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Happy New Year!

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune
1/1/04 –

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

(I've been maintaining a "Maigret Enclopedia" for many years, from which I've been able to produce lists like "References to Latin America" or "Fingerprints" or "Francs" as we've seen in the Forum from time to time. I've started to gather some of these together and to add them to the newly renamed "Reference" page, but I'd like to begin an expansion of the "Plots" pages into a richer resource than just a brief outline of each story.)

To begin, let's look at "Le chien jaune", one of the first Maigrets, published in 1931, the year the series was inaugurated. Literally "The Yellow Dog", it also appears in English as A Face for a Clue, Maigret and the Concarneau Murders, Maigret and the Yellow Dog. I wonder how they came up with "A Face for a Clue" as the title for the first translation? Whose face was it that gave the clue, Emma's?

Introductions

Richard Vinen's introduction to the new Penguin edition, "The Yellow Dog" is a fine and interesting anaylysis. Marcel Aymé's preface to the French edition is more of an introduction to Maigret than to Le chien jaune.

Translations

There are two translations, the first by Geoffrey Sainsbury, published in 1939 in the UK, 1940 in the US, and the newer one by Linda Asher, published in 1987 by Harcourt. Here's the bibliography entry.
As usual, there are some "strange" translations in the Sainsbury version. Looking briefly at Chapter 1, for example, in the opening paragraphs Sainsbury adds a new line: "The hotel was at the corner where the quay joined the Place Jean Jaurès." And when M checks for strychnine in the Calvados bottle, in the Sainsbury translation "there were no white grains to be seen," while in fact in the original French (and the Asher translation) , "il ... aperçut quelques grains du poudre blanche," "he ... saw a few specks of white powder." I'd say you're best to stick with the Asher translation if you're not reading the French.

Concarneau

What is Maigret doing in Concarneau? He was temporarily posted to Rennes "to reorganize its mobile unit." You can see Rennes on the map, west of Paris. Continue west all the way to the coast at Brest, and the little red dot south of Brest is Concarneau, not far outside of Quimper. Distance from Paris is 341 miles (549km), Rennes 122 miles (197km), Quimper, 17 miles (27km).

Here's an enlargement of that area:

(Both of these are adapted from Michelin maps published in the mid-50s.)

I haven't located a good city map of Concarneau, but it would be interesting to follow the action on one from the 30s...

There's a brief online English Summary of Concarneau – history, etc., at Concarneau, the blue city. Other online sites about Concarneau are Concarneau - découvrez La Ville Bleue, Concarneau – La Ville Bleue, Concar.net, and Concarneau.

Unfortunately, Guido de Croock hasn't done Le chien jaune on his Maigret's Journeys in France site yet, or I'm sure we'd have a wealth of detailed information about this setting.

Film

The second Maigret film (after La nuit du carrefour) was Le chien jaune, in 1932, with Abel Tarride.

Chapter 1

In Chapter 1 Maigret hardly speaks at all, and when he does, it's always a question:

"Did the operation go well?"
"And the dog?"
"Has the waitress been here long?"
"She didn't go out last night?"
"What's the matter?"
"What makes you think—?"
"You always drink Pernod?"


That's it for today... more coming all month long. Please feel free to contribute anything related to Le chien jaune / The Yellow Dog, especially this month. Of course, the normal Forum activities will continue as usual. Your comments, suggestions and opinions regarding this "Maigret of the Month" feature are solicited and welcome...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 2
1/2/04 –
Great idea about the forum, Steve.
Le chien jaune was the first Simenon I read in French, and possibly the first I ever read, although I knew of Maigret from the Rupert Davies series on BBC in the 60s.
In the autumn of 1969, Professor Glanville Price of the University of Stirling set Le chien jaune for first year students to improve their French vocabulary, so at 8.30 every Tuesday morning we would sit in a seminar room while he quizzed us to see whether we'd actually looked up the words we didn't know.
He was a fierce little Welshman, and woe betide you if you'd been lazy.
However, I learned a lot from him, including the urban nature of the glottal stop (now widespread in Britain -- and elsewhere?), and how to pronounce the "u" in "tu", which, if I remember correctly, involved blowing out a lighted match!
I re-read Le chien jaune last year. It seems to me one of the most densely plotted of the Maigrets, with a lot to enjoy.
Now I'll have to read it again!

The Introduction
Richard Vinen's introduction is interesting, though you can hear the sound of political axes being ground.
How right-wing was Simenon? There is plenty of evidence which makes it seem likely that his sympathies did lie on the right, but at the same time his irreligious libertinism points to a rejection of his early influences.
I suspect that Simenon was fairly apolitical, even to the extent of being politically naive. Pierre Assouline's biography, particularly when it deals with the war years, supports this reading of his character.

The Translation
I don't have access to Geoffrey Sainsbury's translation at the moment, but from the first chapter I would say that Linda Asher has done a fine job.
There are, however, a couple of points that need to be teased out.
Firstly, le chien itself. Simenon describes it as recalling both le mâtin et le dogue d'Ulm. Asher translates this as "both a mastiff and a bulldog", but the dictionaries I've consulted translate dogue as mastiff (perhaps dogue d'Ulm is a particular type of mastiff?) while mâtin is described as a hunting hound. In Britain, foxhounds and beagles are the most common type of hunting hounds, and no doubt in France they use all sorts of dogs for hunting, but surely not a bulldog?

Asher translates "...his huge head calls to mind both a mastiff and a bulldog," so while the dog may not have resembled a bulldog so much, maybe his head did...

dogue Allemand, aka: dogue d'Ulm,
dogue anglais, dogue danois...

mastiff

a dogue d'Ulm is apparently a kind of dogue Allemand

Sainsbury skirted the issue in his translation:

"...its large head had something of a mastiff about it."
ST

Secondly, Servières says he was directeur de la Vache Rousse à Montmartre. Asher translates this as "the manager of the Red Cow". This suggests that he ran a bar or perhaps nightclub, and while this might account for Mme Servières' shady background, alluded to in Vinen's introduction, my dictionary gives a secondary meaning of directeur as 'editor'. Given that Servières works as a journalist, surely this is a better reading. "The Red Cow" might have been a magazine, perhaps one like the satirical and semi-pornographic magazines that Simenon contributed some many pieces to in his apprenticeship as a writer. Might the word "red" have political connotations? Or does La Vache Rousse contain a cultural allusion?

From the looks of Simenon's punctuation, it seems more likely to me to be a club. The original looks like this:
J'ai été longtemps directeur de la Vache Rousse, à Montmartre... J'ai collaboré au Petit Parisien, à Excelsior, à la Dépêche...
It seems like Simenon used italics to indicate the names of the newspapers or journals, and none of the others indicate a district of Paris...

Sainsbury apparently thought so too. He 'translated' this section as: "For many years I ran a cabaret in Montmartre. The Vache Rousse — I dare say you know it."

ST

Chapter 1
Simenon set many of his books in seaside ports, and his descriptions are very atmospheric. He would of course have been very familiar with such settings from his sailing exploits, and his birthplace, Liège, on the Meuse, was itself a major port.
The opening pages capture the scene with sensual intensity, using visual and aural imagery to present the scene vividly to the reader.
In particular, the use of the present tense lends an almost cinematic immediacy to these pages, as if we are witnessing events as they occur. I suspect that Simenon used this technique frequently.

Absinthe!
Finally, I was intrigued by the reference to Pernod being described as l'imitation d'absinthe or mock absinthe. I did a little research and found that absinthe was banned in France in 1915 due to fears about the effects of wormwood and the immense consumption of the drink contributing to social problems. The firm of Pernod-Fils (now Pernod-Ricard) closed down for five years before reopening with a wormwood-free recipe. I've only tasted Pernod once, and that was enough!

Best wishes
Roddy

Maigret and his pipes
1/3/04 – In response to Bob Kerr's recent question, my impression is that Maigret's pipe smoking is mentioned 'all the time' in the stories, but that Maigret himself hardly talks about it.

That seems to be true. The Sherlock list, as published in the Summer 2000 edition of "Pipes & Tobacco" magazine, consisted of 72 quotes. I have scanned through the three Maigrets I have, and mention of Maigret packing his pipe, lighting his pipe,smoking his pipe, etc. are numerous.

"Maigret Takes the Waters" 23 times.
"Maigret Hesitates" 21 times.
"Madame Maigret's Own Case" 13 times.

That is 57 times in only three books, compared to the 72 references cited from 44 Sherlock stories, and most of those were of no more significance than the Maigret ones.

Best wishes for the New Year,
Bob Kerr

Maigret and the Broken Pipes
I have found an interesting set of pipe examples, though. Situations where M becomes so upset that he bites clean through the stem of his pipe. Here's what I have:
M stopped, and suddenly clenched his jaw so hard that the stem of his pipe broke clean in two between his teeth.
Talking to Tiburce de Saint-Hilaire in Chapter 11, the conclusion. [1930-GAL]
At that moment the Chief Inspector bit on the stem of his pipe so hard that he broke it and the bowl dropped onto the floor.
At the end of Chapter 8, on discovering that Else Anderson was not in her room. [1931-NUI]
His jaws clenched so tightly that at one point the stem of his pipe snapped between his teeth.
During the telephone conversation with Joseph Daumale, end of Chapter 9. [1946-NEW]
There was a sharp little sound. It was the stem of M's pipe breaking under the pressure of his bite. The bowl fell to the floor.
Interviewing Julien Baud about finding Antoinette Vague's dead body in Chapter 5. [1968-HES]
He did not utter a word the whole way there, and he bit down so hard on his pipe that he cracked the ebonite stem.
Chapter 4, M had the feeling he'd overlooked something important... In the car, on the way to interviewing Mme Blanc, the concierge. [1968-ENF]
In three cases, faced with Tiburce de Saint-Hilaire in GAL, thinking of Mme Blanc in ENF, and on the phone long distance with Joseph Daumale in NEW, it seems that M is almost incredulous, infuriated by the depths to which these people have sunk without any apparent feeling of self-reproach. In the other two he seems more to be furious with himself, feeling he had let something bad happen.


ST

Value of French Francs
1/4/04 – With regard to the French Francs listing newly added to the Reference page, at the Insee site you will find the exact value of French Francs from 1901 to 2002 in euro taking into account price increases, "nouveaux francs" in 1960, etc.

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 3
1/4/04 –
Is this cute little puppy on the dust jacket of the Harcourt edition supposed to represent the 'monster' that had everyone so upset?


La Vache Rousse
As far as La Vache Rousse is concerned, the punctuation issue did occur to me later, after I'd posted.
In Chapter 3 when Maigret phones Le Phare de Brest (which Asher translates beautifully as the "Brest Beacon"), he asks to speak to the directeur, reinforcing the idea that Simenon used it in the sense of "editor". However, in Maigret's notes in Chapter 3, he refers to Servières as journaliste à Paris, sécretaire général de petits théâtres, which lends force to La Vache Rousse being one of those. Although Servieres is described as being proud of his journalism, he might have been trying to impress Maigret in another way when he introduced himself. I'll go along with La Vache Rousse being a petit theatre.
Roddy

Concarneau map
Jerome has forwarded a link to a large detailed map of Concarneau. Here's a reduced version on which I've added an "A" to mark the location of the Admiral Café, "B" for les Sables Blancs, the White Sands, where the Mayor's house and Dr. Michoux's was, and "C" for Cabélou Point, the old fort where Léon was camping.

And from here you'll find more maps of Concarneau, including the downtown area.

Translations
The Linda Asher translation was first published in the USA in 1987 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich as a hardback book in a dust jacket entitled "Maigret and the Yellow Dog" (ISBN 0-15-155564-8). In 1988 the same translation and title was published in the USA as a paperback with a mainly typographic front cover by Harvest/HBJ (ISBN 0-15-655157-8). This translation was reissued in 1995 in the USA by the same publisher with the same title and ISBN, but with a more pictorial cover.
In 2003 Penguin Books in the UK published this Maigret novel, but under the title "The Yellow Dog", the translation being by Linda Asher (ISBN 0-14-118734-4).
The earlier translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury, in comparison with the author's French text, has many additions, omissions and alterations. Linda Asher's translation is much closer to what Simenon has written, but at times is too clipped, too staccato. However her translation is the one to read to appreciate Simenon's narrative.

Peter Foord
UK

Rupert Davies' TV series and "Maigret Sets a Trap"
1/5/04 – To clarify this presentation indicated by David Wilkins (12/30/03), I have checked my records. The novel "Maigret sets a Trap" (Maigret Tend un Piège) was not adapted for any of the BBC Rupert Davies "Maigret" series. On Monday the 10th of December 1962 the scheduled presentation was "The Amateurs". This was based on "Maigret and the Lazy Burglar" (Maigret et le Voleur Paresseux), written in 1961. This transmission was postponed for that particular evening, but went out a week later on Monday the 17th of December 1962 at the same time, 9.25 to 10.15 p.m. The entry in the BBC's magazine "Radio Times" for the 17th of December acknowledges the postponement, but does not give an explanation.
The adaptation was by Donald Bull and the guest stars were Mervyn Johns (Inspector Fumel), Georgina Cookson (Mrs. Wilton) and George Pastill (Bellini).

Peter Foord
UK

Rupert Davies "Maigret - The Trap"-"lost" episode
1/8/04 – Well, my diary did not lie. I have just had correspondence from the BBC to say that on December 10 1962 "The Amateurs" was scheduled and itemised in the Radio Times. However, due to the illness of one of the cast members the recording was late and the episode tranmission had to be postponed until the following week. "The Trap" went out instead!!!
The BBC has it in their archives and I am off to London later this month to view it... I cannot believe that after 41 years I am about to see my favourite episode again. I asked if there was any news on the release to video/DVD but the department could not speak for that.

David Wilkins

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 4

In what year does it take place?
1/9/04 –
I am rereading "Le chien jaune," and the first sentence of the book is interesting : "Vendredi 7 Novembre. Concarneau est désert." ("Friday, November 7. Concarneau is empty.") I wondered in what year the action took place.
An Excel spreadsheet provides an easy way to find all the 7th November Fridays in the 20th century. The possible years would be 1924 or 1930. There is also a 7-Nov-1913, but absinthe was still allowed at that time, as Roddy wrote. After 1930, the next Friday 7th November is 1941, and that is too late. I think that we can safely say that the action is taking place at end of the year 1930.
I looked at previous discussions related to Maigret's age (by Forest and Drake) but did not see "Le chien jaune" in the list. If the action took place in 1930 that would make Maigret 43 years old. In the age study, I saw that "M Gallet died on June 27, 1930". That's possible since in "Le chien jaune" Maigret had just been assigned to Rennes for a month. He must have arrived in Rennes around the 7th October. 1930 was a busy year for Maigret!
To complete the year study, the second sentence says it is "onze heure moins cinq" (10:45) and the third that "c'est le plein de la marée" (the tide is full - high tide). At www.concarneau.org/meteo you can input a date and get the tide schedule. The 7 November 1930, the tide was at its lowest at 11:23! Simenon used boats a lot and must have known from books the tide schedules. Was he correct?
And here's another element to date the story: in Chapter X, Maigret asks about what happend four or five years before to the boat La Belle-Emma and Léon tells in his story that everyone at that time was smuggling alcohol. In the USA, Prohibition was from 1919 to 1933 — that would make the year 1930 a good one, as Léon's arrest would have taken place in 1925: during Prohibition. The other possible date, 1924, would have made the arrest of Léon in 1919, just at the start of Prohibition. Could it be possible?
One last point. Today in France, the 11th November is a bank holiday for the end of the first World War: l'arministice, Armistice Day. In the book, as the story spreads over 5 or 6 days, we should see Tuesday the 11th and have some celebration, but nothing is mentioned in the story. I do not know when the 11th November became a bank holiday in France, perhaps after 1924 or 1930. That could allow us to choose which year — 1924 or 1930 — is the best possible year for the book.

The image is a tourism poster for Concarneau from 1930.
Regards
Jerome

Maigret's Broken Pipes
1/9/04 – Thank you for that collection of "Broken Pipe" quotes from various Maigret books — not exactly the type of inspirational pipe smoking lines we pipe smokers like to see, but it does give some insights into the physical attributes of Maigret. He obviously possessed his own teeth, and they were housed in jaws resembling a rabbit trap.
I much prefer the sentiments expressed by the creator himself, Georges Simenon, in the interview he gave to Lanzmann in the "Lui Magazine" 1967 article where he express a sentimental attachment to the pipes that have been given to him by his wife, and others. He tells us his pipes give him relaxation, and confidence. He declares that he is not a collector of pipes, "I'm just an ordinary consumer" he says, (with over three hundred pipes). Indeed, a pipe smoker to be admired, and envied.

Regards
Bob Kerr

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 5

Chapitre 2 — Le docteur en pantoufles
1/10/04 –
Forensics
Maigret teases Leroy on his scientific methods; Leroy thinks Maigret "ignorait la valeur des investigations scientifiques". I think the Forum has looked at this before, but I was interested to read (in Patrick Marnham's biography, The Man who wasn't Maigret) that Simenon himself had attended lectures on forensic science:

In later life Simenon denied that he had ever done any serious research into police methods before writing his Maigret books, apart from spending the odd afternoon with some friends in the Paris CID. In fact in 1920-21 the young reporter enrolled as an extra-mural student and attended a series of lectures at the University of Liege on the new science of forensics.... Simenon's attendance ... would have made him, for a brief period, better informed than many policemen. (Marnham, pp 59-60)
Obviously he felt that the interest in novels arises from characters rather than from clues, unlike many of his contemporaries or indeed some present-day crime novelists. No one would read Agatha Christie or Patricia Cornwell for their human interest.

Anarchists
With regard to the political ideas in Richard Vinen's introduction to the new Penguin edition, the pharmacist who analyses the poisoned bottles would like to blame it on anarchists. Does anyone know how active anarchists were in the 1920s and 30s in France? Were they responsible for outrages like poisoning the drinks of the bourgeoisie in towns like Concarneau, or is Simenon indulging in a little social satire? (By the way, I'd agree with Jerome's placing of the novel in 1930; also, Vinen makes the point that there is no reference as expected to Armistice Day in the novel.)

"Dr." Michoux
I like the descriptions of the half-built houses and hotel on Michoux's plots of land, as well as of the false elegance of Michoux's house.
A small puzzle: Michoux is a doctor, but people interested in buying his plots are directed to Monsieur Ernest Michoux. Maigret says in his notes on the case that Michoux and his mother are "trading on dead husband's name", but I don't think that fully explains it.

tutoyer
I'd never fully realised the importance of being able to tutoyer in French until I compared the French and English versions of Maigret's conversation with Emma in this chapter: By referring to Emma as tu, Simenon conveys the concern and sympathy Maigret feels for the girl, but this is lost, or at least less visible, in the translation; maybe the translator could have put in "my dear" to compensate.

Chapitre 5 — L'homme du Cabelou

Maigret asks the young police officer who captured the giant of a man what people think about the arrest of Dr Michoux.
He replies that the ordinary people aren't too concerned, might even be pleased because he was part of the crowd who drank too much, treated the town as if they owned it and exploited poor young women.
The middle-class people are, however, appalled.
Maigret's sympathies are always with the underdog, the lower class, though he himself, as the son of an estate manager who served an aristocrat, might be said to be bourgeois and he leads a bourgeois existence.
Simenon seems to an extent to have shared these sympathies, though of course he himself became very wealthy (and of course acted on occasion like Michoux and his associates).
As Assouline states in the opening chapters of his biography, Simenon hated the social attitudes of the Christian Brothers whose school he attended, "especially their peculiar penchant for holding the state schools up as a bogeyman and for harping on class divisions. This may well have been the leavening of a powerful conviction that never left him: that humility is the greatest of all human values." (Assouline pp 4-5).
Simenon indeed seems to have despised the high-born and the rich. In "Maigret Meets a Milord", he portrays the English Lord as a dissolute brute, and later, in "Maigret and the Millionaires", for example, he shows them as leading empty, meaningless lives.
Towards the end of his life, Simenon seems to have deliberately eschewed the trappings of wealth, putting his valuables into storage and moving from his Epalinges mansion to live very simply and humbly in a small shady house in a quiet street.
Assouline asserts that this was "the final demand of the anxiety and insecurity that had never left him: a house, a neighborhood, and furniture as cramped and ugly as those of his childhood." (Assouline, p386)
While accepting this as likely, I wonder if another reading is not possible: that having experienced everything to excess, and finding little of value, Simenon finally chose the most simple existence possible.
In the exhibition in Liege last year there was short but very touching video clip which showed an old and feeble Simenon returning to his home from a walk. As he enters, his companion Teresa tenderly helps him take off his coat. Simenon looks distracted, unwell, tired. This extraordinary man, who has experienced more in his lifetime than perhaps any other of his generation, is now almost completely dependent on the love and care of his sole companion. Nothing else matters.

Roddy

Maigret editions
1/10/04 –
Checking through the invaluable Maigret bibliography on this site, and comparing it with my collection, I came across a couple of points which might be of interest to other collectors.
In the 1950s, Penguin often bundled two Maigrets together in one volume, perhaps because of their short length, and brought it out under a different title. Two from my own collection which are like this are Maigret Travels South, comprising "Liberty Bar" and "The Madman of Bergerac", and Maigret Sits it Out, containing "The Lock at Charenton" and "Maigret Returns".
Penguin seem to have been following (perhaps republishing) Simenon's hardback publisher in the 1940s, as I found out when I came across a volume on offer on eBay entitled Maigret and M. l'Abbe. This caused me some headscratching until I found out it's a compendium volume containing the Maigret novel, "Death of a Harbour Master", and a non-Maigret, "The Man from Everywhere" (Le relais d'Alsace).
I'd be interested to know if anyone has come across any other of these volumes, apart from book club editions. I know a lot of non-Maigret Simenons have been published as two-in-one editions, and of course there are the omnibuses as well.
I've also been trying to track down the gaps in my collection. A gift token at Christmas has helped me to buy some at Amazon, but even there some are proving difficult to trace, having "limited availability" (Amazon-speak for "we haven't got it").
The ones I'm still looking for are as follows:

Maigret at the Coroner's
Maigret and the death of a Harbour Master
(the one on eBay was too expensive!)
Maigret on Holiday
Maigret and the Loner
Maigret and the Toy Village
Maigret in Exile
Maigret and the Flemish Shop
By the way, well done to Penguin for issuing several titles which have long been unavailable. I have to say, though, that the American Harvest editions are cheaper on Amazon.
Roddy

Roddy's Want List
1/11/04 – All except Maigret's Vacation were published by HBJ in America in paperback ten to fifteen years ago. Perhaps a look on Amazon's or Abebooks or Barnes & Noble's American sites might reveal them. every so often you find some that are still unsold, which is to say new. That's how I got M Hesitates last year, the only HBJ paperback I was missing.

Regards
Joe

Changes in French departments
1/11/04 – I like the monthly Maigret — it brings some interesting activity to the Forum.
On another subject, I was looking at the page Maigret - in France, outside Paris which Guido de Croock made for Maigret stories outside of Paris, and I saw that some of the towns are in departments like Essone (91) for "La nuit du carrefour" or "La guingette à 2 sous". The departments with numbers above 90 were created after the splitting of Seine et Oise department at the end of the sixties.
Here are the details (from splaf.free.fr/7578.html):

  • 1964 (July 10): passage of the law for the reorganization of the Paris region and the creation of new departments.
  • 1965 (February 25): decree of the application of the law to create the new departments within three years.
  • 1968 (January 1): replacement of the department Seine-et-Oise, divided among the departments Essonne (198 communes), Hauts-de-Seine (9 communes), Seine-Saint-Denis (16 communes), Val-de-Marne (18 communes), Val-d'Oise (185 communes) and Yvelines (262 communes)
Perhaps the old department names should be shown on the list as well, since the stories took place before 1968. Seine et Oise had number 78 which is now the department number for Yvelines.
In "La guinguette à deux sous", chapter 5, we can find this example, for one: "c'était la seconde fois qu'il fallait alerter toutes les gendarmeries de Seine et Oise" (It was the second time that the gendarmes of Seine and Oise had to be notified).
Regards
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 6

1/15/04 – Simenon, Concarneau, and the Yellow Dog
In the latter part of 1930, Simenon was moving around on the waterways of France, south of Paris, in his boat the Ostrogoth, with his wife Tigy, their maid/cook Boule (Henriette Liberge) and their dog, a Great Dane, called Olaf. This way of life had started in Paris during the spring of 1929 and was to last until October 1931 when Simenon sold the boat at Ouistreham (Calvados) in Normandy.
During the whole two and a half years of the trip Simenon was writing novels and short stories under pseudonyms, as well as those first, mainly, Maigret novels under his own name. It was a transitional period, completing contracts for his publishers of popular novels and building up a reputation as a writer of works for which he is now famous.
Some of the writing was done on board, but at times finding this unsatisfactory, he would moor his boat and find some temporary accommodation.
During November and December 1930, Simenon rented part of the villa "Ker-Jean", 11-15 Avenue des Sables-Blancs, northward along the coast from Concarneau (Finistère) in Brittany. Here he wrote the Maigret novel "Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien" (The Crime of Inspector Maigret / Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets), and some of the work that was published under pseudonyms.
Whilst living there, Simenon, Tigy, Boule, with their dog Olaf, explored Concarneau and its environment, which gave the author plenty of information about this town to use as the setting for two novels, "Le Chien Jaune" and "Les Demoiselles de Concarneau", the latter a non-Maigret work written in 1935 and translated under the title of "The Breton Sisters". Also the author took a number of photographs of the town, which are now in the Fonds Simenon in Liège.
Both novels are set in the month of November, which is precisely the time of year the author experienced whilst living in the area.
Simenon used some of the local names in both novels. The villa in which they were staying was at Sables-Blancs, the location of the homes of the mayor and Ernest Michoux in the "The Yellow Dog". The owner of the villa "Ker-Jean", a jeweller, was M. Albert Gloaguen, who had an address at 10, Quai d'Aiguillon, Concarneau. In the "Breton Sisters" a family's name is Gloaguen who live on the Quai d'Aiguillon, and this quayside is also mentioned in "The Yellow Dog". (Erroneously Simenon spells it Quai de l'Aiguillon). The Café de l'Amiral also features in both novels, as does the name Guérec.
Also it is reasonable to assume that including a dog as part of the storyline was influenced by Simenon having his own Great Dane with him.
In Paris on the 20th of February 1931 at the nightclub "La Boule Blanche" in Montparnasse, Simenon and his publisher Fayard launched the two Maigret titles "M. Gallet, décédé" (The Death of Monsieur Gallet / Maigret Stonewalled) and "Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien" (The Crime of Inspector Maigret / Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets), with the spectacular Bal Anthropométrique, an all night event, when guests were fingerprinted on entry.
Soon after this, in March 1931, the author took his boat along the river Essonne, south of Paris to Guigneville, near La Ferté-Alais, where in the Château/Hôtel "La Michaudière" he wrote "Le Chien Jaune" (A Face for a Clue / Maigret and the Concarneau Murders / Maigret and the Yellow Dog /The Yellow Dog).
But before he started writing the Maigret novel he explored the main plot in the form of a short story which he entitled "Sing-Sing ou La Maison des Trois Marches" (Sing-Sing or The House with the Three Steps). This short story was published in the weekly magazine "VU", N°. 158, 25 March 1931, illustrated with photographs by Germaine Krull. Being an astute businessman, Simenon frequently had many of his short stories and novels published in magazines or newspapers before they came out in book form. This meant that his work reached a wider reading public, as well as bringing in additional revenue.
Possibly, in this case, he might have wanted to put down his idea for the main plot quickly, to gauge how it would pan out as a novel, and how Maigret, who does not appear in the short story version, could be worked in to investigate.
In this short story, the plot is the same as the novel, one of betrayal, but there are fewer characters and their names are different, and there is no dog. Also there is no mention of the name of the town, although it is obviously by the sea. Part of the storyline takes place in the Grand Hotel, which has been in Concarneau for some considerable time. This forty-roomed hotel is located at 1, Avenue Pierre-Guéguin, which butts on to the Quai d'Aiguillon and the three windows of its end façade overlooks the Place Jean Jaurès. In the novel, which Simenon wrote soon after the short story, it is named the Hôtel de l'Amiral (the Admiral Hotel).
Basically having explored the main plotline in the short story, Simenon expands his idea into the novel, giving himself room to establish more characters with twists and turns in the narrative that brings in petty town jealousy, enmity, posturing and rivalry. Into the vividly portrayed atmosphere, conjured up both by the natural elements and the tension generated by certain individuals, he brings Maigret. The latter, at times, at his most brusque, not suffering fools lightly, dismissing a person or situation with a blunt oath, mentally, if not also physically, feels his way to the truth. His sympathy lies with only certain of the inhabitants, including the yellow dog of the French title that wanders through most of the novel like a mysterious symbol.
The printer's date in the first edition of the novel "Le Chien Jaune", published by Fayard, is April 1931, and it would have been put on sale soon afterwards.
When Jean Tarride made the film version of the novel in 1932, the exteriors scenes were shot in Concarneau, whilst the interiors were set up in the Billancourt Studios in Paris.

click to enlarge

The Map of Concarneau (c. 1960)

Key to certain locations on the map:
No. 6 - Avenue Pierre-Guéguin.
The quayside next to the above is the Quai d'Aiguillon.
No. 7 - Place Jean Jaurès.
G - the Gendarmerie (Police Barracks).
H - the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall).
Peter Foord
UK

George Simenon's short story, "Sing-Sing ou La Maison des Trois Marches"
(Sing-Sing or The House with the Three Steps), translated by Peter Foord.

L'œil de Simenon
1/17/04 – I saw while walking in Paris that the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Parc des Tuilleries has an exhibit about Simenon (Forum 12/31/03): "L'œil de Simenon" Du 13/01/2002 au 07/03/2004, présentation des photos de Georges Simenon provenant de ses reportages effectués essentiellement entre 1930 et 1938. There are 157 black and white prints of pictures taken by Simenon, as well as 6 original albums.
I went to the Simenon exhibition this morning, and it is something I highly recommend to anyone coming to Paris in the next month. The exhibition takes place from 13 January to 7 March 2004. It is small but very interesting. There are lots of pictures taken by Simenon between 1931 and 1936 during his travels to Africa, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean sea. The pictures are printed from negatives kept at the "Fonds Georges Simenon" that lent some of the original albums Simenon did on each of his travels.
I saw some pictures from Concarneau taken in 1931 by Simenon. They show us how Simenon saw Concarneau and which parts he took pictures of and inspired him for "Le chien jaune". We can get a small insight of how Simenon looked at the places and compare the pictures with the Maigret books.
There is a book published on the exhibition : L'œil de Simenon, textes de Valère Bertrand, Michel Carly, Catherine Clèment, Patrick Roegiers 22 × 27 cm, broché, 296 pages, 39 euros. Editeur : Omnibus. The book is a "must have" but is quite expensive. At the end of the book, there is information on Simenon's travels and also on the first page covers of the books published in the thirties. There are also some "souvenirs" like an umbrella and a tee-shirt with the profile of Simenon smoking a pipe (29,5 euros each) which are related to the exhibition. I bought the DVD of a talk between Simenon and Bernard Pivot : 141 min of conversation. I am looking forward to listening to it.
I found also that there is a new audio version of "L'amie de Madame Maigret" - www.radiofrance.fr.

Regards
Jerome

Simenon's plots
1/18/04 – In a posting earlier this year I was rather critical of the late Fenton Bresler's biography, "The Mystery of Georges Simenon", dismissing it as sensationalist.
However, having re-read it over the past week, I feel I would like to make some amends for this criticism.
It is in fact a very readable and well-written book, full of psychological insights and benefiting greatly from interviews carried out by the author himself with Simenon, members of his family and others who knew him personally.
The "sensational" aspect comes from Bresler's obsession with the sexual aspects of Simenon's character, to the extent that it becomes a little tiresome, but at the same time it must be admitted that one cannot underestimate the importance of this side of Simenon.
Bresler is particularly good on Simenon's early years as a writer, and he is very interesting about the genesis of the character of Maigret.
However, there is one passage in the book which needs to be looked at again, because it is so misleading about Simenon as the author of detective stories.
Bresler writes:

In all the books that he has written since Pietr-le-Letton, Simenon has never known the plot in advance. He has never known where the story will go from one chapter to the next; each chapter takes a day and each chapter he starts like the reader, not knowing what is to follow. If it is a murder story, he does not solve the mystery and discover the identity of the murderer one second before Maigret does: the two investigate the crime together, as it unfolds before them both. It is a unique partnership in the annals of detective fiction. (Bresler, p67, Stein and Day edition, 1985).
In this one hears the voice of Simenon, and no doubt that is the effect which Simenon would wish to achieve, but this is the Simenon whom Bresler describes as a "fantasist" who "will not always himself know what is true and what is false" (Bresler, p4).

Le Chien Jaune - 7
A close reading of Le Chien Jaune shows that Simenon knows from the beginning exactly where the story is going to go.
The first time the yellow dog enters the cafe in Chapter 1, it lies down at Emma's feet, showing that it knows her. Chapter 2 ends: "Maigret gave a start, not because of this news, but because he had just caught sight of the yellow dog, stretched out at Emma's feet."
The connection between Emma and the dog's owner, Leon, is therefore present from the start.
There is also the back-story of Emma and Leon being engaged to be married until they are separated by Leon's voyage and subsequent arrest, for which Michoux and his associates are responsible.
This novel is tightly plotted. On the day he began the first chapter, Simenon knew how it was going to develop and how it was going to end. Perhaps some later Maigrets are more spontaneous, less planned, but I don't think a single one of them is written in the way Simenon wanted Bresler to believe.
Peter Foord's interesting and enlightening posting supports this idea that Simenon carefully prepared his books.

Roddy

Places of Maigret
1/18/04 – Many serious Maigret fans have mentioned here the difficulties they experience in finding the places where Maigret actions were supposed to take place. Some of these difficulties were, for example, inconsistency between the name of the restaurant and the street (the named restaurant did exist but not on the named street), or inconstancy of distance between a locations (the named place existed, but not as close to other named place).
Unlike some of contributors in this forum, I am nor surprised by these inconsistencies. As we know from several Simenon biographies, he wrote very fast and rarely or never edited his work, so he did not bother to double-check with maps or bus or train schedules for factual accuracy.
It definitely does not effect my enjoyment of Maigret stories.

Vladimir

Maigret of the Month?
1/18/04 – My name is Yara and I live in France. For school, I'm reading Maigret et son mort. I would like to know if this book has already appeared as book of the month. If the answer is yes, could you send this to me?

Thank you already,
Yara

The Maigret of the Month feature has just started. My plan is to start with the earliest published Maigrets, from 1931. Here's the schedule for the first six:
monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland
ST

Rupert Davies "Maigret" - The Lost Episode - "The Trap"
1/20/04 –

Well, here I am back from my trip to London to view "The Trap". What a great service I received. I was guided to a viewing room where the video was all set up and paused at the first frame... I pressed start and sat back to enjoy "The Trap". It was as good as I remembered and the quality was not at all bad... perfectly adequate in fact. I spent 53 minutes revelling in the classy acting and production values I remembered so well. It was just as I had remembered... no anticlimaxes... pure joy! The adaptation was by Margo Bennett and even though Mme Maigret (Helen Shingler) was not in it, her framed photograph was on Maigret's desk. This production predated, of course, Jacqueline Hill's apprearances in "Dr Who"; Sonia Dresdel was perfect as the domineering, son-fixated Mme Moncin; Aubrey Woods perfectly caught the character of the mother/wife-dominated Moncin.
All in all my trip was worth the effort and all for less than £10.00 Perhaps you will update the Rupert Davies master list sometime now that the details are verified? [done!] All we can hope for now is that someone at the BBC decides to either release the series onto video/DVD and/or broadcast them on either BBC3 or BBC4 television channels.

Best wishes,
David Wilkins

Crime Time articles on Simenon
1/20/04 –

The journal 'Crimetime', no. 35, 2003 has a number of articles on Simenon and Maigret by Alsison Joseph, Maxim Jakubowski, Susan Rowland, David Carter, Michael Carson and others. I found a copy in Waterstone's bookshop and details are available on Crimetime's website at www.crimetime.co.uk.

Best wishes
Patricia Clark
Cardiff, UK


Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 8

1/21/04 – In the words of Simenon's biographers

I thought it would be interesting to cite what Simenon's major biographers and others have to say about the works under discussion.

I intend to look at Assouline, Marnham and Bresler first of all. Stanley Eskin's critical biography is often cited, so I have ordered this (from Long Beach, Ca!), but I'll have to add that later.

