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Maigret Forum Archives 2012

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Jérôme  

re: New Maigret in Hungarian
1/2/12 – To supplement David Derrick's remarks on the branding by Chorion, and thanks to the work done with Murielle, we can show where this branding appears... in the following editions (+Hungarian):


Latvian

Norwegian

Portuguese

Romanian

Spanish

Catalan

Czech

Korean

Finnish

French

Italian

Estonian

Jérôme

Seeking Maigret Tapes
1/12/12 – I enjoy greatly my tapes of Geoffrey Hutchings reading Maigret stories. I have them all except for this one, Madame Maigret's Admirer, which is proving elusive...

Any chance I could get these from someone? I could send blank tapes for someone to make a copy or a CD for MP3 files. (Please reply to epigraph55@hotmail.co.uk).

Your site continues to be an excellent resourse for us Maigretphiles - many thanks!

Keith

Maigret of the Month: Vente à la bougie (Sale by auction)

1/29/12 – As mentioned in the previous Maigret of the month for L'homme dans la rue [The man in the street], the story we are concerned with today was published for the first time in the weekly, Sept Jours, for April 20 and 27, 1941. The first publication in a collection was in the volume, Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue [Maigret and the little pigs without tails], published for the first time in August, 1950. That volume included 9 stories, of which only two were Maigrets. It's a rather disparate collection, since the stories included were published at very different dates. Below is a list of these stories, in the order in which they appear in the volume, along with an indication of their dates and places of writing...

  • Les petits cochons sans queue [The little pigs without tails], Nov. 28, 1946, Bradenton Beach (Florida). We note that Maigret doesn't appear in this story, which gives its name to the title of the volume... the title was probably chosen for marketing purposes, as the book was included in Presses de la Cité's "collection Maigret", and using the Chief Inspector's name no doubt contributed to sales...

  • Sous peine de mort [On pain of death], November 24, 1946, Bradenton Beach. A story without Maigret, not to be confused with Peine de mort [Death Penalty], in which Maigret does appear.

  • Le petit tailleur et le chapelier [The little tailor and the hat maker], April 1, 1947, Bradenton Beach. A story without Maigret (see an interesting note about it here at Repérages).

  • Un certain monsieur Berquin, August 28, 1946, Saint Andrews (Canada), a story without Maigret.

  • L'escale de Buenaventura [The stop at Buenaventura], August 31, 1946, Saint Andrews, a story without Maigret.

  • The next two stories are Maigrets, L'homme dans la rue [The man in the street] and Vente à la bougie [Sale by auction], both written in 1939 at Nieul-sur-Mer (Charente-Maritime).

  • Le deuil de Fonsine [Mourning for Fonsine], January 9, 1945, Les Sables-d'Olonne (Vendée), a story without Maigret.

  • Madame Quatre et ses enfants [Mme Quatre and her children], January 1945, Les Sables-d'Olonne, a story without Maigret.

This short story assembles in its few pages, the essential ingredients of a Maigret investigation... distinctive characters, clues unraveled by Maigret, who arrives at the truth "without seeming to", the Chief Inspector's method of questioning, keeping the suspects "out of breath, minute by minute, having them repeat 10 times the same actions, the same words". And if the story, a murder committed by a woman to keep the man she loves and trump her young rival, could have taken place anywhere at all, the author however decided to set it in the marshes of Vendée, whose humid atmosphere of a rainy January emphasizes the sordid side. Maigret, assigned – for some reason – to the flying squad at Nantes, installs himself in an isolated inn at Pont-du-Grau, battered by wind and rain, and with glasses of white wine, beer and calvados, tries to untangle the knot of the plot, where the theft of a well-filled wallet could be attributed to any of the protagonists... all could have had an interest in taking a large sum... But which went all the way?

It's probably this theme of a "motive available to all" which allowed the scenarists of the episode adapted for the series with Bruno Crémer, to modify the story and change the guilty party! Otherwise, this episode is one of the best of the series, and I encourage you to see it, to see how a skillful scenarist, knowledgeable of Maigret's world, manages to draw from a few pages, a successful and convincing adaptation...

Murielle Wenger

original French

Maigret (Bruno Cremer series) DVDs
2/2/12 – MHz Networks, which has broadcast the Bruno Cremer series in the US for many years, will be releasing a DVD set containing six of the episodes on February 21. See their announcement here.

Importantly, three of the episodes included (GRA, FLA, COR) are from One Plus One's Coffret #5, which had no subtitles. It appears these episodes will now be available for the first time with English subtitles on Region 1 (US) DVDs. Labeled as "Set 1," there is hope that MHz plans to release more (all?) of the 54 episodes (including the 12 previously not available with subtitles).

Joe Covey

Italian Simenon Site Considers Maigret Codes

2/3/12 – Murielle sent a link to an Italian Simenon site, which has an article (in Italian, but try translate.google.com) about our 3-letter Maigret codes (AMI, LET...)


Here's John H. Dirckx's translation:

Thursday, January 26, 2012
SIMENON. MAIGRET CATALOG LIKE MOZART?
The eclectic Steve Trussel

Cataloguing is an essential procedure in many fields of specialized scholarship. An outstanding example is the index of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compiled by the Austrian musicologist Ludwig von Köchel, which is the basis for the alphanumeric symbols that follow the titles of Mozart’s compositions. Thus, the Rondo in B♭ major is also known as K. 269, where K. stands for Köchel and 269 indicates the position of the work in chronological sequence.

Although few may be aware of it, there is also a catalogue of the cases of Inspector Maigret, both novels and short stories. This is the creation of the versatile and ingenious Steve Trussel, whose system is based on abbreviations of the French titles of the works.

Each abbreviation consists of three consecutive letters taken from a distinctive word in the title in question; none are acronyms. Rather than listing the works in chronological order, Trussel’s catalogue alphabetizes these abbreviations. Thus, the first entry is AMI, for Mon ami Maigret (1949), and the last, No. 103, is VOY, for Maigret voyage (1957). Capital letters are used for the titles of novels, lowercase letters for short stories: No. 13, ceu, stands for the story Ceux du Grand Café (1938); No. 91, sta, for Stan le tueur (1937).

One can’t really describe this catalogue as intuitive. It’s more like a code with a key. The very first Maigret (at least by common consent), Pietr-le-Letton (1931), appears as No. 50 under the symbol LET, while the last, Maigret et Monsieur Charles (1972), is No. 14, symbol CHA.

But, as in all disciplines, none of this is set in concrete. There’s no reason why someone else, perhaps an Italian, can’t come up with a new system of classification--let’s hope a bit less cryptic--that includes all of Simenon’s works. The job is there waiting for anybody who wants to tackle it.

• For those who want the complete list (highlighted in red with the letters forming the initials) can click here on Cataloguing Trussel.


You can see the page here: SIMENON SIMENON

ST

Maigret's favourite dishes
2/5/12 – I don’t know where I got the idea, certainly from one of the books, that Maigret’s favourite dish is Spaghetti Milanese? Am I right? I’ve just read Maigret et la vieille dame where you don’t really get anything about his preferences as far as food goes, but he does drink a lot of calvados. Could anyone help me regarding Maigret’s favourite food and drink? What I’m especially interested in is whether I’m right about the spaghetti.

Thanks,
Francois Smith


The only spaghetti recipe in Simenon et Maigret passent à table (Madame Maigret's Recipes) is for Spaghetti alla Carbonara [LOG]. But there's a reference for Spaghetti Milanese (here):

M sat down with Martine Gilloux at Gino's, ordered the hors d'oeuvre and spaghetti Milanese. [ECH]

ST

Maigret of the Month: La pipe de Maigret (Maigret's Pipe)

2/19/12 –

Bibliographic points1

In November, 1944, while Simenon was staying in Sables-d'Olonne, he received a letter from a young publisher of Danish origin, Sven Nielsen, requesting him to write a preface for a book translated from Norwegian, entitled Traqué [Hunted]. Writing prefaces was an exercise to which Simenon was hardly accustomed, but, contrary to all expectations, he read the proofs, and wrote an enthusiastic preface, for which he refused any payment. Sven Nielsen, in gratitude, presented him with a pipe for Christmas of 1944.

In the spring of 1945, Simenon spent some time in Paris, and he was able to meet with Nielsen. This was the beginning of a long friendship. Simenon asked Nielsen to become his exclusive publisher, once he was free of the contract binding him to Gallimard until 1946. In the meantime, he offered to the publisher, to begin his house, an unpublished manuscript, written during the winter of 1940-1941, called Pedigree. The book appeared in December, 1945, under the title Je me souviens [I remember].

During that year, 1945, Simenon divided his time, awaiting his departure for America in October, between stays in the Vendée, Paris and London. In June, while staying in a small hotel in the Rue de Turenne, he wrote a story, La pipe de Maigret. It was the first time he'd taken up his character since L'inspecteur cadavre [CAD], written in March, 1943. In August, 1945, during a stay in Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry, near Morsang, where he'd written the first Maigret novels, perhaps inspired by that memory, he wrote a short novel, Maigret se fâche [FAC], which appeared as a serial in Pierre Pierre Lazareff's brand new journal, France-Soir, from March to May, 1946. These two texts would be united into a single volume, which would be the first of the Collection Maigret to appear from the Presses de la Cité, in 1947, with the title, La pipe de Maigret.

While the non-Maigret novels were published in heavy patterned cardboard, the Maigret's only had a thin board without pattern, but in contrast they had jackets decorated with gouache paintings.

In the Maigret of the month for Maigret se fâche, Peter Foord made an interesting remark regarding the original edition of the novel. He said that the original cover had the title La pipe de Maigret, suivie de Maigret se fâche [Maigret's Pipe, followed by Maigret in Retirement], a title which resulted in some confusion as to the status - novel or story - of the second text. The title on the jacket, on the other hand, was only La pipe de Maigret. However, even more interestingly, in the republications2 of the novel, where there is no longer a jacket, but just an illustrated cover with the same title, La pipe de Maigret, the opening page shows a different title: La pipe de Maigret, précédé de Maigret se fâche [Maigret's Pipe, preceded by Maigret in Retirement].

And indeed, in these new editions, the text of Maigret se fâche does precede that of La pipe de Maigret. We might wonder, in this case, why they didn't change the title of the book. Probably La pipe de Maigret was "catchier" and more meaningful, besides the fact that it was under this title that the book was known since its first publication...

Mini-analysis of the story

This story, the longest, after Un Noël de Maigret [noe], that Simenon wrote for the corpus of the investigations of the Chief Inspector, is also, in my opinion, one of the nicest. Here we find, condensed, diverse elements which evoke Maigret's world... A description of places in the PJ, a word on Mme Maigret her family, a few sentences on the Chief Inspector's favorite inspectors, a visit to Charenton, another to the banks of the Marne, and a portrait of Maigret taken from different angles, from a Maigret slow and heavy soaking up like a sponge the places he visits, to the Maigret carrying out an arrest by force, crushing a tough opponent with his weight.

But what's even more enjoyable is the illustration of Maigret's relationship with his pipe, which is for him more than a simple object... It's an indispensible accessory to the Chief Inspector's operation. That's what Joseph Leroy understood well, and his motive for stealing one of Maigret's pipes... This pipe that the policeman gripped between his teeth helped him to understand, to find the solution to a problem. Like the pencil of the writer, Maigret's pipe is the tool which permits him to apprehend the world.


(1) A good part of the above information is from the book, Simenon et la vraie naissance de Maigret, by Francis Lacassin.
(2) See on this site a series of cover images.

Murielle Wenger

original French

Maigret (Bruno Cremer) DVDs
2/6/12 – I visited MHz Networks, as suggested by Joe Covey, and it seems the company delivers to North America only. This may be related to the (now absurd) regional categorisation of DVDs. Any thoughts; do I have to find a friend in North America who will post it on?

Cheers
Don Greenfield

MHz Networks Maigret (Bruno Cremer) DVDs
2/21/12 – I purchased the MHz Networks Maigret now available in the U.S. Maybe I’m missing something, but I discovered something unexpected.

First, I’m thinking these first six from MHz Networks were the first six aired? It’s a very much younger Bruno Cremer and the episodes track the listing on the website (Maigret Films and TV) under Cremer’s name Second, there are six episodes of which four (not three) are from Coffret 5 (in which only two episodes were subtitled): Maigret in Montmartre (which in Coffret 5 appears with subtitles under the title Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit), Maigret and the Judge (La maison du juge), Maigret and the Flemmish Shop (Chez les flamands), and Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife (La grande perche). Maigret at the Crossroads (La nuit du carrefour) appears in Coffret 4 (I think).

What was surprising was that the sixth episode on the MHz issue, Maigret and the Headless Corpse (Le corps sans tête), does not seem to appear on Coffret 1-5. I was under the impression that the five sets contained all the Cremer Maigrets. So, questions: are there more episodes than appear in Coffret 1-5? Is MHz issuing the episodes in the order in which they aired (or were filmed)?

Stephen Cribari

re: MHz Networks Maigret (Bruno Cremer) DVDs
2/21/12 – In reply to Stephen Cribari, first, it certainly appears that the new coffret follows the chronological order of production. (see this link.)

And second, the 5 coffrets don't actually contain all the episodes: Each one has 10 episodes, and there are 54 episodes in all, so there are 4 which aren't in the coffrets. (see this link.)

