of Blood, 1999
Some Bitter Taste, 2002
The Innocent, 2005
Vita Nuova, 2008

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret à Vichy (Maigret in Vichy, Maigret Takes the Waters)
8/10/09 –

1. Simenon – and Maigret – in Vichy

A novel a little different from the rest of the corpus, set in an atmosphere bathed in the special light of Vichy, which has "a certain vibration, a certain gentleness", as Maigret said to the journalists who'd come to interview him. But this gentleness nonetheless hides the most sordid affair of blackmail, in the guise of dignity and morality...

The novel is also special because Simenon wrote it immediately after his stay in the town of Vichy, of which the author has his own memories. The case is rather rare... usually, Simenon prefers to "decant" his impressions before serving them up again in a novel. We can recall the case of the earliest Maigrets from Presses de la Cité, when the Chief Inspector returned to the Quai des Orfèvres (MOR, for example), where Simenon had never described the streets of Paris as well as after his long stay in the United States...

It was in the summer of 1967 that the Simenon family spent their vacation in Vichy...

"Why Vichy? ... While I was staying in Paris, I'd been attracted, on the Grand Boulevards, by a shop window displaying a model of the new Vichy, with its parks and above all its broad lake on the Allier where you can do all the aquatic sports, including sailing and water-skiing. ... I'd lived quite a while in Allier when I was secretary to the Marquis of Tracy, not far from Moulins. The culinary resources of the region are famous, from Charolais beef to lamb and poultry, not to mention the no less savory goat cheese." (in "Mémoires intimes")

Poor Maigret, condemned by his author to a diet and the cure, couldn't partake of these delicious products of the area!

On the other hand, Simenon bequeathed to his Chief Inspector other impressions and memories of his stay in Vichy...

"Teresa and I did a lot of walking. We've always walked a lot... we've never covered as many miles, arm in arm, as in Vichy, where we soon learned all the nooks and crannies. ... We walked ... the paths of the various parks, we stopped in front of springs of mineral water, of which we didn't drink a single drop. ... At the end of town, alongside the river, another park, another spring, and, by every path, lawn bowlers, almost all retired, before which we'd stop for a while. ... Night fell. The streetlamps in the park are lit, their light shining on the foliage. An orchestra plays on the bandstand, music "of the good old days" with dozens of men and women around them, seated on ornate little iron chairs like those formerly on the Avenue du Bois. ... Teresa and I walked around the bandstand and I was intrigued by certain faces, of one woman in particular, quite thin, very pale, whom we encountered every evening in the same place. Wasn't there a sort of dramatic expression in her eyes? "What do you think she's thinking about? What kind of life must she lead?" Her dress, while modest, is always in very good taste. I could imagine her in a district of stylish little houses where, in the evening, the shades are lowered, the streets are empty and silent. We play at making up stories, as we sometimes do for a man or woman passing by, or one of the bowlers." (ibid.)

After visiting friends and acquaintances (for example, Sven Nielsen: "We wound up walking in the park, Sven and I, exchanging confidences." (ibid.) and "some lucky encounters..., Tino Rossi... A Montmartre singer I'd known in Paris... A Chief Inspector of the Police Prefecture become an important personage... Courtine, the gastronome " (ibid.)), the return to Epalinges...

"In September... I remain permeated with our life at Vichy.... I write, with my memories still warm, "Maigret in Vichy", in which the enigmatic woman of the bandstand becomes the heroine." (ibid.")

2. Everything must have a beginning...

I very much like the opening of this novel, in the form of this question addressed by Mme Maigret to her husband, "Do you know them?". Simenon has the art of beginning his novels in an "unconventional" way. The introductory sentence doesn't have to inevitably be like, "There was once...", or a minute Balzacian description of an interior, to insert us into the plot. To illustrate this, a few introductory sentences from novels in the corpus, with which I invite you, fellow Maigretphiles, to play a little recognition game: can you say which novel opens with each of these sentences?

  1. "A slight scratching at the door; the sound of an object set on the floor; a furtive voice... "It's 5:30! The first bell of the mass is about to ring...."

  2. "Three minutes to five. A white bulb lights up on the immense map of Paris which covers a side of the wall."

  3. "The chicken was on the stove, with a fine red carrot, a large onion and the scent of parsley whose stalks jutted out."

  4. "The little old man with a goatee once more stepped out of the shade of the warehouse, walking backwards, looking left and right, with a gesture of both hands as if to pull towards him the heavy truck whose maneuver he directed."

  5. "When a bell somewhere sounded twice, the prisoner was sitting on his bed, his two large gnarled hands grasping his bended knees. "

  6. "The pipe that Maigret had lit on his doorstep, Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, was already tastier than on other mornings."

  7. "If you look down through the water separating you from the fish, you see them staying still for a long while, without cause, and then, with a movement of their fins, they move further off to do nothing more than to wait once again."

  8. "Hey! You!" Maigret turned around, like at school, to see who was being talked to. "Yes, you, over there...."

  9. "Maigret yawned, pushed the papers towards the edge of the desk. "Sign this, boys, and you can go to sleep."

  10. "The sky had just started to lighten when Jules, the eldest of the Naud brothers, appeared on the bridge of the barge, first his head, then his shoulders, then his great gangling body."

  11. "There was a moment, between the Quai des Orfèvres and the Pont Marie, when Maigret stopped for a second, so briefly that Lapointe, who walked at his side, didn't notice."

  12. "Maigret played in a ray of March sun, the day still slightly chilly."

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Le Client le plus obstiné du monde
8/14/09 –
In Le Client le plus obstiné du monde ("The Most Obstinate Customer in the World") the main character is offered a choice of reading material, Le Temps, Le Figaro and Les Débats. Can anyone tell me if Les Débats refers to the Journal des Débats or to some other publication? I ask the question because though the Journal des Débats was founded in 1789, it disappeared in 1944 - and Simenon dated this story "Ste-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson (Québec), Canada, May 2, 1946"

Niall O'Neill


Since none of the Maigrets are set during WWII, we can safely assume that the story takes place in pre-WWII Paris, and thus that it was the Journal des Débats, still in publication.

(In fact the war is hardly ever mentioned throughout the corpus - for Forum mentions of Maigret and WWII see these search results)

ST

Chief Superintendent Maigret... a blog
8/16/09 – I just received a link to an enjoyable blog by "Tom Sheepandgoats" introducing Simenon and Maigret, which begins...
My all time favorite author says he's slept with 10,000 women in the course of his life. You gotta admit, that's a lot. From my virtuous vantage point, one wonders if it is even possible. Actually, he didn't say it himself, but it was some reporter who knew his habits made the calculation, and he said 'yeah....that sounds about right.'