Assouline first. The edition I've used is Simenon a Biography by Pierre Assouline, translated by Jon Rothschild, Chatto and Windus, London, 1997:

Between March and December of 1931, he followed up the first Maigrets with eight others -- Le Chien jaune (A Face for a Clue), La Nuit du Carrefour (The Crossroads Murders), Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland), Au Rendez-vous des Terres-Nuevas (The Sailors' Rendez-vous), La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin, La Guinguette a deux sous (The Guinguette by the Seine), Le Port des brumes (Death of a Harbour-master), and L'Ombre chinoise (The Shadow in the Courtyard) -- plus one novel, Le Relais d'Alsace (The Man from Everywhere), in which the inspector does not appear. And he continued his frenetic lifestyle, dividing his time between the Ostrogoth and the Chateau de la Michaudiere in Guigneville-sur-Essonne. It was his usual pace.
(Assouline, p99)

Bresler takes up the story (in The Mystery of Georges Simenon by Fenton Bresler, Stein and Day, New York, 1985):

In December 1931, within ten months of the launching of the first two Maigret books, Simenon sold the Ostrogoth ... and rented a sumptuous villa called "Roches Grises" at Cap d'Antibes. There were not more than about a dozen villas built there at the time and in winter the place was almost deserted. [Isn't this curiously reminiscent of the plots of land sold by Dr Michoux in Le Chien jaune? RC] The only other inhabitant was the old Aga Khan who would wave at the soon-to-be-millionaire author as the two of them took their regular morning walks beneath the pine trees.

In the three months that Simenon was at "Roches Grises", he wrote three Maigret novels and worked on the scenarios of two Maigret films: La Nuit du Carrefour with Jean Renoir and Le Chien jaune ("The Yellow Dog") with Jean Tarride.

***

The fate of the two films proved somewhat amusing. La (sic) Chien Jaune was a considerable commercial success but an artistic disaster, with the director's father, Abel Tarride, a veteran of the stage, completely miscast as Maigret and giving a far too-overripe performance as the essentially humanistic and unflurried detective. In contrast, La Nuit du Carrefour sank without trace at the box-office but has now become a cult Jean Renoir film and is shown to intellectually smart cinema clubs throughout the world. As brilliant a director as Jean-Luc Godard has called it "the only great French detective film ever made."

(Bresler, p90)


Assouline, however, asserts:

Le Chien jaune and La Nuit du carrefour were commercial failures. For that Simenon blamed the producers, but he was also unhappy with the entire profession, including adapters, screenwriters, and directors (except his friends, of course). He was especially irate about the critics' claim to define the canons of the detective film. He had written his Maigrets by violating imperatives of exactly this kind, and he now railed against the conventions:

“There are rules, it seems, rules of the genre, which some seek to transgress and others obstinately defend…. To begin with, there is no such thing as a detective novel, nor a detective film. And there is no rule of the genre, and no formula either…. There are good and bad films. … The audience doesn’t give a f--- about rules. And they’re right! All the audience wants is a film that holds their interest all the way through, and they don’t care how their interest is held…. If Le Chien jaune and La Nuit du carrefour are failures, the fault lies not with the people who made them but with the people who paid for them. Or rather, it lies with the rules and with the idiots who issued them”.

(Assouline p108)

In 1933 Simenon was sued for libelling a widow Mercier, a hotelkeeper, in one of his African novels, Le Coup de lune. The case was dismissed, although there was evidently some guilt on Simenon's side, but, as Assouline says:

... he learned his lesson. He would be more careful next time. Two years later, a dumbfounded Simenon was to witness the same phenomenon in reverse: the owner of the hotel in Concarneau that had served as his model in Le Chien jaune (1931) renamed his establishment the "Hotel de l'Amiral", the better to capitalise on the tie-in with the novel and the film it had inspired.

(Assouline, p118)

There is a slight irony here, for, as Assouline writes:

After the publication of Le Chien jaune (1931), he expected problems with the inhabitants of Concarneau, where the mysterious deaths of the participants in a regular card game took place. The mayor, in fact, made no secret of his displeasure.

(Assouline, p268)

Marnham makes an interesting connection between Simenon’s experiences during the German occupation of Liege and his novels:

Perhaps the most enduring mark left on Simenon by the occupation of Liege was an ambivalence towards conventional ideas of right and wrong. This became one of the major themes of the Maigret books; it might almost be called the “message” of the Maigret saga. On the whole Commissaire Maigret finds criminality easy to understand and adopts a frankly sympathetic attitude towards many of his clients. His first question is not “Who committed this crime?” but “Why was it committed?”, and in order to answer, he has to understand the person who committed it. The criminals, in Maigret’s world, are often less guilty than their victims. This is true from the earliest of the Maigrets. In Le Chien jaune (A Face for a Clue), the sixth Maigret to be written but the fourth to be published, a group of local notables are terrorised by a shadowy enemy who turns out to be a poor man they have all wronged.

(Marnham, pp100-101)

Later Marnham writes of Simenon leaving Lakeside to return to Europe:

The flight to America had failed, just as it had failed for Leon, the fugitive vagabond in one of the first “Maigrets”, Le Chien jaune. Simenon, still pursued, was changing his ground again.

(Marnham, p271)

Roddy Campbell

Simenon on the jury?
1/24/04 – In an article for Slate magazine, Henry Blodget describes the selection process for the jury in the Martha Stewart trial:

The prospective jurors consisted of nine women and nine men; one of the former was reading Simenon; one of the latter was slouched inside a hooded down jacket that might have also housed a sub-machine gun.
It would be interesting to know which Simenon!
Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune - 9

1/26/04 – In the words of Simenon's biographers - 2

Stanley G. Eskin's Simenon: A Critical Biography (1987, McFarland and Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC) is very interesting on the genesis of Maigret and on the development of the detective story from the 19th century onwards. He writes:

Le Chien jaune, probably the fifth or sixth written in the series, is an excellent example of early Maigret.... Unlike Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien, the foreground action has considerably more interest than the background action. Maigret's investigation in the little Breton port of Concarneau, terrorized by an unknown criminal, is a masterpiece of ambiance (sic), suspense and sharp character description; the explanation behind it all is implausible and grotesquely involuted.
Simenon leads into the atmosphere and the foreground story with a terse style, verging sometimes on the telegraphic. "Friday 7 November. Concarneau is deserted." "In front of him, in the basin, a coastal vessel which has taken shelter that afternoon. No one on deck." "Leaning by the cashier, a waitress. At a marble table, two men finish their cigars, sitting back, legs stretched out." A sort of stage-direction style. Frequent predicateless sentences, no less effective on that account. The novel is rich in early examples of Simenon's atmosphere building, sometimes too specifically labelled as "atmosphere": "There was in the cafe's atmosphere something gray, dull, that you couldn't put your finger on."
[All translations are Eskin's own; they are technically and grammatically accurate, except for "Leaning by the cashier": I prefer Linda Asher's reading, "Leaning on the till", RC]
By and large, though, Simenon builds up a vivid sense of the quality of the town, the mood and sensibility of its denizens. A sense of rural sexual sordidness is pervasive, as well as small-town xenophobia and petty viciousness — as when townspeople throw stones at the hapless wounded dog of the title, while, in contrast, Maigret gently pats it. Individual corruption, as well as the town's disagreeable collective personality, are effectively echoed by the physical setting:
Maigret looked through the window panes. It was no longer raining, but the streets were full of black mud and the wind was still howling violently. The sky was livid gray.
In contrast with the bad weather — almost intruding on it — are bursts of good weather and of concurrent good humor, centering on Maigret but somehow spreading through the whole town:
Maigret was in such a good mood that following morning that Inspector Leroy dared to follow him and chat ... The sky seemed as if freshly laundered ... The horizon seemed vaster, as if the celestial dome had been more deeply scooped out. The sea sparkled, punctuated by little sails that looked like the flags in a military map.
If bad weather is an emblem of human turpitude and misery, good weather is a way, not so much of counter-balancing it, as of getting a perspective on it. a way of wriggling momentarily into a Maigret-like serenity that embraces suffering and cruelty because it cannot neutralize them. Figures of speech are infrequent, as usual in Simenon's style. When they occur, they are either perfunctory, or else quite striking, as this one, describing Maigret and an associate
[why not "Inspector Leroy"? RC] observing from a rooftop the encounter between two young lovers [Emma and Leon RC] in a room some distance away:

It was imprecise, as blurry as a film projected when the houselights have been lit. And something else was missing: noises, voices ... Again like a film: a film without the music.
One of the skills that Simenon developed as he escalated from a commercial to a more literary mode was to manipulate time, to move fluidly from present to past, to more distant past, and sometimes to future. In the early Maigrets, this is mostly a matter of flashbacks, usually towards the end, providing the explanatory background action. In Le Chien jaune, he experiments with some subtleties. In the course of the opening foreground narrative, another level of foreground is anticipated in dramatic juxtaposition:
"It was only at that moment that I had the feeling that something had happened," the customs office (sic) would testify during the inquest.

As for Maigret himself, he is filling out his "first-series" personality. He still has his early brusque manner. "F---ez-moi la paix!" we find him shouting, using aggressive vulgarisms that he abandons later, and he has a rude way of staring at people without answering their questions. His gruff heaviness is used deftly to dramatize his sympathy for the victimized young waitress, Emma: "... He took her shoulders into his big paws and looked into her eyes at once gruffly and warmly." He still has his velvet-lapelled overcoat and his bowler hat, which he brushes on his sleeve. We find that he's already well-known, as he remains throughout his career: people constantly recognize him. The famous Maigret method is both demonstrated and expounded. Simenon as author establishes the atmosphere which Maigret as detective immerses himself in, both drawing on their skills in their respective crafts. The do-nothing aspect of the Maigret method — just sit back, observe, let it soak in — is laconically expressed:
"What do you intend to do?"
"Nothing at all."
"I conclude from that ..."
"Yes, of course ... Only, for my part, I never conclude anything."
As for the detective-story tradition, Le Chien jaune builds up an impressive collection of suspects and brings them together for the denouement in the best golden-age manner. There is a hint of the American hard-boiled school in the background action, which has to do with how Emma's young lover, Leon, was seduced and betrayed by a corrupt group of local gentry in a murky bootleg-liquor
(actually cocaine RC) operation across the Atlantic. And there is a touch also of the detective tradition's Gothic background in Leon's hideout in an ancient, abandoned coastal fortification, with a hidden staircase under the walls (echoes of Arsene Lupin's "Aiguille creuse").

The quotes are all from pp87-95.

Apart from the last point, where I would dispute that there is a hidden staircase:

Maigret s'engagea dans un etroit escalier de pierre creuse a meme l'epaisseur du mur...
Maigret started up the narrow stone stairway cut right into the wall...(Asher)
Eskin makes several points that are worth expanding on.
For a start, what he terms "a sort of stage-direction style" owes more I think to the mise-en-scene of the screenplay. Since Simenon was engaged soon after this on screenplays for both Le Chien jaune and La Nuit du carrefour, I don't think it's fanciful to believe that he would have a working knowledge of the techniques of writing for the screen when he wrote this novel. The first scene of Le Chien jaune, written, as I noted earlier, in the present tense, would function perfectly well as the first scene of a film, with very few changes. The reference above to the scene between Emma and Leon unfolding in front of Maigret and Leroy makes specific reference to silent films and has the same melodramatic quality. The use of flashback, which is crucial to the back-story of Leon, is, I think, essentially filmic. A study of what I would call Simenon's "cinematic style" would probably be interesting. If nothing else, it might explain why so many of his works have been adapted for film and television. Eskin's reference to Maigret's "first-series" personality relates of course to television.
The descriptions of weather are of course one of the great pleasures of the Maigret novels. Simenon does to some extent utilise the pathetic fallacy to mirror Maigret's changing moods, but again I think the descriptions belong more to Simenon's essentially visual, or rather, sensory imagination. We are made to share Maigret's joy in the first day of Spring, or his exhaustion in the heat of a Paris summer, or even the rain that seeps through his overcoat.
Eskin refers to bad weather as "an emblem of human turpitude and misery", but this is specifically linked to the villains in Le Chien jaune. Mostaguen falls into the mud when he is shot. Michoux's housing development looks "sinister" in "the rain and the mud". But in Chapter 9, the weather turns fine, and Maigret is in good spirits because he is on his way to solving the mystery.
Finally, Eskin's allusion to the detective story tradition of bringing all the suspects together for the unmasking of the true villain is insightful, but it ignores the way in which Simenon subverts the tradition. In the classic country house detective story, the detective (Poirot perhaps) would assemble everyone in the library (later Rex Stout would bring them into the brownstone on 35th Street), but where does Simenon bring his cast of suspects? To a prison cell! I think this is meant to suggest that not only Michoux but all his associates — his mother, the journalist Servieres, aka Goyard, the mayor — all share the guilt. It is surely significant that Maigret leaves the cell with the only true innocents, Emma and Leon and enables them to lead a different, happier life elsewhere.
Roddy

Simenon and his Maigrets
1/27/04 –

(click to enlarge)
I found a small book about Simenon in the collection "Découvertes Gallimard" by Michel Lemoine, and on pages 98-99 he writes about a Paris-Match magazine from June 1970 where Simenon is shown walking along a swimming pool, and on the wall behind him are the pictures of the actors who played Maigret. This is like the July 11, 1970 Paris-Match article, but with only eleven Maigrets shown. (There is no indication of which June issue the photo is from.)
Jerome

Simenon Pipes
1/28/04 –
Some information and pictures of pipes displayed around Liege last year.
Roddy

Simenon in Lire
1/28/04 – At www.lire.fr you can find all the articles related to Simeon in the journal "Lire". This one, Dernière conversation avec Georges Simenon mai 2003, is a large extract from the DVD of the interview between Simenon and Pivot.

Regards
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 1

2/04/04 – Maigret Stonewalled


I haven't read this in French. The edition I refer to is that published by Penguin in 1963. This novel does not appear to have been published in hardback in Britain prior to 1963.
The title is in the form of a weak pun. A stone wall does in fact figure in the plot, but the secondary meaning, of being unable to make progress because of a strong defence, barely seems to apply, and puts the title on a par with A Face for a Clue which Steve has already noted as having little relevance to that book.
Chapter 1, Just Another Job, starts with an excellent first paragraph which draws the reader in and belies the title of the chapter:

It was on 27 June 1930 that Chief Inspector Maigret had his first encounter with the dead man. ... (p5)

It is surely unusual for a Maigret story to be so precisely dated. Does this happen in any other story?
Incidentally, the dating of Le Chien jaune to 1930 in an earlier posting would mean that Maigret had been transferred to the Flying Squad of Rennes soon after the conclusion of the case of Monsieur Gallet, décédé.
There is a fine evocation of the heat of early summer and the soulless surroundings in which Monsieur Gallet lived, in an unfinished housing development some 20 miles out of Paris. I seem to recall a similar unfinished suburban development in one of Simenon's early romans durs, Les Fiancailles de Monsieur Hire, and of course there is the Michoux's half-finished speculation in Le Chien jaune. Simenon associates such places with unsatisfactory, incomplete lives. No doubt he was also reflecting the realities of social change in the inter-war years.
Mme Gallet tells Maigret: "We live a rather lonely life, like all who have known better days do in this post-war period with its brutality and vulgarity." (p12)
This sets the tone for Mme Gallet, whose family believes she has married beneath her, to a mere commercial traveller. There is of course a huge irony in this, in that she has actually married a member of the Royalist aristocracy to which her father devoted his life. But she will remain unaware of this, accepted back into her family as a result of the money accruing from her late husband's insurance policy.
Money and family seem to be the two main and interlinked themes of the novel. Maigret of course is more or less oblivious to both, responding with sarcasm to comments about family pride and with indifference to a bribe offered by the real Emile Gallet.

Chapter 3 Henri Gallet Answers

In this chapter we find early indications of ideas and feelings that are soon to become very familiar to readers of Maigret:
"Are you investigating the murderer or the victim?" the young man said slowly.
"I shall know the murderer when I know the victim well ..." (p34)

And Maigret had a feeling he had never had before, a worrying sensation. It seemed to him that the whole truth was here scattered around him. Everything was important. (p38)

There was always this same contrast between the pathetic and the grotesque, between drama and pettiness; it weighed Maigret down, in this stricken house where he could picture Emile Gallet, the man he had never known in life, wandering about, silent, heavy-eyed as a result of his bad liver, hollow-chested in his ill-fitting morning coat. (p39)

Chapter 4

I like this extract:
The Chief Inspector understood the mentality of crooks, criminals, and swindlers, and he knew that at the bottom of it one always ended up by finding some devouring passion. (p51)
Money, love, pride: you can find all these "devouring passions" in Maigret Stonewalled, and in many other Maigrets besides.
Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 2

2/05/04 –

As Roddy said, the date in Monsieur Gallet décédé is very precise, but not totally accurate: Later on in the book, in chapter IX "un mariage pour rire" [A Fake Marriage], Maigret thinks about the date: "Supposons que nous soyons le samedi 25 juin ...." [Suppose it's Saturday, June 25...] In 1930, the 25th June was a Wednesday. Simenon took some freedom with the calendar.
I was surprised not to see the book begin with some remarks from Maigret related to the weather as in many other books. In chapter 4, "L'escroc des légitimistes" [Royalist Crook], there is a very interesting sentence similar to the one listed by Roddy:

Il savait qu'à la base de cette mentalité on finit toujours par trouver une passion quelconque. Et c'est précisement ce qu'il cherchait dans le visage à barbiche, aux paipières plombées, à la bouche démesurée.

[Maigret] knew that at the bottom of this mentality [of crooks, criminals and swindlers] there was always some driving passion. And that was exactly what he was searching for in the bearded faced, with its drooping eyelids and enormous mouth.

Maigret is trying to understand the victim, his life: to become himself like the victim. In the Simenon interview, Simenon told an anecdote about his daughter and the way he behaved when he wrote a book: being physically affected by the characters.
This book is also the first encounter with someone we will see in many other Maigrets, all along his career: Joseph Moers who appears in chapter 6!

Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 3

2/06/04 –

Anti-Semitism

Assouline asserts that "Jews are often associated with financial manipulation, like Jacob, the blackmailer, in Monsieur Gallet, décédé... " (Assouline, p30).
However, this is simply wrong: Monsieur Jacob (which is a nickname based on his appearance, and who may not even be Jewish) is only a go-between who makes a tiny amount of money out of sending and receiving the real blackmailers' letters.
It is true that Simenon is aware of a casual anti-Semitism, as in Chapter 7 when Maigret asks the notary in Sancerre if he knows a Monsieur Jacob.
The notary's reply is: "Good Heavens, no! It must be a Jew!"
I think Simenon here is playing on received ideas.
Stanley Eskin has the following interesting points to make on this subject. After noting the anti-Jewish tone of the Gazette de Liège for which Simenon wrote some ill-advised articles, and going on to mention some "stock 'Jewish types'" as minor characters, Eskin goes on:

...Simenon has vehemently denied any antisemitic intentions in such portraits, adducing to his defense other works, like Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk, in which Jews are treated with sympathy, understanding and admiration. The most reasonable conclusion is that Simenon (a) thoughtlessly wrote some anti-Semitic pieces in his youth; (b) retained unconsciously for a time some anti-Semitic vestiges from his culture, which cropped up marginally in his work; and (c) was rid of all such vestiges at some indeterminate point in his maturity.
Eskin adds:
Perhaps the final word on Simenon and Jews is a sort of "imprimatur" by the American Zionist monthly, Midstream, in an article which...praises his sensitive treatment of Jews and other outsiders. (Eskin, p40)

Maigret Stonewalled Chapter 6

As Jerome has said, in this chapter we have the first appearance of Joseph Moers, of the laboratories of the Criminal Records Office, who was to appear in many later Maigret novels.
Moers was the name of Simenon's great-grandfather on his mother's side; it was also the surname of a fellow reporter on the Gazette de Liège.

Roddy

Maigret "Double-Deckers"
2/6/04 – In reply to Roddy’s query of 01-10-04, my collection of Maigrets in English includes five hardback double-deckers (in addition to Maigret and M. Labbé; see archives, 11-30-01), two of them also owned by Roddy. These "American first editions” were published by Harcourt, Brace & Co. in 1940 and 1941, bound in various colors of cloth, with dustjackets. The novels in the first four volumes were translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury, those in the fifth by Margaret Ludwig.
Maigret Travels South (1940, blue) – Liberty Bar, The Madman of Bergerac
Maigret Abroad (1940, green) – A Crime in Holland, At the Gai-Moulin
The Patience of Maigret (1940, red; see archives, 08-13-03) – A Battle of Nerves, A Face for a Clue
Maigret to the Rescue (1941, orange) – The Flemish Shop, The Guinguette by the Seine
Maigret Sits It Out (1941, yellow) – The Lock at Charenton, Maigret Returns

John H. Dirckx

Untranslated Maigrets?
2/6/04 – As a great Maigret fan, I often trawl through the internet for any news of upcoming releases. On reading the Maigret Forum pages I discovered that you have recently translated three previously untranslated Maigret short stories: The improbable Mr Owen, The group at the Grand-Cafe and Death threats. May I ask if these books are available to buy either direct from yourself or from a publisher? If so, can you please inform me how I may do so.

Martin Latimer

Untranslated Maigrets?
2/6/04 – First of all thanks for putting so much effort into such an excellent Maigret site. It has proved to be an invaluable resource since I caught the bug.
My query is a simple one, of the 103 novels and short stories are there any which are not available in English? So far I have (or have had) 40 and have read 27, I'm currently in the middle of "M goes to school".

Thanks in advance,
Muir Smith
(Glasgow)

Except for the three short stories mentioned by Martin, above, which are only available in English here, on line, all the known Maigrets (with the author shown as Simenon) have been published in English translations.
ST

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 4

2/07/04 –

Maigret Stonewalled Chapter 9

In this chapter we find early signs of Maigret's total immersion in a case, which can often make him appear forgetful or even rude:
He passed the hotel without going in, and rang at the main entrance to Saint-Hilaire's property. Monsieur Tardivon, who was standing at the hotel porch and to whom Maigret had not said good day, gazed after him reproachfully. (p103)

The squire was struck by the change which had come over Maigret; his face was set and frowning, and when he looked at you his expression was worrying; he looked tired and spiteful. (p103)

A child playing with a ball bumped into him; he lifted him up and put him down a yard further on without even looking at him. (p105)

Maigret had arrived at the hotel without realising it. (p106)

Roddy

Simenon d'un pipe
2/9/04 – I would like to thank Roddy for drawing our (my) attention to the "Simenon of a pipe" (I have to resort to a Google translation, always good for a giggle). Did anybody see them in the flesh?
I have mentioned before how difficult it is to find Simenon/Maigret books in Australia, not impossible, but hard. Well, recently I bought a set of nine books published by Edito-Service S.A., Geneva, by arrangement with Hamish Hamilton Ltd. Each book has a Maigret and a non Maigret story in it, so by the time I have ploughed through them all I should have a fairly rounded Simenon education, I hope.
There are nine books in the set I found, I imagine the complete set consisted of more, does anybody know how many were in that particular set?

Thanks again Roddy,
Bob Kerr

Edito-Service editions
2/10/04 – Bob Kerr should try a Google search on Edito-Service SA, where I found one Simenon volume on the first results page.
I also found a few references to books by San-Antonio, the pseudonym of Frederic Dard. Apparently these are hard-boiled cop stories. I seem to remember reading the first page of one in a French hypermarket but it seemed to me to be too full of French colloquialisms to be readily understandable. They were very popular, and I'd like to know more about this writer and his work.

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 5

2/10/04 –

M. Tardivon

Assouline mentions that, while Simenon was in the employ of the Marquis de Tracy, he "became well acquainted with Pierre Tardivon, steward of the chateau.... The character reappears as Joseph Tardivon in Les Larmes avant le bonheur (Tears before Happiness, 1924) and L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (The Saint-Fiacre Affair, 1932) as well as Les Memoires de Maigret (Maigret's Memoirs, 1951). (Assouline, p57)
However, Assouline seems not to have noticed that the manager of L'Hotel de la Loire in Monsieur Gallet, décédé, is also called Monsieur Tardivon. I wonder if the name occurs in other books?
In this context, Marnham states: "The Marquis had a steward, Pierre Tardivon, who impressed Simenon so much that he later made him the model for the father of Maigret" (Marnham, p111).
Bresler describes Tardivon as "a burly, no-nonsense countryman" (Bresler, p49), while Eskin says he was "a tall, lanky, rough-hewn man who strode competently about the estate in boots and a velvet jacket" (Eskin, p52).

Mme Maigret

By the time I reached Chapter 5 I realised that there had been no mention so far of Madame Maigret. If I'm not mistaken, she does not appear until Chapter 11, when Maigret returns home at the end of the case.
This cavalier treatment of a fine woman -- no phone calls, no postcards from Sancerre -- indicates perhaps that Simenon had not yet fully decided on Mme Maigret's place in her husband's life and in the books, and he rectifies this in later books.
It is characteristic of her that her first question to her husband is: "Have you had something to eat?"
I have to admit that I am rather puzzled about the exchange between her and her husband, and I wonder if this is the fault of the translation. The whole conversation reads as follows:
"You look as though you have just come from a funeral!" remarked Madame Maigret, when he got home to his flat in Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.... "Have you had something to eat?"
"I have," he said to himself, looking round, happy to be back in the familiar surroundings. "From the moment he was buried..." He added, though she couldn't have understood, "However, I would rather deal with a real genuine corpse, killed by a proper murderer...."
Can anyone clarify this?

Moers

In my posting on Maigret Stonewalled Chapter 6 I said that Moers was the name of a reporter on the Gazette de Liège.
This now seems incorrect to me, but there is some confusion. Assouline refers to Henri Moers as Simenon's "friend and colleague at La Meuse" (p35). Eskin calls him "a fellow reporter on the Meuse" (p41).
As far as I know, Simenon never worked for the Meuse, which was a rival of the Gazette de Liège. I think we can take it that Moers was indeed a "fellow reporter", but that he worked for a different newspaper.
What is significant is that he was a friend of Simenon's who collaborated with him on an unfinished detective story, a parody of the Sherlock Holmes type, called Le Bouton de col (Marnham p72), and more importantly it was Moers who introduced Simenon to La Caque, which in turn provided the genesis of the early Maigret novel, Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien.

Royalist Element

It seems fairly clear that the Royalist element in the plot of Maigret Stonewalled drew on Simenon's early experiences in Paris, where first of all he became "a glorified bellboy for the political league of which Binet-Valmer was president". (Bresler, p42)
Binet-Valmer contributed frequently to Paris-Centre, a newspaper owned and run by the Marquis de Tracy, to whose employ Simenon moved on the recommendation of Binet-Valmer. Paris-Centre (which Bresler refers to as Le Courier du Centre, published in Nevers) was a right-wing newspaper, with Royalist leanings.
In Monsieur Gallet, décédé, Aurore Gallet, the wife of Emile, is the daughter of the late editor of the Royalist newspaper, Soleil.
Assouline refers in this context to Simenon's novel, Les Noces de Poitiers (1946), "one of his most autobiographical novels". Its hero, twenty-year-old Gerard Auvinet, is desperate to find work in order to help his family after his father's death. He becomes secretary to Jean Sabin, a great writer who is also president of the French Patriotic League. "... he had finally understood. The great novelist was living off the League" (quoted in Assouline, p51).
It is not difficult to see the connections between Binet-Valmer and Sabin, Simenon and Auvinet, Paris-Centre and Soleil, and the Monsieur Gallet who tirelessly extracts subscriptions from Royalists under false pretences.
Assouline goes on to draw an implicit parallel between Monsieur Gallet, décédé and Simenon's employment with the Marquis de Tracy. (Assouline, p58)
Roddy

Red Lights (Feux Rouges)
2/11/04 – Review of a new film adapted from a (non-Maigret) Simenon novel, Feux Rouges, at ScreenDaily.com.

Roddy

BBC series - 1960's
2/12/04 – I am undertaking some work for the BBC and instead of payment I have asked for copies of the Rupert Davies episodes held in their archives. I suspect that although they would be prepared to let me have some copies, I doubt whether they will supply all of them to me.... although I have asked!
I would appreciate suggestions on which episodes I should be asking for..... I personally can just about remember them but not in any great detail. I am attracted to those that were predominately shot on location rather than studios. Over to Forum readers for suggestions, together with your reasons...

Regards
Steve Beamon

Simenon the writer
2/13/04 – What makes Simenon such an interesting writer? I would like to quote a lengthy passage from Stanley Eskin's critical biography which seems to me to make some very valid points:

In a passage in "Pedigree" he [Simenon] alludes to the celebrated premiere of Victor Hugo's "Hernani", whose romanticism shocked the conservative audiences of the eighteen-twenties. The avant-garde was vociferously present to defend its hero — most ostentatiously Theophile Gautier in his red vest. But it is not with him that Roger-Georges ["Roger" is a reference to the autobiographical hero of "Pedigree"] identified, but with Alexandre Dumas, who was also present, not as part of the flamboyant avant-garde in-crowd, but as a poor and obscure scribbler who had stood in line for his ticket: one of the "little people", in short — but who later became one of the wealthiest and most popular writers of his age.

Simenon, on the other hand, always denied worldly success as a motivation for his literary career. When he began to write he was convinced that, far from a profession, it was a vocation providing only personal satisfactions. Yet he has also declared, "I began to write, as an artisan, at the age of 16, always with the idea that some day I would achieve something." The "something" is serious literature as he knew it from his reading, while the artisanship is ambiguously a preparation for it and separate from it. The truth is that his literary intentions, consciously and unconsciously, were multiple, unclear to himself, and perhaps contradictory. Three categories — success, artisanship, and seriousness — jostled with each other without fusing into a clear purpose; they never did. (Eskin p42)

I think that this is a very astute analysis which pierces to the heart of Simenon's unsatisfactory greatness, the episodic success of his career, the vacillation between Maigret and "literature". Earlier, Eskin has noted:

He gave up painting and mysticism (as well as a humanist education) after making love for the first time. Was Georges Simenon sublimating his artistic impulses into sex? Did he continue to do that? Years later, when he was writing those 11-chapter best-sellers, he would often recuperate from the 11-day ordeal by having a fling with prostitutes. Sex instead of a second draft? (p33)

This perhaps links with another observation in Eskin's Introduction:

He came to be a self-assured, disciplined, adventurous, healthy man of the world, inside of whom, however, hid a "little man" — oppressed, frightened, frustrated, resentful, will-less, impotent. This little man was in large part fiction, but in some part one of Simenon's potential selves. Inside the little man hid an artist, who made superhuman efforts just barely to articulate the little man, each time falling back exhausted from the effort. He almost never realised the outside man: the worldly, self-assured one. The artist was indeed inside and had to struggle outward. He never did such things as "soaring above" or "taking a step back to contemplate the whole". (p5)

"Superhuman efforts"; "just barely"; "exhausted"; "struggle": Eskin's vocabulary here implies that Simenon's art was only just equal to the task, that his artistry was to some extent a borderline affair, almost hit-and-miss. This insecurity is I think everywhere visible in Simenon; he is like a tightrope walker carrying out incredible feats but only ever a step away from disaster.
This is part of the reason why Simenon is such an interesting writer, so difficult to pigeonhole, unique in so many ways.
There are aspects of Simenon which can be compared with other writers: there have been many writers as prolific, but none of them has equalled Simenon's artistic successes; many have written pot-boilers as part of their literary apprenticeship or have prostituted their talents to amass wealth; many literary writers have turned to genre novels as a relief from or alternative to serious fiction; some have subverted genre fiction to produce true literature (and have been underrated as a consequence — one thinks of John le Carre, in my view one of the finest and most interesting living novelists). But not one has combined all these elements as Simenon did.
Roddy

Xavier Guichard
2/14/04 – J'aimerai connaître plus de détails sur la famille de Xavier Guichard, qui pourrait être le frère de mon arrière-grand-mère Leonie Guichard épousé Martel.

[I would like to learn more about the family of Xavier Guichard, who could be the brother of my great-grandmother, Leonie Guichard Martel.]

Merci d'avance,
Josette Merle Brandt

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 6

2/16/04 –

Maigret Stonewalled

Stanley Eskin is fairly dismissive of this novel:

The companion piece of "Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien" in the February launching [of the Maigret books], "M. Gallet, decede", is only moderately successful in working out an adequate plot to account for the posited situation: it all turns on a double identity and a somewhat implausible suicide made to look like a murder. (p87)

Others have deprecated Simenon's skills as a detective novelist. The respected but now largely-forgotten British novelist, John Cowper Powys, was a great fan of Simenon, but wrote to a friend in 1942:

I never thought I'd live to see the day that I'd be reading detective stories, but the detective element of Simenon's books is their weakest aspect, generally rather unconvincing. All the rest -- atmosphere, composition, narration, and characters -- is wonderful, at least for me.

And in 1943:

The detective part of his novels is not really good -- the crimes are the weakest and clumsiest aspect. But for atmosphere, character, intensity, humour, and above all for humanity and knowledge of the wretched, pathetic mass, adolescents in particular, he has no peer at all. (quoted in Assouline pp290-291).

I feel this is true of Maigret Stonewalled. I find the means of suicide employed by "M. Gallet" contrived and implausible, even though Simenon has tried to prepare us by showing that the dead man was adept at making ingenious mechanical contrivances.
But there is a great deal to enjoy in the book. I particularly like the depiction of the "parsimonious lovers", Henri Gallet and his mistress, Eleonore Boursang, with their businesslike relationship and their dream of saving enough over several years to enable them to move to the Midi.
The description of Joseph Moers' patient and dedicated piecing together of the evidence is a delight, and as always it is a pleasure to be in the company of Chief Inspector Maigret as he experiences an uncomfortable train journey with the widow Gallet, gazes round Gallet's dreadful house, drinks a bottle of Sancerre (very quickly!) with St Hilaire, climbs walls (even though he weighs sixteen stone) and finally dispenses his own, essentially humane version of justice.
Although there are many indications that this is an early, almost a prototype, Maigret, the essential qualities -- what Cowper Powys refers to above as atmosphere, character, intensity, humour, and above all ... humanity — are already present in abundance.
Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 7

2/16/04 – On the first page of Monsieur Gallet, Maigret talks about everyone from the Police being at "la gare du bois de Boulogne" [ the Bois de Boulogne station (where the Spanish sovreign was due to arrive) ]. I asked Jean-Paul Foitet, who runs a web site on old train stations, which station he thought it was. His answer:

Je pense qu'il s'agit de gare de l'avenue Foch située sur l'ancienne ligne de la Petite Ceinture, aujourd'hui utilisée par la ligne C du RER. Avant la réalisation du RER les quais n'étaient pas recouverts comme la station Port Royal sur la ligne B. Cette gare a reçu de nombreux trains spéciaux de souverains et présidents.

[ I think it's the Avenue Foch station, on the old Small Belt line, used today by the C line of the RER. Before the RER, embankments were not covered like the Port Royal station on the B line This station received many special trains of rulers and presidents. ]

Regards,
Jerome

Michael Gambon Maigret series on DVD
2/17/04 –
The two Maigret series starring Michael Gambon were released on DVD on 9 February and are available from Amazon.co.uk.

Roddy

Simenon and other writers
2/18/04 – I am enjoying your Maigret of the Month series. I have a suggestion for Roddy and others who might be looking for an author who has, I believe, been influenced by Simenon's Maigret: Magdalen Nabb, whose main character is a Florentine Marshal Guarnaccia. Apparently Simenon approved , if the quote from the back of "Death in Springtime" (first published in 1983) is anything to go by: "A novel to be savoured...Bravissimo! You have more than fulfilled your promise."
There is an excellent article in The Daily Telegraph Books of Saturday May 2003 by Michael Dibden entitled "Simple Simenon". Dibden is another fan. The article ends with this: "Maigret appears to be just as confused as we are by what is going on around him. Before long in The Bar on the Seine, La guingette à deux sous, for all its tawdry setting and sleazy clientele, has taken on the mythic power of the Dark Forest in fairy tales, where the lost children — Maigret and the reader — must find their way to safety by their own wits and intuition, learning and growing as they do so."

Regards,
Don Greenfield

Red Lights (Feux Rouges) and others
2/18/04 – 'Feux Rouges' (2/11/04) has received a couple of favourable mentions recently in British press reports from the Berlin Film Festival. The Guardian on 11 February said: "Cedric Kahn has reinforced his formidable festival reputation with Feux Rouges, or Red Lights, a thriller updated from a Georges Simenon novel. This turned out to be a classically elegant and gripping French film to thaw the freezing Berlin winter". The Daily Telegraph of 12 February says it's not a masterpiece but he (Kahn) "is capable of making one, and this is an absorbing stop en route".
An interview with film director Mike Figgis in The Guardian on 30 January doesn't mention Simenon, but features the film made from his novel Le Train. "The film that, for Figgis, sets the high water mark of artistic perfection is Pierre Granier-Deferre's 1973 Holocaust-era romance The Last Train. 'I was in Rome over Christmas, and I caught the last 40 minutes of this film I had seen 30 years previously. Within the first 10 seconds I knew what it was. It stars Romy Schneider and Jean-Luc (sic) Trintignant, and it's the story of two people leaving Nazi Germany on the last train out. He has been separated from his family and he's trying to get back to La Rochelle; she's a Jewish-German woman escaping the Nazis. They're thrown together and they have this very intense two-day affair. I remembered that it had a great ending, but I wasn't prepared for how great it was. Everyone should watch this film before trying to make one themselves'." Ironically, according to Claude Gauteur in 'Simenon au Cinema" the ending is not the one in the novel.
Not forgetting Maigret, La Nuit du Carrefour makes it into writer Gilbert Adair's ten best classic French films (The Independent 1/23/04). "This Simenon adaptation is an astounding exercise in pure cinema, cherished by lovers of the surreal for its potent atmospherics - a black car speeding through a silent, shuttered hamlet; the curdled odour of rain-sodden fields; the mystifying, occasionally incomprehensible melodrama played out in a tumbledown house. Some films are called sleepers. This one is a dreamer."