Voici une réponse aux questions de Stephen Cribari:
1° Il semble bien que ce nouveau coffret suive l'ordre chronologique de production (voir ce lien)
2° Les 5 coffrets ne contenaient effectivement pas tous les épisodes: chaque coffret est fait de 10 épisodes, et il existe 54 épisodes en tout; donc, 4 épisodes n'étaient pas contenus dans les coffrets: voir ce lien

Murielle

re: MHz Networks Maigret (Bruno Cremer) DVDs
2/21/12 – A few clarifications about the MHz Maigret DVDs:

Stephen Cribari is correct that four of the six episodes in the new MHz Set #1 were part of One Plus One's Coffret #5. I didn’t mention Maigret in Montmartre (Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit) because, as noted, the One Plus One version does have subtitles. I was focusing on those without them. But I should have included Maigret and the Judge on my list. Sorry to not be more clear on these points.

The five coffrets appear to each contain 10 disks (episodes), for a total of 50. The remaining four episodes are available in the two-disk Volumes 26 and 27 (the latter includes Maigret et le corps sans tête). So technically the latter episode is not part of Coffret #5, but is among the previously unsubtitled releases.

Based on the chronology in Jacques-Yves Depoix’s Dossier Maigret - Les Enquêtes de Bruno Cremer, it appears MHz is releasing (and broadcasting) episodes in the order they were filmed (which differs somewhat from the order aired).

Sorry to hear from Dan Greenfield that MHz will only ship to North America. I imagine this is a consequence of the licensing agreement MHz must have entered into with One-Plus-One and/or other copyright holders.

Joe Covey

re: MHz Networks Maigret (Bruno Cremer) DVDs
2/23/12 – Thanks to everyone who responded. I was thinking that Coffret 5 contained fourteen episodes. Yes, I can count. Un, deux, trios..., but that doesn’t mean I did!

Stephen Cribari

Maigret's Names
2/25/12 – In the first place, my thanks for your site which I consult with enormous pleasure and equal reward.

I am reading my way through Tout Maigret (10 vols, Omnibus) and have reached L'Ecluse No. 1, the second story in Vol II. As your contributors note, the Bvd Edgar-Quinet has been reinstated as the Bvd Richard-Lenoir, but I also notice another anomaly. When on p. 149 of this edition (cap 5) Ducrau makes out a contract in which he offers Maigret employment, he asks his name. Maigret gives it as 'Joseph'. This is at at odds with the usual 'Jules', I believe . I cannot recall whether 'Jules' crops up in an earlier story (possibly L'affaire Saint Fiacre where he re-meets childhood acquaintances) but it is surely Maigret's 'normal' forename. Presumably this was another example of Simenon's mind wandering elsewhere.

Best wishes,
Jonathon Green


and further... (from the 1999 Archives)

Maigret's full name appears only twice in the Chronicles — differently each time! In "Maigret's First Case" [La première enquête de Maigret, 1913 (1949)], he worries about the report that will be written about him: Jules Amédée François Maigret. But in "Maigret's Revolver" [Le revolver de Maigret (1952)], he recalls that his American colleagues knew of his first two names, but not the third: Jules-Joseph Anthelme Maigret.

ST

Early Maigret
2/28/12 – Where on your website is the early Maigret story by "Georges Sim"? I would love to read it. Otherwise, do you know if it is available in print?

Thank you for a wonderful website that is such a tribute to an extraordinary man.

Bill Stephens


Here's "The House of Anxiety", a translation of "La Maison de l'inquiétude". I don't think La Maison de l'inquiétude is currently in print, but it's not hard to find copies on the web, at Amazon.fr or abe.com, etc.

ST

A new Maigret pastiche
3/2/12 – Maigret goes to Australia... but why? A new Maigret pastiche by Robert Townshend: Maigret's Long Reach.

Rob sent this link with a modest disclaimer, explaining, "I always wanted to write a Maigret story..."

Nice work, Rob!

ST

Maigret - adaptations for film and television
3/20/12 –

Maigret – novels and stories –
adaptations for the large and small screen

by Murielle Wenger

Original French

Three hundred adaptations... that's the number we arrive at for the novels and stories relating the cases of Chief Inspector Maigret. Of these 300, a mere 20 are films for the cinema, the remainder being adaptations for television, whether for a unique tele-film, or, for the great majority, episodes forming a series.

Three hundred adaptations for 75 novels and 28 stories... that implies clearly that certain texts have been more often adapted than others. Which, and for what reasons, is what we will try to discover in this study. (For supplementary details on the films mentioned, see this page at this site).

Once more, the analysis will be made considering the periods of writing of the texts, in other words, to see if the frequency of adaptation differs according to the period considered. Let's briefly examine the numbers...

  • The 19 novels of the Fayard period have had a total of 70 adaptations, averaging nearly four adaptations per novel.

  • The 21 stories written between the two wars (the 17 appearing in 1944 from Gallimard in the collection Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret, plus owe and ceu, + the two stories (hom et ven) published in 1950 by Presses de la Cité in the collection Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue) have had a total of 19 adaptations, which indicates, as we will see in more detail below, that certain stories have never been adapted, while others have been adapted a number of times.

  • The six novels from Gallimard have had 29 adaptations, an average of five per novel.

  • The six stories written after WWII have had 16 adaptations, for an average of nearly three per story.

  • The 50 novels of the Presses de la Cité period have had 160 adaptations, for an average of slightly more than three per novel.

The first element to consider is the success of the novels of the Gallimard period. Indeed, proportionally, these novels are favored by the adapters and directors of cinema and television. These are followed by the novels of the Fayard period, and those of the Presses de la Cité period are proportionally less often adapted.

However, these results should be qualified, for taken one by one, we can find fairly large differences among the novels. We'll examine this in more detail below.

  • Nine stories have never been adapted (these being pen, bea, pei, lar, pig, err, ber, ceu and Menaces de mort (men)), as well as one novel, Les mémoires de Maigret (MEM). However there are some interesting points to consider among these texts. I'm thinking in particular of the story, Mademoiselle Berthe et son amant, which would certainly make a fine tele-film. And it certainly would have been, if circumstances had permitted, a good subject for the Bruno Crémer series... And as for Les mémoires de Maigret, in spite of the staging difficulties inherent to this type of text, I think it has something which could be developed into a tele-film... for example, the beginning of the novel, telling of the meeting between the young Sim and the Chief Inspector...

  • We find next a series of texts with but a single adaptation...

    Complete text
    Original French

Maigret of the Month: Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux (Maigret and the Surly Inspector)

3/25/12 –

While the stories which will be studied in the next three MoMs (cho, obs, pau) are part of a 1947 collection with the same title as the first edition of this story, this one, written in 1946, has a unique history. Indeed, it is said that the collection was first entitled Maigret et l'inspecteur malchanceux [Maigret and the Unlucky Inspector] "because of a typesetter's error". That although Simenon had wanted the error corrected for the second printing, it appeared in 1952 with the same title. It wasn't until its republication in 1956 that the final title appeared. And we note also that the erroneous title appeared not just on the cover, but on the title page within the book as well...


malchanceux
first edition, 1947

malchanceux
1952

malgracieux
1956


1952

later edition

This collection is the third Maigret published by Presses de la Cité, after La pipe de Maigret and Maigret à New York [NEW], which, like Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux, was written in Canada. The following novel, Les vacances de Maigret [VAC], was the first of 22 volumes of the Maigret corpus written in the USA.

This story is also the first "official" appearance of Inspector Lognon, whom we will meet later in several novels (see the study dedicated to this character on this site). From this first text, we discover the ambiguous relationship that Maigret has with the inspector. The Chief Inspector is annoyed by Lognon's behavior, but he recognizes his qualities as a policeman, and in the end rather pities him, allowing his sensitivity to "deprive him of the pleasures of an investigation" for the benefit of Inspector Surly.

The plot of the story takes up several characteristic themes of the Chief Inspector's cases, from the characters, the Commodore, a famed international thief, Stan, the Polish killer, and one of Maigret's nephews (a certain Daniel), to the reminiscences of other texts, such as the map of Paris at Police-Emergencies, a veritable reflection of the "criminal geography of the capital, or the classic "ménage à trois", with the sister-in-law in love with her sister's husband (see bea or SCR).

The text of the story is constructed on a theme of contrast — contrast between the needy life of the little Montmartre diamond seller and the luxurious life of the Commodore, who lives in the grand hotels. Contrast between the two sisters, Mme Goldfinger, apparently sickly but hiding well her game, and her young sister Eva, in love and determined. (Simenon is careful to emphasize the contrast between their different features, Mathilde, a brunette with almost black eyes, Eva, blonde with blue eyes...) Contrast between Lognon's "method"... industriously tracking down clues like a bloodhound, and the "method" of Maigret, trusting his intuitions, impregnating himself with a milieu and putting himself into the skins of the characters he meets.

Lastly, I like this story because it is scattered with little annotations, little descriptions, like these two examples...

"...you saw the rain falling in torrents, a summer rain, long and very fluid, etching lines through the night."

"Maigret had taken the bus, and he was standing on the platform, contemplating vaguely the morning Paris, the trash bins through streaks of rain, all the workers moving like ants toward their offices, their shops."

Simple words, and no more is necessary to imagine the scene... a description that could be called "poetic", typical of the author, who knows how to relate an "atmospheric landscape", or a "view of Paris" in a few lines...

Murielle Wenger

original French

Maigret of the Month
4/1/12 – Photos of locations where some of the action takes place in Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux (Maigret and the Surly Inspector)...


a view of the intersection of Rue Lamarck & Caulaincourt


a typical fruit & vegatable shop at the corner of Lamarck & Caulaincourt


the building at 66bis Rue Lamarck


a borne for police secours (they have now disappeared)

Jérôme

food quote from Chez les flamands
4/5/12 – First my compliments too you wonderful website. My name is Anastasia de Ruyter and I'm a caterer from the Netherlands (www.lofderzoetheid.com). Next Wednesday I'm making a buffet for the new library of Spijkernisse. It's going to be a buffet dedicated to food in books, everything from Harry Potter to American Psycho. As a Maigret fan I really wanted to make some classic French food from the novels. Your website provided me with an excellent source of information.

I'm going to serve a tastery of classic French quiches, and the decoration will be a banner with the printed quote from when Mme Maigret makes quiches in Chez les Flamands. There's only one problem: I can't find a copy Of Chez les Flamands in the stores, I don't even own an ebook, and ordering from the internet costs too much time. Normally I would rent it at the library but alas all the books are packed, ready to be moved to the new building. So I wonder if you, or maybe another Maigret fan could help me out and provide me with the quote about the quiches of Mme M. – English, French, it's all fine with me. Unfortunately since I live in the Netherlands I'm unable to send you fresh French food as a thank you, but I will email the pictures of the banquet and I'll be endlessly thankful.

With kind regards,
Anastasia de Ruyter


I think you must mean this one, from the final chapter:

– Ce serait bien la peine d'être alsacienne pour ne pas savoir préparer des quiches... Seulement, si tu continues, tu ne m'en laisseras même pas un morceau...

"It wouldn't be much good being Alsatian if you couldn't make guiches.... Only, if you go on like that, there'll be precious little left for me...." (in Maigret to the Rescue, tr. Geoffrey Sainsbury, who used "guiches" for "quiches")

ST

John Simenon, with Meusinvest, wants to buy the rights to his father's work
4/13/12 – Thanks to Claude for forwarding the link to this article at RTC Tele Liege, translated here:
John Simenon, son of the writer Georges Simenon, wants to buy the rights to his father's work, reported Saturday's L'Echo and De Morgen. According to the reports, he has the support of the investment company, Liege Meusinvest. The son would thus develop a project to acquire the rights currently held by the British company, Georges Simenon Limited. This is 85% owned by the British group Chorion, with the remaining 15% held by John Simenon and his brother . The Chorion group is in fact currently in liquidation, and has begun the process of selling off its assets, including also those of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton. To acquire the rights to the works of his father, John Simenon projects the creation of the SA Georges Simenon, which will be headquartered in Liège. The price offered by John Simenon to acquire 100% interest in Chorion is approximately 2.54 million euros. Meusinvenst has agreed to a financial contribution of € 1.25 million. ING Bank will also participate to the tune of 700,000 euros and French, Italian and German publishers, for 900,000 euros. The operation "is financially profitable when you see the benefits related to the works of Simenon. The writer is also part of Belgium's cultural heritage and to participate in the return of rights in Liege is an honor to his memory in we want to contribute, " said Gaetan Servais, CEO of Meusinvest to l'Echo. The writer from Liège wrote more than 350 books, of which 70 detective stories featured Maigret. His works have been translated into 50 languages and count a billion readers throughout the world. -Belga-

Madame Maigret
4/16/12 –

by Murielle Wenger

original French

Basically, she was delighted with the picture Simenon had drawn of her, as a good "granny", always at her stove, always polishing, always pampering her big baby of a husband. (Les mémoires de Maigret)

Preamble

It's time, I think, to finally dedicate a little study to this character who can't be ignored...

Indeed, what would Jules be without Louise? A Chief Inspector of the police, maybe not too bad, but certainly a man incomplete...