The author is Geoges Simenon (1903-1989), largely unknown in the U.S, but one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century, and familiar everywhere else. Most of his novels are so sordid - should one be surprised? - you almost can't read them. I haven't gotten through many, and my motivation to do so quickly wanes. His own mother complained “"Why don't you ever write a book about nice people and good Catholics, instead of all these criminals?'" Indeed, I might not know of this author at all were it not for one remarkable fact: his most famous character, Chief Superintendent Maigret, protagonist of over 100 books and short stories – all murder mysteries - is as upright as his creator is decadent. One almost imagines the author inventing him as a sort of therapy, as if pining like a Michael Jackson of yesteryear for a normality that was never his. (not that he ever expressed any regret over the 10,000)

The impossibly cozy home scenes of Chief Superintendent Maigret and Mdm. Maigret play almost as novelettes within novels – typifying that old-fashioned safe harbor that a person longs for after slogging it out in the rough-and-tumble world. Was marriage ever so tranquil, its participants so companionable? Don’t expect any racy sex scenes here nor even strong emotion, just pure domestic pleasantry. After solving a tough case, there is no better pastime for Maigret than to stroll arm in arm with his wife to the movies.

You wouldn’t expect a series of murder stories would be joyful, but joy, good humor, and a sheer love of life, permeate the Maigret series....

The full blog is here. At the end of the blog Tom wonders why the item he sent in to this Forum wasn't published. I'd like to reassure Tom and everyone else that contributions to the Forum are open to anyone - there are no "members" - and they're almost always published. The reason his item didn't appear was that it apparently got lost in cyberspace... I never received it... but I hope he'll resubmit it.

ST

Simenon on Radio France Culture
8/16/09 – Here is an article [in French] from the French newspaper, "La croix" about a broadcast on radio channel France Culture next week every morning from 9 AM to 10 AM, every day on a different city or country in which Simenon had lived... commemorating the 20th anniversary of Simenon's death.
  • lundi 17 août 2009 : Liège
  • mardi 18 août 2009 : Paris
  • mercredi 19 août 2009 : la France
  • jeudi 20 août 2009 : l’Amérique
  • vendredi 21 août 2009 : la Suisse

The list of programs is here.

There is special web page inside the France Culture web site here.

The 5 programs will be available as audio files on the France Culture web site so anyone will be able to listen to them any time after their broadcast. (and perhaps make a copy...? I don't know if that is feasible).


8/17/09 - The official podcast of the programs are here.

For today, we have

Simenon / Archives du 17-08-2009 - durée : 52mn
Simenon / Documentaires du 17-08-2009 - durée : 1h 29mn
Simenon / Débats du 17-08-2009 - durée : 58mn

that makes it simpler to get the files (in mp3 format directly)

Regards
Jérôme

More for Simenon on Radio France Culture
8/19/09 – Here's another blog, Spend the summer with Georges Simenon, also about the Simenon podcasts...

Roddy

Maigret Map of France?
8/25/09 – I was reading a couple of Maigret books during my holiday in France this summer. Wonderful!! I was wondering if there exists a map of France with the crime scenes and the different investigation travels he made....

Sincerely,
Herman Van Doorn
The Netherlands


No map yet... but here's a list

ST

What about Torrence?
8/26/09 – I turned to Maigret when I'd caught up on all the interesting American and European detective series I could find. Being an orderly sort, I decided to try to do what I always do with every other series: to read each 'book' in the order in which it was written by the author.

So, I copied your list of the 75, plus the list of omnibus volumes and began to order the Penguin 1-14 series, checking off each on your list, only to discover that MANY of those included in *those* omnibus volumes were NOT on your list of 75.

Meantime, losing patience, I'd found a copy of the first Hamish omnibus, and had read all but 'Maigret Goes to School'. Then I found the #1 'book' on your list -- Peitr Lett -- at my local library and read that, thinking it was the first he'd written. Only then did I read 'Maigret Goes to School', only to discover that Torrence was no longer dead (he'd been murdered in the Lett book). Some books show the date of that writing at the end of each 'book', whereas others do not.

Now I'm hopelessly confused...

Best wishes, and thanks for your work,
Karen Mickleson

Re: Maigret Map of France?
8/26/09 –
Suite à la question du dernier forum à propos d'une carte des enquêtes de Maigret en France, je vous fais parvenir ces quelques images. Elles proviennent d'un site sur Maigret qui existait il y a quelques années sur le net, mais qui a disparu. Je ne suis plus très sûre du nom de ce site, mais je crois que c'était 3615sim.net. J'imagine que l'on peut se permettre de diffuser à nouveau ces images...

Cela ne donne pas une carte complète des déplacements de Maigret en France, mais c'est mieux que rien...

In response to the Forum question about a map of Maigret's investigations in France, here are some images. They originate from a Maigret site which existed several years ago on the net [ca. 2005], but which has disappeared. I'm not completely sure of the name, but I think it was 3615sim.net [it was]. I imagine no one will be upset by the reposting of these images...

It doesn't provide a complete map of Maigret's movements in France, but it's better than nothing...

Best regards
Murielle

(Click to enlarge)

1.

Maigret et les témoins récalcitrant (Ivry-sur-Seine)
2.

L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (Paray-le-Frésil )
Maigret à Vichy (Vichy)
3.

Maigret chez les Flamands (Givet)
4.

Le port des brumes (Ouistreham Riva-Bella)
5.

Maigret à l'école (Saint-André-sur-Mer)
6.

M. Gallet, décédé (Sancerre)
7.

Le Fou de Bergerac (Bergerac)
8.

Le Chien jaune (Concarneau)
9.

Le Charretier de la Providence (Epernay)
10.

Au Rendez-Vous des Terre-Neuvas (Fécamp)
Maigret et la vielle dame (Etretat)
11.

Maigret se fâche (Orsenne)
12.

Félicie est là (Poissy)
13.

Les Vacances de Maigret (Les Sables-d'Olonne)
Maigret et l'inspecteur cadavre (Sainte-Hermine)
La Maison du juge (Luçon)
Maigret a peur (Fontenay-le-Comte)
14.

La Nuit du carrefour (Arpajon)
La Guinguette à deux sous (Morsang sur Seine)
15.

Cécile est morte (Bourg-la-Reine)

Re: What to read that's like Maigret?
8/27/09 – I came to Maigret after having read many series featuring a protagonist of his ilk to one degree or another. Seems he is indeed grandfather to many detectives combining elements of Maigret's psychological insightfulness and woebegone ways, his droll self regard and wry wit. Not surprisingly, most of them are European--we Americans sadly tending to favor action over understanding.

Herewith, then, is a list of some of my favorites (with the help of the great website, 'Stop You're Killing Me'):

1) Louise Penny
Featuring Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec, in the village of Three Pines, in southern Quebec, Canada:

  • Still Life (2005) [2006 New Blood Dagger, 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, 2007 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, 2007 Barry Award for Best First Novel]
  • Dead Cold (2006) APA: A Fatal Grace (2007) [2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel]
  • The Cruelest Month (2007) [2008 Agatha Award for Best Novel, Finalist 2009 Anthony Award for Best Mystery, Finalist 2009 Barry Award for Best Novel, Finalist 2008 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel, Finalist 2009 Macavity Award for Best Novel]
  • The Murder Stone (2008) APA: A Rule Against Murder (2009) [Finalist 2009 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel]
  • The Brutal Telling (due September 29, 2009)

2) Henning Mankell
Featuring Kurt Wallander, an inspector in Ystad, Sweden (1):

  • The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (2) (1999) [2008] [includes novellas & SS]
  • Faceless Killers (1991) [1997]
  • The Dogs of Riga (1992) [2003]
  • The White Lioness (1993) [1998]
  • The Man Who Smiled (1994) [2005]
  • Sidetracked (1995) [1999] [2001 Gold Dagger Award]
  • The Fifth Woman (1996) [2000]
  • One Step Behind (1997) [2002]
  • Firewall (1998) [2002]

1. Books listed in series order
2. Includes a novel: The Pyramid; two novellas: Wallander’s First Case, The Death of the Photographer; and two short stories: The Man with the Mask, The Man on the Beach. Starts with the 21-year-old Wallander in 1969 in Malmö.