Richard Thomas

Simenon and photos
2/19/04 –
At www.lemonde.fr there is an article about the exhibit of pictures taken by Simenon.
Regards,
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 8

2/20/04 –
The Penguin paperback entitled Maigret Stonewalled was published in August 1963 with the translation by Margaret Marshall, which is close to Simenon's French text. This translation is a considerably better than the one by Anthony Abbot that was published in the United Kingdom by Hurst and Blackett Ltd. in January 1933, a few months after the American edition from Covici, Friede Inc. Both of these editions where published in hardback format with a dust wrapper. The American edition appeared with just the one novel The Death of Monsieur Gallet, whereas the British one was coupled with The Crime of Inspector Maigret (Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien).
It is possible that someone at Penguin Books realised that the six Maigret novels published in 1933 and 1934 by Hurst and Blackett had somewhat idiosyncratic translations, so decided to commission new ones closer to the author's texts. These six Maigret novels from Penguin Books were only issued in paperback.

During the spring and summer of 1930, Simenon, in his boat the Ostrogoth, had reached Morsang-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Marne), and decided to moor it further along the right bank of the river at a spot, in the district of Nandy, called Le Four à Chaux (as this translates as "lime kiln", it probably indicates what might have been there in the past). This place is too small to appear on the section of the map of the area posted, but it is located next to the "g" of Morsang where there are the crosses indicating the boundary. Simenon stayed there for some weeks where he probably wrote Pietr-le-Letton (The Strange Case of Peter the Lett / Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett) — his first Maigret under his own name — then Le Charretier de la "Providence" (The Crime at Lock 14 / Maigret Meets a Milord / Lock 14), Monsieur Gallet, décédé (The Death of Monsieur Gallet / Maigret Stonewalled), Le Passager du "Polarlys" (The Mystery of the Polarlys / Danger at Sea) — his first non-Maigret under his own name — and four novels under pseudonyms to fulfil his publishers' contracts.

(click on map to enlarge)


Map 1: a section of the river Seine, west of Melun (Seine-et-Marne), showing the locations of Morsang-sur-Seine and St. Fargeau-Ponthierry.


Further up river there is located Saint Fargeau-Ponthierry (Seine et Marne) where Maigret goes to meet Madame Aurore Gallet, the wife of the dead man, so Simenon easily could have explored the area just before writing the novel.
Only a few years before, the author was living for a while at the other main location in the novel. Simenon left Liège for Paris in the middle of December 1922, returning to the city of his birth the following March in order to marry Régine Renchon (whom he nicknamed Tigy). When he first arrived in Paris he worked for a journalist and writer Binet-Valmer, but then in June 1923 he was taken on as a secretary in the service of the Marquis Raymond d'Estutt de Tracy. The marquis had inherited a fortune and property from his father and Simenon was required to travel with him to his houses in various parts of France. One such property was the Château de Paray-le-Frésil (Allier), which Simenon later used as the setting for the Maigret novel L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (The Saint-Fiacre Affair / Death of a Countess / Maigret Goes Home / Maigret on Home Ground), whilst another was the Château de Tracy (Nièvre) on the opposite bank of the river Loire to Sancerre (Cher).

(click on map to enlarge)


Map 2: a section of the river Loire, south of Cosne-sur-Loire (Nièvre), showing the locations of Tracy, St. Thibault and Sancerre.


In the novel Monsieur Gallet, décédé, Maigret travels to the scene of the crime by train (Penguin edition, pages 12-13):
'It was seven o'clock in the evening when the train stopped at the station of Tracy-Sancerre and there was still over half a mile to do on the main road and then over the suspension bridge above the Loire.
There was none of the magnificent grandeur of a great river here, only a scene of myriads of little streams running between banks of sand the colour of over-ripe corn.
…The Hôtel de la Loire appeared, its yellow façade running along the embankment.
Simenon describes the scene as it existed, but with certain understandable simplifications. There is Tracy station, not far from the Château de Tracy where Simenon stayed in 1923, with the road leading to the suspension bridge (apparently destroyed in 1940 at the beginning of the Occupation) over the river. Having crossed the bridge, there is the village of St.Thibault with the Quai Loire on which stands the hotel where the crime was committed. In reality this establishment was the Hôtel de l'Étoile, but Simenon renamed it the Hôtel de la Loire, most likely being cautious.

(click on map to enlarge)


Map 3: Sancerre (c.1960). H indicates l'Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), presumably where Monsieur Gallet's body was taken (Penguin edition, pages 13-16).


At his interview with the marquis, Simenon said that he had only been married for two months, but his employer refused to allow Tigy to be with them, so where possible she would stay somewhere nearby. On this occasion she stayed at the Hôtel de l'Étoile in St. Thibault.
But this was not the only time that Simenon associated himself with this hotel. In November 1937, he stayed there in order to write the novel Les Soeurs Lacroix, which is set in the town of Bayeux, in Normandy. Later this novel was translated into English under the title of Poisoned Relations.

Jerome and Roddy both mention (02/05/04, 02/10/04) the first appearance of Joseph Moers, who works in the forensic laboratories attached to the Police Judiciaire in Paris. The surname, as mentioned, occurs from Simenon's early days. Affectionally known as "Vieux Papa", Guillaume Moors, or Moers, (1823-1909) had a daughter Marie Catherine Moors, or Moers, (1850-1905) who married Christiaan (Chrétien) Simenon (1841-1927), who was the author's grandfather. Both French and Flemish spellings of the surname seems to be frequently used.
Georges Simenon's journalist friend Henri-J. Moers, who worked for the rival newspaper, La Meuse, not only introduced Simenon to the group of former students who called themselves La Caque, but co-operated in 1921 or 1922 with the novel Le Bouton de col (The Collar Stud). Simenon and Moers wrote alternate chapters of the novel, which was intended as a parody of the detective novel. Years later, Simenon, on reading the unpublished text, described the work as bad, and although the manuscript is in the archive, it is unlikely to be published.

Edito-Service editions

Some years ago I bought this set, which was available from several bookshops in the United Kingdom. There are nine books in the Simenon set, each containing two novels as Bob Kerr has stated. At that time these were easily obtainable, along with sets devoted to other authors.

Monsieur Tardivon

As mentioned, when Simenon was working for the Marquis de Tracy in 1923 and at the Château de Paray-le-Frésil (Allier), the steward's name was Pierre Tardivon. He used this surname in four novels, two written under pseudonyms and two under his own name.
Joseph Tardivon in Les Larmes avant le bonheur (Tears before Happiness), 1924, as by Georges Simm.
Tardivon in Nox l'insaisissable (The elusive Nox), 1926, as by Chistian Brulls. Nox, a thief, uses Tardivon as one of his other names.
Tardivon is the name of the manager of the Hôtel de la Loire in Monsieur Gallet, décédé, 1932, by Georges Simenon.
Tardivon is the name of a female factory worker in the non-Maigret novel Une Vie comme neuve (A New lease of Life), 1951, by Georges Simenon.
In the Maigret novel L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (The Saint-Fiacre Affair), 1932, the steward's surname is Gautier, whilst in the Memoires de Maigret, 1951, Maigret just states that his father was steward to the chateau.

Madame Maigret in Monsieur Gallet, décédé

The French text for the passage in Chapter 11(Penguin edition, page 135) is as follows (taken from the first edition, Fayard, 1932 page 247):
— Tu as l'air de revenir d'un enterrement! remarqua Mme Maigret quand il pénétra dans son logement du boulevard Richard-Lenoir… Tu as mangé, au moins?
— Tu as raison… articula-t-il pour lui-même en regardant avec plaisir le décor familier. Du moment qu'il est enterré…
Il ajouta, sans quelle pût comprendre:
— Quand même!… Je préfère m'occuper d'un vrai mort, tué par un véritable assassin…
The translator for the Penguin edition, Margaret Marshall, has followed Simenon's text closely.
Peter Foord, UK.

Maigret site in Russian
2/20/04 – I've found a site at tymlib.narod.ru/authors/simenon.htm, where there's a list of Maigret books and stories and what I think are Zip files containing the full text of each in Russian. Does anyone know anything about it?

Regards,
Jerome

Looking for the estate of Georges Simenon
2/22/04 – Do you happen to know who/where the estate is? I was told by Random House that it is somewhere in Switzerland...but cannot locate anything other than that. Can you help?

Pubrights2

Simenon and Lausanne
2/23/04 – I found the following about the Maigret estate as asked by Pubrights2:

En sillonnant le canton de Vaud il découvre le château d'Echandens à une vingtaine de kilomètres de Lausanne, où il habite plusieurs années. (à partir de 1957) En 1960, Simenon se voit confier la présidence du festival de Cannes. Souhaitant à nouveau changer de situation, il se fait construire une villa à Epalinges, un quartier choc de Lausanne. (à partir de 1953 dans une maison construite selon les plans de Georges Simenon lui même) . Il écrira son dernier roman en 1972.

[While traversing the canton of Vaud he discovered the castle of Echandens about twenty kilometers from Lausanne, where he lived several years. (from 1957) In 1960, Simenon found himself made director of the Cannes festival. Wishing to change his situation once again, he had a villa constructed at Epalinges, a ... district of Lausanne. (from 1953 in a house constructed according to his own plans). He wrote his last novel in 1972.]

At membres.lycos.fr/gomgut there is a complete description of where Simenon lived after 1972 (many flats & houses in downtown Lausanne). I think that what is referred to as "the estate" was Echandens.


And here's a Univesrsity course about Simenon : 601-1 Georges Simenon, le romancier noir (www.uplausanne.ch).
Regards,
Jerome

Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
2/26/04 –

First, I would like to thank Peter Foord for confirming that there were most likely only nine books in the set published by Edito-Service, that saves me looking for non-existent books.
I have just finished reading "Maigret and the Lazy Burglar" in which Maigret investigates two cases simultaneously, one officially and the other un-officially. Somewhere on this incredible site I remember the question being posed, "how many murderers did Maigret not arrest, and why", (or words to that effect).
As you would be aware one such event occurs in this novel, as to why, the possibilities are many. Was it out of compassion for the mother of the murder victim? Did Maigret believe he did not have enough evidence to secure a conviction? Was Maigret himself being lazy, or realistic, and not willing to fight the new bureaucracy? or was Georges Simenon making a statement about his own acceptance of infidelity?
I like to think it was out of a sense of compassion, after all, Maigret was a pipe smoker.

Bob Kerr

Maigret of the Month: Monsieur Gallet, décédé - 9

2/28/04 – Guido de Croock has added a section on Monsieur Gallet for us, just in time for this month's Maigret of the month! Click on the image below for fascinating pictures and information about the actual setting of the novel, at his site, Maigret's journeys in France:


www.maigret-in-france.net

About the Maigret in Russian list
2/29/04 – On your Maigret in Russian list, a little mistake can be seen at the very of the bottom of the Russian titles: "Trubka Megre" is La Pipe de Maigret, not Le Revolver de Maigret as it is shown there. Le revolver de Maigret in Russian is "Revolver Megre". Well, as I said when I had the opportunity to write to you about a Russian film about Maigret, your site is the best...

Thank you, very much...
George

Maigret of the Month: La nuit du carrefour (Maigret at the Crossroads) - 1

3/01/04 –

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland

The March Maigret of the Month, La nuit du carrefour, is another of the earliest Maigrets, from 1931. Guido de Croock has a section on La nuit du carrefour at his Maigret's journeys in France site, with a summary and maps of the area of the action. This novel was the source for the first Maigret film, made in 1932 by Jean Renoir, and starring his elder brother, Pierre Renoir, as Maigret.

Maigret of the Month: La nuit du carrefour (Maigret at the Crossroads) - 2

3/07/04 –

Most writers on Simenon seem to have concentrated on Maigret at the Crossroads as a film rather than a novel.
Jean Renoir bought the rights for 50,000 francs from Simenon, who was then living on the Ostrogoth at Ouistreham.
The film was marred by the director's failure to shoot some crucial scenes. In fact, the story was so difficult to follow that the producer offered Simenon another 50,000 francs to explain the plot on screen.
Simenon declined. (According to Assouline he said: "What kind of an asshole do you think I am?")
As for Maigret at the Crossroads as a novel, I have to say that I found it both very readable and ludicrous in terms of its plot. But the characterisation is superb, with some marvellous individual characters. The fussy M. Michonnet, the vulgar ex-boxer, M. Oscar, and most of all the enigmatic Else come to life on the page.

Motors

"What fascinates me about this story is the motors.... Because when all's said and done, it's all a matter of motors...."
It certainly is. Cars are a leitmotiv in the novel.
The first crime in the book involves a murder victim in the driver's seat of a stolen car. Another car has been moved from its garage. Most of the action takes place at a busy crossroads, where one of the premises is a garage with five petrol pumps, which shine "milkily" at night. Instead of taking a train to the scene of the crime, Maigret forks out for a taxi. The gang's crimes involve spare tyres and lorries going to and returning from the vegetable market in Paris. Carl Andersen is abducted in his car and it ends up near the Belgian frontier. Mme Goldberg arrives at Arpajon in a car and is instantly shot. A car drives by the garage and riddles it with bullets. It is pursued by a taxi holding three policemen. The gang are taken away in a Black Maria.
In almost every chapter Simenon describes cars and lorries passing, their headlights and rear lights, the noise they make, the different types of vehicle.
It is noticeable that the only time the traffic disappears, as it were, is when Maigret is in the house of the Three Widows, being distracted by the eroticism of Else. It is as if this claustrophobic house belongs to a different world.
It is also interesting that in the marvellous opening chapter, showing the seventeen hours of Carl Andersen's interrogation passing in the Palais de Justice, that there are only a couple of mentions of buses and trams, and none of cars. It is as if the city is quiet while the country is made clamorous by passing traffic.
It is interesting to speculate on Simenon's motives in creating and focusing on the imagery of "motors", as they are almost always referred to in Robert Baldick's translation. Was he being determinedly modern, showing a world where peasants still rose early to milk cows and harvest crops, but which was increasingly becoming car-orientated, a social historian showing a changing world?
Roddy

BBC Maigret on DVD?
3/09/04 – Today (March 9 2004) I emailed the BBC Cult website and asked them the following: 'Could you tell me if the BBC has in its archives those wonderful Maigret programmes starring the late Rupert Davies, and, if so, if it has the complete series – and when, if ever, we are likely to see them again, either on TV or released as videos or DVDs?'
This was the reply I received: 'Have done a check and a number of episodes seem to be listed as being in the archives. Not sure is a full set though. Having checked with Worldwide, there are currently no plans to release them on DVD.'
Of course it makes sound economic sense – fans are clamouring to relive those wonderful TV programmes, and would be willing to buy them if they were commercially available. Meanwhile, the BBC has a bundle of them gathering dust on its shelves, and we, the fans, can't see them . . . even though, as BBC licence payers, they belong to us, the public!
Where's the sense in that?

Regards
Anthony Green

Chorion sales increase
3/10/04 – Chorion, who hold the Simenon rights, reported a 130% increase in sales of Simenon books last year due to publicity surrounding his centenary. The full story is at business.scotsman.com.

Roddy

Streets in Neuilly?
3/11/04 – In Mister Monday [Monsieur Lundi] the action takes place in Neuilly. One place mentioned was number 47b, on the corner of Blvd de la Seine and rue Maxime Baès. Oddly enough, the text did not specify which street that number 47b was on. This was opposite the Ile de Puteaux, but none of the streets there have either one of these names. As they are in Neuilly rather than in Paris, they don't show up in Paris Chez Simenon, and since this was written in 1937-38, it's quite possible that the names have changed or perhaps they never existed in the first place. Does anyone know where these streets are/were, and what the currents names are? Who was Maxime Baès, for that matter?

I believe what Simenon called the blvd de la Seine is probably today's blvd Général Koenig as it runs along the river opposite the Île de Puteaux. There are 11 streets that intersect Blvd Koenig. My Michelin map 11 (square 13D2) shows that number 55 is at the corner of rue Fréderic Passy. The next street up is the rue Viator (or Victor) Diax. I doon't know if number 47 (with or without the bis) is located at this intersection or not. I asked Mappy and it did not pinpoint the house very well. I'll be in Paris for a photographic equipment trade show on the 29th of March. Time permitting I'll go to Neuilly and see just where number 47 is and report my findings here.

Regards
Joe


This map section from the 1937 Baedeker Paris and its environs shows the Boulevard de la Seine there. The broad street at the far right of the map is the Avenue de Neuilly, today's Avenue Charles de Gaulle.
ST

Jan Teulings
3/12/04 – Very nice site with a lot of information.
You ask for more info about Jan Teulings, a Dutch actor who played Maigret. First: it is Jan Teulings, with an s at the end. His full name was Johannes Marinus Antonius Teulings. He was born in 1905 and died in 1989. He started his career in 1952 with the Nederlandse Comedie. (Dutch Comedy). Teulings played a lot of comedies and plays, such as "Herenstraat 10" with Max Croiset and Mary Dresselhuys (1983), "Willem van Oranje" with Christel Braak and Ellen Vogel (1984). He also played in films such as "Dorp aan de rivier"(1958). In the years 1964-1970 he was very well known because of his creation as Maigret in a series of TV-plays, after the books of Georges Simenon.
In a suburb of Amsterdam, Amstelveen, there is a street named after him.

Greetings,
Gerard Wierckx
Apeldoorn NL

Maigret Films
3/13/04 – At www.cine-studies.net there are some comments on the three Maigret movies made during the war with information like actors' names and roles...

Maigret First Editions?
3/13/04 – Does anyone have any suggestions for a source for Maigret first editions (in French)?

Jerome

Forbes.com story
3/20/04 – A fascinating article about the vanished Amber Room. Simenon, as mentioned in the article, was a member of a club devoted to discovering its whereabouts. www.forbes.com.

Roddy

Simenon: Photographic Exhibition entitled "L'ŒIL DE SIMENON"
3/23/04 – As mentioned by Jerome (2/19/04), this exhibition was held at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1 Place de la Concorde, 750008, in Paris between 13 January and 7 March 2004.
Here were many of the photographs that Simenon took whilst on visits to various parts of the world between 1931 and 1935. I remember seeing some of them in the "Tout Simenon" exhibition held in Liège in 1993, as well as a few in the recent 2003 Centenary exhibition in the same city.
It was well worth the visit. The gallery used practically all of their exhibition space on the first floor to display the photographs, with plenty of room to view them. Permanently stored in the Fonds Simenon in Liège, the photographs are mainly in albums. The originals, that presumably Simenon had had developed soon after returning from his various travels, measure about 2 inches square and these mounted on their album leaves were arranged in glass cases. A very good feature was that quite a number of individual photographs had been enlarged, some up to about 2 feet square, and exhibited on the gallery walls. This gave an interesting and refreshing contrast in scale and the various images that Simenon had captured were not weakened by this process, but came across in a more powerful way.
The photographs on show were taken during the same important period of Simenon's life, when he was writing and being published for the first time under his own name, beginning to produce the work in which he was really interested. This amounted to thirty-five novels, which included the first nineteen Maigret novels.
"Simenon's Eye" — the title of the exhibition — reflects aspects of his written work. As far as the images are concerned, he has an affinity with the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Brassaï. Simenon, like them, is interested in what is happening around him, people in their everyday lives, at work, in their environment, relaxing, as well as the streets and the landscape; people and settings that inhabit his novels and short stories. The fact that these photographs are in black and white only enhances the images, so that the viewer is not distracted by any colour elements.
Although not a professional photographer, Simenon's "eye" selects many of his shots with the same discernment as he selects his prose.
Some of his visits at this time were financed by newspapers and magazines, in return for which he wrote articles on a number of topics. These were published soon after his return and some were illustrated with a selection of his photographs. In recent years, various publications about Simenon have included some of his photographs, where appropriate.
Also as Jerome mentioned, there is a catalogue that goes with this exhibition. Entitled "L'ŒIL DE SIMENON", it is published as a large paperback by the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume / Omnibus, 2004, ISBN: 2-258-06462-7, 296 pages, 27×22 cms. (10.5×8.75 inches) at 39 Euros. The text, in French, consists of an interview with Michel Carly by Valère Bertrand, and two individual texts by Patrick Roegiers and Catherine Clément. At the end of this catalogue there is a Chronology of Simenon's life from 1903 until 1989 by Michel Carly based on that by Pierre Deligny, illustrated with various photographs and reproductions.

Peter Foord
UK

Saint-Thibault and the Hôtel de la Loire
3/23/04 – In M. Gallet, décédé - 2, Guido de Croock in his admirable present day research into the Maigret locations has pointed out an error associated with the Hôtel de la Loire in Saint- Thibault. This mistake also occurs in a current French guidebook where, in the entry for this hotel, it states — Agréables chambres à thème: "provençale", "africaine"… "Georges Simenon", puisque l'auteur des Maigrets écrivit deux romans dans cet hôtel des bords de Loire (Pleasant rooms with a theme: "Provençal", "African"… "Georges Simenon", since the author of the Maigrets wrote two novels in this hotel on the banks of the Loire).

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret of the Month: La nuit du carrefour (Maigret at the Crossroads) - 3

3/23/04 –


The map, which is a section across part of the Essonne and Seine-et-Marne departments of France, shows various places well known to Simenon, particularly during 1930 and 1931. The section, about 30 kilometres (c19 miles) across, stretches from Arpajon (in the north west) to Morsang-sur-Loire, St.Fargeau-Ponthierry, Seine-Port and Nandy (in the north east), with Guigneville-sur-Essonne, La Ferté-Alais and Itteville (in the centre south). Also running through this section are the rivers Essonne and Loire, which Simenon knew very well, as between May 1930 and July 1931 he was living on his boat, the Ostrogoth, in this area, with periodic visits to Beuzec-Conq, near Concarneau (Finistère), and Paris.
It was a transitional period in his career as a writer, completing his contracts for his fiction under pseudonyms, and launching into the work that he was striving to write. In the district of Nandy at Le Four à Choux, near Morsang, he wrote four novels during the spring and summer of 1930, including the first Maigret to be written and later published under his own name, Pietr-le-Letton (The Strange Case of Peter the Lett / Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett).
And it was during the night of the 20th and the 21st of February 1931 that Simenon, with his publisher Fayard, launched two of the Maigret novels (M. Gallet, décédé and Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien) at the Boule-Blanche nightclub in the Rue Vavin, in Montparnasse, in Paris, an event which created quite a stir in the press as well as in publishing circles. From then on he was published under his own name.
Returning from Paris in March 1931, he stayed at Guigneville-sur-Essonne where he produced two more Maigret novels and a lengthy short story. Following on from this, in May, he travelled the short distance back to Morsang. Once again his output included two more Maigret novels and three lengthy short stories.
All of these works, whether novels or short stories, were of the same genre, a mystery to be investigated by a police detective or a private individual. As Simenon has said, he did not feel ready at that time to attempt to write the "romans durs", as he called what was to be later labelled the "psychological novels" or "novels of destiny". In spite of his ability and skills, it must have been difficult for him to switch from the pulp fiction, with its stock characters, which he had been writing since 1924, to different ideas of characterisation and plot structure. But it can be seen in the early Maigret novels the direction in which he was going.
Simenon must have enjoyed working in this region of France and it provided him with some of the settings for his writing, which included La Nuit du Carrefour.
The location of the crossroads in this novel has been identified as the intersection where the secondary road, the D26, crosses the main N20, which passes through Arpajon (Seine-et-Oise — now Essonne) to Étampes, Orléans and beyond. A short distance from the crossroads, eastwards, along the D26 is the village of Avrainville.

Simenon wrote this Maigret novel in April 1931 whilst he was staying in Guigneville-sur-Essonne, less than ten miles away from its setting, which the author establishes in a few succinct sentences in the first chapter:
'A crossroads. A garage and its five petrol-pumps, painted red. On the left the road to Avrainville, marked by a signpost.
All around, fields as far as the eye could see.
… There were only three houses. First the garage proprietor's, in plaster tiles, run up in a speculative fever. A big sports model, with aluminium coachwork, was being filled up. Some mechanics were repairing a butcher's van.
Facing the garage, a villa in millstone grit, with a narrow garden, surrounded by railings six feet high. A brass plate: Émile Michonnet. Insurance Agent.
The other house was at least two hundred yards away. The wall surrounding the park allowed only a glimpse of the first floor, a slate roof, and a few imposing trees.'
(In the translation by Robert Baldick: Penguin paperback 2028, 1963, pages 15/16, which is close to the author's French text. There is an earlier translation by Anthony Abbot published by Covici, Friede in the USA and by Hurst and Blackett in the UK, both in 1933, but this is wayward and somewhat pretentious).
Within this setting Simenon places three very different sets of characters, Oscar, the garage owner, a former boxer, amiable, confident and relaxed, with his wife Germaine and a few mechanics. Then Émile Michonnet, the fussy, complaining insurance agent and his wife, and finally the placid Dane Carl Andersen, from an aristocratic family, and Else Andersen. It is the enigmatic Else who becomes the centre of attention, and who plays a psychological game with Maigret.
Just three groups of people from very different backgrounds living near each other along a main route at an isolated crossroad in the midst of large tracts of rural France. And it is around these that Simenon weaves his convoluted plot, with Maigret moving from one individual to the next.
Not only does Simenon demonstrate his outstanding gift and skill as a storyteller, but having entitled this novel La Nuit du CarrefourThe Night at the Crossroads — he instils into the reader's mind the atmosphere of tension and fear created by his use of light and dark throughout.
Having arrived at the crossroads on a grey April afternoon, Maigret first encounters Else in her home, the largest of the three houses set in its own park, in the twilight. The tension builds, as there is very little light to illuminate the interior of the rambling house.
In the ensuing darkness of the evening, the only lights at the crossroads come from the illuminated petrol pumps and the workshop, an occasional passing vehicle, but little else. It is Sergeant Lucas who expresses not only his theories, but also his fearful concerns of the location, while a gruff Maigret remains with his instinct. Later that evening, a visitor to Avrainville is shot emerging from a car, with Maigret trying to pursue the perpetrator across a field in the glare of the car's headlights.
Even the bright spring sunshine of the following day does little to alleviate the atmosphere. But once again the darkness of the following evening and night, punctuated by significant light, witnesses the final drama played out in each of the three establishments near the crossroads.

The film "La Nuit du Carrefour" by Jean Renoir

I saw this film last summer in a restored print from the National Film Archive. It was intriguing to see it, as I have come across quite a few references to it from various sources. The film has attracted attention for some time, as it is the first screen adaptation of a work by Georges Simenon, because of its director Jean Renoir and the first portrayal of Maigret on the screen.
Jean Renoir and Georges Simenon, together, worked on the screenplay. A suitable location was found, corresponding to the author's crossroad setting in the novel, north of Paris, near Bouffémont, which had the same bleak, isolated look to it, with the interiors being set up and filmed at the Billancourt studios just west of Paris.
The film was shot in the first three months of 1932, so that the exterior scenes at the crossroads capture the dismal atmosphere of the late winter that conjures up Simenon's prose. Renoir not only uses the physical elements to create the overall feel throughout the film, but also instils a feeling of anticipation and tension in various ways. At the garage, at times, there is almost a lackadaisical air amongst Monsieur Oscar and his mechanics, which contrasts to the eroticism of Else Andersen in the charged atmosphere of the old house in which she lives and where Maigret questions her.
Maigret is played by Pierre Renoir, the elder brother of Jean, and he brings to the role many of the qualities of the policeman that Simenon created in these early novels. Moving around the few, but varied, individuals, none of who originate from the area, Maigret attempts to get to know them, gradually recognising the veneer and play-acting that he encounters. Under Renoir's direction the film becomes less of a murder mystery than his own idea of a group of people whose lives are changed by accident, association or design, similar to the nature of Simenon's mature work.
First released in April 1932, a year after the novel on which it was based was written, the film attracted criticism as some of the plot sequences were missing. At first this was put down to reels of film being lost, or to Jean Renoir being distracted by personal problems, but it was most likely a lack of finance. By knowing the content and plot of the novel, any viewer shouldn't be puzzled by any lack of continuity within the film.
It is certainly an interesting film to see if the opportunity comes along.
Peter Foord
UK

Maigret in French on CD?
3/29/04 – I'm trying to buy a Maigret that's on CD and in French. The purpose is to help with my French language study. I didn't find any on amazon.ca. Do you have any ideas? I live in the Washington DC area.

merci,
Jane Geltner

Streets in Neuilly (Monsieur Lundi)
3/30/04 – And the answer is... Number 47 (no b or bis) is not on the corner of anything. It does certainly exist on the blvd Général Koenig facing the Seine and it is a private house, but big enough to have several apartments. It is not a detached house that is separate from those on either side of it, but it also isn't a terraced or a row house that is identical to its neighbors. It does have a garden or yard in front of it as was mentioned in the story. The closest cross street is rue Victor Diax.
I also visited all other Neuilly locations in the Maigrets the same day. There are indeed two pastry shops on the Ave de Neuilly (now ave Charles de Gaulle) and not far from 47. One of them was closed and the other did not have any religieuses in sight. I got one anyway a little later on at the bakery at 63 rue Caulaincourt. You can also find the spot about 100 meters inside the Bois de Bolougne near the Porte de Bagatelle where a murder took place. The victim lived at number 7b, rue Richard Wallace. The real number 7 (no b) is actually one of Simenon's former addresses. Not too far away is 43b (no b in reality), rue de la Ferme. This is a very large building that also has an entrance on Blvd Gen. Koenig and is not the private house in a large garden described in M and the Burglar's Wife. Not found were the nearby bistro on the same street and the hardware store on the rue Longchamp.

Joe

Maigret in French on CD?
3/30/04 – In answer to Jane Geltner's question, at this link, L'AMIE DE MADAME MAIGRET [2003]. Adaptation de Patrick Liegibel, réalisation de Christine Bernard-Sugy. Texte intégral interprété par Pierre Santini, Fanny Cottençon et 8 autres comédiens . Contient 3 CD audio. Durée d'écoute : 3 h 20 mn sous couv. ill., 140 x 125 mm. Collection Écoutez lire, Gallimard Jeunesse -rom.
There is the CD of "L'amie de Madame Maigret". Perhaps she can get the CD reference and order it. It does not seems to be available at fnac.com The distributor is SODIS, perhaps an email to sodis@sodis.fr can give the name of a place in the States selling it.

Regards
Jerome

Maigret on TV Arté
4/02/04 – Thrusday 08 April, French/German channel Arté will broadcast "Maigret et l'affaire Saint-Fiacre" by Jean Delannoy with Jean Gabin.
Lorsque Maigret en fait une affaire personnelle, le meurtrier n'a qu'à bien se tenir… Une excellente adaptation de Simenon, avec l'incontournable Jean Gabin, mais aussi Michel Auclair, Valentine Tessier, Robert Hirsch, Paul Frankeur…

Film de Jean Delannoy (France, 1959, 1h36mn) Scénario : Jean Delannoy, Rodolphe-Maurice Arlaud d'après L'affaire Saint-Fiacre de Georges Simenon Dialogues : Michel Audiard Avec : Jean Gabin (le commissaire Maigret), Valentine Tessier (la comtesse de Saint-Fiacre), Michel Auclair (son fils), Robert Hirsch (Lucien Sabatier), Paul Frankeur (le docteur Bouchardon), Michel Vitold (l'abbé Jodet), Camille Guérini (Gautier), Serge Rousseau (Émile Gautier), Micheline Luccioni (Arlette), Jacques Morel (maître Mauléon), Gabrielle Fontan (Marie Tatin) Image : Louis Page Son : Jacques Carrère Montage : Henri Taverna Musique : Jean Prodromides ARTE France
Le commissaire Maigret retourne au château de son enfance, à Saint-Fiacre, où son père fut régisseur. Une menace de mort plane sur la comtesse pour le lendemain, jour des Cendres. Et le lendemain pendant la messe, malgré la présence du commissaire, la comtesse meurt… d'une crise cardiaque ! C'est du moins ce qu'affirme le médecin. Mais le commissaire est convaincu qu'il s'agit d'un meurtre. Un fils au train de vie dispendieux, un secrétaire qui compte sur le testament pour s'installer en ville, un régisseur cupide, un banquier très bien informé… Parmi les nombreux suspects, un seul est coupable et Maigret est bien résolu à le démasquer.
Regards
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 1

4/04/04 –

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland



Simenon wrote : "Le dimanche - c'était le 4 avril -, la pluie ...." Today is the Day to read the Maigret of the Month : Sunday the 4th of April as in the novel. This is a Maigret of the Month that happens at the right time!

My first impression about the place is that it is similar to "La nuit du carrefour". It's remote from the town — Dizy is at two kilometers and a small vilage, Epernay is three more kilometers away. There are three places that play a role in the novel: the house of the lock keeper "la maison de l'éclusier, en pierres grises, avec son écriteau: Bureau de Déclarations", the bar : "Café de la Marine, qui était la seule autre construction de l'endroit", the boats: "La Providence" and the "Southern Cross".
In "La nuit du carrefour", the place is also remote and with the garage and the two houses there are three places. But after those similarities, the novel are different, the tragedy is not the same.
Simenon visited the site in 1931. He wrote an article entitled "une France inconnue ou l'aventure des deux berges" for a special issue of the weekly newspaper "Vu", n°172, 1st July 1931. [published in "Simenon : Mes apprentissages, reportages 1931-1946", Omnibus]. He traveled on his boat la "Ginette". Simenon described the life of the canal and of the bargees and boats to his readers, explaining the vocabulary used on the canal.
He wrote about Dizy : "Dizy, c'est un tout petit village, à deux kilomètres d'Epernay. Mais c'est surtout l'endroit où les bateaux quittent la Marne, pour pénétrer dans le canal".
He writes about the "Trois bistros-épiceries" selling products; about the rain: "Dizy un dimanche soir d'avril sous une pluie désespérante" and even "une accorte Bruxelloise, la marinière du bateau qui est juste au-dessus de nous". There are already lots of the elements that will appear in "le charretier de la Providence"



Here is a good place to look at names used by ferrymen (batelier): www.vnf.fr/vnf/lexique.vnf. This is the Lexicon part of the site of Voies navigables de France. You can find definition for "trémater" and other terms used by Simenon.
At www.peniche.com/33carte_parismarne.htm there is a clear map of the canal with Dizy...
Regards
Jerome

Forum Postings Delayed
4/07/04 – I'll be out of town until the 19th... Forum postings will be delayed till then... Sorry...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 2
4/9/04 – By chance I read M meets a Milord immediately after M and the Dosser and was struck by the fact that both feature Doctors who whose lives have changed beyond all recognition – losing family, foreign travel, total loss of social status etc...
I guess that in the almost 4 decades between the two novels Simenon forgot that he had used the device – or perhaps both characters were generated from the same raw material?
Maybe some of the more expert contributors out there have some ideas on this?
It would be very interesting to do a careful analysis of all the books to identify such similarities – although with 100+ it would be a project requiring the co-operation of a number of readers. Anyone interested?
Muir Smith
Scotland
42/103

More Maigret On BBC Radio
4/14/04 – BBC Radio 4 is to broadcast four new Maigret radio plays on Monday afternoons at 14.15, starting with M. and the Burglar's Wife on the 19th of April and The Yellow Dog on the 26th. They will also be streamed via the BBC web site.

David Cronan

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 3

4/18/04 – Thanks first of all to Jerome for pointing out the similarities in setting between this book and Maigret at the Crossroads, which I had not noticed before.
In The Mystery of Georges Simenon, Fenton Bresler writes:

The peculiarly self-sealed existence of those who live by, and on, the water Simenon was later to recreate — especially in the nineteen-thirties — with his normal stylistic realism in such novels as La Maison du Canal and Le Charretier de la Providence ("Maigret Meets a Milord"), where the Parisian detective sits in a local cafe soaking up the atmosphere and inhaling "a distinctive odour, the nature of which was enough to mark the difference between this and a country cafe. It smelled of stables, harnesses, tar and groceries, oil and gas". (Bresler, pp 63-64)
[This quote is from Maigret Meets a Milord but not as in Robert Baldick's Penguin translation — the reference to "gas" suggests it is from an American translation.]

Bresler continues:

Simenon brought the Ostrogoth down to an anchorage at Morsang, on the River Orge near Corbeil, just south of Paris. And there, in the summer of 1930, he wrote, on the trot, three full-length novels: M. Gallet Décédé ("Maigret Stonewalled"), Le Pendu du Saint-Pholien ("Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets") and Le Charretier de la Providence ("Maigret Meets a Milord").