Mᵐᵉ Maigret is the guardian of the haven of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, one of the two poles between which Maigret navigates, the other being, of course, the Quai des Orfèvres. On the one side, his work is a confrontation with worlds not always easy to understand... on the other, some simple pleasures, sensory and basic, odors of simmering dishes, the tranquility of a cozy home, the little attentions of a loving spouse...

Mᵐᵉ Maigret appears at the beginning of the corpus – she is in fact present in Pietr le Letton, first by three allusions to her made by her husband, then an appearance "in person" in the last chapter. We could say that, from this novel, the tone was set. The first mention of her character is in the third chapter. Maigret has returned in the middle of the night to his office at the Quai des Orfèvres. After an exchange with Torrence about the latest developments on the case in progress, the Chief Inspector decides to take the train to Fécamp, and says,

"It's not worth going home and waking my wife."
You might think there was a certain lightness, even cynicism, on the part of the husband, but there was none. The life of the couple is set up in a way that Mᵐᵉ Maigret knows that she is there to wait for her husband, to be present, preferably with a good meal on the fire, in case he returns unexpectedly. Since he forgets (more or less unconsciously...) to call to say where he is, she's the one to get the information. Which is the case for the second the second appearance of her character, in the sixth chapter. Maigret, back from Fécamp, returns to the Quai (and not to his apartment, we note) and asks (all the same!),
"My wife hasn't called?"
"This morning. We told her you were out on a case..."

She was used to it. He knew that he could return home and that she'd be content to welcome him, stirring her pots on the stove and filling a plate with some fragrant stew. She might ask, but only after he was at the table, thinking, chin between his hands...
"Everything okay?..."
At noon or five o'clock, he'd found his meal ready all the same."
The third mention, in Chapter 11, takes up the same idea. While Maigret was keeping watch at the Majestic, and a patron had said of him, "Will you look at that!", the commissioner had answered (to himself),
"Why, yes! 'That', was a policeman, who was trying to stop major criminals from continuing their exploits, and who was determined to avenge a colleague who'd been murdered in this very hotel! 'That', was a man who wasn't dressed by English tailors ... and whose wife, for the past three days, had prepared his meals in vain, resignedly, without knowing anything."
We've sketched the essentials of the function of Mᵐᵉ Maigret's character (especially as it appears in the beginning of the corpus – we'll see that later on that it will be enriched, as, in parallel, that of the Chief Inspector is enriched and refined), a Penelope, patiently awaiting her husband, reheating for as long as it takes the meal she'd prepared, and worrying about him without pushing, without asking the details of his work.

That's how we find her in the last chapter, when Maigret finally comes home, with an additional component... in addition to doing the cooking, she also becomes a nurse. The Chief Inspector, having finished his case, finally decides to take care of his wound, and to rest. As for Mᵐᵉ Maigret,

she scurried around the apartment, content, pretending to grumble, for appearances sake, stirring whatever was in the pot, moving buckets of water, opening and closing the windows, checking from time to time...
"A pipe?..."
A little before that, and not without a preliminary treating of the nurses to a glass of plum brandy from Alsace, and asking two dependable questions of her husband... "Did they hurt you" and "Can you eat?", did she permit herself to question him about the conclusion of his case, knowing full well that she'd get but a minimum of information. But that would be enough for her...
Mᵐᵉ Maigret shrugged her shoulders.
"It's really useless being the wife of an officer of the Police Judiciaire!"
But she said it with a smile.
In the course of our analysis, we will once more search the corpus to find Mᵐᵉ Maigret in the aspects we have just mentioned, and to see how her character evolves across the string of novels...

complete text
original French

Review of A Crime in Holland/Maigret in Holland
4/16/12 – This is my first blog entry on Simenon and Maigret... I thank you for your website, it’s really amazing. Maigret is a fortunate man in his web presence!

"As Flat and Artificial as a Picture Postcard?" Maigret in Holland (1931), by Georges Simenon

I have a book on the British detective novel coming out with McFarland in June. The current one I’m working on has about eight pages on Simenon, where I talk about four of his books in a little detail, including three Maigrets.

Curt Evans

Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue
4/17/12 – I’m sorry if this is an item that has been discussed before, but I wonder if you can help me?

I have been told that a Maigret story called “The little pigs without tails” has been published, but I can’t find any record of it either as a publication in English, nor in your definitive list of his work.

Can anyone shed some light please?

Alan Cheshire


Confusing. The title sounds like it's a Maigret, but it's a collection of stories including Maigrets and non-Maigrets, including this one, a non-Maigret (see below). However, it was made into a Maigret in the television version for the Bruno Cremer series in 2004...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Le témoignage de l'enfant de choeur (The Evidence of the Altar-Boy)

4/23/12 – This story is, in my opinion, the best in the corpus, along with Un Noël de Maigret. As in that one, we find in this story a more personal Maigret. In noe, we see the Chief Inspector carry out an investigation in the cozy setting of his apartment. In cho, it's an investigation led from his bed... Maigret, bedridden with the flu caught during his stroll with Justin in the early morning cold, continues his investigation nonetheless, and manages to reconstruct the events, thanks to his great capacity to put himself into the skin of others, in this case a young altar boy. This is facilitated by his own memories, for he too had been an altar boy. And the whole story is bathed in this atmosphere of reminiscences, calling to mind petty details of past events... warm memories of the flu, caramel cream, the little attentions of a caring mother. These memories play a role, collaborating in Maigret's efforts to put himself in Justin's place. What's unusual, furthermore, is that these memories are just "virtual" images, but they're so sensitive, sensual, that they mix with the sensations lived by Maigret at the same moment... the clamminess of the sheets wet with the sweat of the flu, curls of clandestine pipes smoked when Mme Maigret was away, the sound of the bell of the dairy on the first floor...

The plot is simple: an altar boy claims to have seen a dead body in the middle of the street, while on his way to the chapel to serve six o'clock mass. He claims to have also seen the killer running away. But much evidence contradicts his story, and the police who question him think he's lying to get attention. Only Maigret finds some truth in the boy's testimony, and he'll try to separate the false from the true and almost-true in Justin's story. Examining all the evidence piece-by-piece, replicating in thought and actuality the path taken by the altar boy on the day of the drama, he ends up reconstructing what actually happened.

This story, written in 1946, takes up the thread, with several variations, of a story written in 1940 entitled Le matin des trois absoutes [The morning of the three absolutions]. You can find a summary of it at this site. [And see here.] Le témoignage de l'enfant de chœur has been the object of many adaptations, including one for the cinéma. It is one of the sketches which make up the film Brelan d'As, where Maigret is interpreted by Michel Simon. There are also two French television versions, one with Jean Richard and the other with Bruno Crémer. Both are completely successful, and the Jean Richard one is especially notable for the interpretation of the principal actor, who portrays a very convincing bedridden Maigret.

The town where the story is set is not explicitly mentioned in the text. Only that it's a provincial city, where Maigret has been assigned to the Flying Squad. We can come up with various hypotheses for the city in question, knowing that the Flying Squads [les Brigades mobiles], created in 1907 at the instigation of Clemenceau, were located outside of the 1st Brigade mobile in Paris, at Lille, Caen, Nantes, Tours, Limoges, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon, Dijon and Châlons-sur-Marne. Then, in 1911, brigades were created in Rennes, Montpellier and Nancy, while the brigades of Angers, Orléans, Clermont-Ferrand and Reims replaced those of Nantes, Tours, Limoges and Châlons. These brigades were involved in several famous cases, like the tracking of the Bonnot gang (1912). In 1919 and 1920, new brigades were created at Amiens, Strasbourg, Rouen and Ajaccio. The list of cities where Maigret could have led his investigation is thus long...

However, if we consider the names of the streets mentioned, as well as the description of the neighborhood where Justin discovered the body, we realize that we can find another city, and not a French one, but infinitely more "Simenon": the city of Liège, and the neighborhood where Simenon passed his childhood. We find there, indeed, a "Place du Congrès", a "Rue Sainte Catherine", the chapel of the Bavière hospital, where Simenon served the mass as an altar boy, and a bridge which crosses the Meuse. If these different places are actually more separated in the real city than in the story, we can however say that it's a sort of transposition of the memories of the author, which he has blended to create the setting for this "provincial city" where Maigret leads his investigation in such an original manner...

To be convinced of the analogy between Simenon's childhood city and the one described in the story, it's sufficient to read some lines from Je me souviens [I Remember]...

"This is even more unreal than the Place du Congrès in the snow. ... The first tramway worker passes the Rue Jean-dOutremeuse. The bells of the parish announce the first mass. In the church lit only by candles, the altar boy shakes his bell..."

complete text

original French

Murielle Wenger

Review of Cecile est Morte/Maigret and the Spinster
4/23/12 – I couldn’t resist doing one more Maigret review before I leave off with the French series. Best Maigret yet for me!

Who Killed Cécile? Cécile est Morte/Maigret and the Spinster (1942/1977)

Curt Evans

Location of Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux
4/28/12 – I liked the pictures of locations in Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux (Maigret and the Surly Inspector), submitted by Jerome (4/1/12). I guess the street looks very much same as Simenon would have seen in at time of writing this 'Maigret' in late forties. Typically residential (as shown by fruit store on ground floor) and quiet (because of no tram rails) street. All building have equally nice decorated facades, and are equally well preserved. In a neighborhood where many people lived all their life. Parisians know how to appreciate their beautiful architecture! If this street was in North America, half of the buildings would be already demolished and replaced with modern - several times taller buildings - completely wiping out the street's charm and skyline views. Curious about this location within Paris, I placed it on city map.

Cheers, Vladimir
Vancouver, Canada

Maigret on television next Monday
4/29/12 – Next Monday, French Channel Arte will broadcast Maigret et l'affaire St-Fiacre with Jean Gabin at 20:40.

Tout (ou presque) sur Maigret at 22:20
Une investigation ludique sur la personnalité et la biographie du célèbre commissaire inventé par Georges Simenon. Georges Simenon créa le commissaire Maigret afin de passer en douceur, par l'intermédiaire du polar, du roman populaire au roman littéraire. Il pensait relater seulement deux ou trois de ses enquêtes. Le succès aidant, il en écrivit soixante-dix-sept ! Le personnage de papier devint un personnage de film, puis de téléfilm, et sa renommée dépassa les frontières de l'Hexagone. Comment expliquer le succès de ce héros franchouillard ? Qu'a-t-il d'universel ? Sans doute son humanité. Au cours de ses enquêtes, Maigret laisse affleurer son caractère et sa vie privée. Un modèle dont s'inspireront de nombreux auteurs de polars. Brossant un portrait ludique du commissaire intuitif et bougon, ce documentaire se déroule comme une enquête à la Maigret, par libre association d'idées. Ponctué par un dialogue en voix off entre un Maigret imaginaire, disant des extraits de ses Mémoires, et un narrateur qui représente le grand public, le film s'appuie sur des images d'archives, des extraits de films ainsi que des séquences d'animation qui évoquent le personnage originel, tel que l'a conçu Georges Simenon. link

It will be broadcast again 18.05.2012 at 13:40 at should be visible on the web on the catch-up web site.


5/1 - Here's a direct link for the catch-up program on Maigret broadcast by Arte
- it can be viewed in French or German.

Regards
Jerome

Simenon Review (The Train)
5/2/12 – Simenon's Cool Humanity - Richard Johnstone reviews a new edition of a classic novel...

Peter Browne

The first Maigret
5/23/12 – I stumbled on your Maigret Forum while doing a search for the earliest Maigret. Over the last 30 years or so I thought that I had read (and re-read) all the Maigrets, but none in recent years. I picked one up the other week and realized that I had forgotten most of the plot and story line and enjoyed rereading it quite a bit.

What I would like to do is read all of the Maigrets in chronological order. All of the bibliographies I've found list The Strange Case of Peter the Lett, The Case of Peter the Lett, Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett as the first Maigret. But, I cannot locate it in a library or a bookseller anywhere. I live near Washington, DC, and have access to a large number of libraries in the region and have searched all their catalogies to no avail.

I really don't need to own the book, just read it. Although my name is French, my French is rudimentary and not up to reading (and enjoying) Maigret in the original.

Any ideas?

Best regards, and keep it up. I've spent the last couple hours wandering through the forum and bookmarked it to return frequently.

Leo Boivin
Burke, Virginia


5/29 - You can usually find used copies at Amazon or on eBay... I see one at eBay UK today and a few at Amazon

ST

Maigret of the Month
5/26/12 – Photos of locations where some of the action takes place in Le client le plus obstiné du monde (The most obstinate customer in the world)...


a view of Bd St-Germain with the intersection with Rue des Saint-Peres


a view of the café on the corner

Jérôme

Maigret of the Month: Le client le plus obstiné du monde (The Most Obstinate Customer in the World)

5/29/12 – This story is distinctive in that, while the plot may be somewhat serious, it exhibits a certain lightness, due especially to the fact that the author plunges his Chief Inspector into the springtime atmosphere which Maigret navigates with such pleasure.

The author chooses to present once more the theme of a "ménage à trois" (two sisters for the same man), as we've seen in other texts (bea or SCR, for example), but this time he introduces a variant - not only are the sisters twins, but further, the second sister is also married, which would make it a "ménage à quatre", except that the second husband is away (since he's in the colonies), which gives rise to the story...