3) Fred Vargas Frédérique Audouin-Rouzeau [1957-]
Featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, commissioner of police (chief inspector), in Paris, France:
  • The Chalk Circle Man (1990, 1996) [2009] [2009 International Dagger Award]
  • Seeking Whom He May Devour (1999) [2004] [Finalist 2005 Gold Dagger Award]
  • Have Mercy on Us All (2001) [2003]
  • Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (2004) [2007] [2007 International Dagger Award, Finalist 2008 Barry Award for Best Paperback]
  • This Night’s Foul Work (2006) [2008] [Finalist 2008 International Dagger Award]

4) Janwillem van de Wetering [1931-2008]
Featuring Henk Grijpstra, Rinus de Gier, and the Commisaris, police detectives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

  • Outsider in Amsterdam(1975)
  • Tumbleweed (1976)
  • The Corpse on the Dike (1976)
  • Death of a Hawker (1977)
  • The Japanese Corpse (1977)
  • The Blond Baboon (1978)
  • The Maine Massacre (1979)
  • The Mind-Murders (1981)
  • The Streetbird (1983)
  • The Rattle-Rat (1985)
  • Hard Rain (1986)
  • The Sergeant’s Cat and Other Stories [SS] (1987)
  • Just a Corpse at Twilight (1994) [Finalist 1995 Anthony Award for Best Mystery]
  • The Hollow-Eyed Angel (1996)
  • Perfidious Parrot (1997)

5) Andrea Camilleri [1925-]
Featuring Salvo Montalbano, a police inspector in Sicily, Italy:

  • The Shape of Water (1994) [2002]
  • The Terra-Cotta Dog (1996) [2002]
  • The Snack Thief (1996) [2003]
  • The Voice of the Violin (1997) [2003]
  • The Excursion to Tindari (2000) [2005] [Finalist 2006 International Dagger Award]
  • The Smell of the Night (2001) [2005] APA: The Scent of the Night [2005]
  • Rounding the Mark (2003) [2006]
  • The Patience of the Spider (2004) [2007] [Finalist 2008 International Dagger Award]
  • The Paper Moon (2005) [2008]
  • August Heat (2006) [2009]

(date) Italian publication date
[date] English translation date

6) Arnaldur Indriðason [1961-]
Featuring Erlendur Sveinsson, a detective inspector, and his colleagues Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg, in Reykjavik, Iceland:
  • Sons of Earth (1997) AKA: Sons of Dust
  • Silent Kill (1998)
  • Jar City (2000) [2004] APA: Tainted Blood [2005]
  • Silence of the Grave (2001) [2005] [2005 Gold Dagger Award, Finalist 2006 Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel]
  • Voices (2002) [2006]
  • The Draining Lake (2004) [2007] [Finalist 2009 Barry Award for Best Novel, Finalist 2009 Macavity Award for Best Novel]
  • Arctic Chill (2005) [2008] [Finalist 2009 International Dagger Award]
  • Hypothermia (2007) [due October 27, 2009]

(date) Icelandic publication date
[date] English translation date
Note: Alphabetized under first name following traditional practice for Icelandic names, per Library of Congress Catalog.

7) Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö Per Wahlöö [1926-1975]
Featuring Martin Beck, a police inspector in Stockholm, Sweden:
  • Roseanna (1965) [1967]
  • The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (1966) [1969]
  • The Man on the Balcony (1967) [1968]
  • The Laughing Policeman (1968) [1970] APA: An Investigation of Murder [1974] [movie tie-in]
  • The Fire Engine That Disappeared (1969) [1970]
  • Murder at the Savoy (1970) [1971]
  • The Abominable Man (1971) [1972]
  • The Locked Room (1972) [1973]
  • Cop Killer (1974) [1975]
  • The Terrorists (1975) [1976]

8) Karin Fossum [1954-]
Featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer, working in a small mountain village in Norway:

  • Eve’s Eye (1) (1995)
  • Don’t Look Back (1996) [2002]
  • He Who Fears the Wolf (1997) [2003]
  • When the Devil Holds the Candle (1998) [2004]
  • Calling Out for You (2000) [2006] AKA: Beloved Poona APA: The Indian Bride [2007] [Finalist 2005 Gold Dagger Award]
  • Black Seconds (2002) [2007]
  • The Murder of Harriet Krohn (2005) -- not translated into English yet
  • The Water’s Edge (2007) [2009]

Enjoy!
Karen Mickleson

New Maigrets in Polish
8/27/09 –
Good news from Poland. After two years, two new Maigrets were published in July: Noc na rozdrożu (Night at the crossroads) and Maigret i sąd przysięgłych (Maigret in court). They were published by C&T Publishers, based in Torun, the city I live in.

Przemyslaw

Simenon Days at Lausanne
8/31/09 – "A series of events organized from Thursday September 3 to Saturday September 5, 2009, in collaboration with the Festival Simenon des Sables d'Olonne (France), to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the death in Lausanne of Georges Simenon, creator of the famous Commissaire Maigret and one of the greatest novelist of the twentieth century." Here are two links:

Georges Simenon in the heart of Lausanne

Lausanne se souvient de Simenon

Murielle

Meung-sur-Loire
8/31/09 – I was in Orleans last week-end and I rode by bicyle to Meung-sur-Loire. Here are some pictures of the Loire, the view from Meung and the castle.

Regards,
Jérôme

Bruno Cremer Maigret DVDs
8/31/09 – I have the first four volumes of the Bruno Cremer Maigret series. It’s my understanding that they made 54 films, of which I would have 40. Is there a fifth, and sixth season available? In other words, are all 54 episodes (if that, indeed, is how many they filmed) available?

Thanks very much, and by the way: what a wonderful website!

Steve Cribari


There's a Dutch edition which includes the missing 12... but no English subtitles. In the Forum on 12/07/08 Murielle wrote:
With regard to the 12 missing episodes, see the forum on Jacques-Yves Depoix's site on the Bruno Crémer series, particularly the discussions N° 11143771 and N° 1852236123. [indicating various sources for the missing 12]

I think this is the list of missing ones, with the numbers of the Dutch series (for example, here, and sometimes found on eBay), and the original French numbering (from Depoix). I've also found an edition with Greek subtitles:

1-1. Maigret et la grande perche
1-2. Maigret chez les Flamands
1-3. Maigret et la maison du juge
1-5. Maigret et le corps sans tête
2-7. Maigret et les caves du Majestic
2-8. Maigret se défend
2-9. Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants
2-11. La Patience de Maigret
-14.Cécile est morte
-15. Maigret se trompe
4-18. Les Vacances de Maigret
-21. Maigret et la tête d'un homme
(This list needs checking... I made it a while ago and haven't confirmed it recently)

ST

Re: Bruno Cremer Maigret DVDs
9/1/09 –
En réponse au dernier forum, on peut dire que la maison d'édition Oneplusone a effectivement commencé la publication des DVD manquants. Quatre coffrets de 2 DVD chacun sont déjà sortis (volumes 22 à 25). Voir ce lien pour les détails. Par contre, je ne peux pas vous dire si ces DVD contiennent aussi une version sous-titrée en anglais comme les précédents épisodes édités, mais j'imagine que cela doit être le cas...