"At that time I worked morning and afternoon, a chapter in each," Simenon recalls. "I said to myself: 'When it comes quicker, I won't be able to work any longer except in the morning,' and the time came when I could only work in the morning." (Bresler, p74)

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 4

4/18/04 – This Maigret novel is set completely along a certain stretch of a French canal from Épernay to Vitry-le-François (both in the Marne département). In reality this canal was constructed in 1845 to run parallel to the river Marne. This river meanders considerable, so that the canal, which runs straight for many stretches, is preferable for the barge traffic. Vitry-le-François provides a junction for two further canals, the Canal de la Marne à la Saône (the Canal from the Marne to the Saône) and the Canal de la Marne à la Rhin (the Canal from the Marne to the Rhine), forming part of the canal system that stretches not only through France, but also links Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.
In two trips, Simenon explored much of this network of canals and rivers in his first boat, the "Ginette", in 1928 and then, between 1929 and 1931 in his larger craft the "Ostrogoth".
This Maigret novel was written at Le Four à Chaux, near Morsang-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Oise – now Essonne), during the summer of 1930 on his second boat the "Ostrogoth", but the setting and atmosphere relates to his first trip in the "Ginette" in 1928.
Simenon seemed to have been fascinated by water throughout most of his life, setting some of his novels and short stories by, or on, canals, rivers, lakes and the sea. Maybe this fascination was instilled in him during his formative years in Liège, living close to the river Meuse and when the Simenon family lived in the district of Outremeuse they were living on an island formed by the Meuse and its counterpart, the Derivation de la Meuse.
One of the strengths of the novel is how well Simenon constructs the storyline into the setting of canal life made authentic from his personal experience.
In the spring of 1928, he bought the "Ginette", a boat measuring 13 feet in length by 5 feet wide, which he then fitted with a three horsepower engine. This was to carry him, his wife Tigy, their maid and cook Boule and their dog, a great Dane named Olaf, from mid-April to the end of September of 1928, through some of the rivers and canals of France. Their itinerary started in Paris and took in Épernay, Chaumont, Langes, Chalon-sur-Saône, Lyon, Marseille, Sète, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montluçon, Orléans, Montargis and then back to Paris.
During this trip, Simenon continued to write his novels and short stories under pseudonyms, so the boat had on board his typewriter and a stock of paper. Most of the other necessary equipment for this journey was towed behind in a canoe.
Later Simenon wrote several articles about this journey, commissioned by various magazines, and some of the details are used in Le Charretier de la "Providence".
Most of the photographs of canal life that illustrate these published articles were taken at a later date. In July and August 1931, Simenon, accompanied by the Czechoslovak photographer Hans Oplatka, went over the itinerary undertaken in 1928, but this time by car.
The canal in the novel from Dizy to Vitry-le-François runs for nearly 67 kilometres (about 42 miles) and has 15 locks along this stretch.
In one of his articles (in Une France inconnue ou L'Aventure entre deux berges - An unknown France or The Adventure between two banks - published in 1931 in the magazine "Vu"), Simenon writes:
'Dizy is a very small village, two kilometres from Épernay. But above all it is a place where the boats leave the Marne in order to enter the canal…
…But it is about Dizy that I wish to talk, of Dizy one April Sunday evening under appalling rain.'
At the beginning of the novel, Simenon mentions Dizy and then:
' That Sunday - it was the 4th of April - the rain had started pouring down at three o'clock in the afternoon…' and later…' The rain was falling more and more heavily…'
Again in the same article Simenon describes how in April 1928 he and his two companions in the "Ginette" were working like maniacs to reach the canal at Dizy in the same appalling rain which was making many items soaking wet including themselves. Eventually the owners of the barge just ahead of them invited them on board to shelter and dry off.
And in the article he continues:
'The rain still more abundant. As in order to dishearten us, a Decauville train goes past in a building yard and its driver takes shelter under an enormous umbrella…' - a detail he uses again in the novel:
'Everything was steaming in the rain. That was the dominant note… A hundred yards away, a little Decauville train travelled backwards and forwards across a building yard, and its driver, at the back of the miniature engine, had fixed up an umbrella under which he was standing shivering, with his shoulders hunched up.'
A few examples of the author using personal experiences, in various ways, that occurs in much of his work
(The quotes from the novel are taken from the English translation by Robert Baldick, Penguin Books, C2027, 1963).
In the book entitled "Cruising French Waterways" by Hugh McKnight (Great Britain, Adlard Coles Nautical, 1999, 3rd Edition), on page 67 is to be found: 'All the atmosphere of the pre-World War II horse boats in this location (Canal Latéral à la Marne) is admirably portrayed in Georges Simenon's 1931 novel Le Charretier de la "Providence", published in English as Maigret Meets a Milord.'
In the novel, Maigret finds himself, like Simenon, in the world of the daily working canal life among the people whose livelihood depend on the trade carried out along the network of waterways throughout France and beyond. This is in contrast with the pleasure craft, a yacht named "The Southern Cross", owned and skippered by Sir Walter Lampson (the "Milord" of the Penguin English title).
Simenon admirably portrays the differences between the two sets of lifestyles. There are those who work on the canals, the bargees, the lock keepers, café and store owners striving to keep to their daily schedules in order for the canal traffic to run as smoothly as possible, contrasted with the occasional pleasure craft with a different and more leisurely itinerary.
From the beginning, Maigret realises that few craft along the canal remain in one place for long, especially with fifteen locks to negotiate, so he resorts in following their progress by taking to the towpath on a borrowed bicycle.
Leaving much of the collection of information to Lucas, Maigret gradually discovers how tragically these two very different lifestyles are interwoven.

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret on BBC Radio 4
4/19/04 – My apologies if this is a repeat of information already known.
An adaptation of "The Burglar's Wife" will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon at 14.15 - www.bbc.co.uk/radio4. There is a "listen again" facility for those who cannot listen live.

atb,
Sam Trounson

Maigret Music
4/20/04 – The CD of the Maigret music by Laurent Petitgirard has been released and is available. I bought a copy this evening.

Regards
Jerome

Simenon and pipes
4/21/04 – I am very impressed by your site. I am an avid fan of Maigret and have been reading the novels in chronological order in French. (Starting with Vol. 16 in the Tout Simenon paperback Omnibus edition — Who, by the way, can explain the rationale behind putting Simenon's first novels at Volume 16 and onwards, finishing at volume 15?)
I am interested in the kind of pipes, pipe tobacco, Simenon smoked in his lifetime. Would you know where I might find articles discussing this aspect of Simenon's life? I saw little tidbits in the Paris-Match articles posted on your site, but I am looking for more detailed information (interviews, pictures, brand of tobaccos and pipes) if available.

Thank you for you time.
Regards,
Oliver Gloag

Repeated Plot Elements
4/21/04 – (Reply to Muir Smith's 4/9/04 comments). I agree that Simenon did re-use a number of plot elements over time in the different Maigrets. In two or three cases there is the situation of an unemployed person living normally but having more-or-less secret means (Man of the Bench and I think Poor Types Don't Get Killed), Another case is at least two stories where a woman complains of people breaking into her house/apartment and moving various objects but not taking anything. I suppose we could put our heads together and see what we came up with. I've already pointed out that certain streets, locations, and names were often recycled over a number of stories (rue Caulaincourt, rue Lepic, rue Fontaine, rue de Douai... M. Charles, the Grasshopper, Dieudonne...) and I'm continuing to work on the locations with the aim of visiting and photographing every given location of all the Maigrets that played in Greater Paris. I only have about 320 more places to find, enough to keep me busy for some time into the future.

Regards,
Joe Richards

Le Monde 23/04 : Simenon sales in 2003
4/22/04 –

L'édition française
LE MONDE DES LIVRES | 22.04.04
Bonnes ventes pour le centenaire de Simenon

L'année du centenaire de la naissance de Simenon a suscité un véritable engouement, en France comme dans plusieurs pays d'Europe. Trois cent mille exemplaires de livres du père de Maigret ont été vendus en 2003, contre cent mille en 2002, selon les estimations d'Ipsos, à partir des ventes en caisses réalisées en France métropolitaine. Le nombre de titres recensés est passé de 165 à 212. Soixante-dix pour cent des ventes ont été réalisées au format de poche. C'est le Livre de poche qui a le plus vendu, devant "Folio" Gallimard et Omnibus, éditeur des Œuvres complètes. Le Chien jaune, paru au Livre de poche et chez Pocket, a été le plus demandé en 2003. Depuis le début de l'année, les ventes de Simenon continuent à se maintenir à un bon niveau, moindre cependant qu'en 2003, mais supérieur à 2002. Le phénomène n'est pas hexagonal. Le centenaire est intervenu peu après la vente des droits de Simenon par ses héritiers à la société anglaise Chorion ("Le Monde des livres" du 14 septembre 2001). Cette entreprise de gestion de droits, qui s'occupe aussi d'Agatha Christie et de Oui-Oui, a passé en revue tous les contrats. Selon Chorion, les ventes de Simenon ont augmenté de 130 % dans l'ensemble des pays européens, avec plus d'un million de livres vendus. Ainsi Penguin a-t-il relancé en Grande-Bretagne douze Maigret en 2003, tandis que d'autres éditeurs publiaient ce que Simenon appelait ses "romans durs".


The French edition
THE WORLD OF BOOKS - 4/22/04
Good sales for the Simenon centenary

The year of the centenary of Simenon's birth created a real craze, in France as well as in several other countries of Europe. Three hundred thousand copies of the books of the father of Maigret were sold in 2003, as opposed to one hundred thousand in 2002, according to evaluations of Ipsos of retail sales in metropolitan France. The number of registered titles increased from 165 to 212. Seventy percent of sales were in paperback, which outsold "Folio" Gallimard and Omnibus, publishers of the Complete Works. The Yellow Dog from Livre du Poche and Pocket was the most popular title in 2003.
Since the beginning of this year, Simenon sales continue to maintain a good level, below 2003, but higher than 2002. The phenomenon is not limited to France. The centenary occurred shortly after the sale of Simenon rights by his heirs to the English company Chorion ("Le Monde des livres" September 14, 2001). This rights management enterprise, which also manages Agatha Christie and Oui-Oui, reviewed all their contracts. According to Chorion, Simenon sales increased 130% in all European countries, with more of a million books sold. Penguin reissued twelve Maigrets in Britain in 2003, while other publishers published what Simenon called his "hard" novels.

Jerome


3ème Salon BD & Philatélie / 15 & 16 octobre 94 / Caserne Fonck - Liège

Philatelic Simenon
4/23/04 – The sidebar below, from an article in the October, 1996 issue of Le Monde des Philatélistes, points out four Simenon stories in which stamp collecting plays a role. Contrary to the report of the editor (that it was "always without Maigret"), however, there are two Maigrets in which philately appears, (though only incidentally), as noted in this forum of 7/24/97:

  • In the short story, Le client le plus obstiné du monde (The Most Obstinate Customer in the World), the obstinate customer, Raymond Auger, was a stamp dealer.
  • Samuel Meyer, Le fou de Bergerac (The Madman of Bergerac) had pursued his illegal activities in Algeria under the guise of being a postage-stamp dealer.

Simenon et la philatélie

Le monde de la collection de timbres apparaît au moins à quatre reprises dans l'œuvre de Simenon, sans que Maigret ne soit jamais de la partie. Si la présence d'un collectionneur est anecdotique dans La Fenêtre des Rouet, il en va autrement dans Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk et, surtout M. La Souris, où l'affaire criminelle tourne autour d'un timbre célèbre, un « missionnaire » d'Hawaii. Une enquête publiée en 1943 dans Le Petit Docteur, un recueil de nouvelles, complète cet ensemble: ainsi, dans Le Mort tombé du ciel, un chapitre intitulé « De l'utilité des collections de timbres-poste et de l'avantage des vieilles filles dans l'administration des PTT » voit le docteur Dolent suivre les traces d'une victime grâce à son courrier. Dans La Piste de l'homme roux, le « petit docteur » résout l'énigme du meurtre d'un « ancien expert en objet d'art qui vit seul au milieu de ses collections ». Il innocente le principal suspect, un homme roux... improbable clin d'œil à La Ligue des rouquins, enquête de Sherlock Holmes.

P.J.
[Pierre Julien]
Bibliographie: Tout Simenon, collection « Omnibus », Presses de la Cité.

Simenon and philately

The world of stamp collecting appears on at least four occasions in the works of Simenon, but always without Maigret. While the presence of a collector is anecdotal in La Fenêtre des Rouet [1945 "Across the Street"], that is hardly the case in Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk [1956 "The Little Man from Archangel," in which the valuable stamp collection is a key element], and especially in M. La Souris [1938 "Monsieur La Souris"], where the crime centers around a famous stamp, a Hawaiian "Missionary". An investigation published in 1943 in Le Petit Docteur, a compilation of short stories, is the fourth: In Le mort tombé du ciel, in a chapter entitled "On the utility of collecting of postage stamps and the advantage of 'old girls' in the administration of the Postal Service", Doctor Dollent follows a victim's traces with the help of his mail [using stamps collected by the son of the country postman]. In the chapter La Piste de l'homme roux, the "little doctor" solves the mystery of the murder of an "old expert in objects of art who lives alone in the middle of his collections". He clears the principal suspect, a red-headed man... an unlikely wink at Sherlock Holmes's investigation of The League of Red-Headed Men.

P.J.
[Pierre Julien]
  1. La Fenêtre des Rouet [1945 "Across the Street"]
  2. Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk [1956 "The Little Man from Archangel"]
  3. M. La Souris [1938 "Monsieur La Souris"]
  4. Le Petit Docteur [1943] - Le mort tombé du ciel, La piste de l'homme roux

ST

Simenon and pipes
4/23/04 – In response to Oliver Gloag's enquiry of the 21/04/04, here is what I have learnt on the subject after asking much the same question of this forum on the 28/12/03:
If you do a search on this site, from the bottom of this page, you will get links to all that I have been able to find regarding Simenon's pipe smoking, including a link to alt.smokers.pipes.
It would appear that during the period he was living in America he sometimes smoked "Granger" tobacco which is a Burley based blend and nothing like the Dunhill "Elizabethan" mixture which is a Virginia/Perique blend and was reputed to be one of his favourites. It was also said, in the Paris Match 1989 article, and on the alt.smokers.pipes site, that the house of Dunhill prepared a "blond" tobacco mixture especially for G.S, it was labelled "Coupe Maigret", but maybe it was merely "Elizabethan" spiced up with a little more Perique.
Of all the photos I have seen of Georges Simenon, with pipe in mouth, they were all straight stem pipes. But in that same Paris Match article of 1989 there are a couple of bent pipes in the foreground of the photo showing his "work table".
Like you, I would like to see something where Georges Simenon talks at length about his pipes and tobacco. At the moment I am reading "When I was Old, Simenon on Simenon" but half way through it, nothing so far.
Let us know if you find something won't you?

Keep looking,
Bob Kerr

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 5

4/23/04 – In Simenon a Critical Biography, Stanley Eskin says that Simenon took a keen interest in the pricing and design of the early Maigrets.
He writes: "Simenon himself went running about the rue Mouffetard in search of an appropriate bum to pose for the third Maigret, Le Charretier de la "Providence".

(Eskin, p79)

Comparing Le Charretier de la "Providence" with M. Gallet, décédé, Eskin says that Le Charretier de la "Providence" "is a better story that fuses together many Simenonian motifs and experiences. The canal setting allows Simenon to activate his recent observations and enthusiasms, transferring them to Maigret, who noses out the secret by absorbing the canal-life atmosphere. The skeleton in the closet is the long-lost love of a young doctor for a jazzy, destructive woman who betrays him. The doctor goes overseas and returns years later as an inarticulate bargehand, one of Simenon's innumerable dropouts. Accident brings him in contact with his beloved, whom he murders. Solving the crime and finding pathos, Maigret displays his characteristic sympathy for a technical criminal, who dies at the end, obviating any legal questions of criminal justice."
(Eskin, p87)

Roddy

New British TV Maigret?
4/23/04 – Chorion, which bought the rights to Simenon's work, is considering developing a Maigret TV series. They are currently producing new TV films based on the novels of Agatha Christie, four Poirot films have been showed on TV recently and a Miss Marple series is also being prepared. Another choice would be a series based on novels by E. Crispin featuring Gervase Fen.

Mattias Siwemyr

Maigret on BBC Radio 4
4/24/04 – Thanks to Sam Trounson (4/19/04) for the pointer to the adaptations on Radio4. The Burglar's Wife was broadcast last week but can be heard here. On Monday 26 April they will broadcast The Yellow Dog and it looks very much as if there will be others subsequently. For those wishing to retain the audio for personal use in the future, Net Transport does the job very nicely.
Hope this is of some use...

Muir
Scotland
46/103

Simenon's waterside settings
4/24/04 – As Fenton Bresler says, Simenon wrote several books in the nineteen-thirties that have a waterside setting, drawing on his sailing experiences.
I have identified the following. Can anyone add to the list?

  • Le Charretier de la "Providence"
  • Un Crime en Hollande
  • Chez les Flamands
  • La Maison du canal
  • L'Ecluse numéro un
  • La Guinguette à deux sous
I seem to remember that La Maison du juge also has a canal-side setting. Can anyone confirm this?
Several others are set in ports, among them
  • Le Chien jaune
  • Au rendez-vous des Terres-Nuevas
  • Le Port des brumes
  • L'homme de Londres
  • Les Demoiselles de Concarneau
I am unsure about La Marie du port.
All of these are from the early nineteen-thirties, and of course not all of them are Maigrets. Additions and corrections are welcome.
Roddy

Maigret ringtones
4/24/04 – It's quite easy to get a ringtone for your mobile phone of the theme music from the French TV series starring Bruno Cremer — a search on Google brings up several sources.
Unfortunately, I would prefer the Ron Grainer theme from the Rupert Davies series. No luck so far. Can anyone help?

Roddy

New Chorion BBC TV Series
4/24/04 – Things have gotten to a pretty bad state if Chorion has to come up with a new Maigret TV series to play on the BBC. By all accounts, there is already an excellent one in the BBC's own archives starring Rupert Davies. We have already talked this one to death here and several of us have asked the BBC to make this available again to no avail. Hey, BBC, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!! There seems to be a market for this product for this and you're missing it. Oh, the evils of socialism and state ownership of what should be a private business!

Regards
Joe

The TOUT SIMENON edition
4/25/04 – The following may help to answer Oliver Gloag's question (4/21/04) concerning the distribution of Simenon's work throughout this set of volumes.
The first attempt to publish Simenon's Complete Works resulted in the uniform hardback 72 volume ŒUVRES COMPLÈTES, published in Switzerland by Éditions Rencontre between 1967 and 1973 under the editorship of Gilbert Sigaux, a lifelong friend of the author.
28 volumes consisted of the Maigret novels and short stories and other detective short stories, with 44 volumes devoted to Simenon's other novels and short stories. Also included were a few non-fiction articles.
Quite a number of short stories were not included as either the texts could not be located or the titles had been forgotten. Also at the time Simenon was still writing, so that many of the works of autobiography were still to come.
At the time this edition was only sold by subscription and was not available from the usual bookshop outlets.
It wasn't until 1976 that Simenon decided to present his extensive archive to the University of Liège.
In the mid 1980s it was decided that another Complete Edition of the author's work should be published under the title of TOUT SIMENON, but this time in Paris by Presses de la Cité, the author's publisher since 1945. With the archive available and much more research being carried out, many more short stories came to light, and by 1980 Simenon had completed his autobiographies, so that this edition would be more complete than the previous set.
This new edition was quite an undertaking, the format chosen being a uniform large paperback, each volume finally comprising of between 832 and 1622 pages in length making each book about two inches in thickness. The publication was scheduled to be published in early1988, with 4 to 5 volumes being available each year.
But the publication had its problems. The publishers Presses de la Cité held the rights to publish all of their Simenon texts from 1945 onwards, but three other publishers were involved. The three novels originally published by Éditions de la Jeune Parque in 1945 and 1947 had been acquired some time before, but both Fayard and Gallimard were proving difficult. A possible conjecture was that these two publishers might have feared a loss of revenue from their own individual reprints of Simenon's work.
Whatever the reason, rather than delay the edition with protracted negotiations with these two publishers, Presses de la Cité went ahead with the publication of their Simenon texts beween 1988 and 1991. As a result volumes 1 to 15 of the edition TOUT SIMENON contain all the author's work originally from this publisher starting with La Fenêtre des Rouet, 1945 (Across the Street) to Maigret et Monsieur Charles, 1972 (Maigret and Monsieur Charles).
Eventually agreement was reached with Fayard and Gallimard so that volumes 16 to 18 (1991) contain the Fayard texts from Monsieur Gallet, décédé, 1931 (The Death of Monsieur Gallet) to Maigret, 1934 (Maigret Returns) ending with six unrelated short stories.
During 1992 the Gallimard texts were published in volumes 19 to 25 from Le Locataire, 1934 (The Lodger) to Le Bateau d'Émile, 1954 (a collection of 7 short stories).
Volumes 26 and 27 (1993) contain the twenty-five works of autobiography.
To celebrate Simenon's Centenary, the 27 volumes of TOUT SIMENON were reprinted between late 2002 and early 2004, but with the text printed on thinner paper so that this paperback edition was not so bulky as before and easier to handle.

Note: Both sets of the Complete Works contain only those items that are published under Simenon's own name and do not include his earlier work under pseudonyms.

Peter Foord
UK

Adaptations of Maigret novels on BBC Radio 4
4/25/04 – The current series being broadcast by BBC Radio on Monday afternoons at 2.15 has been issued on BBC Audio Cassette and CD (from the 19th of April). There are 4 dramatisations with Nicholas Le Provost as Maigret. The titles are The Yellow Dog (Le Chien Jaune), Maigret and the Burglar's Wife (Maigret et La Grande Perche), Inspector Cadaver (L'Inspecteur Cadavre) and Maigret's Little Joke (Maigret s'amuse).
There are two boxed audio cassettes ISBN 0-563-52411-1 and four boxed CDs ISBN 0-563-52416-2. They can be obtained from www.bbcshop.com or Amazon and the usual retailers.

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 6

4/25/04 – A couple of small points from Roddy's entry (4/18/04), and the quotes from Fenton Bresler's "The Mystery of Georges Simenon", 1983.
The earlier translation of Le Charretier de la "Providence" was by an American author, Anthony Abbot, first published in the USA in 1934 by Covici, Friede (a two novel volume entitled The Shadow in the Courtyard and The Crime at Lock 14) and later in the same year in the UK by Hurst and Blackett (the same two novels in one volume under the overall title of The Triumph of Inspector Maigret).
Unfortunately, for some reason Fenton Bresler has indicated the wrong Morsang. Simenon moored the Ostrogoth at Morsang-sur-Seine and not Morsang-sur-Orge. The confusion could have arisen from the fact that the two Morsangs are only a few miles from each other and both near Corbeil. The novels Monsieur Gallet, décédé and Le Charretier de la "Providence" were written near Morsang-sur-Seine in the summer of 1930, whilst Le Pendu du Saint-Pholien was written at Beuzec-Conq (Finistère) in December 1930.

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 7

4/25/04 – Either someone found an actual barge named "La Providence" or set it up for this (1970) Livre de Poche cover (above). But can anyone tell if it's actually wooden, horse-drawn? I suspect it's not...

ST

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 8

4/25/04 – In Simenon a Biography, Pierre Assouline writes about the hostility which Simenon faced from some of his journalistic colleagues:

With the publication of Le Charretier de la "Providence" (1931), his third novel in three months, the word record became increasingly linked to his name. But few of his contemporaries had any idea of the labor and creative energy that went into his easily denigrated novels.

(Assouline, p100)

In an article entitled "For and Against the Police Novel", [Robert] Brasillach compared Simenon to Malherbe, raved about the power with which he describes a canal in Le Charretier de la "Providence" (1931), hailed the portrait of decay and degradation in L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (1932), and called Maigret the Monsieur Bergson of the police novel. But in the end he criticized Simenon for neglecting the action

(Assouline, p141)
In a quote which might refer directly to Le Charretier de la "Providence", Simenon said:

"I've been killing myself for years trying to make what a farmer or a fisherman says come out right. It would have been easy to put words in the mouths of people like myself. Complex characters are easy to create, since the writer, by definition complicated, senses and understands them better than any others. But to write novels about people who live without thought — without what we call thinking!"*

(Assouline, p141: Simenon in a letter to André Gide, January 15, 1939,
printed in
Simenon, Lacassin and Sigaux, Plon, 1973, p396-405)

*Sacrebleu ! Je me crève depuis trente-deux années à essayer de faire dire un mot juste au fermier, à un pêcheur, à n'importe qui. Il m'aurait été facile de faire parler des gens comme moi. Le personnage compliqué est le plus facile puisque l'écrivain, étant à priori compliqué, le sent et le comprend mieux que n'importe quel autre.
Mais écrire le roman de ceux qui vivent et ne pensent pas — ce que nous appelons penser ! (p. 402)

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 9
4/25/04 — For more on Le Charretier de "La Providence" – photos, maps, analysis – see Guido de Croock's

Maigret's Journeys in France

(And there's a section on "Le Bagne" – the penal colony in Guyana where Jean served his time...)

Maigret of the Month: Le charretier de la Providence (Maigret meets a milord) - 10
4/29/04 — It seems that Simenon sold the film rights to this novel because he said that he would oversee the production of "Le Charretier de la "Providence" (Assouline, p109), but I have found no further trace of this. It would seem the film was never made.
Simenon apparently writes about his experiences with the film industry in one of his autobiographical books, Point Virgule.
Does anyone know any more about this?
Roddy

Robert Brasillach
4/29/04 – Robert Brasillach, an influential critic and admirer of Simenon, was an interesting character. The following extract gives a brief reason for his notoriety:

Robert Brasillach

French Author and Journalist

Born: March 31, 1909 at Perpignan, Pyrenées Orientales
Died: February 6, 1945 at Montrouge

Brasillach studied at l'École normale supérieure before embarking on a career as a novelist and literary critic for Charles Maurras's l'Action Française. He openly espoused fascism after the February 6, 1934 riots in the Place de la Concorde. As editor-in-chief of François Coty's anti-semitic tabloid Je suis partout, he wrote in favor of collaboration and the establishment of a new European order governed by Nazi ideology.
Brasillach was tried by the High Court and sentenced to death for collaboration on January 19, 1945. His trial stirred angry debate among French intellectuals regarding the responsibility of writers for the actions their works incite. François Mauriac, a Catholic writer and resistant, was a leading opponent of Brasillach's execution, and circulated a petition asking General de Gaulle to commute the sentence. Albert Camus signed the petition, but only because he opposed the death penalty in all cases. Prominent leftists Jean-Paul Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir refused to sign. De Gaulle refused commutation, holding firm in his belief that intellectuals must be held accountable for the consequences of the ideas they propagate. Brasillach was executed on February 6, 1945.

see also Lawrence Osborne's review article of Alice Kaplan's book "The Collaborator."

Maigret on French TV 2
4/29/04 – Next Monday on French Channel France 2, there is a Maigret movie with B. Cremer:

Maigret et le clochard

Origine : Fra - Blg.(2003)
Scénario : Dominique Garnier et Christian de Chalonge.
Musique : Laurent Petitgirard.
Réalisation : Laurent Heynemann.
Distribution : Bruno Cremer (Maigret), Georges Gilbert-Cazeneuve (François Keller), Jean-Paul Bonnaire (Battesti), Pierre Diot (l'inspecteur Christiani).
Date : 03/05/2004
Horaire : 20H55 - 22H25
Durée : 90 mn

Un soir d'été, au bord de la Seine, un homme est frappé à la tête et précipité dans les eaux du fleuve. Sauvée de justesse par un marinier, la victime se révèle être un clochard familier des lieux. Maigret, qui a pris l'affaire en main, l'interroge et va ainsi de surprise en surprise. En effet, François Keller - c'est son nom - ne semble pas faire partie de ces pauvres gens malmenés par l'existence. Médecin, il a un jour abandonné métier et famille, sans raison apparente, pour vivre sous les ponts. Mais le plus étonnant est qu'il refuse d'aider le commissaire et s'enferme dans un mutisme absolu. Maigret se voit contraint de continuer ses recherches.

One summer evening, on the banks of the Seine, a man is hit on the head and tossed into the river. Saved in the nick of time by a mariner, the victim turns out to be a clochard of the area. Maigret, taking charge of the affair, questions him, and finds one surprise after another. For François Keller – that was his name – doesn't seem a likely member of this group of poor people manhandled by life. A physician, he'd abandoned his profession and family one day, for no apparent reason, to live under the bridges. And all the more astonishing is that he refuses to say a word to help the commissioner. Maigret finds himself compelled to continue his investigation on his own.

Regards
Jerome

Maigrets with sequels?
4/29/04 – I just realized that La patience de Maigret (1965) is a sequel to Maigret se défend (1964). I'm wondering if there are any other sequels, where the second book builds on the characters in the first?
(Though, comparing the two books, I have a strong feeling that for once, Simenon over-wrote and had to trim "La patience," and despite the publication dates, wrote Maigret se defend as a filler. The writing in "La patience" is about as good as it gets, and the same (sadly) cannot be said of "se défend").

P.S. "Maigret se defend" gets its title from the famous French epigram:
"Cet animal est très méchant
Quand on l'attaque, il se défend"*
Or so I have to believe

Oz Childs
*(from an old French song, "La Ménagerie" (the Zoo) - "That animal is very bad - when attacked, it defends itself.")

Maigret sequels (Maigret se défend and La Patience de Maigret)
4/30/04 – Oz Childs makes an interesting point concerning these two Maigret novels (4/29/04).
The following details add more food for thought.
The author's original manuscripts of Maigret se défend (Maigret on the Defensive) and La Patience de Maigret (The Patience of Maigret/Maigret Bides his Time) are in the Archive, le Fonds Simenon in Liège.
Maigret se défend is signed and dated Epalinges, the 28th July 1964. Also with the manuscript is the yellow envelope with preliminary details concerned with the novel, and a card containing more details. (Years before, Simenon had bought a supply of cheap yellow coloured envelopes and it was his ritual to write on the envelope preliminary details which he was going to use in his novel as a memory guide. At times he also used small sheets of card as well as additional sheets of paper to note down further details). With these there is also the Calendar (another ritual) on which he marked off the days that he spent writing the novel, and its revision.
The Calendar for Maigret se défend indicates that the novel was written in eight days, from the 21st to the 28th of July 1964, and there were six days of revision, from the 1st to the 6th of August 1964.
This novel was published in France by Presses de la Cité in November 1964.
In between the two related Maigret novels, Simenon wrote Le Petit Saint (The Little Saint), which the author thought of as his favourite novel.
The manuscript is signed and dated Epalinges, the 13th of October 1964, and with it is the yellow envelope, as well as 14 other sheets of documentation, plus the Calendar. Nine days are marked off, the 5th to the 13th of October 1964 for the time Simenon took to write the novel, with nine days of revision, the 13th to the 21st of January 1965.
Le Petit Saint was published by Presses de la Cité in March 1965.
The manuscript of the sequel to Maigret se défend, La Patience de Maigret, is dated Epalinges, the 9th of March 1965 and with it is the yellow envelope with references to the details used in Maigret se défend. The Calendar indicates that this novel was written over seven days, from the 25th of February to the 1st of March 1965 (five days) and then from the 8th to the 9th of March 1965 (two days). Apparently Simenon went down with influenza in between the two writing sessions. The revision was carried out between the 29th of March and the 2nd of April 1965 (five days).
Presses de la Cité published this novel in November 1965.

(based on information reported in "Inventaire des manuscrits des romans
publiés par Simenon entre 1931 et 1972", Michel Lemoine and Christine Swings in
TRACES N° 2, 1990, Université de Liège, Centre d'Etudes Georges Simenon)

Peter Foord
UK

Interesting text on Simenon and Paris
4/29/04 – At Paris vu par Georges Simenon by Noël Simsolo, there's an interesting text (in French) on Simenon and Paris.
There is a part entitled "La Paris de Maigret" and comments about the way Simenon's books have been adapted as movies.
And there's a link to a description of a filmed Simenon interview with Commissaire Massu in 1958 'A la recherche de Maigret'. They say that the film can be seen in 'The Forum des Images' which is in 'Le Forum des Halles' in the center of Paris. I'll try to go see it...

Regards
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: La Tête d'un Homme (A Battle of Nerves) - 1

5/01/04 –

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland



Occasionally Georges Simenon wrote novels and short stories at the location in which he set them. For example, in October 1937 he booked into the Hôtel de l'Europe in Port-en-Bassin (Calvados) in Normandy in order to write "La Marie du Port" (Chit of a Girl / Girl in Waiting), which he set in that very fishing port. And whilst living in the United States it was in Tucson (Arizona) that he wrote the novel "La Jument Perdue" (The Lost Mare — not translated) in October 1947, and later again in Tucson, in July 1949, the novel "Maigret Chez le Coroner" (Maigret at the Coroner's / Maigret and the Coroner). And there are others, including "La Tête d'un Homme".
Although the storyline moves around Paris and outside the city to Nandy (Seine-et-Marne), Simenon chose to write it in the Montparnasse area of Paris in March 1931, at the Hôtel Aiglon, 232 Boulevard Raspail, on the corner with the Boulevard Edgar Quinet in the 14tharrondissement [quadrant 16 on the map]. (This hotel is still operating today under the same name and at the same address).


Map of the Montparnasse area of Paris (from Paris and its Environs, Baedeker, 1924). click to enlarge

The map (from Paris and its Environs, Baedeker, 1924) shows many of the thoroughfares and establishments cited in the novel. Close to the intersection of the Boulevard Raspail and the Boulevard Montparnasse is the Rue Vavin. It was at number 33 in "La Boule Blanche" nightclub during the night of the 20th to the 21st of February that two of the first Maigret novels, as well as Simenon's name, were launched at a reception entitled the Bal Anthropométrique. Not far away is the Prison de la Santé bounded in the shadow of its high walls by the Boulevard Arago, the Rue de la Santé, the Rue Humboldt — now the Rue Jean Dolent — and the Rue Messier. Also near is the Place Denfert-Rochereau with its sculpture of the Lion of Belfort, the Montparnasse Cemetery and the railway terminus. At number 102 Boulevard Montparnasse, near the intersection with the Boulevard Raspail, is located the large brasserie and restaurant La Coupole, which is one of the focal points in the novel. This establishment opened on the 20th of December 1927 (and is still operating today) to acclaim and it attracted many customers and personalities. The basement catered for those who wished to dance, whilst the restaurants were on the first and second floors. On the ground floor was the American Bar where in the novel Maigret first encounters Johann Radek.


An early photograph of LA COUPOLE at 102, Boulevard Montparnasse, Paris.

(When La Coupole opened the head barman in the American Bar was one Bob Lodewyck whose first name Simenon retains in the novel).
Unfortunately to date there is only one English translation, that of the wayward Geoffrey Sainsbury who was often inclined to change some of the author's details. In this novel, the American's surname is changed from Crosby to Kirby and for Joseph Heurtin's wandering through Paris during the night, he substitutes the Palais Royal for the bustling central market, Les Halles. Small details, but why change them?
Basically the novel centres on three very different people, Joseph Heurtin, who worked at delivering flowers on his tricycle-van, has been convicted of the murder of Mrs. Henderson and her maid, the American William Kirby (Crosby), nephew of Mrs. Henderson, enjoys the rich life style, but is not all that he seems, and Johann Radek from Czechoslovakia and a former medical student.
Paying a visit to the American Bar at La Coupole, Maigret meets up with all three. Heurtin, on the run after being allowed to escape from the Santé prison, appears outside the Bar, being drawn to someone inside, William Kirby (Crosby) enjoys the atmosphere with friends, whilst Radek quietly observes all that is going on around him in the Bar.
Simenon develops the theme where Radek manipulates the other two in different ways, praying on their weaknesses and being driven by his own megalomania brought about by his resentment of his poor background and his inherited fatal illness.
Maigret intuitively and gradually breaks through the skein of deceit and the psychological games of Radek in order to reach the truth.

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret on French DVDs
5/01/04 – DVD's of the Bruno Cremer series are available in France from ONE PLUS ONE Vidéo at 14, rue de Marignon. Look at Jerome's most recent letter and click on the link there. At the bottom is a link to www.toutsimenon.com. Click that and then Agenda, and you'll get to the display below. There are at least three double DVD's available or six episodes out of a total of 42. They may also be available from other French sources like Amazon.fr or FNAC. Thanks, Jerome!