The story is constructed on the motif of contrast, which appears in a number of elements... the contrast between the Café des Ministères, quiet and cozy, and the café Chez Léon, more popular and active; the contrast between the two customers in each of the cafés... the reserved M. Auger, capable of spending hours without moving, seated at the same table, and the noisy Combarieu, holding forth at the counter. The contrast between the obstinate customer, who, throughout the day, swallows only café au lait, and the customer in the restaurant, who orders a fancy meal, with escargots, sweetbreads and strawberries in cream. The contrast between the passionate love of Isabelle for her husband, and the commonplace person he appears to be.

The entire story is bathed in this light atmosphere of Parisian spring, which Simenon particularly emphasizes, with a sensual mode... the odor of the chestnut trees in bloom, the warmth of the air, the colors of the sky and the street. Maigret is literally bathed in this atmosphere, we feel that he savors it, as he savors the little glasses which accompany his investigation. We find in this text a rather unexpected Maigret, far from the monolithic grumbling hulk walking the damp streets of autumn. Springtime puts the Chief Inspector into a near euphoric state, to the extent that he allows himself not only to drink more than usual, but also some surprising actions... he buys a bouquet of violets, and he sings with Janvier in the taxi bringing them to Juvisy!

But we mustn't forget that Maigret, in other novels, also appreciates the spring, and that a good number of his cases take place in this season (see this recent study), that Simenon has often described. Considering only the example of the chestnut trees, whose flowering is, for the author, like the symbol of the renewal of spring, we can cite...

"Paris smelled of springtime. The chestnut buds had burst and let forth tiny leaves of a tender green.." (Maigret en meublé [MEU])

"The sun continued to shine, the chestnut trees to turn green." (Maigret hésite [HES])

"Maigret, Lucas and the two women found themselves on the sidewalk, under the chestnut trees, whose buds were soon to burst." (Les caves du Majestic [MAJ]).

And we note the two following points, concerning the construction of the story. First, the relatively late appearance of Maigret in the text - we recognize that it's rare in the corpus of the novels that Maigret is not present from the beginning (see here), but it's also true for the stories. In 18 stories Maigret appears in the first sentence; in eight, he appears slightly later (second or third sentence), in one story, not until the second paragraph, and in this novel, we have to wait a number of pages for mention of the name of the Chief Inspector.

Next, the very interesting use the author makes of his tenses. The story opens with a narration in the simple past tense, and then, from the description of the Café des Ministères, it moves into the present, then into the past perfect, which will detail, "hour by hour", the beginning of the day of Joseph and his customer. Until the moment of Janvier's arrival, the tense will stay the same, then, after the departure of Janvier, which introduces a break in the day, the tense reverts to the simple past and the imperfect, narrative tenses, which punctuate the narrative of the second part of the day, until the murder. Then the simple past is kept to tell of Maigret's investigation. This use of the present to introduce Joseph's story is very well chosen, for it puts the reader into the ambiance, seeing the action at the same time as Joseph, with the same rhythm, the same suspense, before reading how Maigret leads his investigation and solves the mystery, and, in the status of "participant in the action", the reader becomes spectator to the work of the Chief Inspector.


Murielle Wenger

original French

Maigret of the Month
6/2/12 – Photos of locations where some of the action takes place in On ne tue pas les pauvres types (Death of a Nobody)...


A hotel, Rue des Dames. The killer was on the fourth floor.


Rue des Dames, unchanged since 1950, with its 4- and 5-story apartments. It's near the popular Place de Clichy.


Rue des Batignolles from the intersection of Rue des Dames.


Place P. Goubaux, with the Villiers métro on the left.


Quai du Louvres. Tremblet went to play billiards nearby.


The Pont Neuf from the Quai du Louvres with the Ile de la Cité in the background.


A bird shop with a large cage like Tremblet bought for his canaries.


From the Quai du Louvres, the Palais de Justice, and the building with the Brasserie Dauphine on the right.

Jérôme

with Maigret from Italy
6/6/12 – Compliments for your site on Maigret. The books of the month of June in my blog are Maigret's stories. I've just posted the review of Liberty Bar.

In Italy Maigret is usually associated with Gino Cervi and his fabulous interpretation of Simenon's character in a successful, magical black-and-white TV serial of the 60s, I will keep on following "your" fascinating story of Maigret and his places.

Best,
Ornella Fortuna

Maigret se defend and the Prefect of Police
6/9/12 – Just a note to say that I think the definition of "Chief Commissioner" or "Chief of Police" would be less confusing if the French names were used.

Maigret is a Commissaire Divisionnaire, one of several commissaires (commissioners if you will, but there is, after all, no commission in the American sense of a board of directors or supervisors who are the corporate body that runs a municipal department). "Commissaire" is simply a rank, and "Divisionnaire" means he is in charge of a division, the most important one in the Police Judiciaire (Judicial Police), the "Criminelle", which deals with murders, and with major crimes of citywide importance. There are many other divisions, each with its own Commissaire. They meet every morning in the grand office of the Director of Judicial Police.

The reason they are the judicial police is that on a day-to-day basis they are under the orders of the judge who is charged with their investigations. In Maigret's era, the judges left them a lot of leeway to investigate major crimes on their own. But the judge could order their movements if he wished, and was the only person who could issue a search or arrest warrant.

The Director of Judicial Police (the "grand patron") is under the immediate control of the Prefect of Police. As a general rule, the prefect did not interfere with the workings of the PJ. But he could, and did, summon someone of Maigret's rank and interrogate him, and could, and did, order the Director of the PJ to suspend one of his commissioners (in this case, Maigret).

The Prefect is also the Chief of Police for all Paris. In fact, 99% of his job is to supervise the municipal police, with its thousands of patrolmen and vast supporting services. But it is misleading to refer to him as the Chief of Police, because an American chief has direct control over both the patrol division and the detective division of his department. The Prefect has only indirect control. Most of the time, he does not know what the detectives are doing, and more to the point, the deputies and assistants that he sees on a daily basis know less. If the Prefect wants to know something, he has to ask the Director of the PJ, or on rare occasions, he will contact one of the PJ's commissaires directly. Imagine, if you will, a New York Police Department where the detectives all belonged to a separate department. That's why Maigret has (pour ainsi dire) no contact with and little acquaintance with the Prefect.

Moreover, they are in different buildings -- the Prefecture is across the Boulevard du Palais from the Palais de Justice, and down the street from the PJ headquarters at the Quai des Orfevres. There is a well-used passage between the Palais and the PJ, that Maigret uses to visit the judges of instruction, and occasionally uses to testify at some trial. It is quite rare that anyone from the PJ visits the Prefecture, except in the middle of the night, when those on duty at the PJ sometimes drop by to chat with their counterparts who are keeping an eye on the crimes being reported in the wee hours of the morning.

I do think the glossary adds confusion, certainly in the plot summary for Maigret se defend. Better to describe Maigret's immediate boss as the Director of the PJ, and the Prefect of Police as, well, the Prefect of Police. Certainly the latter is not a "Chief Commissioner". If there is a Police Commission in Paris, it, like such commissions the world over, is not involved in the day to day running of the police, and is charged with making policy and hiring or recommending the hiring of the Prefect. But I don't even know that there is such a Commission in Paris. The Prefect reports directly to the Minister of the Interior.

Oz Childs

Maigret in eBooks
6/10/12 – Ommibus has just announced the publication of a number of Simenon ebooks, including these 21 Maigrets, at www.simenonnumerique.com:

ST

French program on Simenon Houses on France 5
6/16/12 – Next Sunday, the 24th June, on French channel 'France 5' there is a 26 min program about Simenon's houses. The program will be available online for one week after that on the channel web site. (www.pluzz.fr/france5 )

Regards
Jerome

Synopsis : Retour sur la vie de l'écrivain Georges Simenon, auteur de la série de romans policiers autour du commissaire Maigret, en découvrant les maisons occupées par celui-ci. L'homme a vécu successivement dans trois demeures, chacune possède une histoire singulière. Georges Simenon habite, tout d'abord, à Echandens lors de son arrivée en Suisse. Cet imposant château est à la fois confortable et solide, à l'image de la famille, à laquelle Georges Simenon est attaché. Celui-ci emménage, par la suite, à Epalinges. Il en dessine les plans. Il y écrit même ses derniers romans. Son dernier refuge se situe dans une rue de Lausanne. Cette «maison rose», à la façade presque aveugle, possède la particularité d'être coincée entre deux immeubles.

Rupert Davies "Smoking My Pipe"
6/18/12 –

"In 1964, having released a 45rpm single "Smoking My Pipe" late the previous year that capitalised upon the iconic Maigret opening sequence, he became the first person to win the Pipe Smoker of the Year award. Pipe Smoker of the Year was an award given out annually by the British Pipesmokers' Council, to honour a famous pipe-smoking individual."

Wikipedia

Murielle


and see Davies and Simenon at the Pipemakers' Annual Dinner and Ball

Maigret in eBooks... in Italian
6/20/12 – To complement the announcement of the ebooks in French, Adelphi, the Italian publisher has also been publishing Maigret (and other Simenons) in ebook format: both in separate volumes and in sets of 5 stories... here.

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: On ne tue pas les pauvres types (Death of a Nobody)

6/23/12 – The theme of this story is a sort of prelude that the author will take up again later in a novel of the corpus, Maigret et l'homme du banc [BAN]. Indeed, we will find there the same subject, developed with some variations... a man, in appearance perfectly ordinary, leading an orderly, uneventful life, until it's discovered that actually, appearances are deceiving, and this banality hides another life, which we will find, in the end, to be just as banal as the first. And that's what makes this story so original, and also its "tragic" side... this man who won a huge amount in the lottery, could use it to completely change his way of life, satisfy his most secret passions, and discover another would by using the power of this money. But he is content to build another "nest", another home, in the end, not so different from his first. Instead of his apartment filled with the cries of his children and the complaints of Juliette, a little house filled with the rustling of the wings of birds, and visits of the gentle Olga. And all that to end up being killed, out of spite, by an old billiard partner. What Simenon wants to show us, as he has in numerous novels, is that one can't escape so easily from one's destiny, and that in spite of the illusion that we're given the power to "live another life", in the end it's the same life that's rebuilt, with some different aspect perhaps, but finally, still the life for which fate has prepared us. When we read Simenon's novels, Maigret or non-Maigret, we realize how rare are the "exceptional men", who are able to truly "get out of their situation" and invent a different fate. Man remains a "little man", a being doing the best he can with the life he's been given, and if he tries to change, there's often failure at the end of the road. At any rate, that's the vision of the author in his work.

However, unlike the "hard" novels, what stops this story from being truly pessimistic is the fact that, through the intervention of the empathetic regard of Maigret, the banal fate of Tremblet earns our sympathy. Indeed, throughout the text, the author accentuates the relationship which is established between the investigator and the victim... and that's furthermore what makes for the originality of the Maigret novels, the Chief Inspector's effort to put himself in the place of the other, to try to understand what he feels. We see it well in this story, where Simenon ceaselessly shows us how Maigret develops a certain affection for this ordinary man, as he does for Thouret in Maigret et l'homme du banc. [BAN] Throughout the text, the author repeats the word "understanding" applied to Maigret, as the most important part of his work. The clues amassed, the tasks of research assigned to his inspectors, form but the base which will support Maigret's intuitive approach...


Murielle Wenger

complete text
original French

Left shoulder or right shoulder?
6/29/12 – On the Maigret of the Month page about the novel Le Fou de Bergerac there is some discussion about Maigret's wounded shoulder.

Is it the right shoulder or is it the left shoulder? This is about the English translation.

It seems that during the story the wounded shoulder changes from left to right!

"Que Maigret, debout, qui tient son épaule de la main droite. Au fait, c'est l'épaule gauche! Il essaye de bouger le bras gauche.... mais le bras retombe, trop lourd."

But later M asks Mme Maigret to pack pipes for him and to write down a list of names (chapter 3). And in chapter 6 he asks her to write down the words for a telegram. When Mme M has left to send the telegram away, M starts to write himself, with his left hand! At least that is what I read in the Dutch translation. This suggests that it is M’s right shoulder that is wounded. Or was Maiget left handed and does he try to write with his wounded arm?

Kind regards,
Estella van Straten
Rotterdam, Netherlands

At long last I am going to visit Paris
7/8/12 – This August I will be in Paris and at long last able to visit places that have become known to me from the Maigret stories.

I will be staying in Montparnasse and I wondered if there was anything on the forum that would help me find the places to visit nearby. I have searched for "Montparnasse" on the forum search and have found quite a lot of postings to remind me about places in stories that I know.

I am really looking forward to seeing some of these places but I wondered if anyone would recommend anywhere in particular today that still has the sense of place of an original Maigret.

Many thanks,
Jane

Maigret's Drinks
7/21/12 –

"At the Quai des Orfèvres they'd teased him about this habit. If, for example, he began an investigation with calvados, he'd continue with calvados, so that there'd been cases on beer, cases on red wine, and even a few on whisky." (Maigret se trompe [TRO])

Introduction

In this article, we'll examine once more what Maigret drinks, in an analysis both statistical and across the corpus. That is, we'll look at the type and frequency of the drinks consumed by Maigret, and the circumstances. We'll try to do a study complementary and parallel to those already done on the subject, including the books Bon appétit, commissaire Maigret by Jacques Sacré, and La botte secrète de Maigret: le verre de cognac by Paul Mercier, and the article Maigret's Beers.