Si on fait le compte, on a donc les 4 volumes de 10 DVD chacun, ce qui fait 40 épisodes, + les 12 manquants en cours de réédition (by the way, votre liste des titres est correcte !), et il y a eu 54 épisodes tournés. Où sont donc les 2 épisodes manquants, me direz-vous ? Eh bien ce sont les deux épisodes "Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit" (4e épisode tourné pour la série, mais le premier à avoir été diffusé) et "Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord" (ultime épisode de la série), que l'on trouve réunis dans le volume no 21 édité par Oneplusone.

In response to the question about the Bruno Cremer DVDs, the publishers One-plus-one have, in fact, begun publication of the missing DVDs. Four boxed sets of 2 DVDs each are already out (volumes 22-25). See this link for the details. On the other hand, I can't say whether these DVDs also contain the English subtitles like the preceding ones published, but I imagine so...

Adding them up, we have the 4 volumes of 10 DVDs each, making 40 episodes, + the missing 12 currently being published (and by the way, your list of titles is correct!), and there were 54 episodes produced. So where are the 2 missing episodes, you ask? These are the two episodes "Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit" (4th episode made for the series, but the first to have been released) and "Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord" (last episode of the series), found together in volune 21 published by One-plus-one.

Regards,
Murielle

Europe remembers Simenon, the "athlete of the pen"
9/4/09 – "Two decades after the death of the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, the ‘athlete of the pen “remains one of the authors more verbose, more localized and more adapted to film and television. To remember this date, which falls today, several European cities have scheduled numerous events, including panel discussions, exhibitions and conferences, after the writer died in 1989 in Lausanne (Switzerland), at age 86. A total of 192 novels, 158 short stories, several autobiographical works and numerous articles and reports published-in addition to more than 200 works under pseudonyms …"

From: iPrensa.es

more here (original in Spanish. Link is via tinyurl.com so may not load...)

Roddy

Re: Bruno Cremer Maigret DVDs
9/5/09 – I recently purchased volumes 22-25 of the Bruno Cremer DVDs from Amazon.fr. I am sorry to report that they are not subtitled in English (or any other language). A challenge to me, I suppose, to improve my understanding of spoken French. An interesting note - many of these "missing" episodes have been televised (along with the other 42) in the USA on MHz Networks International Mystery series, with English subtitles - so they do exist. Too bad One-Plus-One chose not to include them on the new DVDs.

Thanks for the wonderful site. Since I discovered Maigret in 2004, you and all the contributors have enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of the corpus tremendously. Special cheers to Murielle and Jérôme.

---Joe Covey

Autodictionnaire Simenon
9/5/09 – "Autodictionnaire Simenon" by P. Assouline is now available:

"Le Mot de l'éditeur :
20e anniversaire de la mort de Simenon
Georges Simenon est mort le 4 septembre 1989 à 3h30. Vingt ans après la dispersion de ses cendres, l'énigme de son oeuvre, l'une des lues et des plus commentées, demeure intacte. Jamais avare d'interviews, il passa pour l'un des écrivains les plus transparents en raison de sa disponibilité même. Et si ce flot de paroles avait fait écran ? En y cherchant les pépites pour les extraire du magma, et en les confrontant à d'autres, trouvées dans ses lettres ou dans des textes méconnus, Pierre Assouline livre les clés pour découvrir, pour comprendre, pour pénétrer l'univers de Simenon."
"Word from the Publisher:
20th anniversary of the death of Simenon
Georges Simenon died September 4, 1989 at 3:30 a.m. Twenty years after the scattering of his ashes, the enigma of his work, one of the most read and commented on, remains intact. Never stingy with interviews, he appeared to be one of the most transparent of writers because of this availability. And if the flow of words was just a screen? In searching there for the nuggets to be extracted from the muddle, and comparing them to others, found in his letters or in his lesser known texts, Pierre Assouline presents the keys to discover, to understand, to penetrate the universe of Simenon."
more here

Regards,
Jérôme

Simenon contest
9/5/09 – There's a Simenon quiz contest here, where you can win a set of Tout Simenon, Maigret CDs, Assouline's new book...

Regards,
Jérôme

Simenon article in Le Figaro
9/6/09 – There's a new (9/4) article about Simenon in Le Figaro, here: Il était une fois... Georges Simenon by Jean-Marc Parisis...

In 1960, Georges Simenon presided over the Cannes Festival, where he encountered Jean Cocteau, whose "Le Testament d’Orphée" had just come out. (photo: Pat Morin/Le Figaro Magazine)

Regards,
Jérôme

Maigret Forum on Vacation
9/7/09 – New Forum items won't appear until Sept. 24, when I return to my computer...

Steve

Maigret of the Month: Maigret hésite (Maigret Hesitates)
9/25/09 –

1. A mini-analysis of the novel

In this novel, we find Maigret in an uncommon situation, similar to that of Maigret has Scruples, where a crime is announced in advance and where the Chief Inspector must lead an a priori investigation, in other words, before the murder has been committed. Maigret is faced with the challenge of discovering a murderer before he acts, and we realize how difficult and delicate the situation can be for the policeman, who must, here more than ever, base everything on his intuition, rather than facts, since before the crime, there are no physical clues to use...

Maigret, inserting himself into the life of a family with the task of discovering its secrets, naturally hesitates to name the future perpetrator (but how could he do otherwise?), and he cannot prevent the murder from taking place... In his feelings before the body of Mlle Vague, besides the fact that he felt for her a certain liking, isn't there perhaps some remorse for not having been able to act in time...

If Simenon places his Chief Inspector in a situation both artificial and difficult, it's because it allows him to develop a favorite theme, always present in his work, Maigrets and non-Maigrets included: that of responsibility, symbolized here by Article 64, which appears as a leitmotif. Maigret – and Simenon – refuse to judge, to assign culpability: the Chief Inspector arrests Mme Parendon because he has discovered the truth. It's certainly she who is guilty, that is, who has committed the crime, but is she responsible for her actions? Is her "madness" an excuse, an explanation, a justification?

I also like this novel because it is filled with allusions both to Maigret's memories and "sensations" (memories of youth and sensations of the manifestations of spring) and both the "method", or more exactly the manner in which Maigret leads an investigation, "immersion" into places, attempting to understand people's motivations, and his "ruminations" during the case...