L'INTEGRALE DE MAIGRET EN DVD - Mars-Avril 2004

Une collection de 42 épisodes de la série avec Bruno Crémer, dont 6 seront disponibles fin mars

Maigret L'intégrale - Volume 1 :

2 DVD- 2 épisodes :
  • Les scrupules de Maigret
  • Maigret et l'inspecteur cadavre

Maigret L'intégrale - Volume 2 :

2 DVD - 2 épisodes
  • Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue
  • La maison de Félicie

Maigret L'intégrale - Volume 3 :

2 DVD - 2 épisodes
  • Maigret et le clochard
  • Signé Picpus

Des bonus exclusifs dans chaque volume : - Rencontre avec Bruno Crémer (Interview à suivre / 5 mn par épisode)

  • Simenon, l'Homme aux 100 vies (Documentaire intégral de 35 mn)
  • Le coin du libraire (Présentations des romans)
  • Les enquêtes de Maigret

Pour toutes informations complémentaires
ONE PLUS ONE Vidéo
14, rue de Marignan 75008 PARIS
TEL : 01 42 25 91 91
contact@oneplusone.fr

Regards
Joe


Josephine Baker

La Coupole ~ Josephine Baker
5/02/04 – La Coupole (featured in La Tête d'un Homme ) is a well-known brasserie in Paris. It opened in 1927. There are three parts, as Simenon wrote: an American bar, a brasserie, and dancing in the basement. Joséphine Baker was part of the dancing show. Simenon knew Josephine Baker and met her often. He became her secretary in order to disguise their affair.
The picture at left, a detail from a Paris-Match photo, shows Simenon and Jospehine Baker in La Coupole .
Well-known writers like Kessel or Hemingway, and painters like Picasso and Giacometti were some of the artists who came there.
Some of the pillars of the main room were decorated by Marie Vassilief [1884-1957] in 1927. (right)
Today there is no separation between the American bar and the main room. There is still a counter in the left part of the main room.

Regards,
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: La Tête d'un Homme (A Battle of Nerves) - 2

5/02/04 –
Do you know why this Maigret was printed in French with two different titles: La tête d'un homme / L'homme de la tour eiffel [A Man's Head ~ The Man on the Eiffel Tower]. Does the latter come from the movie?

Regards,
Jerome


5/04/04 – The book called "L'homme de la Tour Eiffel" is what we would now call a spin-off from the movie, the original retitled to capitalise on the novelty and popularity of the film.
The actor on the cover of the book (above left) is the star of the film, the English actor, Charles Laughton, best known perhaps for his portrayal of Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty.
The DVD of The Man on the Eiffel Tower is quite easily available on Ebay, usually packaged with some dreadful British films of the same era.


Roddy


5/04/04 – Jérôme has raised some interesting points (above, 5/02/04).
The reprint of La Tête d'un Homme that the Librairie Arthème Fayard published in 1950 is a way of cashing in on the film that was released on the 8th of January 1950 under the title of L'Homme de la Tour Eiffel (The Man on the Eiffel Tower). I saw a cinema showing of this film a few months ago, which was based on the main idea contained in La Tête d'un Homme. Maigret was played by Charles Laughton, Radek by Franchot Tone, Heurtin by Burgess Meredith (who also directed the film), William Kirby by Robert Hutton and his wife by Patricia Roc. Charles Laughton directed some of the exterior scenes shot in Paris.
Like the earlier film version of 1932 directed by Julien Duvivier, with Harry Baur as Maigret, the later film deviated from Simenon's original text.
The climax of the 1950 film version took place as a chase up the structure of the Eiffel Tower involving Radek, Heurtin and the Police.
The front cover of the Fayard 1950 reprint is of Charles Laughton in the role of Maigret.

Peter Foord
UK

La Coupole ~ Josephine Baker
5/04/04 –
A few small points of interest. The Paris-Match photograph showing Simenon with Josephine Baker is in fact part of a group photograph that has, on the left, Tigy (Simenon's wife), then Simenon, next to him is Josephine Baker and next to her Giuseppe Abatino (for a time, her manager) with two others. But was this taken at La Coupole? Some publications reproducing this photograph date it as 1925 (Paris-Match and Eskin's Biography) or 1926 (Bresler's Biography), but La Coupole did not open until the 20th of December 1927, by which time Simenon had finished his relationship with Josephine Baker.

All of the early photographs and drawings of the basement of La Coupole that I have so far seen show that it was a dance floor for the general public and not a stage area for entertainers. The illustration of Josephine Baker seemingly dancing at La Coupole looks like one of the many visual descriptions of her performance bare-breasted and clad in her famous banana costume that she accomplished at the Folies-Bergère between 1926 and 1927.
Perhaps minor points, but does anyone have any more information about these items?

Peter Foord
UK

Simenon's Variety
5/04/04 – I think the most astonishing thing about Simenon is that he managed to write more than seventy detective novels with the same hero (Maigret) and hardly ever wrote the same novel twice. No other author in the mystery/detective genre has been able to do this. Doyle ran out of ideas for Sherlock Holmes. If you've read one Dick Francis story (or Ross or John Macdonald, or Sue Grafton) and you've read them all. The plot varies, but the pace, the order of development, and the personality of the detective all remain the same. At a certain point, the Dick Francis hero of the day will get beaten within an inch of his life. Sooner or later, the Ross Macdonald investigation will turn up some past psychological trauma that led, decades later, to the crime. Hercule Poirot will find a second, or a third murder victim. (Indeed, Agatha Christie recognized her tendency to repeat herself, to the point where almost all of her favorite works were the ones without a recurring character — she ended up hating Poirot and his little gray cells, though she couldn't do without him).
I've just re-read "Maigret et les temoins recalcitrants." In it, he plays a cruel game on the reader. Maigret is frustrated: witnesses who will not talk about the crime, a juge d'instruction who denies him a free hand, characters that make him more and more gloomy. Then all of a sudden he interrogates a woman he really likes. The reader likes her, too, and hopes all her dreams come true. Then, as Maigret leaves her apartment, he sees a clue that will destroy all her hopes. Clever! What a plot device! And then I realized, with great appreciation, that Simenon had written forty Maigrets in which he did not use that particular trick. Each novel has its own tricks and twists. After the earliest novels, almost every book has some character you come to like, but the fate of the sympathetic character is always unpredictable.

Oz Childs

Josephine Baker
5/05/04 – In The Man who wasn't Maigret, Patrick Marnham writes that

"Josephine Baker was, from 1925 to 1928, just about the most famous woman in Paris. She had arrived from St Louis; she was 19 years old; and she lived in an apartment near the Parc Monceau. In 1925 she had been the star of 'La Revue Negre' in the Theatre des Champs-Elysées, a show which people either walked out of after the second number or returned to constantly.... A reviewer wrote: her finale was a barbaric dance ... a triumph of lewdness, a return to prehistoric morality.
"Another reviewer saw her in 1926 at the Folies Bergere wearing her famous belt of bananas....: She was obscene and divine as she excited her audience, mocked them and rejected them.
"She was accompanied by a Negro jazz band and she soon opened her own nightclub in the rue Fontaine in Montmartre, where Sim [Simenon] became a regular visitor. In private life Josephine Baker was rather as she was on stage: she adored all the attention she was getting and she adored making love, which she did with many people and with great exuberance. Among her lovers was 'le petit Sim', who, unknown to Tigy, became one of her most fervent and regular admirers. They made love with a violent energy that Sim found overwhelming. He wrote in Memoires intimes: 'I would have married her if I had not been afraid, obscure figure that I was, of becoming known as Monsieur Josephine Baker.'
He wrote about her in a magazine for lesbians called La Merle Rose: "'It is, without question, the most famous bottom in the world. It must be the only bottom which has become the centre of a cult. And it is everywhere, on music sheets, on magazine covers, plastered all over the city's walls, because it is the only bottom that laughs!'" [Presumably that sounds better in French!]
[Marnham continues:] "Distracted by Josephine Baker, he wrote and published in 1927 only [!] one collection of short stories and eleven romans populaires .... In the summer of 1927...he and Tigy left Paris.... Sim said later that he had fled to get away from Josephine Baker because his affection for her was disturbing his marriage, but it was as much a flight from the kind of life they had been living, which had started going too fast and which was threatening his work."
(Marnham, pp122-124)
Incidentally, Baker and Simenon seem to have remained friends at least: she visited him when he lived in Lakeville, Connecticut, and he took his mother to see her at a nightclub in New York.
Roddy

Simenon interviewed in L'Illustré - 1957
5/16/04 –

L'illustré   (N° 50) 37th year
Lausanne, December 12, 1957, p 27-29

 

Author of 168 signed novels,

IS GEORGES SIMENON
A WRITER?

by M. M. BRUMAGNE

original French

 

Il est cinq heures. Le ciel s'assombrit. Simenon sort brusquement de son bureau et nous l'entendons crier : « Denise (c'est sa femme), voudrais-tu m'apporter mon portefeuille, un mouchoir et une poignée de monnaie. Je m'aperçois que depuis ce matin j'ai les poches vides. »

.
.
.
en français

It is five o'clock. The sky is growing dark. Simenon comes out of his office suddenly, and we hear him shout, "Denise (his wife), would you bring me my wallet, a handkerchief and a handful of change? I've just noticed that since this morning my pockets have been empty."

.
.
.
in English

Friday 28th May - L'ombre chinoise on French Channel 2
5/23/04 –
Origine : Fra. (2003) Stéréo.
Scénario : Laurence Kilberg.
Musique : Laurent Petitgirard.
Réalisation : Charles Nemes.
Distribution : Bruno Cremer (Jules Maigret), Christine Boisson (Germaine Martin), Alain Rimoux (Edgar Martin), Estelle Skornic (Nine Moinard).
Date : 28/05/2004
Horaire : 20H55 - 22H40
Durée : 105 mn
Showview : 2805664.
Pierre Boyer, le patron d'une entreprise florissante, est retrouvé assassiné la veille de la remise des salaires. Le commissaire Maigret est appelé à enquêter sur ce meurtre dans l'immeuble bourgeois qu'occupait la victime. Trois femmes comptaient dans la vie de Boyer: son ex-épouse, sa femme et sa maîtresse. Si la première, Germaine Martin, semble obsédée par l'argent et la peur de manquer de quoi que ce soit, la seconde, Madeleine Dormoy, est issue d'une famille bourgeoise désargentée et ferme les yeux sur les liaisons de son époux tant qu'elles ne nuisent pas à leur aisance matérielle.

Notes : Un épisode, plein de rebondissements où l'on profite du talent de Bruno Crémer et de la présence de Christine Boisson qui nous offre une belle performance.

Regards,
Jerome

Maigret on CD?
5/26/04 – Does anyone know if there are any Maigret books available on CD? If so, where can they be purchased?

Thank you,
Jane Geltner

A documentary on Simenon... in L'Illustré 1959
5/26/04 –

L'illustré   (N° 37) 39th year
Lausanne, September 10, p 69-70

GEORGES SIMENON

amateur actor,
in the role of the novelist Simenon

A documentary on
the most fertile of modern writers

by Renée Senn

original French

 

Echandens. Pleins feux sur la façade du château où habite Georges Simenon, et où l'on tourne un court métrage qui n'aura rien d'une biographie ; c'est, en fait, un « flash » sur l'existence et la méthode de travail du fécond romancier. Un de ses personnages – le président, incarné par Michel Simon – et des séquences d'actualités d'avant-guerre serviront de contexte au documentaire que signe un Français, Lausannois d'adoption : le cinéaste Hauduroy.

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en français

Echandens– Spotlights on the facade of the chateau in which Georges Simenon lives, and where they're shooting some footage for what won't be a biography, but rather a "newsflash" on the life and working methods of the fertile novelist. One of his characters – the President, personified by Michel Simon – and some pre-war news sequences, will serve as context for this documentary by a Frenchman, Lausannois by adoption: the film-maker Hauduroy.

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in English

Maigret of the Month: La Tête d'un Homme (A Battle of Nerves) - 3

5/29/04 – Assouline on Simenon and A Man's Head on Screen
All the major writers on Simenon refer to his difficulties in transferring "A Man's Head" to the screen, but Pierre Assouline is the most comprehensive, and worth quoting at length, because he gives an insight into Simenon's character:

...But the conflict between Simenon and the film industry went deeper. Individualistic novelist and solitary creator that he was, he was uncomfortable with the collective efforts and industrial procedures inevitably entailed in filmmaking. The ponderous chain of production annoyed him. Too many people had something to say about how the film came out. He was horrified by the sums of money and numbers of people involved and disoriented by a human and economic organization whose functioning eluded him.

When he wrote a book, he was the sole master. When a film was made of one of his books, his role shrank steadily as the date of shooting approached, until finally he was the fifth wheel on the cart, a condition that finally seemed aberrant to a man who was used to being the center of his own universe and the heart of his own production system. It was especially unpleasant for him to confront it for the first time just when his recent but promising success had fanned his most sensitive traits: vanity, egocentrism, and boastfulness.

Simenon was a stubborn man resistant to allowing his own personality to be dissolved in a project based on a gathering of talents of diverse origins. It was his book, his screenplay, his script – and therefore his film. Even after collaborating on two screenplays, he did not understand that the director had to present in images what the writer tends merely to suggest in words. To depict without demonstrating, to suggest without describing, to be faithful to the spirit but not the letter–all this seemed inconceivable to him. He refused to admit that adapters might have to take liberties with the novels on which their films were based.

He therefore decided to make his own movies. He believed that if he had learned to write by doing it, there was no reason why he could not learn fimmaking the same way. He would flout norms, schools, and rules, trust his own intuition, genius, and whims. Most of all he would get rid of all those irksome intruders who constantly urged him to modify, correct, add, or delete on the basis of criteria he did not share. Some warned him of the difficulty of the enterprise and of the technical expertise required by this craft of which he knew nothing. He refused to listen. He made the proud announcement of his plans in an interview with Paris-Midi.

"Only the author can judge how his novel must be incarnated," he declared, adding that while he would merely oversee the production of Le Charretier de la "Providence" (1931), he would be completely in charge of La Tête d'un homme (1931).

In April, after writing Le Fou de Bergerac (The Madman of Bergerac, 1932) at the Hotel de France in La Rochelle, he moved to the nearby La Richardiere, a sixteenth-century manor house between Nieul and Marsilly. He fell so in love with the place that he tried to buy it immediately, but the owner rejected his offer, and he had to be content with renting.

It was in these surroundings that "his" film was to be born. La Tête d'un homme was atypical in that it pitted Maigret against another major character, the murderer himself, who competes with the inspector in unraveling the threads of the investigation, thereby hoping to demonstrate his Machiavellian intelligence, unfairly overlooked by society.

The murderer in question is a twenty-five-year-old medical student of Czech origin. The character was inspired by Simenon's friend Ilya Ehrenbourg, a Jew form Kiev who, like the author, was a regular at La Coupole. Though he fled the Soviet regime, he had earlier participated in the 1905 revolution, and the police therefore regarded him as a Bolshevik propagandist. Once in Paris, he became a poet, write, and journalist – the prototype of the exiled foreign intellectual. Simenon's murderer had many points in common with Ehrenbourg, and to top it off he gave him the name Jean Radek. This was a clever touch: Karl Radek was a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party and the presidium of the Comintern. Several years later he would be expelled on charges of Trotskyism.

Simenon wanted Pierre Renoir to play Maigret again. He was the right man for the role, and his mere presence in the film would suggest to audiences that the films, like the books, were part of a series. Radek would be played by Valéry Inkijnoff, a Russian actor with Asiatic features who had recently been featured in Le Capitaine jaune.

Simenon thought of everything, including the promotion of the film, which for the moment only existed on paper. When he invited Inkijinoff to his house in Charentes to work on the script, he made sure to alert a photographer from the movie magazine Pour vous. The subsequent article struck just the right tone: two pipe smokers walking dogs in the countryside, chopping and sawing wood, and most of all brainstorming – conceiving, writing, and dictating to a secretary what would surely be the film of the year.

In the end, alas, the film industry prevailed over Simenon's desire to go it alone. As he tells it, crooked producers paid him with rubber checks, thus forcing him to abandon the project. Perhaps the results of his cogitations in Charentes struck them as too amateurish and therefore too risky. One way or another, a furious and disgusted Simenon was forced to pull out.

Marcel Vandal and Charles Delac, producers at the Films d'Art company, then assigned the picture to Julien Duvivier, a seasoned director with some thirty films to his credit, including several literary adaptations. With Duvivier there would be no unpleasant surprises. He kept Valéry Inkijnoff on in the role of Radek, but dropped Pierre Renoir in favour of Harry Baur, who would make a sober, taciturn, and physically powerful Maigret. He abandoned the existing script and asked Louis Delaprée and Pierre Caldmann to write another.

Simenon wanted nothing more to do with this film or with films in general. Two commercial failures and his own aborted project convinced him that he would be boycotted by the industry, a prospect that did not concern him unduly. He expected his work to endure, and he was sure the movie companies would one day rediscover him, if only out of simple common sense: "…the cinema, abandoning its routines and repudiating its laws and prophets, will feel the need to assimilate the aesthetics of the novel, to delve into psychology, to come closer to man while stepping back from intrigue and from the theatrical clichés which have already half-mummified it." When that day came, filmmakers who had learned to live with freedom would work unfettered. They would make movies the way he wrote. Until then he would renounce films. If he could not make "his" great picture, he would refuse to allow anyone else to make it in his place. Film rights to his books were no longer for sale, a boycott that would last for seven years.

But the false start had not been a total loss. He had made as fair amount of money, a hint of what he could get from the cinema if ever he decided to bow to its laws. "From the first Maigrets, the movies were a good fairy to me," the memorialist would later acknowledge. ... In 1931, movies were his second biggest source of income (75,000 franc), after the Maigret novels published by Fayard. If we take into account the financial resources the Simenons needed for their extravagant lifestyle, we get an idea of the strength of principle required to keep his inspector off the screen, albeit temporarily.

(Assouline, pp108-111)

Roddy

Penguin Editions 2004 (UK): a few more titles
5/30/04 – There are a few more Simenon novels reissued from Penguin Books in their paperback series of Penguin Modern Classics:

In late April 2004 this publisher reissued two non-Maigret novels:

The Strangers in the House (Les Inconnus dans la maison) written in 1938 and originally published in the UK in an English translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury by Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. in 1951, with a paperback edition from Digit Books being issued in 1958. In 1967 Penguin Books brought out a new translation by Robert Baldick under the title Stranger in the House.
The latest Penguin edition has the original Geoffrey Sainsbury translation with updates by David Watson. ISBN 0-141-18766-2.

The Man who watched the trains go by (L'Homme qui regardait passer les trains) written in 1937 and originally published in the UK in an English translation by Stuart Gilbert by George Routledge and Sons Ltd. in 1942, with a paperback edition from Pan Books being issued in 1948. Penguin Books brought out the same translation in 1964.
The latest Penguin edition has the Stuart Gilbert translation with revisions by David Watson, and an introduction by Anita Brookner. ISBN 0-141-18767-0.

Scheduled to be published on the 29th of July 2004:

Maigret Sets a Trap (Maigret tend un piège) written in 1955 and first published in the UK in an English translation by Daphne Woodward by Hamish Hamilton Ltd. in 1965. The paperback was issued by Penguin Books in 1968.

The Little Man from Archangel (Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk)) written in 1956 and first published in the UK in an English translation by Nigel Ryan by Hamish Hamilton Ltd. in 1957. The paperback was issued by Penguin Books in 1964.

Maigret and the Idle Burglar (Maigret et le Voleur Paresseux) written in 1961 and first published in the UK in an English translation by Daphne Woodward by Hamish Hamilton Ltd. in 1963 under the title of Maigret and the Lazy Burglar. The paperback was issued by Penguin Books in 1966.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes (La Fuite de Monsieur Monde) written in 1944 and first published in the UK in an English translation by Jean Stewart by Hamish Hamilton Ltd. in 1967. The paperback was issued by Penguin Books in 1970 in The First Simenon Omnibus (together with The Neighbours and Maigret and the Nahour Case).

Peter Foord
UK

at the market on Bd Richard-Lenoir...
6/1/04 –

A mouthwatering article about cooking with ingredients bought at the market on Bd Richard-Lenoir. April in Paris, By Stephanie Alexander.
Roddy

Maigret of the Month - 2004

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland
JulyPietr-le-Letton - Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
AugustLe pendu de Saint-Pholien - Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
SeptemberAu rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas - The Sailor's Rendezvous
OctoberLa danseuse du Gai-Moulin - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin
NovemberLa guinguette à deux sous - Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
DecemberL'ombre chinoise - Maigret Mystified

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 1

6/01/04 –

This novel is one of three that Simenon wrote under his own name set completely or partly in The Netherlands, the others being L'Assassin (The Murderer) and L'Homme qui regardait passer les trains (The Man who watched the trains go by) written respectively in 1935 and 1937. The first of these two novels is set in Sneek, whilst the second is set in Groningen and Amsterdam before moving to Paris.
A Crime in Holland was written in May 1931 on board the author's boat the Ostrogoth moored at Morsang-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Marne). Simenon set it in the small Dutch port of Delfzijl (Province of Groningen), on the estuary of the Ems, in the north-east of The Netherlands. The author had reached Delfzijl in his boat during September 1929 where he had to have it caulked, forcing him to stay there until the work was completed. It was in this very place that Simenon later stated on several occasions he had created the character of Maigret, starting with the novel Pietr-le-Letton (The Strange Case of Peter the Lett / Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett), but later research by two friends of the author, Claude Menguy and Pierre Deligny, proved that this was only partly correct. Whilst waiting for the repairs to be completed on his boat, Simenon had written the novel Train de Nuit, under the pseudonym of Christian Brulls, in which there is a police detective stationed in Marseille named Maigret, although his role in the novel is only a small one. Later, as he continued to write his novels and short stories under a series of pseudonyms, he wrote three more novels*, which included the police detective Maigret, but not the fully-fledged Maigret that was to come in the spring of 1930 onwards and published under his own name.

click to enlarge

(As a result of Delfzijl being associated with the "legend" of the creation of Maigret, the Dutch authorities commissioned a bronze statue of Maigret from the sculptor Pieter d'Hont which was placed in one of Delfzijl's squares and unveiled by Simenon on the 3rd of September 1966 in the presence of many of his publishers and four of the actors who had played Maigret).
Simenon wrote A Crime in Holland almost a year after The Crime at Lock 14 (Le Charretier de la "Providence"), both being written on his boat, which was moored, more or less, at the same place on the river Seine at Morsang, seemingly a favourite spot for him. Both novels have canal settings, but are very different in outlook. The Crime at Lock 14 is very much concerned with the people who operate the canals and provide facilities along them, as well as those who use the canals for their livelihood, with the occasional pleasure craft. A Crime in Holland centres, in the main, on three families who live near a canal but don't have to use it in their daily lives.
Maigret is thrust into both situations, having to learn quickly how the daily routine works for the people involved, especially with a murder in their midst. Lock 14 finds him in rural France, but with the later enquiry he finds himself in the north-west part of The Netherlands and having language difficulties. He is there in a semi-official capacity at the request of the University of Nancy as one of their professors, on a lecture tour, is a possible suspect.
Simenon describes Delfzijl and its environment as a close-knit community influenced in some cases with the Protestant ethic. This creates considerable tension among the groups of people with whom Maigret has to deal and it forms the crux of the problem he has to unravel. Also it is one of the earliest works that has the theme of flight, where a person develops the need, mentally or physically, to flee from a situation. It is a theme that Simenon explores in different ways in quite a number of his novels and short stories.
In these early novels, Maigret is brusque in his manner without turning aside from his instinct of "to understand and not to judge", which is a characteristic of his approach to certain individuals. Perhaps in this novel his abruptness is conditioned by a certain undercurrent of hostility engendered by his probing into a community that is not his own.
Simenon in the dénouement nods in the direction of certain classic crime fiction authors when he has Maigret using all of the people involved to reconstruct the situation at the time of the crime. With them all together he gradually unfolds the truth.
By being among a not particularly endearing group of individuals in a confining atmosphere, admirably realised by Simenon, Maigret is clearly not in a frame of mind to stay for long and takes a very early morning train out of Delfzijl for Paris.
The wayward translation, the only one so far of this novel, is by Geoffrey Sainsbury, but it is Simenon who has altered slightly the name of two of the locations. The island of Workum in the mouth of the estuary of the Ems must surely be Borkum, whilst the smaller and little used canal Amsterdiep in reality is the Damster Diep.


*The three novels are La Figurante (or La Jeune Fille aux perles), La Femme rousse and La Maison de l'inquiétude. The first was written under the pseudonym of Christian Brulls, the other two by Georges Sim.
Peter Foord
UK

Tout Simenon
6/6/04 – I know that the 27 volumes of "Tout Simenon" are available in French. Does anyone know if they are available in Dutch or English?

Greetings,
Jan Laffeber
Netherlands

New Maigret DVDs
6/7/04 – A set of 10 DVDs with episodes from the Bruno Cremer series was released on the 20th of May. It can be obtained from fnac.com.

Mattias Siwemyr

Site Maigret : évolutions (6)
6/8/04 – Bonjour à toutes et à tous,
L'actualité de la série et du site est toujours animée ... Depuis décembre dernier, beaucoup d'épisodes inédits ont été diffusés. Le dernier en date, "Maigret chez le docteur" sera diffusé dans le courant du mois de juin. Ne le manquez pas, c'est un bon épisode.
Le site continue de répercuter les informations que le webmaster parvient à obtenir : le premier semestre 2004 a vu naître la rubrique "Audiences" qui récapitule les parts de marché lors des diffusions de chaque épisode.
jy.depoix.free.fr/les_audiences_de_la_serie.htm Une autre est née : celle des "Brumes de Maigret", autrement dit : les pipes, le tabac, ... créée en collaboration avec Cédric Malvetti, un ami internaute maigretphile averti, que je remercie.
D'autres rubriques se sont étoffées : celle des vidéos, celle des interviews par exemple. La rubrique "pétition" continue à engranger des signatures même si elle est devenue moins utile puisque la parution des DVD est en cours ... restons vigilants tout de même. Enfin, disais-je, les DVD ainsi qu'un CD audio sont parus. L'édition des DVD s'échelonnera sûrement sur deux ans environ. À la fin de cette année, ce seront 22 épisodes sur les 42 prévus initialement qui seront sortis. À noter l'édition de 2 coffrets.
jy.depoix.free.fr/les_videos.htm Quant au CD audio, il est en vente depuis avril dernier et il est génial. Bravo Laurent Petitgirard ! http://jy.depoix.free.fr/les_cds.htm
La cinquième saison de la série va bientôt s'achever. Après "Maigret en meublé", il y aura "Maigret et la demoiselle de compagnie" puis "Maigret et le chien jaune" avant le dernier, le 54ème, dont le titre m'est encore inconnu. Qu'en sera-t-il après ? L'arrêt pur et simple ? D'autres épisodes au coup par coup sans contrat pré-établi avec Bruno Crémer ? La reprise avec un autre acteur ? Un film ? À ce jour, aucune information ne filtre et il y a fort à parier que je ne serai pas le premier à le savoir ! :o) Désolé ...
N'hésitez pas à me poser des questions, à m'envoyer des compléments d'informations si vous en avez et à me faire part de vos remarques ou de vos critiques constructives.

Bien à vous,
Cordialement,
Jacques-Yves Depoix

jacques-yves.depoix@laposte.net
jy.depoix.free.fr/commissa.htm

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 2

6/12/04 –

Chapitre 1 "La jeune fille à la vache"

Simenon sets out the case with admirable economy, establishing within the first couple of pages the reason for Maigret's presence in the Dutch town of Delfzijl and presenting a list of suspects in the murder of Conrad Popinga.
He describes Delfzijl with equal economy, emphasising the regularity of its design and the way it could be isolated by the use of dykes in case of high seas. It seems more Nordic than Dutch in character, bright and pretty, un jouet.
The bar he enters is as intimate as a family dining room. He has no Dutch money but they trust him to pay for his beer the next day. He feels everything to be simple, honest, with almost a family atmosphere. Everywhere there are connections with the sea.
One of the customers in bar takes him out to the Liewens' farm. There he meets Beetje Liewens, 18, who has a healthy, happy smile and a pink face, "trop rose peut-être".
Almost immediately, Maigret has to help the girl deliver a calf.
The household is solid, comfortable, cultured. Beetje at this point is playfully seductive and even shows Maigret her bedroom, which Maigret thinks of as almost a boudoir, but with a heavy, solid, reflective atmosphere.
He meets the girl's father, who speaks no French.
She takes Maigret back to town, wheeling her bicycle and swinging her hips.

Chapitre 2 "La casquette du Baes"

This chapter opens with Maigret unusually taking note of details, especially of the topography of the area where the murder took place.
Later, in a satirical parallel, Professor Duclos, the main suspect, takes this to extremes, having made detailed plans of the layout of the house and its surroundings.
Maigret (and Simenon) is dismissive of Duclos: "L'étude pour l'étude! L'idée pour l'idée!" Reference is made to men of science leading austere lives, albeit with a passion for conferences in foreign countries.
This is important, because the main theme of this novel, clearly and we might even say deliberately delineated, is the conflict between two ways of life, between the conventional and the bohemian, between the narrowness of provincial life and the limitless bounds of human potential.
We know that Simenon attended courses on criminology in Liege, but at some point he must have rejected the scientific approach, embodying in Maigret the humanistic, empathetic aspect of detection. This probably links with his own inclination towards a bohemian, libertine existence, and yet in Simenon himself there is the contradiction between the loving father, the breadwinner, the disciplined writer of routines, and the promiscuous, alcoholic, one might even say anarchistic side of his character.
Maigret's interview with Duclos allows the author to fill in the background to the murder, and also introduces us to the character of the victim, Conrad Popinga, who, we learn, had forced everyone after Duclos' lecture to listen to jazz on Radio-Paris. Popinga and Beetje had drunk and danced, while the solid bourgeois family and guests had sat and talked. Popinga had been astonished to find a Frenchman (Duclos) who did not drink.
The explicit contrast between the austere Frenchman and the Dutchman with his joie de vivre underlines the theme. Duclos is very scathing about Popinga, who is thereby made to seem a very sympathetic character.
Perhaps the most delightful aspect of this chapter is the light touch with which Simenon depicts Maigret's amusement at the pompous, arid Duclos. I think this is the first Maigret book in which Simenon is starting to feel at ease, in full command of his theme and able to exercise his wit.
The satirical amusement with which Maigret regards Duclos is also present to some extent in the way Maigret treats the very serious but incompetent Dutch police inspector, whose theories Maigret appears to ignore, except to point out certain gross deficiencies in the inquiry.
Again, this conversation allows Simenon to skilfully fill in the background to the crime and to bring forth more information about the characters involved, including Miss Any Van Elst, Popinga's sister-in-law, another "serious" character, whom we encounter again later.

Roddy

Tour de France
6/16/04 – This year's Tour de France starts in Liege, Simenon's birthplace, with a 6km Time Trial through the streets of the city on Saturday 3 July.
For more information, visit www.letour.fr/2004/presentationus/villes.html and www.prov-liege.be/tourdefrance2004.

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 3

6/16/04 –

Chapitre 3 "Le Club des Rats de Quai"


In this chapter we meet Oosting, sometimes known as "le Baes" (the Boss). He stands out from the other wharf rats by his size and the force of his personality.
Maigret tries to engage him in conversation, but Oosting can no more speak French than Maigret can speak Dutch. Here and later it is clear that he wants to communicate something to Maigret, but it is impossible. Maigret has the strong feeling that if they could communicate, he would penetrate to the heart of the mystery.
Maigret finally visits the house where the dead man, Popinga, lived. He meets Mme Popinga and Any again, who seems painfully timid. Both women are bourgeoise, provincial, though cultured and educated, and belong to an austere Protestant sect.
Maigret says he thinks that Beetje is of a different character from the two women. Oosting and Popinga, however, had gone on hunting trips together. The characters are ranging in two camps.

Chapitre 4 "Les bois flottées de l'Amsterdiep"

It is a calm evening. Maigret sees Oosting and Cornelius, a student at the naval school where Popinga taught, talking on the canal bank. There is a boatyard, and the canal is almost choked with floating tree trunks. Le Baes is taking pains to make sure Cornelius obeys or understands him. When a donkey brays, Oosting sees Maigret and moves off.
Maigret tries to follow Oosting, then switches his attention to Cornelius, who is wearing white gloves which show up in the twilight. Cornelius crosses to Maigret's side of the canal by jumping from tree trunk to tree trunk. Maigret follows him at a distance, their footsteps in time. Cornelius, although unaware that he is being followed, increases his pace, as if afraid. He crosses the area which is intermittently illuminated by a nearby lighthouse. When Maigret crosses the lighted area, Cornelius must see him if he looks back.
The student is heading for the Liewens' farmhouse, where he meets Beetje. Although she is wearing a coat, Maigret knows she is in her nightdress, bare-legged, with bare feet in slippers.
She is calm. She approaches Maigret and tells him to ignore Cornelius, who is upset and nervous, sure that he is going to be accused of the murder.
The farmer Liewens appears. He is angry at seeing Maigret talking to his daughter and appears to be unaware of the presence of Cornelius.
He accuses Maigret, through Beetje, of arranging a rendez-vous with his daughter. Maigret blushes, "comme cela lui est rarement arrivé", and is angry with Beetje for not revealing the truth.
The farmer orders his daughter to go home, leaving Maigret with Cornelius. Maigret feels sorry for the boy, who is in a pitiable state. Yet he could be guilty. His alibi is undermined by the possibility that he could have crossed the canal using the tree trunks as stepping stones, which would have allowed him to return to Popinga's house in time to kill him.
Maigret gamely crosses the canal with Cornelius in the same way, almost falling into the water.
Maigret establishes that Cornelius is in love with Beetje and wants to marry her. Maigret escorts him back to the boat which serves as the dormitory for the naval boarding school.
He sees Oosting waiting for the return of the students and sees him as similar to himself, middle-aged, heavy, calm, but a little ridiculous too, in coming to watch the teenagers who were climbing into their hammocks and having pillow-fights.
They greet each other, but still cannot communicate. They walk together towards the town, where Oosting enters a cafe. Maigret follows him.

***
This intensely imagined, vividly cinematic chapter, full of tension, of unspoken thoughts, pregnant with meaning, shows Simenon at his best. Every moment, every gesture counts. Characters are developed, the plot is advanced and clarified, and above all there is the brilliant, detailed, vividly sensual description of surroundings, sounds and smells. The reader is there with Maigret, experiencing every second that passes, every nuance, every emotion.

Roddy

un hommage à Joséphine Baker

Notes from Brussels
6/19/04 – Today's papers in Belgium carried a story about the death of two tramps in the center of Brussels.They had been living in a service passage in a tram tunnell (no tracks or trams) for a very long time.One of them had actually died a month or more before the other, who continued to sleep next to the corpse of his friend. The second tramp's name was Ernest Picard and he was 75 years old. The reason I mention this is there is a tramp named Picard in M and the Fortuneteller. His final destiny was not mentioned in the story and I hope it was better than his namesake here.
Incidently, I ran across Moers the other week. It's a small city in Germany near Essen, where I was going to visit the big tire industry trade fair that takes place there every other year. Moers was just off the expressway I was driving on. I did not actually go there.

Best wishes,
Joe

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 4

6/20/04 –

Chapter 5 "Les Hypothèses de Jean Duclos"

One of the great pleasures of this novel is Simenon's portrait of the pompous, self-important sociologist, Duclos, whose pronouncements evoke from Maigret a heartfelt "Parbleu!"
Duclos is patronising and insulting towards Maigret in almost equal measure, convinced of his own intellectual superiority; Maigret remains unmoved, drinking a Bols, smiling at the professor's condescending attitude.
It is Duclos in this chapter who articulates Simenon's theme, talking about the austerity of the Protestant sect to which Popinga's wife, father-in-law and sister-in-law belong (he himself is also a Protestant). This world-view permeates the bourgeois society of Delfzijl. We are told that a teacher at the naval school would be severely reprimanded if seen even entering a cafe. One teacher was sacked for obstinately subscribing to a magazine of "advanced" views.
Against this background of religious and military conservatism we see contrasted the victim Popinga, "un bon garçon", a man with a sense of joie de vivre who had seen the world, then returned and as it were put on a uniform of conformity -- but the uniform was bursting at the seams.
Popinga was seen to be drunk at his club. When his wife was collecting donations to buy clothes for native peoples, Popinga was heard to say, not only that they were better off naked, but that "nous ferons mieux de les imiter...."
Duclos refers to Popinga's friendship with the far from respectable Oosting, "une espèce de brigand".
Duclos further maintains that "si le crime a été commis par quelqu'un de la maison, c'est toute la maison qui est coupable...."
Duclos also refers to Beetje as being the only female to go swimming every day, not in a modest bathing costume like all the other women, but in a clinging red swimsuit.
Duclos places Cornelius, Mme Popinga and Any on one side, while on the other are Beetje, Popinga and Oosting. Maigret asks on which side of the barricade Duclos would stand. He says he didn't like Popinga. Maigret asks if he disliked him enough to kill him? Duclos says no.
Then Maigret, magnificently serious, asks Duclos who he should arrest.
Duclos, who has expounded his theories at length, can only babble about searching for the truth for its own sake. Maigret asks then if no one should be arrested, then thanks Duclos with heavy sarcasm and leaves, smiling.
On leaving the cafe, Maigret sees the town as also being divided -- on one side Oosting and the wharf rats, on the other the carefully kept bourgeois houses where for a fortnight now the good people had been talking behind closed doors about the teacher who had taken a glass or two too many.
"Un même ciel d'une limpidité de rêve. Mais quelle frontière entre ces deux mondes!"
Maigret imagined Popinga standing at this frontier, looking at the boats with all their exotic associations, while he himself was only allowed a little canoe. Maigret sees Oosting and has the feeling yet again that he wants to communicate with him.
The Dutch police inspector now approaches Maigret. He tells him, among other things, that the local carpenter saw Beetje and Popinga on the evening of his death making love behind his piles of timber.
The inspector thinks that either Cornelius or Beetje's father could have seen them.
Maigret, adopting the same serious tone with which he had deflated Duclos in the cafe, now accuses the inspector of suspecting just about everybody.
"Vous, vous pensez quelque chose!" he says. "Vous pensez même des tas de choses! Tandis que moi, je crois que je ne pense encore rien...."
Maigret concludes the conversation by asking whether Cornelius or Beetje knew Oosting and whether there was a radio on the Isle of Workum.
The Dutch inspector is mightily impressed by these questions. Maigret says he is going to visit Beetje. The chapter concludes with a view of Oosting pacing the bridge of his vessel with feverish concentration.