We've often referred to the book by Jacques Sacré, whose statistical analysis is very thorough. However, we'd like to take up this analysis again, with a different plan. In his book, Sacré counted all the citations of drinks found in the corpus, while in this case, we'll concentrate on the drinks consumed by Maigret during the course of an investigation. That is, we'll ignore those examples where a drink is merely mentioned in the text, and only count those the Chief Inspector actually drank.

Furthermore, our statistical analysis, unlike that of Jacques Sacré, who counted all the occurrences of a drink in the corpus, will concentrate on the number of novels which contain at least once the drink considered, independent of the number of times that drink is consumed in the novel in question. We will mention, however, this frequency of consumption when it has some significance in the novel.

This method of analysis will obviously lead to some different results from those in Sacré's study.

Method of Analysis

We've divided the drinks into 15 categories, according to the semantic context... beer / fruit brandy in general, such as sloe gin / armagnac / cognac and fine / marc / calvados / whisky / wine / champagne / various aperitifs, such as vermouth or pastis / grog and rum / coffee / mineral water / herb tea / other.

Remarks on the categorization:

  • The "spirits" – armagnac, cognac, marc and calvados – are separated into four categories, for these drinks don't have the same semantic range when consumed by Maigret (see in particular Paul Mercier's book); in contrast, we've included cognac and fine in the same category, indicating the same drink in the corpus, as has been clearly shown by Paul Mercier.

  • Fruit brandies (les eaux-de-vie) in general (especially prunelle and framboise) also form another category, for they are consumed in a particular context, différent from that of the hard drinks mentioned above

  • Grog and glass of rum, are merged, since the former contains the latter.

Thus the drinks are analyzed in the following manner. For each novel, we've counted the presence or at least mention of the category, regardless of the number of times mentioned or consumed in the novel. The only criterion for selection is the fact that the drink in question actually be consumed by Maigret during the course of his investigation.

74 novels are considered, leaving aside Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM], which does not, properly speaking, relate a complete investigation.

Results

a) In general, the drink most frequently consumed by Maigret in his episodes is, not surprisingly, beer. Maigret drinks it in 68 novels of the 74 considered. Of course we must recognize that if the author doesn't indicate the consumption of a drink by the Chief Inspector, this doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't drink any during his case. However, the non-mention of a particular drink in the course of the text, while other drinks are cited, is none the less significant. The six novels in which there is no mention of Maigret drinking beer are Maigret se fâche [FAC] (with this absence of the Chief Inpsector's favorite drink, it's not surprising that he was irritated...), Les vacances de Maigret [VAC] (an opportunity for Maigret to take a vacation from hops as well...), Maigret à l'école [ECO], Maigret et le voleur paresseux [PAR], Maigret et le client du samedi [CLI] and, somewhat obviously, Maigret à Vichy [VIC]. We note that the absence of beer doesn't imply abstinence, for in these novels, except for the last, the Chief Inspector turns happily to other alcohol, as we will see below.

b) The consumption of the different categories of drinks is very eclectic in the corpus. On average, for the 74 novels, we find five different categories per novel. And it's interesting to note that this average is just about the same for the three publication periods (Fayard, Gallimard and Presses de la Cité). The Fayard period being a little lower (closer to 4½ categories per novel). The novel which shows the greatest number of different categories is Maigret [MAI], with 11 different kinds of drinks! Maigret having retired, he can probably "let go" a little... We find next four novels in which 8 categories of drinks are consumed (Maigret à New York [NEW], Maigret et son mort [MOR], La première enquête de Maigret [PRE] (which goes to show that the taste for alcohol doesn't wait on the number of years of service..), Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters) [LOG], nine novels with 7 categories, 15 novels with 6, 16 with 5, 16 with 4, seven with 3, four with 2 categories (Le charretier de la Providence [PRO], Maigret et les vieillards [VIE], Maigret à Vichy [VIC], Maigret et l'homme tout seul [SEU]), and two novels with consumption of a unique category, (La danseuse du Gai-Moulin [GAI] and Maigret aux Assises [ASS]).

We note that the consumption of a reduced number of categories doesn't necessarily imply the Chief Inspector's sobriety. Thus for Maigret et l'homme tout seul [SEU], If the Chief Inspector "only" drinks wine and beer, it's nevertheless in great quantity, since it's in this novel that we find the greatest numbers for Maigret's consumption (see the study mentioned above)!

When the Chief Inspector only drinks from a limited number of categories, in general at least one of them is beer, and another rather often, coffee. The third may be chosen from hard liquor, a fruit brandy, or an aperitif.

We note also that for 14 of the 19 novels of the Fayard period, and 4 of the 6 novels of the Gallimard period, Maigret consumes between 1 and 5 categories of different drinks. This speaks of eclecticism, and the discovery of new drinks, increasing with the chronology of the corpus...

c) Let's turn now to the categories of beverages consumed. We won't dwell on beer, for which we refer you to the above-mentioned article.

  • Fruit brandies (eaux-de-vie) are consumed in 24 novels of the corpus. Note that the Chief Inspector's choice is rather eclectic at the beginning of the corpus. From the Fayard period until the beginning of the Presses de la Cité period, he drinks "fil-en-six", mirabelle, genièvre, gentiane and kummel. Then, from L'amie de Mme Maigret [MME], the Chief Inspector generally drinks prunelle, the sloe brandy his wife gets from her family in Alsace, and that consumption will usually be "domestic"... it's at home, in his apartment on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, that Maigret drinks it. As if the drinking of these brandies were under the authrity of his wife, and the prunelle, furthermore, a family product, was necessarily of high quality...

    complete article
    original French

    Murielle

    image: O. Reynaud, Ph. Wurm. Maigret et Son Mort, LeFrancq · Le Rocher 1992

Maigret of the Month: Menaces de mort (Death Threats)

["Death Threats", an English translation of this story, can be read here]

7/23/12 –

Written during the winter of 1941-1942, between Signé Picpus [SIG] and Félicie est là [FEL], this story was serialized in the weekly Révolution Nationale in March and April, 1942. But why did it remain unpublished in a collection until 1992, when it appeared in Volume 25 of the Tout Simenon series? I have no answer to that question, but we can note the following. The "pre-war stories", appearing in various newspapers, were almost all published in the collection from Gallimard in 1944 (Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret), with the exception of two (L'improbable Monsieur Owen [owe] and Ceux du Grand-Café [ceu]), which remain uncollected until the Éditions Rencontre publication. The two stories written at the beginning of the war (L'homme dans la rue [hom] et Vente à la bougie [ven]), also appeared first in a newspaper, and were then published by Presses de la Cité, in the collection Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue, in 1950. Why didn't this story receive similar treatment? Two hypotheses come to mind. That the text was possibly "lost", or that the author had "forgotten" it - perhaps an unconscious rejection, for the journal in which the story had appeared went along with it...

Dear readers, if you have any answers to this question, please don't hesitate to let us know. I don't know if any answers can be found in the two collections where the story is found, Tout Simenon, mentioned above, and in Volume 10 of the collection Tout Maigret by Omnibus. I don't have either of these two, and so I can't verify the information*. And in the different books I have on Simenon, I haven't found any clue to an answer. It would be interesting to learn how the "rediscovery" of the text in 1992, came about, under what circumstances, and at whose instigation.

Nevertheless, we find in this story an unusual enough Maigret in his way of being and acting. Tantalized by young Éliane, whose figure he describes with uncustomary complacence, he lets himself be dragged, reluctantly enough, into this investigation, and above all lets things happen, observing more than acting, and if he finally reacts, it's as a last resort. He also uses a rather crude vocabulary, with some uncharacteristic vulgarity. Finally, he observes the people he is dealing with, with a certain detachment, and even some exasperation going almost to disdain. Far from the empathetic Maigret we meet in other texts...

We find in the story, however, some reminiscences of the corpus, both what the author is pleased to recall, and those announcing novels yet to come. Thus we note the description of the Chief of the PJ, whose "white goatee" and participation in the Bonnot affair clearly evoke Xavier Guichard; and the allusion to a murder committed at the lock at La Citanguette found in La péniche aux deux pendus [pen] (La Citanguette is also, obviously, the name of a bistro, situated elsewhere, that Heurtin fled to in La tête d'un homme [TET]). As for the way Émile Grosbois treats his family, and the developments of the Sunday meal at Coudray, we find certain elements which will be picked up again – with necessary modification – in the novel L'Ecluse no 1 [ECL], and his Sunday at Samois, where the principal character, Ducrau, is also named Émile...

For the rest, we find certain characteristic details of Maigret's character and world... his attachment to his pipe, his way of sitting as carefully as possible in light, rickety chairs, which support his weight with difficulty, his way of observing the people he talks with "without seeming to", his black notebook, where, for once, he makes a few notes on his impressions, and his way of carrying out the reconstruction at the end of the case.

But the most unexpected, in this text, is to discover how, explicitly, Maigret is an "enjoyer of life". We already knew that he liked to savor all the little things of life, a ray of sunshine on his desk, the odors of the vegetable market, the whistle of the tugs of the barges on the Seine, or the taste of a little white wine in the shade of a bistro. But this is one of the rare times where we read in the text how Maigret feels this pleasure of life. Indeed, in spite of the uneasiness caused by the atmosphere of this investigation – or precisely because of this discomfort – he begins to "philosophize", to express a rather strong opinion on the way to live one's life... "It seems to me that these people... wantonly destroy beautiful things, a fine life, endless possibilities... It's so rare to meet someone who knows how to live!"

Yes, and without a doubt, it's the Chief Inspector himself who knows how to live, savoring all the little joys which come within his range...


Murielle Wenger

original French

NB - Tout Simenon: "This story, long unknown to bibliographers, appeared in numbers 21 through 26 of the weekly, Révolution nationale in March and April, 1942. It has not been republished since.

Bruno Cremer Maigret with English subtitles - all but two now available
7/27/12 – All but two of the Cremer Maigrets are now available with English subtitles. MHz Networks have released the first two of their 6 episode sets with the third due on August 21st. All are at Amazon.com.

Here are the contents:
  • Bruno Cremer Maigret - set 1
    Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit (Maigret au "Picratt's") (Maigret in Montmartre)
    Maigret et la grande perche (Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife)
    Maigret chez les Flamands (Chez les Flamands) (Maigret and the Flemish Shop)
    Maigret et la maison du juge (La maison du juge) (Maigret and the Judge)
    Maigret et le corps sans tête (Maigret and the Headless Corpse)
    Maigret et la nuit du carrefour (La nuit du carrefour) (Maigret at the Crossroads) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 4 release
  • Bruno Cremer Maigret - set 2
    Maigret et les caves du Majestic (Les caves du Majestic) (Maigret at the Majestic)
    Maigret se défend (Maigret se défend) (Maigret on Trial)
    La Patience de Maigret (La Patience de Maigret) (Maigret's Patience)
    Maigret et l'homme du banc (Maigret and the Man on the Bench) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 3 release
    Maigret et les témoins récalcitrant (Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses)
    Maigret et le fantôme (Maigret and the Ghost) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 4 release
  • Bruno Cremer Maigret - set 3
    Maigret et l'écluse n°1 (Maigret and the No. 1 Lock) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 4 release
    Cécile est morte (Maigret and the Spinster)
    Maigret et la tête d'un homme (La Tête d'un homme) (Maigret's War of Nerves)
    Maigret se trompe (Maigret's Mistake)
    Maigret et la vieille dame (Maigret and the Old Lady) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 2 release
    Maigret et la vente à la bougie (Maigret and The Candle Auction) - also available subtitled in the French Coffret 2 release

The two still not released with English subtitles are
      Les Vacances de Maigret
      Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord (L'Etoile du Nord).

If you have the French Coffret 5 or the individual releases I believe at least two of the titles above are subtitled, but I have never been able to work out which.

Ward Saylor

Georges Simenon, l'amoureux de La Rochelle
8/3/12 – Here's an article (in French) I found, from Pelerin, on Simenon and La Rochelle...


click image to read pdf file


And see the new Simenon website by his son, John Simenon, www.simenon.co.

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Train de nuit (Night Train)

8/23/12 –

1. A Maigret in gestation

Train de nuit is one of what Simenon scholars call the "proto-Maigrets", the series of four novels containing a "draft version" of Maiget, published before his "official" appearance in the series of 19 novels by Fayard. In these proto-Maigrets, the Chief-Inspector is sketched in greater and greater detail as the series progresses.

His name appears for the first time in Chapter 6 of the first part of Train de nuit, mentioned in a newspaper article, as Chief Inspector of the Flying squad at Marseilles. Inspector Torrence is already working with him. However, we have to wait until the third chapter of the third part of the novel, to be shown the character "in flesh and blood". Even so, this expression isn't a perfect fit, for the rather summary physical description of the Chief Inspector doesn't appear until the sixth chapter: "a broad silhouette". So we still don't know what he looks like, whether he's already wearing a bowler hat or an overcoat, not even whether he smokes a pipe...