Finally, the characters who people this novel make a fascinating gallery, whether hardly more than sketches, like the Parendons' staff, a little more detailed, like Bambi and Gus (and we note that the latter's motives for writing the anonymous letters to Maigret remain, in spite of everything, less than clear...), or stronger and more complete, like Parendon, his wife, and Mlle Vague.

All this results in a novel which cries out for cinematographic adaptation, which is perhaps the reason why the version with Bruno Crémer [Maigret chez les riches] is so splendid, in fact, the most successful episode of the series. The few modifications of the plot take nothing from its quality, and it's the setting for several memorable scenes, which encourage watching again... the meeting between Maigret and Parendon (masterfully interpreted by Michel Duchaussoy), or the scene where Ferdinand, the maître d', brings a plate of food to each of the family members, symbolically isolated in their rooms, as they are isolated in mutual incomprehension...

2. A story of a cat

"Standing before the window, he drank his wine in little sips, vaguely regarding the courtyard, which he saw for the first time empty of cars, with just an orange cat, who stretched out in a patch of sun. Since Lamure had told him that there were no animals in the house, outside of a parrot, it must have been a neighborhood cat who had sought out a peaceful spot." (Ch. 6)

There are few animals in the Maigrets. Some allusions to the chickens and rabbits that the Chief Inspector was reluctant to kill in his childhood, some dogs (among them a yellow one, above all...), one or two horses (often hitched to a hearse), the singing of the birds in spring, a shy squirrel and some fish. But if the world of the Chief Inspector has relatively few animals, the one most often cited is probably the cat.

When Simenon introduces an animal in a description or a plot, it's never without a reason, no more than when he mentions a barge passing on the Seine, or a light from a streetlamp in the night... All these details serve to emphasize an "atmosphere", to introduce a nuance into the tempo of the action or into the feelings of the Chief Inspector with regard to his case... Thus, the orange cat which stretches himself out in the sun mentioned above, contrasts, in its peaceful image, with the heavy atmosphere of the Parendon house after the discovery of the murder.

If you will, let's review several cats discovered in the corpus...

  • In The Yellow Dog, Maigret and Leroy observe, in the silence of the night, the scene of Emma and Léon's reunion. Emma is about to leave for the abandoned house:

    "A shadow on the roughcast whitewashed wall which separates the garden from the empty house and the alleyway. ... Above, the man was still asleep, near his candle. A gooseberry bush creaked in the garden. A cat ran along a gutter."

    Everything here creates an image: Emma's shadow, the silhouette of the sleeping Léon, the only noise that of the creaking of a bush, like a light hiss, and the only witness to the scene, besides Maigret and Leroy who watch from afar, is the cat who runs away at Emmas steps...

  • The novel The Bar on the Seine opens with an image of radiant summer, with the sun and happy passers-by. To emphasize the scene, and the contrast with the following text, here is what Maigret finds on arriving at the prison where Lenoir will learn that he will be executed:

    "When Maigret arrived at the back door of Santé Prison, the sentry, moved, was watching a little white cat playing with the dairy dog."

    What a contrast between the innocence of this little cat of guileless white (who moreover is playing with the dog of a dairy, which leads us to think of the whiteness of the milk products...), observed with tenderness by a character whose work consists of guarding a place where men are locked up...

    complete article
    original French

    Murielle Wenger

Simenon self-portrait up for auction
9/25/09 – This was up for sale at Bloomsbury Auctions last week:

The listing:

138. Georges SIMENON (Belgian, 1903 - 1989)
Self-portrait. ink on personal stationary, 1975
10 1/2 x 8 1/8 inches (270 x 210 mm)
signed
Britton, p. 203
est. $700 – $1000
(unsold)

Murielle

The 14 Bruno Cremer Maigrets issued on volumes 21 - 27
9/25/09 –
VolumeSeriesNumber
2114
 1454
2228
 311
2311
 314
2412
 418
2513
 315
2627
 521
2715
 29

Volume 21 has been released with English subtitles (I have a copy). A collection No 5 (vol 21 - 25) is available, as are Vols 26 and 27. I dont know whether they have English subtitles or not. If anyone can confirm this important point I would be grateful for the information.

On the subject of the Bruno Cremer series can somebody explain why the characters Lucas, Janvier, Lapointe, and Torrence, if they appear at all, occupy a very low profile, which is surprising as in the books and the English portrayals they have a high profile.

Regards
M. Cooke


see discussion beginning 8/31/09

Georges Simenon, romancier - video online
9/25/09 – Simenon interview online here.

Roddy

Simenon statue in Liège
10/01/09 – I went to an expo in Liege of the famous Belgian Painter Paul Delvaux. I was unsure of the exact location of the venue but ended up on a city bus that dropped me nearly at the door. It wasn't far from the Place St. Lambert so I walked back. I came upon the back of the city hall and turned into Square Maigret and got a big surprise. There was a new statue of Simenon there. Here are a few photos...

Regards
Joe Richards
13 février 2004

Cloture de « Wallonie 2003, Année Simenon au Pays de Liège »
(Province, Ville et Université de Liè)

Œuvre du sculpteur Roger LENERTZ et des « Carrières des Sprimont »
sur un idée de « la Libre Belgique - Gazette de Liège »
avec l'aimable autorisation de Monsieur John Simenon,
avec le soutien de « l'Office de promotion du tourisme Wallonie Bruxelles »,
de la société « Georges Simenon Family Rights Ltd. »,
ainsi que des maisons d'éditions
« Georges Simenon Ltd (a Chorion Company) » (GB), « Gallimard » (F),
« Les Presses de la Cité » (F), « Tusquets Editores » (SP) and « Adelphi Edizioni » (I).

February 13, 2004

The closing of "Wallonia 2003, Simenon Year in Liège Country"
(Province, City and University of Liège)

The work of sculptor Roger Lenertz and "Carrières des Sprimont"
based on an idea from "La Libre Belgique - Gazette de Liège"
with the kind authorization of Mr. John Simenon,
with the support of "The Office of Tourism Promotion, Wallonia, Brussels",
the society, "Georges Simenon Family Rights Ltd.",
as well as the publishing houses
"Georges Simenon Ltd (a Chorion Company)" (GB), "Gallimard" (F),
"Les Presses de la Cité" (F), "Tusquets Editores"; (SP) and "Adelphi Edizioni" (I).

(see also Joe's photo visit to the Maigret statue in Delfzijl, here)

Where are the "Faithful Four" in the Cremer Series?
10/01/09 – "(Why in) ... the Bruno Cremer series ... do the characters Lucas, Janvier, Lapointe, and Torrence ... occupy a very low profile...?" (9/25/09)

This is probably more of a comment than a question from M. Cooke. Movies usually divert from books (which explains why I never met anyone who said a movie is better than a book). Amount of exposure, which is time an actor appears on screen, is subject to competitive demands from actors. 'Stars' get first consideration, of course. Some stars agree to share more of the the 'limelight, some want most of it for themselves. I never seen any other Maigret but the one with Michael Gambon, where I would say all actors are given exposure appropriate to importance of the characters they play.

Regards,
Vladimir

Simenon in Le Magazine Littéraire and Le Monde
10/01/09 – Here's an article on Simenon, by Anne Serre, Le nez de Simenon, from Le Magazine Littéraire...