Chapitre 6 "Les lettres"


Maigret returns to the Liewens' farm, where the same air of calm reigns. A maid indicates that no-one is home, but Maigret spots the movement of a curtain at Beetje's window and the vague outline of a face, then he sees Beetje make a gesture as if to say, "I'm here, but don't insist on coming in". It is clear her father has shut her in and given orders that Maigret is not to be admitted.
Maigret goes to the Popingas' house, where he finds Any, Mme Popinga and the farmer Liewens, who are obviously in the midst of an important conversation. Spread out on a table are some letters which look as if they have been thrown down violently. The letters are signed Conrad. The atmosphere is thick with embarrassment.
Mme Popinga leaves the room and returns with a pile of about thirty long letters from Beetje; Conrad's are relatively short and amount to about ten.
Any reads out some of the letters, translating them into French. Conrad is affectionate but cautious, whereas Beetje is urgent, demanding. She says, "Holland is suffocating me," and she says she wants to go to America. She has even priced the tickets for the journey.
Maigret has the impression that Mme Popinga, with her regular features and wise, reflective smile, was serious even as a child, while Conrad had a great appetite for enjoyment. Mme Popinga confirms this, adding that he wouldn't have left her because he hated to hurt people, and has even got into trouble for being too lenient with his pupils.
Any asks Maigret what he thinks. Maigret says that he thinks nothing. He puts forward a principle: "...don't be distracted by psychological theories (a reference to Duclos)... Follow as far as possible the line provided by material evidence... "
However, Simenon adds cryptically: "Impossible de savoir s'il persiflait ou s'il parlait serieusement".
Finally, Mme Popinga reveals that when Popinga and Oosting went hunting on Workum, Beetje went with them, and sometimes they stayed away for one or two nights. She is overcome by the realisation

Roddy

Georges Simenon Group
6/23/04 – I'm Nino Frewat. I have recently started a reading group of Georges Simenon on yahoo: groups.yahoo.com/group/GeorgesSimenon
The groups is very new. Only three members, and it is a reading group of Maigret mainly, plus we can read Simenon's other novels.
I browsed your website and it is basically an encycolpaedia of Simenon; so if you are interested in re-reading the books, or posting a link to my group so that other visitors might read and share with us that would be great. We have not started reading yet so it's not late at all.

Regards and good luck with your site,
Nino

Maigret by the Sea
6/24/04 – Today in Le Monde, an article about a book that brings together 7 Maigret stories that took place at the seaside.

Regards
Jerome

Maigret les pieds dans l'eau

LE MONDE DES LIVRES | 24.06.04 o MIS A JOUR LE 24.06.04 | 17h21
Huîtres, vin blanc et cadavres au menu de ces enquêtes côtières.
MAIGRET À LA MER. Sept romans de Georges Simenon. Omnibus, 960 p., 20 €.
"J'avais vu la mer au cinéma et sur des photos en couleurs, mais je n'avais pas imaginé que c'était aussi clair, ni aussi vaste ni aussi immatériel. L'eau était de la couleur du ciel et, comme elle reflétait la lumière, comme le soleil était à la fois au-dessus et au-dessous, il n'y avait plus de limite à rien et le mot "infini" m'est jailli à l'esprit", dit le héros du Train. Pour le natif d'un pays irrigué d'eaux douces qu'est Georges Simenon, cet homme dont l'enfance est hantée par l'image du canal, "tout droit, si droit et si long qu'il en était obsédant", le port est promesse d'évasion, la mer révélatrice d'illuminations. La Bretagne l'aura peu attiré. On a vu Maigret à Concarneau (Le Chien jaune) et à La Baule (Maigret et l'homme tout seul). On sait que le commissaire avait commencé des études de médecine à Nantes (Les Mémoires de Maigret).
Par nostalgie, sans doute, de ses jeunes années, il préférait la Normandie, où on le retrouve par deux fois dans ce recueil. Mme Maigret fait ses valises pour un séjour estival en Alsace lorsque son incorrigible mari lance : "Et si nous allions plutôt à la mer ?" C'est que le capitaine d'un chalutier de Fécamp vient d'être retrouvé mort, et le couple se retrouve à l'Hôtel de la Plage, Maigret enquêtant dans un bistrot de pêcheurs sous l'œil sceptique du commissaire local ("C'est si rare qu'on éclaircisse ces histoires de marins !").
Dans Au Rendez-vous des terre-neuvas, Simenon exploite des éléments qu'il avait traités jadis, dans L'Homme à la cigarette, lorsqu'il signait Georges Sim. Maigret et la vieille dame, lui, le replonge à Etretat où il s'égaya gamin. "La mer, pour lui qui était né et avait passé son enfance loin dans les terres, c'était resté ça : des filets à crevettes, des hommes en pantalon de flanelle, des parasols sur la plage, des marchands de coquillages et de souvenirs, les bistrots où l'on boit du vin blanc en dégustant des huîtres." L'illusion d'"un monde artificiel, pas sérieux, où rien de grave ne pouvait arriver" est mise à mal par son enquête sur l'empoisonnement à l'arsenic d'une servante aux gros seins.
UN SITE À PALMIERS
Maigret fourre aussi son nez sur la Côte d'Azur. Liberty Bar le mène à Antibes, pour démêler les fils de la mort suspecte d'un mystérieux Brown. Il fait trop chaud dans ce site à palmiers et au "bitume amolli", peuplé d'ombres "portant chapeau de paille et raquette de tennis". Se reposant à l'Excelsior de Cannes, où la Croisette ressemble aux "aquarelles-réclames que le Syndicat d'initiative fait reproduire dans les magazines de luxe", il est encore une fois sollicité pour démasquer l'assassin de L'Improbable Monsieur Owen, un faux Suédois en villégiature avec une fille-fruit, son infirmière.
Dans Mon ami Maigret, c'est avec un collègue de Scotland Yard qu'il s'immerge dans le milieu des naturistes et des joueurs de boules : les mordus, ces vers que l'on trouve dans le sable pour les accrocher aux hameçons, le passionnent autant que les forfaits perpétrés dans l'île de Porquerolles.
Mais celui que l'on a voué aux ruelles pluvieuses est attiré par les plages de Vendée ou de Charente-Maritime. L'amateur de mouclades n'est pas mécontent de retrouver le pays des bouchots où une vieille chipie s'est fait trucider (Maigret à l'école). En vacances aux Sables-d'Olonne, il enquête sur la ténébreuse affaire qui trouble la clinique où sa femme est opérée de l'appendicite. Les plateaux d'huîtres y remplacent avantageusement la bouillabaisse.
Jean-Luc Douin
o ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 25.06.04

Maigret on French tv
6/24/04 – Tomorrow evening :

MAIGRET


Origine : Fra. (2003) Stéréo.
Scénario : Claire Level et Steve Hawes.
Musique : Laurent Petitgirard.
Réalisation : Claudio Tonetti.
Distribution : Bruno Cremer (Jules Maigret), Laurent Le Doyen (le docteur Baron), Lionel Abelanski
Martin), Guillaume Delorme (Guillaume).
Date : 25/06/2004
Horaire : 20H55 - 22H35
Durée : 99 mn
Showview : 5462835.

Le docteur Baron est accusé d'avoir empoisonné sa bonne. De nombreux indices jouent contre lui, mais le commissaire Maigret, qui rêvait dans sa jeunesse d'être médecin, refuse d'admettre que Baron soit coupable. À l'inverse de ses enquêtes habituelles, Maigret s'évertue plutôt à démontrer l'innocence de l'accusé qu'à prouver sa culpabilité. L'autopsie révèle que la jeune femme était enceinte et Maigret s'interroge sur l'identité du père, qui pourrait être l'assassin. S'agit-il de Martin, l'homme à tout faire de la maison, de Guillaume, le prétendu petit ami de la victime, ou bien du docteur? Tous trois cachent quelque chose au commissaire.
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 5

6/29/04 –

Chapitre 7 "Un dejeuner chez Van Hasselt"

When Maigret returns to the hotel where he is staying, he sees that there is something out of the ordinary.
The Dutch police inspector, Pijpekamp, has arranged a lunch in the French style, ostensibly in Maigret's honour, with the third guest being Duclos. Simenon has fun describing Pijpekamp acting the man of the world, as well as the provincial food and the execrable wine which is served.
It turns out that the policeman has something to report. He asks Maigret to guess who came to see him at his office that morning. He is devastated when Maigret says that it was Barens. Pijpekamp recovers from his shock and says that Barens saw an unknown man, probably a foreign sailor, running away after the fatal shot was fired.
When Pijpekamp goes to telephone to have Barens brought back to his office, Maigret accuses Duclos of having set up the lunch as a sort of bribe. He says that Duclos must have advised Pijpekamp to offer Maigret food and plenty of drink because in France that is how one sweetens public functionaries. At the police station, Maigret asks Barens what Oosting told him the previous evening, and threatens him with imprisonment for bearing false witness. Maigret says it was le Baes who told Barens to say he had seen a stranger. Oosting is brought in. Maigret is at his most powerful and pitiless in pursuing the truth. Oosting says that, whatever happens to him, Popinga was both his friend and his benefactor. Pijpekamp now believes Oosting to be guilty and orders his arrest.
The chapter concludes with Maigret asking Pijpekamp to organise a reconstruction of the murder, with all those involved present. Maigret himself will take the part of the victim. The ironic humour of this chapter, along with the closely observed characters and their interplay, show Simenon in confident, even masterful mode as author. Indeed, the whole novel is notable for its confident handling of style, plot and character. Simenon is coming into his own.

Chapitre 8 "Maigret et les jeunes filles"

Duclos accuses Maigret of upsetting everything. He tells Maigret to look around him:
"Chacun gagne sa vie... Chacun est à peu pres heureux... Et surtout, chacun refrène ses instincts, parce que c'est la règle, c'est une necessité si l'on veut vivre en société..."
He goes on to say that the powerful and well-off citizens take pains to keep the town a civilised place, even giving up their right to go to the cafe, because that would set a bad example.
Maigret asks if this is what Pijpekamp said to Duclos that morning, and what prompted Duclos to suggest offering lunch as a way of cooling Maigret's ardour.
It is clear that Duclos and Pijpekamp want nothing better than to protect the solid citizens of the town. Maigret, on the other hand, as we shall see, is more concerned with the death of a human being.
Maigret makes the cryptic comment that Duclos was lucky to come out of the bathroom with the revolver in his hand.
Maigret then sees Beetje waiting for him. She has managed to escape from her father's house, taking some money from his office.
Maigret is rough with her, asking how many men she has tried to entice into eloping with her. Popinga was not the first. That was a gymnastics teacher, to whom she lost her virginity. Apart from him and Popinga she says there have been no others, except Cornelius when it became clear that Popinga was not going to leave his wife. Maigret says her main idea has been to escape her suffocating life in Delfzijl with a man, any man.
"C'est même d'une simplicité infantine! Vous aimez la vie! Vous aimez les hommes! Vous aimez toutes les joies qu'il est possible de s'offrir... "
She fastened on Popinga as a likely suitor because he seemed more daring than others. She threw herself at him. He told her his wife didn't understand him and that his life was miserable. Maigret says that sixty out of a hundred men would have told a desirable young woman the same thing, but unfortunately Beetje took him at his word.
Beetje declares that everyone despises her, but Any in particular, who even leaves the room when she enters:
"Puisqu'elle est condamnée a rester virtueuse, elle voudrait que tout le monde le soit... "
Maigret goes through some of the suspects with her. Beetje has already said that she thinks her father capable of killing her, so angry is he. Maigret asks if he would have been capable of killing Popinga. She defends him, but Maigret points out that he has no alibi.
Duclos reappears, to tell Maigret that Liewens is outside. Maigret tells Duclos to translate for him. He says he will need Beetje till the evening, when the crime will be reconstructed, and that the murderer will be under lock and key by that night.
At which Liewens pulls out a revolver and points it at his temple. Maigret knocks him over and restrains him with his body weight.
Maigret shouts to Duclos to lock the door, then gets to his feet.

Roddy

Another Maigret bande dessinée
6/30/04 – Did you know that there was another bd Maigret, (besides those of Reynaud and Wurm), of Maigret and the Nahour Case, drawn by Rumeu and adapted by Camille Dulac?
There's no date indicated, it's 8½" × 11½", 46 pages, softbound, with this publishing info on page 2:
Editions Nuit et Jour
82 rue Paul Vaillant Couterier
Levallois-Perret 92300
Tel: (1) 739.35.35
Directeur de la Publication: J.N. Beyler
Imprimé par Montsouris-Massy
Distribuées par les NMPP
N° de commission paritaire en cours
Although "Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien" is promised as "coming soon" on the back cover, apparently it was never published. On the title page it says that it appeared first in a magazine or newspaper, "The New Detective": "Maigret et l'affaire Nahour" a été pré-publié dans le Nouveau Détective.
Click on the cover image (looks a lot like Gabin, doesn't he?) for a sample page.

ST

Maigret of the Month: Un Crime en Hollande (A Crime in Holland) - 6

6/30/04 –

Chapitre 9 "Reconstitution"

Maigret has set up the function room as it was on the night of the murder, when Duclos' lecture was given. The atmosphere is grey, dull, undramatic. Maigret asks the participants to take the same seats that they occupied on the night. There is of course an empty seat, that of Popinga, between Beetje and Any.
Maigret asks Duclos to summarise his lecture, which is along the lines of society being to blame for criminality. Maigret dismissively interrupts him and cynically summarises his arguments, which he has obviously heard before (and which Simenon too presumably heard when he attended courses on criminology).
Maigret looks around and notes that all the trouble has a simple cause: the sexual attraction of Beetje, with her beautiful, desirable breasts, so different from the overdressed and unalluring Mme Popinga and the unattractive Any. Popinga, who had a lust for life, saw and desired Beetje, without realising that she was intending to use him to help her escape from what she saw as a suffocating existence.
When it is time, Maigret makes the party walk to Popinga's house. He arranges them again in their order of procession.
As they reach Oosting's boat, Maigret commands Any to pick up the sailor's cap which is lying on the bridge, obviously put there by Maigret, and to hide it under her coat. Oosting is there, watching.
They move off again. Once in the house, Maigret, Mme Popinga and Any go upstairs. When Mme Popinga goes down again, he takes the cap from Any and hides it under the divan.
Downstairs again, Maigret switches on the radio. Beetje is huddled in a chair, crying. It is a grim scene.

Chapitre 10 "Quelqu'un qui attend l'heure"

Maigret reconstructs the scene, focussing on the idea of Popinga laughing as he danced, saying that this man, who wanted to enjoy himself despite everything, who had a thirst for life and the emotions, would be dead in a couple of hours. The killer already knew what he or she was going to do.
Maigret asks for the servant to be brought down from her bed. Maigret asks if she was Popinga's mistress. She says he kissed her, came into her room as she was dressing, gave her little presents, but nothing more.
Maigret badgers Cornelius into admitting that he followed Beetje and Popinga and saw someone at Mme Popinga's window, someone who had also seen that Beetje and Popinga had stopped for a long time behind the piles of wood.
Mme Popinga suddenly says that it was she who was watching from the window.

*

Maigret leaves with Beetje, to re-enact Popinga's final journey.
Popinga was sad, perhaps because of the cognac that he had drunk. He told Beetje it was over between them and that she should marry Cornelius.
Beetje had ridden away angrily with Popinga in pursuit, trying to make her listen to him. Then he turned back.
When Beetje got to her house her father was not there. When he came in, she thought that he had perhaps been spying on her and Popinga behind the wood piles.
The next day he had searched her room, found Popinga's letters to her and locked her in.
Maigret and Beetje return to the Popinga house. Maigret imagines Popinga returning, worried and unhappy. He hates the quiet calm of the house but he is incapable of running away. he slowly puts his bike away, in no hurry to re-enter the house.
Maigret seems to be waiting for something to happen. And something does. From the window of the bathroom comes the click of an empty revolver being fired. Then there is the sound of a struggle.
Maigret enters the house and climbs the stairs. There are two people grappling on the floor: Pijpekamp and Barens, who suddenly stops and lets go of the revolver he is holding.

Chapitre 11 "La fenêtre éclairée"

Maigret hauls Barens to his feet and calls him an imbecile. Maigret is holding the revolver carelessly because it was he who had emptied it and loaded it with blanks.
Maigret asks the assembled company if they want to know the truth about this affair. He helps himself to a drink, then says first of all to Pijpekamp that it was too bad that his idea about covering up the crime didn't work:
"Nous sommes de pays différents, de races différentes... Et les climats sont différents."
Pijpekamp wanted to hush up the crime for the public good, to avoid scandal, to prevent a bad example being set by the bourgeoisie of the town. But he, Maigret, could not stop thinking about Popinga, dancing to jazz on the radio, under the eyes of his killer.
The sailor's cap, the cigar butt, even the revolver taken from Popinga's own night table, were too much. Red herrings. Too many clues.
The killing was premeditated. Maigret goes through the suspects, eliminating one by one Oosting, Beetje and Barens. That leaves Mme Popinga, Any and Duclos.
It could not have been Duclos because he could not have taken the sailor's cap on the road to Popinga's. Only Any could have done that. The cigar end could have been picked up anywhere. Any was the only one who was upstairs without anyone seeing her. But she has a good alibi: to get to the bathroom she would have had to pass through the bedrooms of either her sister or Duclos.
And why would she want to kill him? Maigret hypothesises that Popinga, with his appetite for life, had made advances to Any:
"Qu'importe qu'elle ne soit pas jolie?... C'est une femme... C'est la mystère..."
He does not claim that they became lovers, but Any fell in love with Popinga. She recognised Beetje as an enemy. She could share Popinga with her sister, but not with a lovely, young, vivacious girl who might tempt him into leaving.
Love and hate, a complex mixture of emotions that could lead to anything.
Any is intelligent. She knows about unsolved crimes and scientific approaches to crime, about making a murder look like the act of a prowler.
That night she saw Popinga and Beetje touching each other's hands at the lecture, walking together, drinking and dancing, leaving together on their bicycles.
She had made Mme Popinga stand at her window, telling her of her suspicions, then slipped past behind her back and into the bathroom. She had shot Popinga, then hid under the cover of the bath.
When Duclos and Mme Popinga rushed downstairs she emerged and followed them.
Oosting had seen her steal his cap, but kept quiet out of respect for his dead friend and because he, too, accepted the need for order, for stability, and to avoid scandal.
He told Barens to make the false statement about the mysterious sailor.
Liewens thought his daughter was guilty and when he thought that Maigret was going to arrest her, he tried to kill himself.
Barens thought that Mme Popinga must have fired the shot. She was like a mother to him, his own mother having recently died in a far-off land. He tried to kill Maigret to protect her, and would then have undoubtedly killed himself.

*

Maigret leaves Delfzijl alone on the 5h 5 early morning train. No one has thanked him for solving the murder.
He meets Beetje two years later in Paris. She has married well, and has children, but lets Maigret know that she is dissatisfied. Maigret asks about Any. Beetje tells him that she killed herself just before her trial.
The book ends:

Ce jour-la, à la Police Judiciaire, il trouva le moyen d'engeuler tous ses inspecteurs.

Summation

This is my favourite of the early Maigret novels.
First of all it is a very good detective story, employing many of the classic elements of the genre -- the list of suspects, the clues, the red herring, the gradual illumination of events and motives, the reconstruction of the crime with all the suspects gathered in a room to hear the detective's solution to the mystery.
But this novel goes so much deeper, delving into the realms of psychology, of society, of repression, and with wonderful stylistic flourishes of humour, of social satire, and of genuine empathy with people.
Simenon explores important themes in this novel. The main one is the conflict between those who live a solid, bourgeois existence and those who desire to live life to the full. To some extent this conflict is exemplified by the different lifestyles and cultures of Holland and France, though some of the Dutch characters, like Beetje and to a lesser extent Popinga, cross the line, prompted by the urgings of their own nature. It is interesting at the end of the novel to note that even Beetje, though dissatisfied, has become a plump bourgeoise who lives a comfortable existence as the wife of a respectable businessman.
These themes were undoubtedly very important and personal to Simenon. His taste for the bohemian as a youth contrasted with the strict, self-denying respectability of his mother. Perhaps his beloved father had some of Popinga's traits. Simenon's promiscuous lifestyle in Paris, apparently carried out in secrecy, his zest for life and all it offered, contrasted with the bourgeois world in which he might have become entrapped as a wealthy, respected author.
At the heart of the novel, of course, is Maigret, heavy, impassive, yet capable of sarcasm and contempt for fools, while also being capable of great empathy and always working his way pitilessly towards the truth.
In Chapter 10, Simenon writes of Maigret: "Peut-être ne fut-il jamais plus humain" than when he began to reconstruct the evening of the murder and describes, in fact almost seems to see, the killer watching her intended victim as he drank and laughed and danced. It is almost as if the killer is intent on extinguishing a life force.
It is this immense humanity which makes Maigret such an attractive character, and must go some way towards explaining the huge and continuing popularity of the novels.

Roddy

A Maigret film card: Les caves du Majestic
6/30/04 –


LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC

Réalisation Richard POTTIER (1945)
Scénario et dialogues Charles SPAAK
D'après le roman de Georges SIMENON
Directeur de la photographie Pierre MONTAZEL
Musique René SYLVIANO
Production Continental Films
Durée 100 minutes

INTERPRÉTATION

Le commissaire Jules Maigret Albert PRÉJEAN
Arthur Donge Jacques BAUMER
Petersen Jean MARCHAT
Émilie Petersen Suzy PRIM
Madame Van Bell Denise GREY
Lucas André GABRIELLO
Charlotte Donge Odette FLORELLE
Le juge d'instruction Fernand CHARPIN
Enrico/Jules Jean-Jacques DELBO
Hélène Denise BOSC
Ginette Gina MANÈS
Ramuel René GÉNIN
Teddy Petersen Robert DEMORGET

L'HISTOIRE

Tôt ce matin-là, prenant son service à l'hôtel Majestic où il travaille aux cuisines, Arthur Donge découvre dans son vestiaire le cadavre d'une femme. Il s'agit d'Émilie Petersen, qui occupe un appartement avec son mari, un homme d'affaires suédois, et leur fils Teddy. Le commissaire Maigret, flanqué du fidèle et bredouillant Lucas, commence son enquête tout en se passionnant pour la vie souterraine du palace. Il découvre d'abord que Petersen est l'amant de sa secrétaire, Hélène, et qu'il était décidé à divorcer de sa femme avant la mort de celle-ci. Puis il apprend que la victime était la maîtresse d'Enrico, un danseur mondain qui se prétend argentin alors qu'il s'appel-le en réalité Jules... Or, le gigolo est aussi le cavalier attitré d'une Hollandaise, Madame Van Bell, autre cliente de l'hôtel et terriblement jalouse d'Émilie Petersen.
Mais, bientôt, les soupçons de Maigret privilégient Donge. Celui-ci, ainsi que le lui révèle Ginette, la dame-pipi d'une boîte où Émilie a passé une partie de la nuit de sa mort, a naguère été l'amant de la victime, dont il a eu un enfant... Teddy ! Et Petersen, meilleur parti que Donge, a épousé Émilie en se croyant le père du bébé. Interrogé, Donge confirme cette version mais nie être l'assassin. Maigret, à son tour, la fait connaître à Petersen, atterré car il chérit sincèrement le petit Teddy, qui le lui rend bien. Le commissaire se demande alors qui prendra en charge le garçonnet, celui qui l'a conçu ou celui qui l'a élevé? D'autant que l'un ou l'autre est peut-être un criminel.
Maigret va d'abord s'attacher à résoudre ce problème sentimental en organisant un dîner, à l'issue duquel Donge confie la garde définitive de son fils à son père adoptif. Puis, en présence du juge d'instruction et de tous les suspects, il dévoile le nom de l'assassin: Ramuel, le contrôleur des sous-sols de l'hôtel. Celui-ci, ayant découvert le secret de Donge, faisait chanter Madame Petersen, la menaçant, par lettres signées Donge, de tout révéler à son mari. Le matin du crime, Émilie, décidée à tuer Donge, était descendue, armée, dans les caves du Majestic. Elle y avait trouvé Ramuel qui, comprenant que sa culpabilité allait éclater à l'arrivée de Donge, avait pris les devants en étranglant la pauvre femme.
Early that morning, starting his actvities at the Hotel Majestic where he works in the kitchens, Arthur Donge discovers a woman's body in his locker. It is Émilie Petersen, who occupies a suite with her husband, a Swedish business man, and their son Teddy. Commissioner Maigret, flanked by his faithful and mumbling Lucas, begins his investigation by immersing himself in the underground life of the luxury hotel. He first discovers that Petersen's secretary Helen is his lover, and that he had already decided to divorce his wife. Then he learns that the victim was the mistress of Enrico, a society dancer who pretends to be Argentinian but is actually called Jules... However, the gigolo is also the regular chaperon of a Dutchwoman, Mrs. Van Bell, another patron of the hotel, who was extremely jealous of Émilie Petersen.
But soon Maigret's suspicions center on Donge. As revealed to him by Ginette, who worked as an attendant in the powder room of the club where Émilie passed a part of the night of her death, he was not long ago the lover of the victim, with whom he had fathered a child... Teddy! And Petersen, a better man than Donge, believing himself the baby's father, had married Émilie. Interrogated, Donge confirms this story but denies being the killer. Maigret, in turn, reveals this to Petersen, who is dismayed because he sincerely cherishes young Teddy. Maigret wonders which will take the young boy in charge, the one who conceived him or the one who raised him... and one or the other is possibly a criminal.
Maigret determines to try to solve this sentimental problem by organizing a dinner, at the end of which Donge confides his son's definitive care to his adoptive father. Then, in the presence of the examining magistrate and all the suspects, the Commissioner reveals the killer: Ramuel, the manager of the hotel basements. Ramuel, having discovered Donge's secret, was blackmailing Mrs. Petersen, threatening, in letters signed Donge, to reveal all to her husband. The morning of the crime, Émilie, having decided to kill Donge, had descended, armed, to the cellars of the Majestic. There she had found Ramuel, who, realizing that his guilt would be revealed at the arrival of Donge, took the initiative and strangled the poor woman

LA PETITE HISTOIRE

C'est la troisième et dernière fois qu'Albert Préjean incarne le commissaire Maigret, après PICPUS (Richard Pottier, 1943) et CÉCILE EST MORTE (Maurice Tourneur, 1944). Arrêté par la Gestapo en 1943, Charles Spaak passa cinq mois en cellule à la prison de Fresnes. Il n'avait pu terminer, avant son internement, le scénario du film. Comme il s'agissait d'une production de la firme allemande Continental Films, qui finança trente films français sous l'Occupation (LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC sera le dernier), les autorités nazies demandèrent au scénariste d'achever son travail en cellule, en échange de cigarettes et d'un ravitaillement décent. Tous les deux jours, un messager de la Continental venait chercher à Fresnes les feuillets noircis par le détenu-scénariste... This is the third and last time that Albert Préjean personifies Commissioner Maigret, after PICPUS (Richard Pottier, 1943) and CÉCILE EST MORTE (Maurice Tourneur, 1944).
Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Charles Spaak spent five months in a cell of Fresnes Prison. He had not been able to finish the script of the film before his internment. As it was a production of the German firm, Continental Films, which financed thirty French films under the occupation (LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC would be the last), the Nazi authorities asked the script writer to finish his work in his cell, in exchange for cigarettes and decent provisions. Every other day, a messenger from Continental came to Fresnes to pick up the sheets inked by the convict-scenario writer...

Maigret of the Month - 2004

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland
JulyPietr-le-Letton - Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
AugustLe pendu de Saint-Pholien - Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
SeptemberAu rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas - The Sailor's Rendezvous
OctoberLa danseuse du Gai-Moulin - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin
NovemberLa guinguette à deux sous - Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
DecemberL'ombre chinoise - Maigret Mystified

Maigret of the Month: Pietr-le-Letton (Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett) - 1

7/01/04 –

This novel was the one with which Simenon made the transition from his popular novels, written under pseudonyms, towards those he was aspiring to write. He had been producing his popular novels for nearly six years for six publishers since the summer of 1924, as well as numerous short stories for a variety of magazines, again under pseudonyms. He had the ability to write his texts within a self-imposed time limit, and his aim was to make as much money as possible from his popular novels and short stories. His publishers were more than content to market these works as there was a steady public demand for such material, but now he was offering something different and there was a reaction, especially from his main publisher Arthème Fayard. It proved to be a difficult time for Simenon. Fayard criticised the author's approach to the characterisation and general tone of Pietr-le-Letton, doubting its acceptance with the general reading public. Fayard could foresee a possible loss of revenue, especially as he had an author who could turn out the more lucrative popular novels almost at will. But eventually a compromise was reached, publisher and author signing the contract for this novel on the 26th of May 1930 and Fayard asking Simenon to write more of these "different" novels, which he would publish at the rate of one per month, but now under the author's real name. But Fayard still hedged his bets by publishing Pietr-le-Letton in 13 instalments (19 July to 11 October 1930) in his weekly magazine "Ric et Rac", before considering its publication in book format. Even then it was the fifth Maigret book to be published a year later in May 1931.
Some years later, Simenon stated, on a number of occasions, that he wrote the novel Pietr-le-Letton and created Maigret in the small north-eastern Dutch port of Delfzijl while he was waiting for his boat, the Ostrogoth, to be recaulked. Recent research has shown that the novel he wrote there was Train de Nuit, under the pseudonym of Christian Brulls, in which a police detective named Maigret, based in Marseille, appears briefly. In reality it took him some time before he arrived at the point where he found it possible to start writing the novels that would be published under his own name. In retrospect, it is possible to discern, here and there, what might have caught his attention as he was mulling over his ideas later on, resulting in a probable amalgam of certain existing fictional characters with some of the traits of the people he knew and had observed.
For example, in fifteen novels, written under pseudonyms between late 1927 and late 1930, there occurs the name of Judge Coméliau, an examining magistrate who later clashes with Maigret. Two members of the police force, by name, Lucas and Torrence, appear holding various ranks, and there is Maigret, who first appears in a small role as a doctor in the novel Une Ombre dans la Nuit (A Shadow in the Night) by Georges-Martin-Georges published in July 1929. All these names occur five or six times throughout the fifteen novels.
In developing his creation in Pietr-le-Letton, Simenon brings Maigret very much to the foreground of the novel so that he dominates it throughout in pursuit of the main protagonist, Peter the Lett. Although Maigret has the assistance of certain members of his team of detectives, such as Torrence, Dufour and Bornier, they appear only briefly from time to time.
Displaying his storytelling skills, Simenon gives the novel momentum as the storyline moves back and forth from Paris to Fécamp in Normandy, with the constant pitching of one mind against the other. The pace is also aided by the author dividing his text into 19 titled chapters (18 in the Penguin paperback English translation).
Although it is a novel of crime and detection, there is a feeling throughout of it being like a rather far-fetched adventure story.
In gradually attempting to write in a different way, Simenon was not to know what sort of reception the novel would receive when presented to a publisher, and Pietr-le-Letton also has the feel of being one of a kind, with Maigret at the end convalescing after having surgery for a bullet wound, as well as having earlier one of the members of his team of detectives murdered.
What turned out to be the first appearance of Maigret written under Simenon's own name is generally sketchy, with the author deciding on certain attributes and leaving other factors to be defined.
The settings are handled with the now familiar distinctive and succinct way whether of luxury, commonplace or seediness.
As on other occasions throughout his work, Simenon alters a name, in this case of a hotel. The Majestic hotel which is present in this novel did exist at that time, but was in the Avenue Kléber. The author definitely had in mind Claridge's, the luxury hotel situated at 74 Avenue des Champs Élysées, with the back entrance in the Rue de Ponthieu, an establishment that Simenon stayed at on a number of occasions. He was to use the same hotel, again renamed the Majestic, in the Maigret novel Les Caves du Majestic (Maigret and the Hotel Majestic), written in 1939. Today the site of Claridge's hotel has been converted into several shops including FNAC.
Simenon was still producing his popular novels and so he was dividing his energies between the two types of work.
It is intriguing to read in sequence the four Maigret novels and one other that Simenon wrote between May and December 1930 in order to discern any developments that took place between them.
The novels are:
Pietr-le-Letton (Maigret and the enigmatic Lett — translated by Daphne Woodward).
Le Charretier de la "Providence" (Maigret meets a Milord — translated by Robert Baldick).
Monsieur Gallet, décédé (Maigret Stonewalled — translated by Margaret Marshall).
This was one of two novels that was launched on the night of 20-21 February 1931 at La Boule Blanche nightclub in Montparnasse in Paris.
Le Passager du "Polarlys" (The Mystery of the "Polarlys" / Danger at Sea — translated by Stuart Gilbert) — non-Maigret.
Fayard played safe by publishing this novel in the daily "L'Œuvre" in 32 instalments (24 November to 25 December 1930), but under the title "Un Crime à bord" (A Crime on board) by Georges Sim. It was not published in book format until June 1932.
Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (Maigret and the Hundred gibbets — translated by Tony White). This was the other novel launched on the night of 20-21 February 1931.

Pietr-le-Letton has been translated into English on two occasions:
1. New York, Covici, Friede 1933 under the title of The Strange Case of Peter the Lett translated by Anthony Abbot.
And, London, Hurst & Blackett Ltd. 1933 under the title of The Case of Peter the Lett in the two novel volume entitled "Inspector Maigret Investigates" with the same translation.
2. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, G.B., Penguin Books N° 2023, 1963 under the title of Maigret and the enigmatic Lett translated by Daphne Woodward.
The second translation is much closer to Simenon's French text, the first being wayward at times.