His personality is slightly more detailed: "a quiet man, rough spoken, intentionally brusque". In short, from crude to crude... His intervention in the novel still displays what will become one of his most essential attributes... his empathy. Indeed, his first act is to reassure Jean's mother and fiancée about the fight with Scarface. From there on, his other actions will be of the same sort... to bring the two women to the wounded Jean, and then to have him taken to the hospital by Torrence. In short, acts filled with solicitude. On the other hand, his attitude towards Rita, while maintaining his "policeman" persona, is nonetheless full of kindness... once he's gotten the beginning of a confession from her about the murder on the train, he suggests that she flee. But Rita refuses to leave Jean, and it takes the almost miraculous intervention - in a style typical of the "twist" novels of the era – of Father Déveine for the young woman to finally escape the justice of men... Finally, we should note that at the time of his last appearance in thus novel, Maigret is described mainly by his moral aspect, with this sentence that could not be more eloquent or significant,

"He had spoken to him almost harshly, but in such a way that you could feel a warm sympathy behind that hardness."

"Sympathy" is the word launched, not very far from the term "empathy"... And this is the aspect that we will find again, both in the other three proto-Maigrets, and later in the corpus. If Maigret doesn't yet have all the physical attributes of his character as we will know him, he is already displaying the germ of his personality...

2. Drafts and contrasts

In his essay accompanying the Omnibus edition of the four proto-Maigrets, collected in one volume under the title Maigret entre en scène [Maigret enters the scene], Francis Lacassin makes an analysis of the genesis of the Maigret character, how he emerged from a succession of trials by the author, who had created other detective characters before settling on Maigret. Thus, Lacassin writes,

"Before his appearance in the four novels preceding Pietr-le-Letton, Maigret had undergone in Simenon's "popular writings" a four-year-long genesis. A genesis spanning 18 characters who had preceded him like so many sketches.... With three exceptions, the author forgot them as soon as their first and only mission ended. Some, however, would contribute a gesture, a habit, or some detail of Maigret's personality. Others participated in a negative way, helping the author to test and eliminate elements that didn't fit."

Lacassin presents in great detail these 18 sketches, both the positive and the negative, with regard to the future Maigret. First, Lacassin's "unsuccessful candidates for the role":

  • Anselme Torrès, an ex-policeman working privately, battling Nox l'insaisissable [The elusive Nox] in the novel of the same name, by Christian Brulls. 1926, Ferenczi.

  • Anne-Marie Givonne in Mademoiselle X, Christian Brulls, 1928, Fayard.

  • Georges Aubier dans Une femme a tué [A woman has killed], by Jean du Perry, 1929, Ferenczi.

  • Gérard Moniquet, an agent of the Sûreté, in La femme en deuil [The woman in mourning], by Georges Sim, 1929, Tallandier.

  • Serge Polovzef in Le Chinois de San Francisco [The Chinese of San Francisco], Georges Sim, 1930, Tallandier.

  • Jackson, a New York detective, in Destinées, [Destinies] Georges Sim, 1929, Fayard.

  • Joseph Leborgne, a private eye, in Les treize Mystères [The 13 Mysteries], by Georges Simenon, 1932, Fayard.

  • Judge Froget in Les treize coupables [The 13 guilty ones], Georges Simenon, 1932, Fayard.

  • Inspector Tabaret, in Deuxième bureau [Second Bureau]. by Georges Sim, 1933, Tallandier.

Next, those who left something to Maigret:

  • Yves Jarry, a sort of Arsène Lupin, whom the author will keep for a while in competition with Maigret, hesitating between the two, and finishing by ceding victory to the Chief Inspector. Yves Jarry appeared in four novels, signed Georges Sim, from Fayard. The first, Chair de beauté [Flesh of beauty], in 1928; the three others in 1929: La femme qui tue [Women who kill], L'amant sans nom {Lover without a name], La fiancée aux mains de glace [The fiancee with icy hands]. The novelist had a weakness for Jarry, but he realized that the character was too close to conventional popular literature, and to overcome this, he needed another character, constructed in opposition to the Lupin-like Jarry... which would be Maigret, a hulking Chief Inspector,45 years old, with a plebian air, anchored in his French milieu, while the young, svelte and elegant Jarry traveled the four corners of the world. Simenon would only retain Jarry's ability to immerse himself into any environment, as Maigret manages to soak up any and all atmospheres.

  • in l'Amant son nom, Jarry is caught by a policeman named "Inspector 49", with some characteristics which seem like Maigret... enormous and heavy, a stubborn air, and moreover, smoking a pipe!

  • Inspector Jean Tavernier, in La victime, by Georges-Martin Georges, 1929, Ferenczi, has the habit of "sniffing around" the locations of an investigation.

  • the amateur detective, Jackie, in Les bandits de Chicago, by Georges Sim, 1929, Fayard, tries to reconstruct the thinking of the criminal.

  • Sergeant Deffoux, in Katia acrobate, George Sim, 1931, Fayard, is compassionate.

  • Joseph Boucheron, Inspector in the Sûreté nationale, in L'homme à la cigarette, Georges Sim, 1931, Tallandier, is a somewhat clumsy policeman, but he uses his intuition to solve his case.

To complete the list of 18, Lacassin mentions three characters already present in the popular novels, and which will be found in the official corpus of Maigret: Judge Coméliau, and the Inspectors Torrence and Lucas...

complete article
original French

Murielle Wenger

Further on Maigret's Drinks
9/8/12 – If I ran a bar in Paris located near the ... large police station .. after reading Murielle's article, I would be having a daily, or weekly, special on drinks based on Maigret's preferences. Similar promotion could be done in Liege in area frequented by tourists; I suppose most of them must be Maigret's fans. It is actually interesting that there is a pattern in drinks Maigret ordered depending on the case under investigation. My previous impression was that Maigret was never looking for a specific bar and for a specific drink. Any chance that Maigret simply was drinking the same as what Simenon was drinking when the story was written?

Vladimir

Maigret: Bruno Cremer Series: Sub-Titles
9/12/12 – It was a wet, cold Sunday and I had time on my hands. For some reason I created a table (attached) for the Cremer Maigret Series. I suppose my objective was to see, on the one hand whether the US sets provided sub-titles for the curiously un-subtitled episodes in Coffret 5; and on the other hand to see whether the 4 episodes missing from Coffrets 1-5 were included in the US sets. There was also the question of how many of the US sets it was necessary to purchase to get all the sub-titled episodes.

Thank you Ward Saylor [7/27/12] for bringing the MHz Networks releases to my attention. You pose a question at the end of your contribution: which episodes on Coffret 5 are sub-titled? Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit; Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord have English sub-titles. Therefore by process of masterly deduction, 8 episodes do not have sub-titles. However Mes Amis all 8 of those episodes are included in the US sets 1-4 (Ward, Les Vacances de Maigret, is included in Set 4).

The 4 Bruno Cremer episodes not included in Coffrets 1-5 are included in US sets 1 (Maigret et le corps sans tête), 2 (Maigret et les caves du Majestic; Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants) and 3 (Maigret et la tête d'un homme).

So, if you have previously purchased Coffrets 1-5, it is necessary only to purchase US sets 1-4 to get all the Bruno Cremer series with English sub-titles.

There remains a small mystery. There are 4 episodes: Madame Quatre et ses enfants; Meurtre dans un jardin potager; Les petits cochons sans queues; and Maigret et les sept petites croix, for which I could find no reference in the Maigret Bibliography. Short stories? Someone will know the answer.

The above must take a prize for long-winded explanation.

The attached table is self explanatory. The numbers on the left correspond to the Cremer TV series listing on the Maigret site.

Don Greenfield

Reply to Don Greenfield re: Cremer Maigret subtitles
9/13/12 – Thanks to Don for his table on the subtitles of the Maigret series (below)- very interesting and complete.

As for the four episodes without references, here's what they are:

  • Madame Quatre et ses enfants is the title of a story without Maigret, in the collection "Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue", published in 1950, containing nine stories, only two with Maigret: L'homme dans la rue [The Man in the Street] and Vente à la bougie [Sale by Auction].
  • Meurtre dans un jardin potager is an adaptation of a story without Maigret, "Le deuil de Fonsine", which appeared in the same collection.
  • Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue is an adaptation of a story without Maigret, "Les petits cochons sans queue", from the same collection, which takes its title from the story.
  • Maigret et les sept petites croix is the adaptation of a story without Maigret, "Sept petites croix dans un carnet", from the collection "Un Noël de Maigret", published in 1951, and which includes, besides this story, another without Maigret: "Le petit restaurant des Ternes", in which Inspector Lognon appears, and the story "Un Noël de Maigret" [Maigret's Christmas].

Regards,
Murielle

Maigret Expo at the Quai des Orfèvres
9/16/12 – Here are some photos of my visit to 36 Quai des Orfèvres. There was a small Maigret expo in a room on the mezzanine with some panels on Maigret, and you could also use the famous stairway leading to the PJ...

Jérôme

Simenon - the writer, the writing, and the relationship to time
9/21/12 –

The writer, the writing,
and the relationship to time

by Murielle Wenger

I'd like to return here to a theme I've already addressed several times, namely Simenon's relationship with the passage of time, focusing on the writing in the novels, and examining this chronology with regard to the course of a year. I've already discussed the relationship between the month of the writing and that of the action in the novel (see here), as well as the quantitative relationship between Maigrets and non-Maigrets written in a given year (see here).

This analysis will take up once more some of these elements, refining and supplementing them.

We'll begin with an overview of the chronology of Simenon's production, including only works in the author's real name, beginning with the year 1930. We have, since that year, a fairly precise idea of the date of the writing of the novels, and it was in 1930 that the first non-Maigret novel signed in the name of the author appeared. At that point Simenon abandoned almost completely his "commercial novels", produced under various pseudonyms, although these continued to appear fairly regularly until the end of the decade.

The year 1930 thus saw the completion, in the spring, of the first "official" Maigret, Pietr le Letton, [LET] then the writing, in the summer, of two other Maigrets, followed, in the fall, by the first non-Maigret signed 'Simenon', and then another Maigret. 1931 is the year of eight Maigrets, written between March and December, along with some stories and a non-Maigret novel in July. In 1932, five Maigret novels written between January and May, then three non-Maigrets in the fall. From 1933, the proportion is reversed. In January, Simenon wrote a non-Maigret, then in April, what he thought would be his final Maigret (L'écluse no 1) [ECL], then the rest of the year dedicated to the writing of five non-Maigrets, the last two of which were his first publications at Gallimard, the publisher Simenon had just joined. In January, 1934, he wrote the last Maigret of the Fayard period, and abandoned definitively (he believed) his Chief Inspector to write four non-Maigrets. From 1935 to 1938, Simenon wrote 24 non-Maigrets, plus numerous stories, with and without Maigret.

 

1939 marks the first turning point. After writing five non-Maigrets, the author picks up his character again in December, for the first of the six Maigret novels published by Gallimard (Les caves du Majestic [MAJ]). The year 1940 begins with a Maigret, followed by two non-Maigrets and numerous short stories, and finishes with another Maigret. 1941 consists of four non-Maigrets, and a single Maigret; 1942, two non-Maigrets and one Maigret; 1943, three non-Maigrets and one Maigret, the last of the Gallimard period. In 1944, Simenon wrote two non-Maigrets, and in 1945 a non-Maigret and numerous stories, as well as the first story and the first Maigret novel of the Presses de la Cité series, Maigret se fâche [FAC], which was the last written on French soil before the departure for the American Dream.

 

We will focus on the Presses de la Cité cycle, since it's the best documented with regard to the dates of the writing of the novels, allowing us a more detailed analysis.

From this period, Simenon will alternate more or less regularly between the Maigrets and the non-Maigrets. Every year, from 1946 to 1972, at least one Maigret appears among the non-Maigrets, in some years as many as four. But the ratios of the two types of writing show the attachment of the author to his character. For the 27 years considered, 10 count as many Maigrets as non-Maigrets, seven show a production of one-third Maigret to two-thirds non-Maigret, and five years count two Maigrets of the five novels written. We even find two years with two Maigrets to one non-Maigret, and one year with three Maigrets and only one non-Maigret.

We can also observe that, within the year, the writing of a Maigret does not occupy a trivial position. It's often the first novel to open the annual production (in 15 of the 27 years considered), and it may also be the one to close the year (in 9 years out of 27, a full third).

We can tabulate the relationship between the dates of writing of the 61 non-Maigrets and 50 Maigrets, by month of writing, summarized in this chart...

This table shows us that Simenon's production is divided in a non-trivial fashion over the course of a year. First, if we add the Maigrets and the non-Maigrets, we see that it's in June and October that Simenon is most productive, followed by September and March. And November and August are the months in which he wrote the fewest novels.

More interesting is the comparison between Maigrets and non-Maigrets. It seems that there are actually months which favor Maigrets more than others. We find that the winter months, (especially January and February) are more conducive to the development of one of the Chief Inspector's investigations than for one of the "serious" novels, while October is clearly the month for non-Maigrets...

complete article
original French

Maigret of the Month: La jeune fille aux perles [The girl with the pearls]

9/23/12 –

"That's pretty much what I remember of that meeting. I'd had to talk to him anyway about something I'd taken care of a few months earlier ... which concerned a girl and a pearl necklace...