10/3/09 – And another, from Le Monde, Un fils de Georges Simenon étudie l'idée d'une "Maison Simenon" à Liège, on the creation of a "Maison Simenon" in Liège.

Roddy

London: Discussion about Simenon's Work
10/07/09 –
When: October 13, 2009, 7:00 PM

Where: London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London, UK

John Banville and John Gray discuss the work of Georges Simenon.

Roddy

New Maigret in Polish
10/09/09 –
Another new Maigret published in Poland - Maigret et Monsieur Charles

Przemyslaw

Simenon et les Charentais
10/10/09 –
"Georges Simenon a vécu moins de six ans à Marsilly et Nieul-sur-Mer, en Charente-Maritime. Jusqu'à la fin de sa vie, il restera attaché à cette région qui est évoquée dans trente-quatre romans et nouvelles. Par Paul Mercier, photos : Thierry Girard."

 
An article in L'Actualité Poitou-Charentes #53, Simenon et les Charentais.

Jérôme

An Article and a Video on Simenon
10/19/09 –

An article at Sudouest.com,
« Simenon ne mentait pas »

and a video from France 3,
Liège rend hommage à Georges Simenon

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: L'ami d'enfance de Maigret (Maigret's Boyhood Friend)
10/22/09 –

Two principal lines underlie this novel... one, the "portrait of a failure", the description of the character Florentin, and the other the evocation, in little touches, of Maigret's childhood memories. If we've had, in several preceding novels of the corpus, allusions to the Chief Inspector's childhood, here it's rather the years of his youth that are recalled... friendships at lycée and first loves.

Léon Florentin is one of the gallery of "failures" across Simenon's works, and not only in the Maigrets. These men who cling to their illusions, who delude, but who, in the end, have done nothing with their lives.

If we think about it, Maigret's childhood memories, except for some nostalgic mentions of light, colors, or odors, are almost never positive. Simenon is always confronting his character with images showing what's behind the scenes, which "dirty", in a way, the memories Maigret holds of his earliest years. The venerated Countess is no more than an old woman with gigolos; the aristocratic château has been bought by a vulgar butcher; and his childhood friends have, almost without exception, become contemptible beings... Fumal (ECH), Malik (FAC) or Florentin, none merit Maigret's consideration. Chabot (PEU) is hardly much better off — he too has aged poorly. Jorissen (REN) is colorless, and Bouchardon (FIA), a ceremonious fool without even the merit of recognizing Maigret! It's further indicative to note that not one of his schoolmates at lycée is mentioned in Maigret's Memoirs. Almost as if the Chief Inspector, in the end, was the only one to "succeed" in life...

Maigret, in fact, spends his time trying to escape from these childhood memories, or at least from people he'd known back then, keeping only the slightly faded image of his father and a few colored patches, warm and tender of a mother too soon gone... And even this image of his father is not immune from attack... the Chief Inspector is hardly allowed to visit his grave (FIA) when the spineless Florentin is allowed to sully the memory of his venerated father. So even if the memories evoked in this novel are more focused on the lycée period, we find here that after the death of the Countess and the purchase of the château by Fumal, Florentin's words about Maigret's father, along with the slightly uncomfortable memory of the young girl at the Moulins bakery, make up the "final attack on Saint-Fiacre". In the last novels of the corpus, the allusions to Maigret's childhood will be no more than puffs - nostalgic but agreeable - as if the Chief Inspector - and his creator - had, in the soothing serenity of advancing age, settled accounts definitively with his childhood...

Besides Florentin, two other characters occupy front stage in this novel, two women apparently different, but who in the end are similar in one point of their destiny... Josée, who has herself kept by men, offering them moments of intimacy in exchange; and the concierge, Mme Blanc, who exploits what she's seen for blackmail. If Josée personifies a certain softness, and Mme Blanc, hardness, it's true nonetheless that each in her own way profited from the situation to ensure their living. Putting material security above all, ignoring their feelings. They are both part of those women eager for gain whom we meet more than once in the corpus, and in Simenon's other works. Josée, who knows how to rely on men, reminds us of Hélène Lange (VIC) who also draws a profit from masculine naiveté. Mme Blanc is not satisfied to be a shrewish concierge, as so often met by Maigret, brooding over her misfortunes so she can blame the whole world, but goes further. Not content to suffer her fate, she revolts in her own way, taking advantage of the situation. And if Josée and Hélène Lange are stronger than the men, they nonetheless share the same destiny... to die a violent death — as if, in a way, they had to pay for their attempt at domination over the males. Mme Blanc, on the other hand, remains unpunished, as if her "offense" were less grave: she profited from men, certainly, but overtly. She did not employ pretense and hypocrisy, unlike Josée and Hélène Lange...


original French

Murielle Wenger

Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret 5... subtitles?
10/25/09 – Could a French speaking contributor please find out whether the Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret No 5 collection and volume 26 have been issued with English subtitles? I have Nos 1 to 4, which have them. However on these pages there has been a doubt raised about this. Information on this point would be invaluable and much appreciated.

Regards
M. Cooke

Liege City Blog - Simenon Tower
10/27/09 – Liege City Blog - Simenon Tower

Roddy

Two Articles from Le Figaro
10/27/09 –
Le directeur général de la police nationale :

Frédéric Péchenard : «Maigret, c'est moi !»
 

On Assouline's new "Simenon Dictionary":

Simenon de A à Z

Roddy

Re: Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret 5... subtitles?
10/29/09 – Without speaking French, I guess that probably the Bruno Cremer Maigret DVD sold in France does not have English subtitles, but that sold in UK does. This may be good good news for M. Cooke who is wondering if Bruno Cremer Maigret series 5 has English subtitles.
I found a set on British Amazon, which says that does have English subtitles. If you go to Amazon.co.uk and search Maigret, you get a choice of several editions sorted by star actor. Clicking Bruno Cremer brings a box with same picture as in M. Cookie's letter, and information in seller's section list English subtitles in DVD description.

Cheers.
Vladimir


(Sorry - box image shown is for an earlier boxed set - ST)

Re: What to read that's like Maigret?
11/1/09 – I can highly recommend Nicolas Freeling's Van der Valk novels. They (and possibly his Castang series although I haven't read any) are heavily influenced by Simenon. This debt is explicitly mentioned a few times when Van der Valk, himself is a Maigret fan, sometimes wonders what Maigret would have done in a given situation. The Dutch detective even visits the Maigret statue in Delfzijl in the last Van der Valk book written - Sand Castles.