The communications that went backwards and forwards from Simenon and the publishers at this time are well documented in the two biographies that are listed below:

1. Eskin, Stanley G. SIMENON. A Critical Biography. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 1987. ISBN 0-89950-281-4. Chapter VIII The Birth and Triumph of Maigret 1929-1932, pages 74-97.
2. Assouline, Pierre. SIMENON, Biographie. Paris, Julliard 1992. ISBN 2-260-00994-8. Chapter 6 En attendant Maigret 1928-1931, pages 140-154.
3. Assouline, Pierre. SIMENON. Édition revue et augmentée. Paris, Gallimard, Folio 2797, 1996. ISBN 2-07-038879-4. This is the same as item 2, but with corrections and updates. Chapter 6 En attendant Maigret 1928-1931, pages 193-215.
4./5. Assouline, Pierre. SIMENON. A Biography. New York, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1997. ISBN 0-679-40285-3. / London, Chatto & Windus 1997. ISBN 0-7011-3727-4. Translated from the French by Jon Rothschild.
Chapter 6 Waiting for Maigret 1928-1931, pages 86-95.
Note: The text of the English translation of the whole volume is very much abridged in comparison to Assouline's French text.
Peter Foord
UK

Friedrich Glauser - "the Swiss Simenon"
7/8/04 – Glauser is, according to the blurb on his novel, Thumbprint, just published by Bitter Lemon Press in a new translation by Mike Mitchell, often referred to as "the Swiss Simenon".
He wrote six novels featuring what is presumably the Swiss Maigret, Sergeant Studer, a very human detective with an empathy for the criminal. It is a very good read, and Bitter Lemon Press have some very interesting novels on their list.
Here is more about Glauser:

Friedrich Glauser was born in Vienna in 1896. ... he died aged forty-two, a few days before he was due to be married. Diagnosed a schizophrenic, addicted to morphine and opium, he spent much of his life in psychiatric wards, insane asylums and, when he was arrested for forging prescriptions, in prison. He also spent two years with the Foreign Legion in North Africa, after which he worked [in Belgium] as a coal miner and a hospital orderly. His Sergeant Studer crime novels have ensured his place as a cult figure in Europe. Thumbprint has been made into a film and has been translated into six languages. This is its first publication in English.
Germany's most prestigious crime fiction award is called the Glauser prize.
Roddy

Taste: Chez Paris
7/8/04 –
BYLINE: Anne Gillespie Lewis
CREDITLINE: Special to the Star Tribune
HEADLINE: Taste: Chez Paris
After searching in vain for a book that told the stories of Paris bistros, Christine and Dennis Graf of St. Paul decided to write one themselves. After visits to more than 130, they wrote "Paris By Bistro" (Interlink Books, 2004, $17.95), a guide to the little neighborhood eateries where some of the best food in the City of Light is found. Dennis Graf also served as photographer.
The Grafs' personality shines through the book. For L'Atelier Renault bistro, they write: "This is an elegant designer café where people come to eat, drink, and watch the action on the Champs-Elysées. The other day there was more action than usual, as we watched Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France bicycle race from a privileged lookout on the second floor of the Atelier Renault ... a showplace for the car manufacturer ... we had the thrill of watching the cyclists, as well as the company nearby of a winsome quintet of United Airlines stewardesses, some of whom couldn't resist shouting encouragements to their favorite -- 'Go Lance!' -- to the consternation of the serious-looking French people nearby."
For L'Endroit: "The right address if you're on a calorie-restricted diet. With a little more warmth in the welcome, and more generosity in the servings, this could be a good endroit -- a place to return to." For Lou Pascalou: "Lou Pascalou is a bar off Ménilmontant. It's also a joyous romp into the past. To get here you'll have to walk down Boulevard Ménilmontant, a lively and untidy street lined with all sorts of ethnic restaurants. Ordinary people live out here. Dogs bark. Children cry. Old ladies lug their packages out of the Arab grocery across the street. There is a life and a vitality here, even late at night, that you can't find in the more exclusive parts of Paris."
But the book is more than a collection of reviews. The Grafs look at bistros in many other dimensions: by location (in Paris, that's by arrondissement) and interest (those that attracted African-American artists, or the powerful, for example). If you're making a pilgrimage to Paris to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway and other literary lions, the Grafs' book will tell you where they ate. (Hemingway wrote much of "The Sun Also Rises" at the bar at Closerie des Lilas, where at one point F. Scott Fitgerald gave him the manuscript of his new novel, "The Great Gatsby.")
They also indicate which bistros have historical interest and which offer romantic ambience (some of their favorites of the latter: Bar du Caveau, Bistro du Peintre, Café du Centre in the Museum of Photography, Café les Deux Moulins, and Paul, the latter "a good choice for young people without much money, for a couple enjoying a second honeymoon, or for anyone who wants quality food at low prices.") An entire chapter is devoted to the bistros favored by Chief Inspector Maigret, the hero of Georges Simenon's mysteries.
The Grafs tell the stories of bistro patrons and chefs with the warmth that they found there themselves. That bistros are welcoming, unlike some top-ranked, expensive restaurants in Paris, doesn't surprise them. "Most of the bistro owners are not Parisians," they write. "They're strangers in the city, too." Life in a big city had always been a draw for Christine Graf, who was raised on a wheat farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, though born in Wales. Her Welsh mother had lived in London and told tales of her life there.
"I was always very intrigued by cities," she said. "I was pretty sure I wouldn't do as the rest of my classmates did and marry a Saskatchewan farmer." And she didn't. After high school, she headed off to McGill University in Montreal, where she met and married Dennis Graf, who is from Minnesota.
The Grafs lived in Iowa for 30 years, where he was a school librarian and she taught French, English and Spanish. They spent many of their summers in Paris, more and more as the years went on. Along the way, they got to know bistros and their owners. The couple, now retired and living in St. Paul, still spend a lot of time in Paris.
"Eating your way around Paris does sound like the good life," Christine Graf admits. "People think it's impossibly glamorous. We are pretty lucky, but there is a lot of pressure you put on yourselves." Tips from others often led to a good bistro to include in the book. When she heard that some of the top officials at the Cordon Bleu, the renowned cooking school, ate lunch at Le Bélisaire, a bistro near the school, she headed there and found cooking in the great tradition of old France.
She's impressed with its young chef, Matthieu Garrel. "I think he makes a really honest effort to give excellent food at a reasonable price."
Anne Gillespie Lewis is a Minneapolis freelance writer and the author of "So Far Away in the World: Stories from the Swedish Twin Cities."

Roddy

The English Simenon?
7/9/04 –
Having posted about "the Swiss Simenon", Friedrich Glauser, I'm now looking for information on a writer who was known as the English Simenon in the 1960s, Gil North, who wrote about 12 books featuring Sergeant Cluff. These were televised by the BBC, featuring Leslie Sands as the eponymous detective.
I've managed to find out that Gil North was the pseudonym of Geoffrey Horne, described as "a diplomat and social anthropologist", born in 1916, but that's as far as I've got. There are a number of books available through Abe Books and Alibris, and I've bid on two on Ebay (don't you dare outbid me!)
I vaguely remember enjoying the TV series (I was very young when they were shown) and I read at least one of the books, but I'd like to find out more. Can anyone help?

Roddy

Laissez-passer
7/10/04 – BBC4 is showing this film on Sunday, July 11, 11.40pm-2.25am (BST).
To quote from Radio Times:

Bertrand Tavernier's memoir of French film-making during the German Occupation caused a predictable storm on its release in a country still scarred by its unresolved past. It's a sprawling account of the parallel careers of assistant director Jean Devaivre (Jacques Gamblin) and screenwriter Jean Aurenche (Denis Podalydes). The insight into studio politics is fascinating, but the domestic and espionage strands are less convincing, despite Devaivre's stoical bid to balance duty and compromised principle, while still trying to fulfil his cinematic dreams.
This is of interest to Simenon readers because several of his films, as detailed in earlier postings on the Forum, were made by a German-controlled film company and this led some to question at the end of the war whether Simenon should be treated as a collaborator.
Roddy

Les poulets
7/10/04 – In M's First Case, there was a reference to M as someone who kept chickens. It was explained that chickens was slang for policemen and this was the speaker's way of informing his friends of M's true occupation.
Today I got an explanation of this term from an unlikely source, the French car magazine Auto Plus, which I read each week.

Pourquoi dit-on les "poulets"?
Le sobriquet familier remonte à 1867. Cette année-la, les policiers de Paris furent installés dans la caserne de la Cité, ou se tenait jusqu'alors le marché aux volailles.

Why are they called chickens?
This familiar nickname goes back to 1867. During that year the Paris police were moved to the caserne (barracks) de la Cité, which up to then had been the poultry market.

Regards,
Joe

A Maigret film card: Cécile est morte
7/10/04 –


CÉCILE EST MORTE

Réalisation Maurice TOURNEUR (1944)
Scénario Jean-Paul LE CHANOIS
D'après le roman de Georges SIMENON
Dialogues Michel DURAN
Directeur de la photographie Pierre MONTAZEL
Musique Roger DUMAS
Production Continental Film
Distribution A.C.E.
Durée 90 minutes

INTERPRÉTATION

Le commissaire Jules Maigret Albert PRÉJEAN
L'inspecteur Lucas André GABRIELLO
Dandurand Jean BROCHARD
Cécile Pardon Santa RELLI
Gérard Pardon André REYBAZ
Joseph Machepied Yves DENIAUD
Juliette Boynet Germaine KERJEAN
Le directeur de la P.J. Marcel ANDRÉ
Le docteur Pierre Marcel CARPENTIER
Monfils Charles BLAVETTE

L'HISTOIRE

Au Quai des Orfèvres, tout le monde sourit en voyant arriver Cécile Pardon. Depuis six mois, en effet, cette jeune fille gauche et terne demande à s'entretenir avec le commissaire Maigret. Agacé par les railleries de ses collègues, Maigret accorde peu d'intérêt aux propos de Cécile, qui est persuadée que quelqu'un s'introduit la nuit dans l'appartement qu'elle occupe avec Mme Boynet, sa tante, et demande la protection de la police. Accompagné de son adjoint Lucas, il effectue une descente dans un petit hôtel où une jeune inconnue a été tuée et décapitée. Le nom de Cécile est inscrit sur la glace du lavabo. Cécile prête une clé de l'appartement à son frère Gérard pour qu'il vienne monter la garde cette nuit. Le jeune homme a besoin d'argent car sa femme va accoucher mais Mme Boynet, vieille avare, refuse de l'aider. Le lendemain, Cécile se présente affolée à la P.J., mais Maigret n'a pas de temps à lui accorder. Il vient d'apprendre l'identité de la morte : elle se nommait Gilberte Pardon, sœur de Cécile et travaillait à La Rochelle chez Machepied, un cousin de Mme Boynet. Il se précipite chez la vieille femme mais la trouve étranglée sur son lit. De retour à la P.J., il découvre Cécile, morte étranglée sans avoir pu lui parler. Le commissaire interroge Dandurand, voisin, ancien amant et homme d'affaires de Mme Boynet. La vieille femme était propriétaire de plusieurs maisons de rendezvous à travers la France. À son signal, il montait la nuit dans son appartement pour gérer ses comptes, après avoir drogué Cécile. La nuit de sa garde, Géra a bu la boisson destinée à Cécile qui, éveillée, a entendu sa tante et Dandurand parler argent. Une fois seules, elle a exigé que Mme Boynet prête de l'argent à Gérard. Devant son refus, Cécile l'a étranglée. Le lendemain, craignant des révélations sur son compte, Dandurand l'étranglait dans les locaux de la P.J. avant qu'elle ne puisse avouer son crime à Maigret. Dandurand est arrêté mais, faute de preuves, Maigret doit le relâcher. À l'enterrement des trois femmes, Machepied, qui ignorait les ressources cachées de sa cousine, rencontre Dandurand et les gérants de ses maisons. C'est chez lui, à La Rochelle, que Maigret découvre la vérité : Mme Boynet avait caché une lettre prouvant que Dandurand avait empoisonné son mari. Layant découvert, Gilberte était venue à Paris pour exiger de l'argent mais Dandurand l'a assassinée à son hôtel. Gérard est désormais libre et riche. Sa femme vient d'accoucher d'une fille. Maigret suggère qu'on la nomme Cécile... At the Quai des Orfèvres, everybody smiles when they see Cécile Pardon arrive. For six months in fact, this plain, unsophisticated girl has been asking to speak with commissioner Maigret. Annoyed by the jests of his colleagues, Maigret shows little interest in Cécile, who asks for police protection, persuaded that someone is coming in at night to the apartment she occupies with Mme Boynet, her aunt. Accompanied by his associate Lucas, Maigret goes to a small hotel where an unidentified young woman has been killed and decapitated. The name Cécile is written on the mirror over the sink. Cécile lends a key to her apartment to her brother Gérard and he comes to stand guard that night. The young man needs money, as his wife is about to give birth, but Mme Boynet, an old miser, refuses to help him. The following day, a distraught Cécile presents herself at the P.J., but Maigret has no time for her. He has just learned the identity of the dead woman: she was Gilberte Pardon, Cécile's sister, who worked at La Rochelle for Machepied, a cousin of Mme Boynet. He hurries to the old woman's apartment, but finds her strangled in her bed. Back at the P.J., he discovers Cécile, dead, strangled without having spoken to him. The commissioner interrogates Dandurand, neighbor, old lover and business associate of Mme Boynet. The old woman was the owner of several houses of ill repute throughout France. At her signal, Dandurand had come up at night into her apartment to manage her accounts, after she'd drugged Cécile. The night he was standing watch, Gérard had drunk the drink intended for Cécile who, awake, had heard her aunt and Dandurand speak of money. Once they were alone, she demanded that Mme Boynet lend money to Gérard. Faced with her refusal, Cécile had strangled her. The following day, fearing her revelations of his part, Dandurand had strangled Cécile in the P.J. before she could confess her crime to Maigret. Dandurand is arrested but, without proof, Maigret must release him. At the funeral of the three women, Machepied, who was unaware of the resources hidden by his cousin, meets Dandurand and managers of the houses. It is at his home, in La Rochelle, that Maigret discovers the truth: Mme Boynet had hidden a letter proving that Dandurand had poisoned his wife. With this discovery, Gilberte had come to Paris to demand money but Dandurand had murdered her in her hotel. Now Gérard is free and rich. His wife has just delivered a girl. Maigret suggests that they name her Cécile...

LA PETITE HISTOIRE

Albert Préjean incarna le commissaire Maigret dans trois films tournés pendant l'Occupation et tous produits par la Continental-Film : PICPUS, réalisé par Richard Pottier en 1942 d'après « Signé Picpus » ; CÉCILE EST MORTE et LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC, également réalisé par Richard Pottier en 1944.
Comédienne discrète, Santa Relli devait encore interpréter quelques rôles dans les années quarante, telle la résistante de JÉRICHO (Henri Calef 1946) et la foraine de JOUR DE FETE (Jacques Tati, 1949) avant de quitter définitivement l'écran.
Albert Préjean personified commissioner Maigret in three films made during the occupation, all products of Continental Film: PICPUS, directed by Richard Pottier in 1942, based on "Signé Picpus," CÉCILE EST MORTE and LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC, also directed by Richard Pottier in 1944.
A subtle actress, Santa Relli played other roles in the forties, such the resistance fighter in JERICHO (Henri Calef 1946) and the entertainer of JOUR DE FETE (Jacques Tati, 1949), before finally leaving the screen.

Brilliant work!
7/10/04 – Please let me state emphatically what a remarkable site you have created. May I please ask if you are aware of any English translation(s) of the novels that Simenon wrote that were not in the Maigret line? I am specifically looking for "En cas de malheur" and "Les fiancalles de M. Hire"? Would it be possible to get a list of these other novels that are not in the Maigret line please? I know this next question is futile but do you have any leads at all on where one might obtain a copy of the Renoir film adaptation of "La nuit du carrefour", I have been searching ardently for this film for about fifteen years.

Thank-you very kindly,
Joseph Santagata

Tout Simenon
7/11/04 – Jan Laffeber of The Netherlands has inquired about the 27 volumes of "Tout Simenon" being available in Dutch or English (6/6/04). I'm afraid that the simple answer to an English language version is that there isn't one. It seems that a Dutch version, from my sources of information, also does not appear to exist. The French edition was first published between 1988 and 1993, followed soon afterwards by a book club edition. A reprint of the 27 volumes came out for the Simenon Centenary, on thinner paper (making each book easier to handle), between late 2002 and early 2004.
Initially, as far as the French edition was concerned, it was a question of the publishers of "Tout Simenon", Presses de la Cité, negotiating with Fayard and Gallimard for the right to use their Simenon texts. But it is far more complicated to produce an English text version. Apart from sorting out the copyright on the texts, there is the problem of translations. In "Tout Simenon" there are 386 French texts written by Simenon, which have been published under his own name. To date 256 of these texts have appeared in an English translation from the designated publishers. The outstanding 130 texts include novels, works of autobiography and short stories. I am not aware of how many of Simenon's texts have been translated into Dutch. Assuming with the legalities sorted out, it is then a question of whether such a publication would be financially feasible.

Peter Foord
UK

Maigret's Journeys in France - update
7/11/04 –

www.maigret-in-france.net

Guido

The English Simenon? Gil North
7/11/04 –
Roddy has asked for more information about the author Gil North and his books featuring Sergeant Cluff (7/9/04). I hope that what follows is of interest.
From Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, edited by John M. Reilly, The Macmillan Press Ltd. 1980.
The entry for Gil NORTH:

Pseudonym for Geoffrey Horne. British. Born in Skipton,Yorkshire, 12 July1916. Educated at Ermysted's Grammar School, Skipton, 1925-35; Christ's College, Cambridge, 1935-38, 1951-52. B.A (honours) 1938, M.A. 1942, diploma in social anthropology 1952. Administrative Officer, Colonial Service, South-East Nigeria and Cameroons 1938-55.
Crime Publications: Novels (series character: Sergeant Caleb Cluff):

Published: London, Chapman and Hall
Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm. 1960.
The Methods of Sergeant Cluff. 1961.
Sergeant Cluff Goes Fishing. 1962.
More Deaths for Sergeant Cluff. 1963.
Sergeant Cluff and the Madmen
(includes The Blindness of Sergeant Cluff and
Sergeant Cluff Laughs Last). 1964.
Sergeant Cluff and the Price of Pity. 1965.
The Confounding of Sergeant Cluff. 1966.
Sergeant Cluff and the Day of Reckoning. 1967.
Published: London, Eyre and Spottiswoode
The Procrastination of Sergeant Cluff. 1969.
No Choice for Sergeant Cluff.1971.
Published: London, Eyre Methuen
Sergeant Cluff Rings True. 1972.
Published: London, Hale
A Corpse for Kofi Katt. 1978.

BBC Television in 1964 and 1965 produced a series of twenty episodes entitled CLUFF based on the character. The Sergeant was played by Leslie Sands and the series was directed by Terence Dudley, with many locations filmed in Yorkshire.
Melvyn Barnes summarises:

Gil North's books are of no outstanding merit in terms of plot or literary quality, and not complex as detective stories, but similar remarks could be levelled at the Maigret novels of Simenon, who is widely regarded as the world's foremost crime novelist. Intentionally or otherwise, North has succeeded in presenting Sergeant Caleb Cluff as a sort of Yorkshire version of Maigret. Throughout the small Yorkshire town of Gunnarshaw and the surrounding area this obstinate but likeable countryman is known and respected by young and old, including the tearaways and those with something to hide. His love of the fells is matched by love of his fellow men, and Cluff exudes compassion rather than sentimentality. There is no clear dividing line between his private and official life, and in the later capacity Cluff is motivated to right wrongs rather than to seek retribution.
One recalls Cluff's love/hate relationship with his housekeeper, Annie Croft, the constant companionship of dog Clive, the gruff Yorkshire dialect which has proved almost incomprehensible to American critics, and the author's profound approach to such themes as the clash between parents and children (No Choice for Sergeant Cluff) or the mental state of men long past their prime (Sergeant Cluff and the Madmen). Cluff's methods are unorthodox and even lethargic at times. Often it is the case of waiting and watching the world go by, with the occasional noncommittal nod in the suspect's direction, and there is an over-riding assumption that the murderer (particularly in a domestic situation) will eventually bare his soul.
Peter Foord
UK

French Yellow Pages
7/15/04 – I found your site really useful. I have read quite a few M books in English then others in German and now I'm struggling thru others in French, but the various different translated names had me confused. No longer.
Do you know about the French yellow pages which located every street in Paris with photos of every building? Its great for virtually visiting the scene of the crime.

Carl Studt

Maigret's Inspectors
7/20/04 – I'd be interested to find out if anyone has done any analyses on Lucas, Janvier, Torrence, Lapointe and the rest.

Brian Monckton

Passing Trains
7/21/04 – I just finished reading The Man who Watched the Passing Trains in the new Penguin edition that seems to have arrived a few days earlier that expected at Waterstone's (formerley W.H. Smith) in Bruxelles. This is A Maigret without Maigret. It starts in Groeningen, not far from Delfzijl, and ends up in Paris. M was replaced by Lucas, who matched wits with a certain Kees Popinga. I think that name also showed up in M in Holland, which was just discussed in some detail here last month. I also saw some paralells with A Battle of Nerves in that the police were fighting it out with an intelligent madman. Although I enjoyed the story and its references to the big railway freight yard in Juvisy, it seemed to have a different feel than most M stories. Maybe this was because Lucas had almost no public role to play in the investigation and there was no interrogation. I won't give the game away, but I do recommend this story to all M fans.

7/25/04 – Did I make a mistake???
In my last letter, I mentioned that the name of Kees Popinga had been used in both M in Holland and The Man who Watched the Passing of Trains. I was right about the Popinga part, but wasn't it Conrad in the first story? I wonder where I came up with that idea? Incidently, the more-or-less correct pronunciation for Kees is Kay's as "ee" in Dutch is about the same as "ay" in English.

Regards,
Joe

Maigret of the Month: Pietr-le-Letton (Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett) - 2

7/21/04 –

Fenton Bresler, in The Mystery of Georges Simenon, writes:
The second effect upon Simenon of his mother taking in students [the first being that he was sent early to convent nursery school] was that it opened his eyes, at a very young age, to a whole new world outside the restricted area where he lived. The students, three or four at a time, some staying only for a year, others for three to four years, all attended Liege University. They mainly came from Eastern Europe, Russians and Poles for the greater part, drawn to Liege because it was the least expensive of the French-speaking universities. Some were there also to pursue their revolutionary activities, and they filled the young Georges's ears with tales of their remote homeland and of their exciting lives. Their counterparts are later to appear in many of his novels, especially the early ones. Maigret's adversary in the very first Maigret story to be written is "Pietr, the Lett", an international villain of indeterminate origin, from Latvia or Estonia, who has for years been clocked across the European frontiers by Interpol. (Bresler, p19)
Roddy

Thanks
7/30/04 – Many thanks to Peter Foord for passing on information about Gil North. I will pass an opinion about whether he is "the English Simenon" when I have read the two books I bought.

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Pietr-le-Letton (Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett) - 3

7/30/04 –

Stanley Eskin remarks:
The story of two brothers, one getting the better of the other, recurs in Simenon's fiction -- Pietr-le-Letton, Le Fond de la bouteille, Malempin -- perhaps a transposed reflection of Henriette's [Simenon's mother] favouritism. (Eskin, p17)
Eskin relates the horrific anecdote that when Simenon's brother died, Henriette told Georges: "What a pity it was Christian who died."
Roddy

Maigret of the Month: Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (Maigret and the hundred gibbets) - 1

8/01/04 –

Main view of the west end of the Church of Saint-Pholien in the district of Outremeuse, Liège. This is the present (and fourth so named) church consacrated on the 18th of May 1914. (Photo: Peter Foord 2003).

Simenon wrote this novel in December 1930 nearly nine years after the occurrence that gives it its French title. At the time of writing it he was staying in temporary rented accommodation in the villa "Ker-Jean", 11-15 Avenue des Sables-Blancs at Beuzec-Conq (Finistère) along the coast from Concarneau in Brittany, with his wife, Tigy, their maid and cook Boule and Olaf the family dog.
As in many of the early novels published by Fayard, Maigret finds himself outside his jurisdiction of Paris, as it seems obvious that Simenon was making the most of using his experiences from his travels at that time.
In the first part of the novel, by chance and his own curiosity, Maigret meets up with several people in their early thirties, individually or as a group, in a variety of locations, Brussels, Bremen, Rheims and Paris. Early on he witnesses the suicide of one of them and Simenon builds up a web of intrigue until the focus turns to yet another location, the city of Liège, in Belgium, from where the main participants originated.
The author employs his knowledge of the city where he was born and grew up, using actual locations with few changes of name or description. Maigret stays at the Hôtel du Chemin-de-Fer, which did exist at 11 Place des Guillemins, opposite the main railway station and he begins his enquiries in the Rue Haute-Sauvenière and the Rue Hors-Château, both situated on the higher ground on the west side of the city centre.
In this novel, Simenon draws on two of his experiences from the latter part of his time in Liège, before moving to Paris in 1922, as the main plot structure, in order to build up the storyline to a formidable tense dénouement.
These two experiences relate, firstly, to his involvement with a group of former students, many of whom had studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Liège (the Academy of Fine Art) and who called themselves La Caque (named after a type of barrel used for packing herring - an allusion to a tightly knit group), and secondly the death of a member of the group, and Simenon's friend, Joseph Kleine.
It was late in 1919, that Simenon was introduced to the group by his friend Henri-J. Moers, who worked on a rival newspaper La Meuse, and Simenon uses his knowledge of some of the activities of La Caque in creating the group for this novel. He even names one of them Jef Lombard, which is similar to a member of La Caque, a friend and one of the illustrators of his first novel Au Pont des Arches (Georges Sim, 1920), Jef (Jeph) Lambert.
Maigret, from the various meetings with the members of the group, who had called themselves The Companions of the Apocalypse [note: Simenon had used the name Les Compagnons de l'Apocalypse (The Companions of the Apocalypse) earlier in his novel entitled Le Château des Sables Rouges in 1929 under the pseudonym of Georges Sim.], gradually discovers the reason behind the tension, fear and suspicion inherent in all of them. This is all played out in an almost frenetic scene in a disused building behind the church of Saint-Pholien, during which Maigret gleans the facts from their past.
The crux of their agitation involves the circumstances surrounding the death of a follower of The Companions, Willy Mortier, and the part played by one of the group, Émile Klein.
The reason that the group in the novel originally came together has a parallel with the author's knowledge of La Caque. The latter would meet in a disused building reached by a narrow passageway, the Rue de Houpe (called by the fictitious name of the Rue du Pot-au-Noir in the novel), positioned at 13 Rue des Écoliers behind the Church of Saint-Pholien. The author recreates admirably the atmosphere in this old building, adding details about the locale, from various times in the past, in establishing the scene.
The death of Willy Mortier took place in this old building on the night of Christmas and as they carried him out to the Quai Sainte-Barbe — 'The Meuse was in flood' — and his body 'being swept away by the current'. There was a major flood during one Christmas and New Year period (1925-26) when the rising water of the River Meuse caused extensive flooding to many streets in the district of Outremeuse, where the climax of the novel takes place, and many other locations bordering the river.
Another member of The Companions of the Apocalypse, Émile Klein, plays a crucial role in the novel on that Christmas night, only to commit suicide later on the 15th of the following February. Simenon barely alters the surname of a friend, Joseph Kleine, who was found at 5-45 on the morning of the 2nd of March 1922 hanging from the door of the church of Saint-Pholien in the district of Outremeuse, using this tragic occurrence as the title of the novel, Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien).


View of the porch and doors of the Church of Saint-Pholien where in the early morning of the 2nd of March 1922 the body of Joseph Kleine was discovered. (Photo: Peter Foord 1993).

(Refer to Pierre Assouline's account below. Also Patrick Marnham in The Man Who Wasn't Maigret   A Portrait of Georges Simenon, London, Bloomsbury 1992, and New York, Farrar, Straus, Giroux 1993, has an account in chapter five, pages 93 to 99).
Simenon makes a reference to the old and new church of Saint-Pholien. The old church was being demolished as the new, and present, one was being built. This new church (the fourth to bear the name) was consacrated on Monday the 18th of May 1914 by the Bishop of Liège, Monseigneur Rutten, whose secretary was Canon Lucas. The latter was a neighbour of the Simenon family when they lived in the Rue de l'Enseignement in the district of Outremeuse. Did the author remember this neighbour's name when he created a police detective in a few early novels written under pseudonyms and then Maigret's longest standing colleague?
After arriving at the truth, obtained from the survivors of the group, Maigret reaches a point of empathy, not so much for them, but for their families, their children in particular. And perhaps with this novel and with a later one, Les Trois Crimes de mes amis (The Three Crimes of my friends, 1938, - not translated), he laid a ghost from his past.

Pierre Assouline: SIMENON Biographie, Paris, Julliard 1992, page 66:
Un matin, le sacristan de l'église Saint-Pholien trouve le corps de Joseph Kleine pendu à l'un des battants avec son écharpe de l'aine. Le jeune peintre cocaïnomane s'est-il suicidé ou a-t-il été assassiné à l'issue d'un règlement de compte dont la drogue aurait été l'enjeu? On l'ignore. Simenon, quant à lui, s'en tient à la thèse du suicide. Il est l'un des deniers à avoir vu Kleine vivant, la veille du drame. Il l'a aidé à se mettre au lit car il était trop ivre par y parvenir tout seul. Comment Kleine a-t-il trouvé la force, quelques heures après, de se lever, de marcher et de se pendre? Sa mort, si elle a été provoquée par des tiers, ne procédait-elle pas d'un rite propre à La Caque? Un crime maquillé en suicide?
On l'ignore encore. Tout cela n'est que pure spéculation. Le drame marquera durablement Simenon, puisqu'il resurgira notamment dans Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (1931) et dans Les Trois Crimes de mes amis (1938). Mais curieusement, alors que la mort tragique de Kleine est intervenue en mars, la mémoire de Simenon l'a restituée durant la nuit de Noël à la porte de l'église, comme s'il fallait l'inscrire dans le contexte d'une rédemption.

Translation by Jon Rothschild from Pierre Assouline: SIMENON A Biography. New York, Alfred A. Knopf 1997 and London, Chatto and Windus 1997, page 36:
One morning the sexton of the Church of Saint-Pholien found the body of Joseph Kleine hanging from a clapper on the front door, his woolen scarf wrapped around his neck. Was it suicide or had the young cocaine-snorting painter been murdered in a drug deal gone wrong? Simenon held out for suicide. He was one of the last to have seen Keine alive the night before, having helped to put him to bed. But if Kleine had been too drunk to walk, how had he found the strength to get up, go back to the club, and hang himself several hours later? If someone else killed him, was his death the result of some bizarre La Caque ritual? Was it murder made to look like suicide? The mystery was never solved, and the tragedy marked Simenon deeply. The incident recurs in Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (1931) and Les Trois Crimes de mes amis (1938).

Another translation of Pierre Assouline's text by Peter Foord:
One morning, the sexton of the Church of Saint-Pholien found the body of Joseph Kleine hanging from one of the doors by his woollen scarf. Did the young cocaine addicted painter commit suicide or had he been murdered at the final settling of scores in which drugs would have been the stakes? One doesn't know. As for Simenon, he stuck to the theory of suicide. He was one of the last people to have seen Kleine alive on the evening previous to the tragedy. He had helped to put him to bed because he was too drunk to manage it himself. How had Kline found the strength, several hours later, to get up, to walk and to hang himself? If it had been caused by a third party, had his death not come about from a particular ritual of La Caque? A crime faked to look like suicide?
One still doesn't know. Everything is only pure speculation. The tragedy will leave its long term mark on Simenon, since it will reappear notably in Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (1931) and in Les Trois Crimes de mes amis (1938). But curiously, while the tragic death of Kleine occurred in March, Simenon's memory has restored it to during Christmas night at the door of the church, as if there was a need to put it in the context of a redemption.


Closer view of the right hand door of the Church of Saint-Pholien. (Photo: Peter Foord 2003).

Comment
Pierre Assouline's entry on the death of Kleine is abridged in the official English translation, which applies to the whole of the author's translated text. This is a pity as Assouline writes about certain aspects of Simenon's life and work in more detail than others, as well as dealing with some items others ignore.
Also a small point, if my translation is correct. In the last sentence of this extract, omitted in the published translation, Assouline confuses the death of Klein, in the novel, as happening at Christmas instead of that of Mortier's.
The translation of Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (Maigret and the hundred gibbets) by Tony White, published in Great Britain by Penguin Books 2025 in 1963, is closer to Simenon's French text than the earlier, and more wayward one, by Anthony Abbot in 1932/33.

Peter Foord
UK

Which Simenon to start with?
8/11/04 – If one has never read a Simenon novel, what one would you suggest I read first?

Susan Butler

An inspector calls
8/15/04 – A very interesting and wide-ranging article which gives due prominence to Simenon. I have forwarded several articles from The Melbourne Age about Simenon -- it is obviously one of the world's finest newspapers!

An inspector calls

Roddy

re : French yellow pages
8/18/04 – Thanks for the excellent link to the French yellow pages.
I really wish I had seen this before I dragged my rather reluctant wife and two daughters the length of Boulevard Richard Lenoir last Saturday evening during a short stopover in Paris on the way home from our summer holiday in the South !
Am I correct in thinking M lived at 132 B. R. Lenoir ? - I'm sure I read that in one of the novels.
As an aside I also noticed that there is a McDonalds restaurant at the P. de la Bastille end of the street. Would a latter-day Maigret have punctuated his investigations with a Big Mac and a Calvados McFlurry ;-)
And finally on this rather flippant note, I noticed that the Autoroute rest area near the A71/A10 junction is the "Aire de Meung-sur-Loire"

Regards,
Muir T Smith
Scotland

RED LIGHTS opens!
8/20/04 – RED LIGHTS the latest adaptation of a Georges Simenon opens today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre. The film stars Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Carole Bouquet. It is directed by Cédric Kahn. It is opening in New York City at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, Cinema 123 and the Angelika Film Center on September 3rd and in Los Angeles on September 10th at the Westside Pavilion, Pasadena Playhouse, University Irvine and Encino Town Center.

www.wellspring.com/redlights

Ryan Werner
Head of Theatrical Distribution
Wellspring
419 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
NYC 10016
212.686.6777, x 164 phone, 212.545.9931 fax

St. Pholien
8/23/04 –
Here is a pictures of Saint Pholien I took last September. This is the side if the church you see when coming from the Meuse river, the church being on your left, the river in back of you.

Regards
Jerome

Maigret's Address
8/24/04 – Muir Smith (8/18) asks about Maigret's address. Although the address of 132 blvd Richard-Lenoir was mentioned in one of the Maigret stories as where Maigret lived, this reference contradicted all of the others that put him at the corner of blvd R-L and the rue du Chemin Vert. If you started at the Place de la Bastille, then you walked rather too far. I covered this in some detail on this forum in 2003, please read the text of In the Footsteps of Chief Superintendent Jules Maigret in Montmarte. You can also see photos that are linked to the places mentioned in the text. Others have also had quite a lot to say about this in the past on this same forum.

Regards
Joe

"Red Lights" Press Release
8/30/04 –

RED LIGHTS (FEUX ROUGES)

RELEASE DATESeptember 3 (NY), September 10 (LA), Nationwide Sept-Oct.
DIRECTORCédric Kahn (L'ENNUI, ROBERTO SUCCO)
WRITERSCédric Kahn, Laurence Ferreira-Barbosa with Gilles Marchand (WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY)
BASED ON THE BOOKGeorges Simenon, Author of the Inspector Maigret Series
CASTJean-Pierre Darroussin (THE TOWN IS QUIET, LA BUCHE), Carole Bouquet (LUCIE AUBRAC, THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, TOO BEAUTIFUL)
COUNTRY/LANGUAGE France/In French
OFFICIAL SELECTION Berlin (In Competition), Tribeca, Seattle, Los Angeles

Based on the novel by Georges Simenon (author of the Inspector Maigret Series), Cédric Kahn's RED LIGHTS is an edge-of-your-seat thriller in the tradition of Claude Chabrol and Alfred Hitchcock. It's a summer holiday weekend in Paris. Antoine (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), a timid insurance salesman, and his lawyer wife Hélène (Carole Bouquet) are off to the south of France to pick up their children from camp. En route he drinks and their bickering slowly escalates. Finally, Hélène has had enough, and at a roadside tavern, while Antoine throws back another whiskey, she leaves him and heads for the train. He dashes to the train station to try to meet her but is too late. Darkness has fallen and, left alone to continue the journey, Antoine picks up a strange hitchhiker, not knowing he might have already crossed paths with his soon-to-be-missing wife...

Beautifully shot by cinematographer Patrick Blossier, RED LIGHTS features striking performances from its two leads, particularly Darroussin, as director Kahn expertly and subtly tightens the reigns on a thriller of striking visual quality and perverse lyricism.

"HITCHCOCKIAN! A SPENDIDLY SINUOUS TWISTER. Kahn's learned the tricks from the masters of suspense and noir."-- Leslie Felperin, Variety

"A SLEEK NOIR THRILLER. Brilliantly controlled and armed with scads of wit."-- Ella Taylor, LA Weekly

"An intensely well-acted thriller. Kahn fills the film with sinister suspense and some surprising turns."-- Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

A REAL CHILLER. You watch this movie, hanging on every word, every moment. One scene packs more tension than all the car-chases and gunfights I've seen for months." Michael Wilminton, Chicago Tribune


Michael Haertlein
Wellspring Media, Inc.

419 Park Avenue South, Floor 20
New York, NY 10016
www.wellspring.com
(212) 686-6777 ext157
cinemaintern2@wellspring.com

Review of "Red Lights"
8/31/04 – An article in the online International Herald Tribune by Marcel Clements (New York Times) on the new Simenon film, "Red Lights":

Filming Simenon, master of French noir

Roddy

Maigret of the Month - 2004

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland
JulyPietr-le-Letton - Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
AugustLe pendu de Saint-Pholien - Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
SeptemberAu rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas - The Sailors' Rendezvous
OctoberLa danseuse du Gai-Moulin - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin
NovemberLa guinguette à deux sous - Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
DecemberL'ombre chinoise - Maigret Mystified

Maigret of the Month: Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas (The Sailors' Rendez-vous) - 1

September 2004 –
Having received a request from a former school friend, Maigret persuades his wife that they should spend their holiday in Normandy rather than Alsace. They arrive in Fécamp (Seine-Maritime), from where trawlers sail to fish in the waters off Newfoundland.
Simenon wrote this novel in July 1931 whilst his boat the Ostrogoth was moored at Morsang-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Oise).
He knew the Normandy coast, as he had been in that region only a few years previously.
In the summer of 1925 he and his wife Tigy had spent a holiday at Étretat (Seine-Maritime), where they met Henriette Liberge, a fisherman's daughter, from nearby Bénouville. Nearly nineteen, they engaged her as their maid and cook for a year, but she was to remain with the Simenon family all her life. Simenon nicknamed her Boule (possibly he gave her a nickname not wishing to use her real first name, which was the same as that of his mother with whom he always had a difficult relationship).
No doubt during that holiday he and his wife explored the region, with Yport and Fécamp only a few miles along the coast. Early in 1929 he visited Fécamp and commissioned the boat builder Georges Argentin to construct for him a boat measuring 33 feet long by 13 feet wide, rigged, which would have a twenty horsepower engine. This he would name the Ostrogoth, which became his home, together with Tigy, Boule and Olaf, the family dog, for the next two years. He supervised the boat's construction and became very familiar with Fécamp, its atmosphere, its fishing community and its environment.