Weeks passed, months... One morning I found on my desk, next to my mail, a little book with a horribly illustrated cover such as you find at newsstands, and in the hands of shop girls. It was entitled, «La jeune fille aux perles», "The girl with the pearls", and the name of the author was Georges Sim."

It's with these lines that Maigret tells, in his Memoires [MEM], how after Simenon's visit to the Quai des Orfèvres, the author published his first novel where he used the name of the Chief Inspector. Maigret didn't read the book, tossed it in the trash. But each morning he found a new copy on his desk, put there by way of Janvier. Maigret, encouraged by Lucas, finally read the novel, without great conviction... He found himself "fatter, heavier than actually", utilizing unexpected methods - in short, a sort of caricature of himself with which he wasn't greatly pleased...

And these lines written by Maigret, alias Simenon, call for some comment, and lead us to the novel under discussion. First, this book was not originally published under the title La jeune fille aux perles, but as the banal, La figurante [The Extra]. A title chosen without Simenon's consent, which he didn't like. That's why the original title was restored to the novel when it was republished in 1991, in the series "La seconde chance", by Julliard. Then, we note that Simenon speaks of this novel as if it were the first in which the character Maigret appears. Now he's already present in Train de nuit, the first of the four proto-Maigrets. In Train de Nuit, it's true, Maigret is still a sketch, and perhaps Simenon himself considered that this novel wasn't yet really a part of the series of investigations of the Chief Inspector. After all, it's the Simenon researchers who, after the fact, concluded the existence of these "proto-Maigrets"...

Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that Simenon highlights La jeune fille aux perles as a novel relating a Maigret investigation, since, for Simenon scholars, the "real" first Maigret is rather the last of the proto-Maigrets, La maison de l'inquiétude. But for Simenon, it's clearly La jeune fille aux perles which is the first Maigret novel, even if he still called it a "draft", as Xavier Guichard had explained to Maigret (see Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM]).

As mentioned above, this novel first appeared under the title La figurante, and its publishing history is somewhat interesting. This work, called by Simenon scholars an "authentic popular novel" (Lacassin), and therefore a priori not a detective story, is thus caught between two genres. It uses all the clichés of popular literature, The evil villain with the venomous look, who finds redemption at the end of the story (after all, he'd had an unfortunate childhood, for which he wasn't responsible, according to the Assizes Court...), the pure young girl who remains so, despite all the attacks of which she is the object, without forgetting the dramatic scenes where they pledge their love... But at the same time, this novel introduces the character of the policeman, and in addition, a policeman with unusual methods. We note that Maigret appears in the first chapter (as Chief Inspector in the Sûreté), and that he is present in 11 chapters out of the 21 in the novel (thus, much more often than in Train de nuit). Additionally, certains aspects are already characteristic... the physical - "broad and immense, with a powerful neck", "a man with broad shoulders, a heavy face, but with sparkling eyes, who ate sandwiches", "he slowly filled a pipe, lit it, and stood before the window", "his thick fingers"; moral - "who had throughout his whole person something both gruff and tender", "I don't believe anything! I don't think anything!", "He was both gruff and paternal.". No doubt, Chief Inspector Maigret was already on the case, as much himself as will be found in the "official" cycle.

But what is striking, is that he is not always center stage. In a novel of the official cycle, the entire affair is seen through his eyes, we never find a scene between two characters, like the dramatic scenes of the clashes between Nadia and Morsan, told "from outside", or, if you will, by the narrator, who is the author. At best, these scenes could be evoked by Maigret's own thoughts.

In this sense, this novel is therefore still a proto-Maigret, a draft before the "semi-literary" novels which constitute the Maigret series. But we have the impression that Simenon has already "tried out" his character, done a sort of "first casting" to see how this anti-hero could fit into a story. As Lacassin wrote,

"Knowing that to gain the acceptance of the publisher, he couldn't do a psychological novel and a detective story... he therefore used all his arts to develop and refine the character of Maigret without making him seem too much a star - which must be reserved exclusively for the victims."
Even so, this almost "sneaky" attempt to introduce his character was not so well received by his publisher... Written during the summer of 1929, the book was first refused by Fayard, who eventually published it... in February 1932, in a collection with no detective stories, "Les maîtres du roman populaire" [Masters of the popular novel]. Worse still, giving it the insignificant title, La figurante [The Extra]. However, by then, twelve novels of the official cycle had already appeared, with well-known success... We can also wonder if the readers of the time, those who read the "popular novels", were the same ones who read the Maigret novels, and if they made the connection between La jeune fille aux perles and Le chien jaune [JAU] or La tête d'un homme [TET]...

Finally, we note that this novel was published under the pseudonym Christian Brulls, and not Georges Sim, as Maigret recounts in his Memoirs [MEM]... It's the next two proto-Maigrets, La femme rousse and La maison de l'inquiétude, which will be published under the pseudonym Georges Sim, but by Tallandier this time, in the collection "Criminels et policiers". Certainly, Fayard had nothing to do with these trials. He wanted to publish the "real" Maigrets, after finally being convinced by Simenon, though not without difficulty, that "this will work", while remaining skeptical about the police side of the novels itself. He wasn't completely wrong... if the Maigrets had been "just" simple detective stories, would they have met with the success they still find today?


Murielle Wenger

original French

Timing of Simenon's novels
9/30/12 – Murielle's article is interesting and well researched and answers few curious questions. One thing still puzzles me. Do we know how the choice of Simenon's writing was influenced by his own preference, as opposed to requests from his publisher? Or was Simenon after 1930 so well established that he could - as we say here - 'write his own ticket', meaning make all decisions?

Nice photo's from Maigret Expo. It is just about time Palace of Justice gives some recognition to Maigret. Than, the photo with number 36 reminded me why I am reluctant to go to Paris again. Everything is in French?! So is the text under the Gabin photo, as far as I can see in the picture.

Regards, Vladimir
Canada

Thoughts on Death Penalty
10/08/12 –I love the Maigret stories but have got a few thoughts on the short story Death Penalty (Peine de mort) which I would like to discuss. To save anyone looking up the plot in this site I've pasted it here:
Though there is no evidence, M is convinced that Jehan d'Oulmont, Belgian, has killed his uncle, Count Adalbert d'Oulmont, at the Hôtel du Louvre in Paris. But his alibi is that he was at Longchamp at the time, and it can't be broken.

M decides to dog him and his mistress, Sonia Lipchitz, and so returns with them to Brussels, and watches as their funds dwindle. He hopes to force them to reveal the stolen money.

At a nightclub M appears drunk and asks Sonia to dance, after which a Belgian CID man told d'Oulmont he was under arrest. d'Oulmont grabbed Sonia's purse and pulled out a gun a friend had supplied, shooting at M. But M has had the bullets replaced with blanks. d'Oulmont had thought the way to avoid extradition to France, where there is a death penalty, was to commit another murder in Belgium, where there is none.
I have a few problems with this story which someone might clear up:
The suspect has a cast-iron alibi and there is no evidence of d'Oulmont's presence at the hotel on the day of the murder beyond "a pageboy thinks he remembers". So how would a Superintendent get permission and expenses to follow him across borders into a country where he had no jurisdiction? Why would the local police in Brussels cooperate in effectively goading a suspect into committing another crime? Would d'Oulmont even get a life sentence for attempted murder in the circumstances? Certainly a modern trial would probably result in about 5 years for attempted murder. Preferable to the guillotine whatever the sentence. How had d'Oulmont secreted 32,000FF whilst moving to Belgium if he really had it, given that the search of their luggage at the border on the train was "so thorough as to be indiscrete" and they had already been searched for the money in their hotel. Surely it would only be when the stolen money is revealed (if it is cash it would need to be proved as such even then) that there would be any evidence at all pointing to the suspect.
Simenon hasn't convinced me in his writing that d'Oulmont is the murderer. There is no evidence, a cast-iron alibi and so there would appear to be little justification for the hounding of the suspect as described. I understand from that it was "Maigret's tried and test method" and represents Police methods off its time (1930s), but I don't see the point of trying to pursue a suspect with so little evidence.

Today a case like this would have to stay on the books as unsolved.

Any thoughts anybody?

Keith Marr

re: Thoughts on Death Penalty
10/09/12 – Every issue of improbability mentioned by Keith Marr is valid. My response: this is just a book of fiction, unrealistic things happen in books and movies all the time. By the way, this is not the only time when Maigret proceeded with little evidence and won big. Read 'Saturday caller' [CLI]; here Maigret acted because of special sympathy for victim, and great personal dislike for the suspects.

Vladimir

re: Thoughts on Death Penalty
10/09/12 –
On peut répondre aux questions de Keith de deux façons: la première est de reprendre le texte et d'essayer une réponse "point par point", en se focalisant sur l'aspect "nouvelle policière":

  • c'est vrai que d'Oulmont a un alibi en bronze, mais cet alibi comporte des failles, celles que Maigret relève pendant l'interrogatoire: d'Oulmont aurait eu le temps, pendant son après-midi à Longchamp, de quitter le champ de courses et de se rendre à l'hôtel de son oncle, où on peut entrer facilement sans que personne n'y fasse attention

  • moins évident est le problème de l'argent: effectivement, comment d`Oulmont a-t-il pu lui faire passer la frontière ? On peut imaginer de nombreuses hypothèses: d'Oulmont l'a fait virer sur un compte en Belgique, ou ses valises comportaient un double fonds qui a échappé à la fouille, ou Sonia l'a caché dans les sous-vêtements qu'elle portait sur elle, ou d'Oulmont a chargé un ami (peut-être le même que celui du dancing) de passer la frontière avec l'argent...

  • pourquoi la police belge ne collaborerait-elle pas avec Maigret, dont la réputation, implicite, a passé les frontières ? Ce n'est pas la seule enquête où Maigret se rend à l'étranger, sans mandat officiel, mais qui y attache de l'importance ? Ce qui compte, c'est que Maigret "avait raison", puisque le geste d'Oulmont (tirer sur le commissaire) le trahit ?

Ceci nous amène à la deuxième façon de répondre à Keith: ses questions sur la vraisemblance de l'intrigue policière racontée par Simenon, soulèvent un point intéressant sur la façon d'écrire de Simenon, sur ses buts, et surtout amènent à la question essentielle, qui est de savoir si vraiment les Maigret, romans et nouvelles compris, sont des récits policiers, au sens strict du terme.

A mon avis, c'est non, et c'est pourquoi ce personnage de commissaire est si intrigant et si passionnant: ses enquêtes ne sont pas de simples récits à énigme, comme le sont celles d'Hercule Poirot ou de Sherlock Holmes, par exemple, dans lesquelles il s'agit d'expliciter la solution en se conformant aux règles de la logique. Dans les romans de Simenon, on pourrait trouver bien des objections, d'un point de vue de récit policier, au déroulement des enquêtes de Maigret, on pourrait y relever nombre d'invraisemblances, d'erreurs "techniques" (rappelez-vous, dans Les mémoires de Maigret, ce mot du commissaire, lisant pour la première fois un roman policier de Georges Sim (La jeune fille aux perles): "Quant à l'histoire, elle était méconnaissable, et il m'arrivait, dans le récit, d'employer des méthodes à tout le moins inattendues.").

Mais il faut voir que le but de Simenon n'est pas de construire "simplement" un récit policier: dès le début, son commissaire se démarque des autres personnages du même registre (Fayard l'avait bien remarqué, lui qui a hésité si longtemps avant d'accepter de publier les premiers Maigret...), et il y a une volonté chez l'auteur de montrer, à travers le récit policier, autre chose qu'une simple résolution d'énigme. Ce qui compte, en fait, ce n'est pas tant la vraisemblance de l'intrigue policière, ni la résolution cartésienne de l'énigme, mais bien la façon dont Maigret mène son enquête.

Dans le récit qui nous intéresse, Maigret ne se contente pas de suivre d'Oulmont à la trace pour le simple plaisir de le voir se trahir, mais il cherche à atteindre la vérité qu'il a pressentie: il ne vérifie pas une simple hypothèse, il cherche à confronter son ressenti avec une vérité humaine... Si on lit bien le texte, on voit que c'est sur cela que Simenon insiste: le récit est construit sur deux pans, d'une part, le ressenti de Maigret par rapport à son enquête, sa sensation d'avoir raison, d'avoir compris, et de mener avec acharnement (en évitant autant que possible l'écoeurement) sa quête de la vérité; et d'autre part, le ressenti de Maigret par rapport à d'Oulmont: s'il est convaincu que c'est lui l'assassin, et qu'il en ressent un certain dégoût (traduit dans le texte par les termes "crime crapuleux, crime sans excuse"), en même temps il y a comme une forme de pitié pour cet homme (on le voit dans chaque phrase qui décrit le jeune homme, avec les termes "fatigué", "pâle").

Ce qui compte, donc, pour Simenon, n'est pas le vraisemblable policier, mais la façon qu'a Maigret de se pencher sur un cas humain, et sa façon d'appréhender les choses: il y a deux phrases essentielles dans cette nouvelle: la première est "En vérité, Maigret ne savait rien! Maigret sentait.".