Van de Valk series

  • Love in Amsterdam (1962), aka Death in Amsterdam
  • Because of the Cats (1963)
  • Gun Before Butter (1963), aka Question of Loyalty
  • Double-Barrel (1964)
  • Criminal Conversation (1965)
  • The King of the Rainy Country (1966)
  • Strike Out Where Not Applicable (1967)
  • Tsing-Boum! (1969)
  • The Lovely Ladies (1971), aka Over the High Side
  • A Long Silence (1972), aka Aupres de ma Blonde
  • The Widow (1979) (features Mrs Van der Valk only)
  • One Damn Thing After Another(1981), aka Arlette (features Mrs Van der Valk only)
  • Sand Castles (1989)

Henri Castang series

  • A Dressing of Diamonds (1974)
  • What are the Bugles Blowing For? (1975), aka The Bugles Blowing
  • Sabine (1976), aka Lake Isle
  • The Night Lords (1978)
  • Castang's City (1980)
  • Wolfnight (1982)
  • The Back of the North Wind (1983)
  • No Part in Your Death (1984)
  • Cold Iron (1986)
  • Lady Macbeth (1988)
  • Not as Far as Velma (1989)
  • Those in Peril (1990)
  • Flanders Sky (1992), aka The Pretty How Town
  • You Who Know (1994)
  • The Seacoast of Bohemia (1994)
  • A Dwarf Kingdom (1996)

Graeme Sutherland

More on “Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret 5... subtitles?”
11/5/09 – I went and searched Amazaon.co.uk. I could not find Coffret 5. 1-4 have subtitles; 5 may be available in France without subtitles but I do not think it is available elsewhere with subtitles. Maybe it will just be a matter of time. However, if anyone finds Coffret 5 with subtitles, I would think that to be major news for our Forum!

And... regarding “What to Read that’s like Maigret.”
My response is: nothing. There are other writers with plot similarities, and other writers who can create atmosphere, such as Dorothy Sayers with the Wimsey-Vane novels for post-Edwardian England, Conan-Doyle at his best for Victorian England, Daphne du Maurier or John Buchan for landscapes in Cornwall and Scotland ... but no one to my mind is like Simenon’s Maigret. His atmospheres are more internal than external, or perhaps it’s that the cityscape is noir-painting from the inside-out. To me, reading a Maigret is like being in a place, and that place is uniquely a Simenon matter.

Stephen Cribari

Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret 5
11/6/09 – Maigret Coffret No.5 - There are English subtitles. All Cremer coffrets have English subtitles as had the two-disc releases up to number 21, the others (vol 22 - 27) do not have any subtitles.

Mattias Siwemyr

Bruno Crémer Maigret Coffret 5
11/6/09 – I checked this afternoon the coffret 5 ( volume 21 to 25) and it is in French with no English sub-titles from what I saw at the back of the box. Older coffrets like coffret 2 had the mention "english subtitles" on them.

Regards
Jérôme

Maigret and Cognac

11/6/09 – Thanks to Murielle Gigandet, I heard about a book by Paul Mercier, "La botte secrète de Maigret: Le verre de Cognac". The book is about Maigret and the use of cognac while questioning people. I managed to get a copy thanks to the publisher who sent me one. It is a short book (92 pages), sponsored by the departement des Charentes, where Cognac is located.

Regards
Jérôme

Visitor Globe
11/9/09 – Click on the globe or press the "End" key on your keyboard to go to the bottom of the page and you'll see the new "RevloverMap" that records your location when you vist this page... Suggested by Przemek... who keeps us updated on new Maigrets appearing in Polish... Thanks Przemek!

Simenon Tour in Liege by Little Christmas Train
11/24/09 – Noël en petit train - Sur les traces de Simenon: Nov. 27 - Dec 30 - Place Saint-Lambert, Tivoli side...

The tour will visit places Simenon knew, some of which may surprise you, like La Caque, the artists' hangout frequented by young Sim, described in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien. Your guide, Jean-Denys Boussart, mayor of Saint-Pholien, created this tour dedicated to the noted author.

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le tueur (Maigret and the Killer)
11/25/09 –

1. Mini-analysis of the novel

This novel is split into two large parts. In the first, the author paints a sort of picture of the life of the districts of Paris. It's as if Simenon wants to offer us a condensation of the various milieus of the capital... thus the author leads us successively into the district where the Maigrets live, that of "little people", craftsmen and shopkeepers, then into the well-to-do Ile Saint-Louis (where the Batilles live), then, with the aid of the recordings made by young Antoine, into the cafés of the Bastille district, whose habitués are underworld types. It's a chance for the author to describe to us the ambiance of the cafés where Maigret feels comfortable, in contrast with the muffled atmosphere of Tout-Paris – the Paris smart set, represented by the Batilles. And without missing a chance to show us the closeness of the Maigret couple.

Up until the middle of the novel, we witness a parade of images, like "flashes", as if Simenon were enjoying recalling for us all the different milieus in which Maigret had led his investigations.

And then, after an episode almost out of Rocambole, the arrest of the gang of thieves, as if the author were showing us that if he wanted to, he could also write us an "American-style action novel", with suspense and exciting arrests, suddenly the tone changes in Ch. 5, which begins the second part of the novel. The playing is over. Maigret attends Antoine's funeral, and we are brought back to reality – someone has been killed in this story, and the killer has to be found.

The author presents us with a few more of the victim's traits, by way of questioning his schoolmates and his girlfriend, and then, while we might imagine that Maigret will focus, as he often does, on the life of the victim, the projector changes its target once more... it's the murderer who will take front stage. And thus begins the second part of the novel, where the author will ask, once again, one of his fundamental and permanent questions, that of human responsibility, in particular when one has committed murder.

After the killer sends a letter to a newspaper, he regularly phones Maigret, and the Chief Inspector himself will constantly try to understand the personality of his caller and gain his trust, to have him give himself up. So we observe a "demonstration" of Maigret's faculty of empathy, as summed up in this sentence Simenon attributes to Mme Maigret, certainly the person who understands best, "from the inside" the reactions of the Chief Inspector. "She knew hardly more than the newspapers, but what the newspapers didn't realize, was how much energy he put into trying to understand, the kind of concentration he brought into play during the course of certain investigations. You could say that he identified with those he tracked, and that he suffered the same torments they did."

The tragic confession of the killer leaves us with a bitter taste. He relieves himself of his anguish, putting his fate in Maigret's hand, but his situation will be no better than before... the care he needs will not be given, and he will be condemned to an "ordinary" detention, with no true hope for recovery. How better could the author have expressed his feeling of the uselessness of the justice of men faced with the question, with no answer, or responsibility...

2. To the movies, for a change of ideas

At the end of Ch. 4, Maigret phones his wife to tell her he'll be home for dinner, and he suggests going to the movies, "for a change of ideas".

If Maigret likes going to the movies, it's not so much for the film itself – he's simple enough in his taste on that point – he likes westerns, and comedies from the 20s and 30s, Chaplin, and Laurel and Hardy (NEW). In fact, what he likes about the movies, is going there accompanied by his wife.

From the beginning of the corpus, there have been few allusions to the cinema. It was while following Pietr le Letton (LET) that he entered a movie theater, where a "puerile film" was showing. Maigret hardly watched the screen, satisfied to mull over his investigation. It's somewhat the same "technique" that he uses in the memorable scene in CEC, where we see "Maigret, his two hands in his pockets, pipe in his teeth, strolling down Boulevard Montparnasse, looking grouchy. He stops in front of a movie theater". He asks for a seat in the balcony, settles himself in, encased in his overcoat, and "in that state of physical numbness, his thoughts, like in dreams, sometimes going to the absurd, followed paths that pure reason wouldn't have discovered... And that's how he thinks without thinking, in snatches, by pieces of ideas which he doesn't try to put end to end."