Maigret, bien qu'il soit surtout à la recherche d'une vérité humaine, reste cependant un policier, et, en tant que tel, doit mener son enquête à sa fin: et voici alors la deuxième phrase, qui répond finalement aux interrogations de Keith: "Le flair ne suffit pas. La conviction non plus. La Justice exige une preuve", et c'est pourquoi Maigret n'a trouvé que cette façon de faire craquer d'Oulmont...

Keith's questions can be answered in two ways... The first is to examine the text, and try to answer "point by point", focusing on the "detective story" aspect:

  • It's true that d'Oulmont has "a cast-iron alibi", but this alibi has its flaws, which Maigret picks up during the interrogation. d'Oulmont would have had time, during his afternoon at Longchamp, to leave the racecourse and go to his uncle's hotel, where he could have easily entered without anyone's notice.

  • Less clear is the problem of the money. Essentially, how was d'Oulmont able to get it across the border? We can conjure up a number of hypotheses... d'Oulmont had transferred it to an account in Belgium, or his suitcases had false bottoms which had eluded the search, or Sonia had hidden it in her underwear, or d'Oulmont had a friend (maybe the same one as at the dance) cross the border with the money...

  • Why wouldn't the Belgian police have collaborated with Maigret, whose reputation, of course, transcended borders? This wasn't Maigret's only case outside of France, without official mandate, but who attaches so much importance to borders... when what's important is that Maigret "was right", as shown by d'Oulmont's move (to shoot the Chief Inspector).

Which brings us to the second way to respond to Keith: his questions about the realism of the police story as told by Simenon, raising an interesting point about Simenon's way of writing, about his goals, and above all leading to the essential question, which is whether the Maigrets, novels and stories both, are actually detective stories at all, in the strict sense of the term.

In my opinion, the answer is "no", and that's why this character of the Chief Inspector is so intriguing and exciting. His investigations are not simply mystery stories, like those of Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, for example, in which it's a question of explaining the solution which conforms to the rules of logic. In Simenon's novels, it's easy to find objections, from the point of view of a police story, to the conduct of Maigret's investigations, where we could find numerous improbabilities, "technical" errors... (Remember, in Les mémoires de Maigret, these words of the Chief Inspector, reading for the first time a detective story by Georges Sim (La jeune fille aux perles), "As for the story, it was unrecognizable, and I was made to use some quite unexpected methods, to say the least..").

But we must recognize that Simenon's goal is not to "simply" construct a detective story... From the beginning, his Chief Inspector distinguishes himself from other characters in the same vein (Fayard had remarked on it, he who had hesitated so long before agreeing to publish the first Maigrets...), and the author wants to show, through the medium of the detective story, more than the simple resolution of a mystery. What's important, in fact, is not so much the realism of the detective story, nor the logical resolution of the problem, but actually the way Maigret leads his investigation.

In the story at hand, Maigret does not simply follow the trail of d'Oulmont for the simple pleasure of seeing him betray himself, but rather he wants to verify the truth that he has sensed... he doesn't verify a simple hypothesis, he seeks to confront his feeling was a human truth... If we read the text carefully, we see that that's what Simenon insistes on. The story is built with two sides. On the one hand, Maigret's feelings with regard to his case, his sense of being right, of having understood, moving forward relentlessly (while avoiding discouragement as much as poissible) in his quest for the truth. On the other, Maigret's feeling about d'Oulmont... Though he is convinced that he is the killer, and feels a certain disgust indicated in the text by the words "heinous crime, inexcusable crime), at the same time there is a kind of pity for him (which we see in the way the young man is described, with words like "tired", "pale"...)

So what counts for Simenon is not a realistic police story, but the way Maigret focuses on a human situation, and his way of understanding things. There are two important sentences in this story, the first, "In truth, Maigret knew nothing! Maigret felt.".

Maigret, although he may be mainly searching for human truth, is, nevertheless, a policeman, and as such, must carry his investigation to its end. And so we have the second sentence, finally coming around to Keith's questions, "Flair is not enough, nor is conviction. The law requires proof", and that's why Maigret could only find this way of cracking d'Oulmont...

Murielle

Subtitles for Cremer?
10/11/12 – I found your marvelous site dedicated to Simenon and his Maigret and I think (maybe) you or somebody else can help me. What do I need? I managed to get brilliant Maigret adaptation of Bruno Cremer in 54 episodes. I didn't buy DVD's because, at this moment, that's a bit expensive for me. Anyway, I've found rips of all episodes, but couldn't find any subtitles.

Do you know a way to get English subs for this?

Many thanks in advance and keep up the good work.

Regards,
Milan
from Serbia

Missing Tapes
10/22/12 – I tried asking the forum this a couple of years ago without success and so am trying again.
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?
Alternatively, as I am only going to digitise the tapes to MP3 anyway, if you have the stories in electronic form maybe I could have them on email?

Cheers!
Keith

Maigret of the Month: La femme rousse [The redhead]

10/24/12 –

This novel is the third of the proto-Maigrets in order or writing, but it was the last to appear. It was published in April, 1933, by which time Fayard had already produced 17 "official" novels reporting the Chief Inspector's investigations.

The novel is signed "Georges Sim", no longer "Christian Brulls", like the first two. And this is meaningful... the author is coming closer to the literature he would like to write, and following the popular novels, he is on the path of detective novels. By using this pseudonym, he is not very far from his official production. True, he had also used it for pot-boilers, but nonetheless, this was the one he had chosen for his first published work, (Au pont des Arches), and also the one he reserved for the adventures of his two "rivals" of Maigret, Sancette and Jarry.

Thus the novel appeared in 1933, not from Fayard, but Tallandier, in the collection "Criminels et Policiers" [Cops and Robbers]. And so it's clearly identified as a "detective" novel, and no longer a "popular", even though the story is still seen through the eyes of someone other than a more or less official "investigator". But we note, however, that Debonnier, in the story, plays the role of a kind of "amateur detective", with all the expected blunders, and that the author is happy to emphasize the contrast with the presence of Maigret, however sporadic, bringing it closer to a true detective story. Lacassin wrote that this novel is "already a sketch of a draft of a theme... initiatory flight", a recurrent theme in Simenon's work. However, it seems like the author is trying two scenes at the same time. On one side, the portrait of this man who goes in search of his daughter while searching for himself, but at the same time, the subject seems difficult for Simenon to handle, and he feels the need to balance his story with the presence of the Chief Inspector, whose function seems to be essentially "to bring the story down to earth". Indeed, we see constantly in the narrative, descriptions of the changes in the character of Debonnier, in his way of looking at things, a sort of "self-analysis" the character undergoes most often feverishly, pushed by circumstances, those sections lending the text an often frantic atmosphere. To tone it down, the author brings in the character of Maigret, calm, opposing Debonnier's bustling with serenity, and his wanderings through Paris with the technical machinery of a police investigation.

We note again, in this novel, in the character of a young girl, pure, overwhelmed by incredible circumstances, the presence of Hélène Debonnier, luminous, if slightly dimmed, who will above all allow Maigret to exercise once more his magnanimity and his role of "mender of destinies", since he offers her happiness by letting her marry the man she loves, a man who had killed in the past (though justifiably, under dire circumstances, in his pathetic story), a past absolved by the Chief Inspector more or less willingly (see the last sentence of the next to the last chapter, where Maigret, who just let M. Georges escape, returns to Paris grumpy with everyone), but this is the kind of story which requires a "happy ending"... It's perhaps a result of this constraint that the author didn't develop further the character of this mysterious "redhead", whose intriguing presence could lead the reader to a thousand romantic conjectures, and who turns out to be "only" M. Georges's sister, for whom she took her revenge.

We can conclude that of the four proto-Maigrets, this one is the least successful in terms of its plot (which is perhaps the reason why Fayard – and Simenon himself? – didn't integrate it into the Maigret cycle, and why the author gave it to a different publisher, as if to clearly separate it from the more successful "official" novels). But this novel is worthwhile for its depiction of the character of Debonnier, on the one hand, and on the other because Maigret already appears in certain characteristic poses, even if he does not yet have the leading role.

He doesn't appear until the last chapter of the first part, but you have the slight impression that from that point in the writing, it's the author calling for help to revive the story. As if by chance, the preceding chapter closes with the scene where Debonnier, after his unsuccessful visit to the redhead, starts to feel discouraged, and he does an astonishing thing... "He mechanically took his pipe from his pocket, but he didn't fill it." Like watching Maigret appear... and that's exactly what happens, a few lines later. It's as if the author, not too sure of how to continue the wanderings of his character, had a sudden need to oppose him with someone who could provide him with a foil, and this someone was the Chief Inspector, who appeared immediately with his familiar traits... "broad shoulders, a thick chest and a face with a certain ironic bonhomie and abnormal self-assurance". Already a quiet strength... A strength Debonnier will bump into, and carom off, like a spinning top banged into a wall, into new ramblings.

Maigret then tries to take Debonnier's place, advising him to go home, to let the police handle the affair, in short, to leave it to him, to Maigret, to take the initiative in the plot. But there isn't enough time, the character of the Chief Inspector must still mature, and Debonnier maintains the lead role, colliding once more with Maigret, and the author delights in describing these "collisions" between the portly little retiree and the solid block of the Chief Inspector. We have to wait until the outcome for Debonnier to finally hand over the initiative to Maigret, who sets up the events which decide the fates of the characters... it's Maigret who has M. Georges tell his story, Maigret who lets him escape, and he again who proposes to Debonnier to arrange the marriage of his daughter, even imposing his presence at the wedding. Debonnier is no longer the little pensioner preoccupied with the good running of his new car, and the Chief Inspector is ready to take center stage in the last of the four proto-Maigrets...

Murielle Wenger

original French

Maigret in English - Covers online...

10/25/12 –

Now online at Murielle's site,

Les Equêtes du Commissaire Maigret,

Maigret > Bibliographie > Couvertures des éditions en langues étrangères > Maigret en anglais:

English Covers.

Maigret of the Month: La maison de l'inquiétude [The House of Anxiety]

11/19/12 –

This fourth proto-Maigret – in the order of writing - is special in that it was the first Maigret published… not as a book, but serialized in the weekly L'Œuvre, between March and April, 1930. It was published in book form in February, 1932, by Tallandier, in the series "Criminels et policiers" [Cops and Robbers], the same series which a year later hosted La femme rousse. And so readers discovered this new, atypical character almost a year before his official launching at the famous Boule blanche ball… And yet, there was nothing to suggest that the Chief Inspector would achieve his well-known success, and this serial probably didn't stand out from the innumerable texts of the same sort which could be read in any journal of those years between the wars…

Why didn't this novel, La maison de l'inquiétude, considered by many "Simenonists" to be the best of the proto-Maigrets, receive the honors of the official corpus? For it combines (almost) all the ingredients of a "true" Maigret... the story opens with a characteristic scene, an office at the Quai des Orfèvres, bathed in the mist of a November night. Maigret is present from the beginning, and his description is familiar - he has "massive hands", "enjoys grumbling", wears "no jacket, no false collar". Interrupted in the midst of writing a report, on a desk shared with empty beer glasses... he listens to a young woman whose visit will set off an investigation, while he fills his pipe "with slow movements".

The Chief Inspector, unlike in the other three proto-Maigrets, will be present throughout the entire story, will narrate his way of leading an investigation, which is that which we will come to know... "hands in his pockets, hat pushed back on his head", he questions the concierge, rummages through the victim's house, ponders the information he collects little by little, feels a certain empathy for the characters he encounters, and searches for the truth more by depending on his feelings than by using a logical method.

So why then is this novel considered just a test - almost successful- and not one of the official novels of the corpus?

In fact, if you look more closely, while it's almost a true Maigret case, there are still some "little flaws" that the author will learn to eliminate in future texts. The novel, though a detective story, still retains some "tricks" of the popular novels... the identity of a character taken up by another (the theme of "twins" that Simenon will use, refined, in Pietr le Letton), relatively schematic characters, traditional genres, theatrical endings, Maigret's after-the-fact explanations of events, to justify, in a way, vagaries of the plot.

But above all, what makes it different from novels of the corpus, is that while Maigret takes center stage, there are still descriptions by a narrator – and the view of the reader – from "outside". Simenon "tells" how the Chief Inspector feels things, how he imagines them, how he tries to understand. That's the difference in the novels which follow, where Maigret's impressions are described from "inside", as if the world of the story were seen through the eyes of the main character. In the official corpus, the reader "sees and thinks" through Maigret, experiences things like he experiences them, and it's Simenon's talent that he succeeds in presenting a neutral and "objective" detective story, with a "subjective" view of the investigation, where the reader is involved with the hero…

Murielle Wenger

original French

New Maigret Book
12/14/12 – Dear Maigretphiles

I would like to draw your attention to a new book on the commissaire

Maigret, Simenon and France: social dimensions of the novels and stories by Bill Alder.
Publisher: McFarland
ISBN - 10: 0786470542
ISBN - 13: 978-0786470549

As the author, I won't say any more, but I would be very pleased to hear feedback from followers of this website.

Best wishes for the continued success of the site.
Bill Alder

A new Maigret pastiche....
12/26/12 – Dear Maigretphiles

Both Le Docteur Maigret, a novel in French, and Doctor Maigret, its translation into English, are available as eBooks exclusively. Amazon and many other digital booksellers offer them.

I am eager to receive comments from anyone.

Best wishes,
David Simmons

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film and tv '97-'01   Index '97 - '04  


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