But aside from this "professional" use of the cinema, it's above all for the pleasure of sharing a good moment with Mme Maigret that the Chief Inspector goes to the movies. And it's especially in the Presses de la Cité period, where Mme Maigret takes on greater importance, that we see the couple going off, arm in arm, to a local movie house, for example on Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle (BAN, CLI), or Boulevard des Italiens (MME), or, more rarely, to one of the big theaters on the Champs-Elysées (AMU).

3. Maigret's leisure time...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

New Maigrets in Hungarian
12/1/09 –
Two titles have been published in Hungarian by Park Publ. Co.:

Maigret és a félarcú ember
Monsieur Gallet, décédé

Maigret és a hajnali vendég. Válogatott novellák
Tout Maigret. Les nouvelles

This is a link to Maigret card. It helps readers to order the missing titles. 34 novels and 4 short stories in the last volume have been published so far.

I enjoy your site, it helps to refresh my English and French.

Congratulations and best wishes,
Viola Bátonyi
from Budapest

12/509 – Here are the short stories in the volume Tout Maigret. Les nouvelles:
Hétfő úr / Monsieur Lundi
Pigalle utca / Rue Pigalle
A bayeux-i gazdag özvegy / La vieille dame de Bayeux
A vízbefúltak fogadója / L' Auberge aux Noyés
A hajnali vendég / L'étoile du Nord

Georget and "Trois bénédictions un matin"?
12/5/09 – I read a short story in a Hungarian anthology (publ. in 1967) which reminds me very much of the story, "Le témoignage de l'enfant de choeur" (cho) [Hungarian: A ministránsgyerek vallomása]. It is not a murder, only a simple story of a young boy who serves every morning at the benediction for the dead in the church of the hospital. A cold, foggy morning a man stops him and promises him a bicycle if he unbolts the door between the church and the hospital. He does it and feels very guilty, tries to confess but finally he keeps his secret. He gets the bicycle and his family thinks that an aunt has sent it. The name of the boy is Georget – maybe an autobiographical story? The name of his nasty classmate is Gallet.

Can you help me find the French title of the story and when was it published for the first time? The Hungarian title is: "Trois bénédictions un matin".

Thank you very much and best wishes,
Viola Bátonyi
from Budapest


The Hungarian title is close to the original: "Le matin des trois absoutes" (The morning of the three absolutions). It was first published in Gringoire, March 21, 1940, then in the short story collection, La rue aux trois poussins [Three Chicks Street] (the name of the first story), in 1963.

ST

Mysterious Blue Bottle
12/17/09 – First a big thank you for your Maigret site – it’s by far the best and every time I return I see new stuff which is fantastic.

There was some discussion (2/11/99) about the blue bottle Simenon was talking about [in Maigret at the Coroner's]. The one we thought might contain Alka Seltzer. Someone on your site mentioned a different name, “Bromo Seltzer” (2/20/99) – I searched and found this picture... I hope this helps to clarify the issue.

I have picked up your search for the Viennese Lamplighter as I thought as a native German speaker it's easier for me to trawl the Austrian and German sites. No luck so far but I keep looking.

Keep going with your fantastic site
Cheerio
Markus

Boire, boire, boire!
12/20/09 – Am I alone in perceiving the entire Maigret saga as one long pub crawl punctuated by fits of detection? Even allowing for certain peculiarities of French culture, I have no hesitation in pronouncing Commissaire Maigret an alcoholic. Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez, vous autres?

John H. Dirckx


some references:
Maigret's Paris, Conserved and Distilled, Gurr
Why Maigret Drinks Beer, Simenon.
The Paradoxical M. Maigret, Vialette.
The Role of Alcohol and Drinking in George Simenon's Maigret Novels, Culinary Historians of Boston.
Simenon: Learning to Drink American Style, Goodwin.

ST

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et le marchand de vin (Maigret and the Wine Merchant)
12/21/09 –

The entire structure of this novel is built on a binary principle of opposition, of contrast. Here are some determining elements...

  • First, the novel opens on a "parallel investigation" by Maigret, who is interrogating young Stiernet, even though it isn't this affair of the murder of an elderly woman which will occupy most of the plot.

  • Next, if at first the Chief Inspector focuses his investigation on the wine merchant, in other words, on the entourage of the victim, soon his attention will become concentrated on the murderer, and he will take first place in Maigret's preoccupations. Once more, the Chief Inspector will be interested in the reasons that push a man to commit a murder, which will lead him, if not to excuse, at least to understand those reasons. From there the novel concentrates on the relationship between the murderer and the Chief Inspector, and Simenon renews the thread used in the preceding novel, to the point of reusing similar elements, such as the phone calls from the murderer to Maigret, and the final visit to the Chief Inspector's home.

    However, with certain nuances... If, in TUE, Maigret – and Simenon behind him - were ready to excuse the Robert Bureau's action (his murderous impulses were caused by mental illness), in this novel, the Chief Inspector, while he feels a certain sympathy for Pigou, is however less prepared to admit that one can kill for humiliation. Maigret had certainly listened to Pigou, agreed with him that Chabut was someone hard, but the Chief Inspector tells him that Chabut himself had been humiliated, and that murder wasn't justified. Two passages in the novel apply here... In Ch. 7, Maigret says to Pigou: "He [Chabut] also needed to reassure himself... Each of us is more or less to be pitied. I try to understand. I make no attempt to assign responsibility to everyone." Maigret, it appears, had felt, if not sympathy, at least a certain attraction to Chabut's personality, and if he pitied Pigou, he did not excuse his actions. Consider the second passage, the last lines of the novel, which we can contrast with those of TUE:

    "From his box, Bureau found Maigret eyes, and give him a resigned smile. He seemed to say, "As I expected, isn't it?" When Maigret left, his shoulders were a little heavier." (TUE)

    "On the landing, Pigou turned. He had tears in his eyes. He looked at Maigret once more, as if to give himself courage. But wasn't it by self-pity that he was moved?" (VIN)

    These last words are significant. Maigret feels compassion for Pigou, but recognizes that Pigou had seen but his own humiliation when he had killed Chabut, and that he hadn't hesitated to end a human life to avenge that humiliation.

  • Other elements of the principle of contrast are presented. For example, the opposition between two worlds, two social levels. On one hand, the opulent world into which Chabut had introduced himself "by his own strength", a world summed up by images of the Place des Vosges apartment, the Avenue de l'Opéra offices, Mme Blanche's, and the fashionable relationships of Mme Chabut; and on the other hand, the world of Chabut's roots, represented by his father's little bistro, and the warehouses of Quai de Bercy.

  • And finally we note the opposition between the cold and snowy world of December, the world of outdoors, and the world of "inside", that of the cozy apartment where Maigret takes refuge, filled with the odors of framboise, the Sunday roast, which brings to the Chief Inspector "whiffs of his childhood". Between these two worlds, Maigret brings his cold, protected by the muffler knitted by Mme Maigret, and his cold gives him an excuse to let himself be "pampered" by his wife, a pleasure he seems to grudgingly accept... "pretending to grumble".
Murielle Wenger

original French

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