Map of the centre of Fécamp (Michelin 1962)   (click to enlarge)

His knowledge gave him, in this novel, the opportunity to plunge Maigret into the atmosphere of Fécamp, the daily activities, the sounds and the smells. All of these coupled with the tension brought about by the return of one of the trawlers with the loss of its cabin boy, the murder of its captain, the spoilt cargo of fish and with its crew talking of the vessel being jinxed.
Maigret soon finds himself among a variety of characters, many of whom, in some way or other, are associated with the fated trawler. He meets and observes some of its crew in the quayside café Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, as the name implies, a meeting place, a focal point. Although acting unofficially, its here that certain things are implied that sow the seed of his enquiries.
In this novel Simenon explores certain elements of the human condition, possessiveness, jealousy and obsession. At the centre of this is the easy going Adèle Noirhomme. In two earlier Maigret novels Simenon has also placed young women in a situation that has caused ructions. In La Nuit du Carrefour (Maigret at the Crossroads) there is Else Anderson who finds herself living in a gloomy house with only two other households for neighbours, situated at an isolated country crossroads. She is bored with the monotony and becomes involved with the nefarious activities of her neighbours. In another way, Beetje Liewens in Un Crime en Hollande (Maigret in Holland) is thinking of flight, escaping from a dominating father and the restrictive Protestant influenced community in which she lives, becoming involved with any man who is likely to help her achieve her aim.
Now Adèle Noirhomme, brash and at times aggressive, who knows that she can attract most men and who enjoys a good time, becomes the focus of attention when the captain of the trawler suggests that she joins him on his next fishing trip. And as she put it:
'Then he came to get me. He made me go into his cabin the night before they sailed. The idea of a change amused me, but if I'd known how it was going to turn out I'd have dropped it like a hot coal!'
By questioning a number of people from the trawler and those that had associations with them, Maigret comes to a conclusion. This fulfils the request that he was asked to carry out, but overall he follows his own belief of understanding and not judging, leaving certain matters undefined, and with his wife, departs from Fécamp as soon as he can.

To date, there is only Margaret Ludwig's English translation of this novel, which follows Simenon's French text closely.

Peter Foord
UK

Greetings from Jean Forest
9/01/04 –
Très beau site !
Merveilleuse idée !
Félicitations !

Jean Forest

Jean Forest, professor of literature at the University of Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, is the author of Notre-Dame de Saint-Fiacre, ou, L'affaire Maigret, and Les archives Maigret: répertoire analytique complet de ses cent sept enquêtes, both 1994, Montréal. Presses de l'Université de Montréal.

Maigret videos/DVD's
9/03/04 – With the exception of the BBC's Maigret (12 episodes) I cannot find American releases of the many Maigret films. Help!!!!

Vincent Bruno

Maigret of the Month: Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas (The Sailors' Rendez-vous) - 2

9/05/04, 2004 –

I just finished reading "Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas". In this book, Maigret, as usual, tries to understand... but he is also judging.

He discovers that Le Clinche, if not the murderer, told the father (of the ship's boy) who killed his son. This is complicity in murder and perhaps also provocation. But M does not tell the story to his colleagues, and lets the murderer go free. He must be thinking that enough lives have been spoiled already and that it was not worth spoiling others.
This is different from other stories, where Maigret leaves this part to the Judge. I think there are one or two other Maigrets where he voluntarily lets the murderer go free... or more?

In Chapter 4, it is really the young girl who is investigating: she is the one willing to visit the boat, going under the bed and Maigret is following her. In other books, Maigret takes a more active part and leads the investigation, even in Un Crime en Hollande (Maigret in Holland) where the invited professor is investigating, Maigret leads the story.

Regards
Jerome

Unofficial Investigations
9/07/04 – What Jerome noted (above), that in Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas (The Sailors' Rendez-vous), M has let an apparently guilty man go unpunished by the law, and that he does not actively direct the investigation, may be explainable by the fact that since this was not an official police investigation, M felt that he was under no obligation to produce a likely suspect. Apparently, as far as he was concerned, Le Clinche had been punished enough.
In one of the earliest forums, 6/2/98, Samantha Scott brought up the question about how M could let an armed man go out to do murder, in Maigret in Court.
How many of M's investigations were unofficial? How often was he "judgmental"?

ST

Maigret Sits it Out
9/08/04 – I have read English translations of all the Maigret books, except 'L'ecuse no.1' and 'Maigret'. I have tried to find copies of 'Maigret Sits It Out' which contains both, and of 'Maigret Returns', and 'Lock No. 1' which are the titles of the separate translations, but to know avail. Does anyone know if these books are available and where?

Graham Parker

Maybe of interest to London based Maigret fans ?
9/09/04 – I was making my regular visit to "Murder One" in Charing Cross Road, London today (9 September) and noticed that a large number of Maigret Penguin paperbacks have suddenly appeared in the "bargain boxes" at the rear of the shop. Between 25 and 30 titles all in pretty good condition. Sadly only 2 that I needed but maybe someone else will have better luck. There were also a number of other non-Maigret novels by Simenon.
Prices v. good given that no P&P applicable.
Hope this helps someone out - and by the way I'm not on commission ;-)

Muir T Smith
88/103 and rising
Glasgow, Scotland (exiled to London, England during the week)

Maigret Sits it Out
9/12/04 – In response to Graham Parker's query, a copy of Maigret Sits It Out was on sale on Ebay in the past week. It was priced at £39.99 as an opening bid. For some reason it didn't sell. I was interested because I have a copy of my own and if it had reached that price I would have had it up for auction quicker than you could say "Boulevard Richard-Lenoir".
Seriously, I have added greatly to my Simenon collection through Ebay over the past year. Books I have been searching for for years have dropped through my letterbox. It takes away some of the thrill of the chase admittedly (and thanks, Muir T Smith, for your tip about Murder One), but the chase can become tiring. There are new listings daily and if you add Maigret to Your Favourite Searches they email you with every new posting.
Try AbeBooks as well, but Ebay is usually cheaper. It's still hard on the wallet though...

Roddy

Maigrets in French
9/14/04 – Here's a footnote to Roddy's valuable remarks on eBay: Maigrets in French are abundantly available on French eBay (ebay.fr) and less so on Belgian eBay (ebay.be). At least a dozen are offered today on the French site at starting bids of one euro or less. Mais, pour l'amour de Dieu, check on shipping and handling costs before bidding!

John H. Dirckx

Wallach was NOT Maigret!
9/15/04 – I recently obtained a secondhand VHS copy (Video Yesteryear) of the 1952 "Westinghouse Studio One Summer Theater" presentation of "Stan the Killer". In this adaption Maigret is not played by Eli Wallach but by Romney Brent. Wallach plays Ozep which certainly is the "showier" of the two roles. This explains why he has erroneously been thought to have played the part of the inspector which most people think of being the main character.

Mattias Siwemyr

Wallach was NOT Maigret... Romney Brent was!
9/15/04 – Once again Mattias has cleared up an error in Peter Haining's "The Complete Maigret," which I have carried onto these pages. Great work Mattias! (And previously published reports indicated that there were no surviving copies of this early Maigret TV production.)

This very un-Maigret-like photo of Wallach (left) was printed full page in Haining's book. In the text, the description of Wallach's Maigret is as follows (p.58):

..."On TV he impersonated the inspector as a slick, Fedora-wearing officer, blunt almost to the point of rudeness and obviously intent on catching Stan's gang by any means at his disposal. He was seen carrying a gun on several occasions and – very un-Maigret-like – interrogated friends and enemies alike by sticking his face close to theirs and glowering very threateningly."
In the same year as the Studio One production, 1952, Brent starred in the television series "Suspense" with Franchot Tone, based on the story "Markheim" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Here's his All Movie Guide mini-bio:

Romney Brent (1902-1976)

"Well-tailored Mexican actor/producer/playwright Romney Brent appeared in British films from 1936 onward. Usually cast as an indeterminate-origin foreigner, Brent appeared in such major productions as East Meets West (1936), and Under the Red Robe (1937). He both co-starred in and wrote the dialogue for the 1937 Anglo-American espionager Dinner at the Ritz (1937). In Hollywood from 1940, Romney Brent is best known for his portrayal of Spain's King Phillip II in The Adventures of Don Juan (1949) and his recurring appearances on the 1950s TV series Zorro."
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Brent as Padre Felipe in Zorro (1957)

ST

Maigret on eBay
9/15/04 – Further to John H. Dirckx's posting, I went to ebay.fr, entered my eBay name and password and searched for Maigret and Simenon. He's right! There are lots of books, and the first entry I clicked on offered worldwide delivery.
Another way would be to click on the radio button marked Item available to... on your home eBay search site. This gave me fewer listings (and quite a few in German) but at least you know that the seller will post to your country, and it's in English if you're concerned about that. The item I clicked on there had translations both in the heading and in the description of the item.
Among the goodies on sale was a Simenon written under the pseudonym Christian Brulls and a volume from the Tout Simenon series
But, John, how am I going to afford this?...

Roddy

References to Maigret and Simenon in Literature - Hemingway

9/18/04 – Here's a reference to Maigret and Simenon -- by Hemingway! -- found at the Brasserie Dauphine website:

"...We were getting a little far down into the book bag but there were still some hidden values mixed in with the required reading and there were twenty volumes of Simenon in French that I had not read. If you are to be rained in while camped in Africa there is nothing better than Simenon and with him I did not care how long it rained. You draw perhaps three good Simenons out of each five but an addict can read the bad ones when it rains and I would start them, mark them bad, or good; there is no intermediate grade with Simenon and then having classified a half dozen and cut the pages, I would read happily, transferring all my problems to Maigret, bearing with him in his encounters with idiocy and the Quai des Orfieves, and very happy in his sagacious and true understanding of the French, a thing only a man of his nationality could achive, since Frenchmen are barred by some obscure law from understanding themselves sous peine des travaux forcés à la perpétuité....."
Ernest Hemingway, "True at first light" (1954-56)

ST

Feux Rouge
9/22/04 – Cédric Kahn - rouge is for danger The brooding director is blasé about altering classic literature, and he's not getting defensive...

TimesOnLine

Roddy

Le petit restaurant des ternes
9/24/04 – The published book with the title "Un Noël de Maigret" (Maigret's Christmas) included three stories:

Maigret's Christmas
Sept petites croix dans un carnet,
Le petit restaurant des ternes

The copy that I have of the book is called "Nine Stories/Maigret's Christmas", which includes Maigret's Christmas and Seven Little Crosses.., but does not include anything resembling the French title "Le petit restaurant des ternes"
I could not find the plot for Le petit restaurant des ternes anywhere.
Is that a Maigret?
Is there an English (or Spanish) translation?

I am a collector of mysteries, but I only collect copies of those (mystery) novels which have been nominated for the Edgar Alan Poe award. Even though Simenon is an MWA Grand Master he never had any of Maigret or non-Maigret novels nominated for the Edgar. He might have had some short stories nominated but I don't really know.
I came across your web site a few months ago and was surprised to find a lot of his books dated wrongly. Some published copies of his some of his 19 early books (1930-34) are dated in the 40s or even later.
The first thing I want to know about a book I read is the year it was written, but you can only hope that they were written shortly before they were published.
I recently read all those 19 early titles, some of which I had read before under the assumption they had been written after WW II, and when read again they make much more sense knowing they were written in the early 30s. I plan to read all the Maigrets including those which I had read before; I think I had read about 40 or 45 Maigret novels over the years.
Please let me know where I can find a copy of Le petit restaurant des ternes translated into English or Spanish.

Saludos,
Juan Castro
Alexandria, Virginia

Le petit restaurant des ternes
9/24/04 – This story is nearly impossible to find in French -- and that comes from someone who lives in the French-speaking part of Belgium -- much the less anything else. I read it several years ago in Tout Simenon, the huge collection of all of Simenon's writing. This is not a Maigret, but if I remember correctly, one of his assistants plays a small role in it. Most of the action plays out in a small restaurant on or near the Place des Ternes in Paris. The storyline doesn't really stick in my mind and that's probably because Maigret is not in it. You might try Ebay in Spain on the internet or look for for the Spanish equalivelent of Amazon or other used book dealers in Spanish speaking countries. Secondhand copies may also turn up in Latin America. A few years ago, I found a Maigret in the original hardback edition from 1940 somewhere on the web. The book had originally been owned by someone in Texas. I bought it because at the time it was still the only English version available. Just make sure that you are getting the original edition of this title as you have found this story was missing from the newer editions. I suspect one reason that some Maigret stories have publication dates that are years later than the written dates is that the publication date was the date the translation was published rather than the original French version. English versions of some stories came out years after the French version in some cases.

Joe

Le petit restaurant des ternes
9/24/04 – As Juan mentioned, this story appears (in French) in Un Noël de Maigret. It's not a Maigret, and not actually a mystery story either. It begins on Christmas eve at a small café. There are just three customers, a Russian who ate there regularly, and two young women. Around 9:00, as they're about to close and a round of drinks is served on the house, the Russian pulls out a gun and shoots himself. The investigating officer is Lognon. The story is actually about the two women customers, strangers, who go on to a bar. The elder, a prostitute "playing Santa Claus," contrives to keep the younger, whom she believes she may have known as a child in her home town, out of the clutches of two "wolves of the night." That's about it. I don't think I've ever seen reference to an English or Spanish translation...

ST

Le petit restaurant des ternes
9/27/04 – Thanks to Joe and ST for clearing the mystery of "Le Petit Restaurant Des Ternes".
Even though is not a true Maigret, I will search the web for Spanish-Books bookstores in Spain and Latin America to try to find a translated copy.

Reference 9/08/04 inquiry by Graham Parker:

Maigret Sits it Out - 9/08/04 ­ I have read English translations of all the Maigret books, except 'L'ecuse no.1' and 'Maigret'. I have tried to find copies of 'Maigret Sits It Out' which contains both, and of 'Maigret Returns', and 'Lock No. 1' which are the titles of the separate translations, but to know avail. Does anyone know if these books are available and where? --Graham Parker
I live in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, and I have access to most of the public and college libraries in the US through the Interlibrary Loan Program. When searching for the first 19 Maigrets I was able to get a copy of Maigret Sits It Out through the ILL program.
If you want to find a Maigret to purchase it, I suggest you try ABEbooks on the web. I found a copy of Maigret Meets a Milord through ABE for which I paid more in shipping costs than for the book itself ($5 or $6 total).

Saludos,
Juan

Jeumont, 51 Minutes' Stop!
9/28/04 – I was checking my tally and noticed that I hadn't read "Jeumont, 51 . . ."
According to the Bibliography section of the site it should be in "Maigret's Pipe" but in my ( admittedly American ) paperback copy it's nowhere to be seen.
Nor does it appear in the Large print copy of the same title I mistakenly bought first - but this only contains a proportion of the stories contained in the regular version.
Can anyone point me in the direction of where it can be found ?

Thanks in advance,
Muir
91/103
Glasgow

Jeumont, 51 Minutes' Stop!

9/28/04 – The story is in the British edition of Maigret's Pipe, but not in the American!
ST

Jeumont, 51 Minutes' Stop!
9/28/04 – I think it is called "Maigret Deduces" in the American publication.
If it is the one I think, it is a Train Mystery and appears in a Bill Pronzini's Collection of short stories with Train in the title.

Juan Castro

Two short stories: "Le Petit Restaurant des Ternes" and "Jeumont, 51 Minutes d'Arrêt!"
9/28/04 –

1. Le Petit Restaurant des Ternes

A few more details to add to those by Joe and Steve. The sub-title of this longer short story translates as "A Christmas story for grown-ups". It was commissioned by Pierre Lazareff, a publisher and life long friend of the author, whilst Simenon was living in Arizona. Simenon wrote it in 1947 and it was first published in Lazareff's weekly magazine "France Dimanche" in December 1949. When Presses de la Cité first published it in paperback in 1951, it was together with "Un Nôel de Maigret"(the book's title) and the non-Maigret "Sept Petites Croix dans un Carnet", the reason being that all three short stories take place on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. Since the first edition appeared in 1951 there has been at least seven paperback reprints of the same three short story format over the years, with "Le Petit Restaurant des Ternes" appearing in the collected editions Œuvres Complètes (Switzerland, Éditions Rencontre), Volume 26, 1969, and in Tout Simenon (Paris, Presses de la Cité), Volume 5, 1988, and the Centenary reprint of Tout Simenon, Volume 5, 2002.
Steve has summed up the plot very well, basically where Simenon explores the character of two young women, Martine and Jeanne, and their reactions to the circumstances in which they find themselves.
The setting is mainly in establishments in the streets near the Place des Ternes in the seventeenth arrondissement in Paris where Simenon first lived with his wife Tigy during the early months of 1923.
Unfortunately in researching the non-Maigret short stories I have not come across an English translation of this title (although I do have my own hand written draft in English which I will sometime tidy up and put on computer). I hope that Juan has some luck in locating a Spanish translation.

2. Jeumont, 51 Minutes d'Arrêt!

As Steve has pointed out, this short story does appear in the British hardback edition of "Maigret's Pipe" as well as the Penguin paperback reprint in the translation by Jean Stewart. I believe that it does not appear in the corresponding American editions of "Maigret's Pipe" because of a probable prior agreement with certain American publishers who acquired the rights to use it in an anthology.
a) In May 1977 Bobbs-Merrill Company (Indianapolis / New York) published as a hardback "Midnight Specials, An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Aficionados", edited by Bill Pronzini. This included the Maigret short story but under the title of "Inspector Maigret Deduces" and in the translation by J.E.Malcolm.
b) In October 1977 the volume of Maigret Short Stories entitled "Maigret's Pipe" was published as a hardback in London by Hamish Hamilton, translated by Jean Stewart.
c) In October 1978 the same volume of Maigret Short Stories entitled "Maigret's Pipe" was published as a hardback in New York by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich again with translations by Jean Stewart, but minus "Jeumont, 51 Minutes Stop!".
All reprints of the above three volumes have the corresponding contents.
Apart from the British publication from Hamish Hamilton and its Penguin reprint of "Maigret's Pipe" with translations by Jean Stewart, this short story is only to be found in anthologies in the translation by J.E.Malcolm.
As well as the publications listed under the title "Jeumont, 51 Minutes d'Arrêt!" in the Bibliography, this short story is also reprinted in the following anthologies:
All entitled: "Inspector Maigret Deduces" with all translations by J.E.Malcolm:
1) In MASTERPIECES OF MYSTERY (The Golden Age, Part Two), selected by Ellery Queen. New York, Davis Publications, Inc. 1977. Hardback (16 x 23.5 cm) published without a dust jacket. 351 pages, with the Simenon appearing on pages 341 to 351.
2) In MIDNIGHT SPECIALS (An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Addicts), edited by Bill Pronzini. London, Souvenir Press Ltd. 1978. Hardback (14.5 x 22 cm) published in a dust jacket. 272 pages, with the Simenon appearing on pages 232 to 244. ISBN 0 285 62355 9.
3) In MIDNIGHT SPECIALS (An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Aficionados), edited by Bill Pronzini. New York, Avon Books. 1978. Paperback (10.5 x 18 cm). 261 pages, with the Simenon appearing on pages 219 to 231. ISBN 0 380 01941 8.
Peter Foord
UK

Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!

9/28/04 – Just a small comment about "Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt" — I have it in "Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret" published by the NRF collection at Gallimard. It is dated 1944 Editions Gallimard. My copy was printed in 1985. It has a stiff white cover with the Simenon name in colored letters. I had to order it from a bookshop in order to get it... I think this was one of the most difficult to obtain.

Regards,
Jerome

Sweeny Todd
9/21/04 – I know this is out of the blue, but I am currently researching a book on the Sweeney Todd story for Oxford University Press, and have been following a number of leads that relate to connected urban myths in Paris. One tells a similar story as having taken place on the Ile de la Cite in the 13th century, yet a friend in the States recalled a vague reference either in a biography of Simenon or in a novel to a convent, in which the nuns had been turning human flesh into pies or pastries? I'm ashamed to say my knowledge of Maigret etc. is nil, BUT your absolutely astounding website has made me sit up and take notice -- I'll be reading one of the books this weekend!
Does this ring any bells for you? I apologize if it is something any fan would think obvious...

Many thanks,
Robert Mack

Maigret of the Month - 2004-2005

monthtitle
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland
JulyPietr-le-Letton - Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
AugustLe pendu de Saint-Pholien - Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
SeptemberAu rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas - The Sailors' Rendezvous
OctoberLa danseuse du Gai-Moulin - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin
NovemberLa guinguette à deux sous - Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
DecemberL'ombre chinoise - Maigret Mystified
2005
JanuaryL'affaire Saint-Fiacre - Maigret Goes Home
FebruaryChez les Flamands - The Flemish Shop
MarchLe port des brumes - Death of a Harbormaster

Maigret of the Month: La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin (Maigret at the Gai-Moulin) - 1

October 2004 –
(Note: Unless indicated, all quotations are my translations from the author's French text — Peter Foord).

In the Maigret novel Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets), Simenon sets the second half in the Belgian city of Liège where the author was born and where he spent nearly the first twenty years of his life. Now in this, his tenth Maigret novel, he locates the whole of it in his home town.
Simenon builds his fictitious plot around many autobiographical details from his early life in Liège, using the actual names of many thoroughfares and establishments without any alterations, but he does relocate two of them.
The author wrote this novel in September 1931 at Ouistreham (Calvados), in Normandy. He had reached this port in the Ostrogoth, the boat that had been his home for two and a half years, and which he would soon sell.
Much of the storyline takes place in October in the centre of Liège and partly in the district of Outremeuse just across the river Meuse (Map A). The novel begins inside the small nightclub, the Gai-Moulin which Simenon frequented in the early 1920s, and was located in the oldest part of the centre of Liège known as "Le Carré" (literally "The Square", not a specific intersection or open space, but an area that indicates that part of the city, a name going back to Medieval times — refer to Map B). In the novel he relocates it to the Rue du Pot d'Or instead of its real site at 8, Rue de la Sirène. This latter street is the first turning right off the Rue de la Cathédrale going towards the Rue Léopold. (When I was last in Liège, in October 2003, N° 8, Rue de la Sirène was a small modern shop offering a Thai food takeaway service).

Map A - A recent map (c.1990) showing part of the centre of Liège, extending also to show part of the district of Outremeuse.

(click to enlarge)

Some of those present in the night club are the main characters involved. These are the two youths, Jean Chabot, aged sixteen and a half, and René Delfosse, eighteen, with Adèle Bosquet, the dancer of the novel's title who works at the Gai-Moulin, its owner Génaro and one of its waiters, Victor. Then there is a new visitor to the night club, Ephraim Graphopoulos.

Map B - A section of Map A indicating the area known as "Le Carré".

Jean Chabot and his friend René Delfosse have developed a yearning to sample the nightlife and become frequent visitors to the Gai-Moulin. One of their other haunts is the Café Pélican, which existed under that name at N° 114, Rue de la Cathédrale, but relocated in the novel only a short distance away in the Rue du Pont d'Avroy.
In order to finance their visits they resort to stealing money either from family members or, in the case of Jean Chabot, from his employer's petty cash. Much of the novel focuses on the activities and reactions of these two youths and their association with some of the other characters, with the author exploring the themes of human weakness, temptation and obsession. It later emerges that the nightclub's proprietor, Génaro, and Victor also have felonious activities aside from their normal work, with Adèle, the dancer, in the centre, friendly with Jean and René, but also assisting her employer and his waiter. Two sets of people with different motivations and into this situation comes Graphopoulos, the wealthy, hapless and rather naïve forty year old Greek whose own motivation is to find some activity to overcome his boredom.
The author makes use of a number of autobiographical facts with the character of Jean Chabot, whose home is at 53, Rue de la Loi in the district of Outremeuse, 'just in front of the school where he had spent his early years.' The Simenon family had lived at this address from 1911 until 1917, opposite the Institut St. André, Georges' junior school. There are even appearances of two lodgers at this address, Monsieur Bogdanowsky and Mademoiselle Pauline [Feinstein], who were two of the University students lodging with the Simenons. Jean's parents even have some of the characteristics of Georges' parents.
The mother —
'…was a small lean, touchy woman, who was on the go from morning to evening.'
The father —
'He's in an insurance office, I think. Accountant or something'.
'My father's ill as it is. He's got a weak heart…' '…with meticulously curled moustache'.

As well as the pencilled note left in the kitchen…'You'll find a cutlet in the cabinet and a piece of tart in the cupboard. Good night. Father.' This is almost the same as a note preserved in the Fonds Simenon in Georges' father's handwriting.
And there are more parallel details, which have lead to some commentators suggesting that Simenon was creating, or at least thinking about, his possible youthful alter ego. Over the years the author made reference to what he might have become if he hadn't turned to writing. He suggested that he might have followed a criminal path, fearful of having inherited some of the traits from his mother's side of the family, the Brülls, some of whom suffered alcoholism and degeneration.
There is a chiding remark from Jean's mother:
' "It's time for a change, if you don't want to turn out badly like your uncle Henry…"
It was a nightmare, this recollection of the uncle that one bumped into, dead drunk, or caught sight of on a ladder in the middle of repainting the front of a house.'

This is a veiled reference to Simenon's uncle Léopold Brüll. The author has stated that to rid a person from his system, he would include them, in some way, in his work. So perhaps it was more than just a thought about himself?
With the accent on the two youths, Jean Chabot and René Delfosse, Simenon constructs Maigret's participation in a different way than in the previous works. Although Maigret is present at the beginning, he does not identify himself until over half way into the novel. Beyond his jurisdiction, but following Graphopoulos from Paris after the latter requested, and then attempted to evade, police protection, Maigret deliberately remains incognito, drawing suspicion upon himself. (Once more using real Liège establishments, Simenon has both of them staying at the Hotêl Moderne, which until it closed in 1976, was located at 29, Rue du Pont d'Avroy and having a meal at the same restaurant, La Bécasse, behind the Théâtre Royal, and in reality situated at 2, Rue des Dominicans).
Working with his Belgian counterparts, Maigret sets up various ploys to confuse the culprit(s), not knowing what will happen. But uncertainty, incomprehension and panic on the part of those involved, leads to the unravelling of two, basically, unrelated crimes, one planned and the other unpremeditated. In the midst of the activity, the author even introduces a lighter note with one of the Belgian police Inspectors persuading his colleagues to buy pipes at a bargain price, items in which Maigret natually shows an interest.
To date, there is only one English translation of this Maigret novel, that by Geoffrey Sainsbury which is somewhat wayward throughout in comparison to Simenon's French text.

Peter Foord
UK

The Unlikely Monsieur Owen
10/05/04 – I just read The Unlikely Monsieur Owen. Thanks a lot, Steve, for sharing your hard work with us.

Saludos,
Juan

Glad you enjoyed it!
ST

Les Caves du Majestic
10/08/04 – I've got a little surprise for someone in Colmar in a couple of days. I'm going there to see the big expo of Bartholdi's works. Bartholdi created the Statue of Liberty, a large fountain in Washington, and many monuments in France during his lifetime. This is the 100th year since his death and Colmar, his hometown, is celebrating. There was a large replica of the statue unvieled on July the 4th and there have been many other events this year. For more info, see bartholdi2004.com.
The surprise is for the couple who keep the hotel I usually stay in, the Kyriad. It will consist of Tout Simenon 23, which is the only way I can get this title new in French. The reason for this is the hotel used to be known as...you guessed it...the Majestic. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Joe

Maigret comic-strip
10/11/04 – In an old Turkish newspaper (from the 1950's), I found a Maigret comic-strip. I searched the web but couldn't find any reference to a Maigret comic-strip. Who may have written and drawn this?

Thanks,
Oguz Eren
Istanbul

Les Caves du Majestic
10/13/04 – The book was was well recieved after I made it clear that it was a gift and that she only had to read one of the stories. She knew who Simenon was but knew nothing of this title. Her eyes lit up when she saw the word 'Majestic', as if she understood everything at that point. Seems like she was not in the habit of getting gifts from customers. Of course most of the people who stay there are on tour buses from all over Europe and will never return to Colmar. I guess I'm one of the few regulars and that's only a few nights a year. I always get great service at a good price, so I was happy do show my appreciation.
In other matters, I will have a photo expo in Colmar between 17 and 28 January 2005. The subject is "The Three Sisters of Colmar", which is to say the Bartholdi Fountain in Washington. There will be thrity of my photos hanging at the Agence Commericale du TRACE (the city bus company), located in the espace du Rempart, a few steps from the Tourist Office and the town's central bus stop.

Regards,
Joe

Maigret comic-strip
10/14/04 – For the question from Oguz Eren about Maigret comics, there is already a link to perso.club-internet.fr/bernadac/p14.html on the Gallery page of this site. Perhaps if Oguz Eren could scan one of the comics and send it, we could see if it looks the same?

Regards,
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin (Maigret at the Gai-Moulin) - 2

10/18/04 –

I have never had as much reason to be grateful to David Malan, my French teacher at Vale of Leven Academy, as I have in reading La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin.
Chapter 5, Confrontation, seems to me to encapsulate some of the quintessential qualities of Simenon, the claustrophobic atmosphere, the mystery, the sense of unfairness and social inequality that pervades his work. When I had finished it I was moved.
That was in the original French.
Then I read the Geoffrey Sainsbury translation. Suddenly Simenon was made to seem flat, dull, quotidian. And I became aware of the discrepancies too.
Take this example, from the original, where Victor, the waiter at the Gai-Moulin, is being questioned:
-- Et vous avez apercu plusieurs billets de mille francs dans son portefeuille...
-- Oui... Il etait bien bourre... Surtout des billets francais... Point de billets belges...
The Sainsbury translation:
"Did you see what he had in his wallet? Any thousand-franc notes?"
"A lot of them. But they were French ones. I only saw hundred-franc notes in Belgian money."
Not only the grammar and sense have been changed, but also the content. This might be dismissed as a minor point, but at the end of the chapter, M. Chabot, who is obviously based on Simenon's beloved father and who is meant to be seen as a sympathetic character, is utterly traduced by Sainsbury's translation.
In the French, the chapter ends:
Et le pere, battant en retraite, esquissa un pale sourire de remerciement.
Sainbury has translated this as:
Jean's father, beating a lame retreat, managed to summon a sickly smile of gratitude.
I would maintain that this is not a translation but a betrayal of the author's purpose.
As I say, I am grateful to Mr Malan for giving me the skills to read the original version. I am now going to sell the translation on eBay. Perhaps I should add a caveat: May not reflect original accurately.



Isn't La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin a wonderful book?
Not only does it take you into a world of callow youths and nightcub denizens, but it also has a wonderfully puzzling plot.
Most amazingly, although it is a Maigret book, I have reached chapter 6 with no explicit mention of Maigret (although I think I know who the heavily-built Frenchman who has made several off-stage appearances is).
I would be interested to know if the readers who bought the original book back in the 1930s also knew it was one of the Maigret series. It seems to me to foreshadow Simenon's move into "literary novels", which often had crime as their background, but less of the detective element.
Any views on this?

Roddy

Sweeny Todd
10/20/04 – In response to Robert Mack's enquiry (9/21/04) there's a Sweeney Todd type story concerning the founding of the market in the rue Mouffetard in the mid-14th century, a market that exists today and which features in a couple or so Maigret stories. I picked this up from an old guide book on Paris called something like "slow walks in Paris". Instead of pies the human flesh was used to make pate (after all this is France) involving a certain butcher and barber on the Ile de la Cite in the shadow of the Notre Dame. Their victims were students, and because they were poor and lived anonymously among the crowds of students they were not missed until they picked out one young man who owned a dog. When his master did not return from the barber's the dog put up such a howl that the youth's friends came to investigate and caught the barber and butcher in the act. Apparently judgement was swift and the two men were suspended in a cage in front of Notre Dame and publicly burned!
Given the locality several of the priests from Notre Dame had eaten the pate, and to eat human flesh, even unknowingly, is the sin of anthropophagy (good word for the pub quiz) punishable by excommunication and the priests had to be exiled from the cathedral. The priests involved decided to seek out the Pope in Avignon to plead forgiveness. According to the story they got as far as what is now the Carrefour des Gobelins, then just outside the city limits, and although only about a half hour/45 minutes walk decided their feet hurt too much and stopped on that very spot and become mendicants. Later the same year Jean de Meulan, the new Bishop of Paris, came to visit his property and farms on the hill of Mouffetard. On his way the Bishop was attacked by thieves and would have been killed if not for the help of the mendicant priests. In appreciation Jean de Meulan gave the priests absolution and allowed them to open a market on his property to sell "toutes merchandises et objets don't on n'aurait pas a rechercher l'origine". (loosely, permission "to sell anything except dodgy gear"). And hence the origins of the market in the rue Mouffetard. I cannot verify this story, and I guess like the tale of Sweeney Todd there's an element of urban myth.

BBC Tapes?

On another tack, after a fruitless email exchange earlier this year with the BBC on the rediscovered tapes of the 60s Maigret series, has anyone got any up to date news on what the BBC intends to do with their precious archive?
Regards,
Rob Moorre

Maigret of the Month: La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin (Maigret at the Gai-Moulin) - 3

10/30/04 –
Stanley G. Eskin writes of this novel:
Simenon yielded several times to the temptation of infiltrating Maigret into his own native north, and in La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin brings him to Liege itself, investigating another vamp (again Adele*), an infatuated youth, Jean, and his friend and corrupter, Rene, who carries on a sleazy affair with Adele. Jean and Rene are a recurring antithesis in Simenon: the guilt-ridden, poverty-stricken, weak, awkward, provincial loser vs. the self-assured, corrupting, cynical, worldly egoist. Both represent potential sides -- and potential dangers -- of Simenon's personality. An unusually bouncy and frisky Maigret, who likes international travel, saunters into the story on the heels of a Greek millionaire, who is murdered, implicating Adele and her pals. Maigret plays very much the private-eye role here, dancing circles round the bumbling Belgian police, even getting himself arrested, and, once again, acting the tough guy in physical fights. (Eskin, p90)

* Adele was also the name of the femme fatale in Au Rendezvous des Terres-neuvas

Fenton Bresler, by the way, claims that La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin was "written in an incredible twenty-five hours"! (Bresler p90)

Roddy

Gambon's Maigret on DVD
10/30/04 – I am starting to see quite a few copies of DVDs of the Michael Gambon series appearing on eBay, if anyone's interested.
I would say that most are Region 2 so be careful if you're from outside the UK.

Roddy

Maigret of the Month: La Guinguette à deux sous. (Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine) - 1

11/01/04 –
Whilst visiting Jean Lenoir, a young condemned criminal, in the Santé prison, Maigret ascertains from him some details of a crime that took place a few years before in Paris along the Canal Saint-Martin. Lenoir and his friend Victor Gaillard resorted to blackmailing the perpetrator of this crime, until the latter disappeared, only to surface again later at a popular weekend spot along a stretch of the upper river Seine some twenty six miles south of Paris.
By chance, overhearing a conversation, Maigret is spurred on into becoming involved in an investigation that moves back and forth between Paris and mainly an area of the river Seine between Morsang-sur-Seine (Essonne) and Ponthierry (Seine-et-Marne).
It was in 1928 that Simenon discovered this part of the river whilst he was spending six months exploring some of the canals and rivers of France in his first boat the Ginette. For him it became a favourite area, returning to it during the summers of 1930 and 1931 in his second boat the Ostrogoth, writing there five Maigret novels and one other, two lengthy short stories, as well as five novels under pseudonyms.
During the late summer of 1931, Simenon sailed his boat to Ouistreham (Calvados) in Normandy, where in October he wrote the novel La Guinguette à deux sous.
Having overheard the name of this guinguette, and on an impulse, Maigret, in a taxi, follows someone who he soon learns is Marcel Basso, ending up just beyond Morsang-sur-Seine. He finds himself among a group of people of middle-class background whom, for their own entertainment, are enacting a mock village wedding and Maigret is asked to join in. At weekends in the finer weather, the group are in the habit of visiting this part of the Seine, but as Maigret learns gradually that behind the façade of some of them there lurks greed, blackmail, debt, infidelity, jealousy and the shadow of murder. Maigret is befriended by one of the group, the amiable and seemingly predictable, but enigmatic James, an Englishman working in a Parisian bank. In Paris, both of them take to meet in the Taverne Royale (in reality at 25 Rue Royale in the 8th arrondissement), which James considers as his "bolt-hole".
A fatal shooting at the guinguette puts Maigret in a stronger position to conduct his enquiries, but progress is slow even with members of his team to help him. In Paris he attends to his daily routine, which is punctuated by short messages sent by his wife who is on holiday at her sister's home in Alsace and where Maigret should have been but for his curiosity in locating this particular guinguette.
Even at a leisurely pace, Simenon creates the atmosphere of the locales, be they in the countryside or in Paris, and the characterisation of the people involved, without the narrative flagging. It is almost as if the pace is measured by James, who is content in his home or elsewhere, with a drink in his hand, to watch time pass. At times, Maigret is irritated by James's lackadaisical air, but is not without a certain affection towards him.
Finally with patience and luck, Maigret is able to act on some of the factors in the inquiry, to bring together certain people and to clear up the matter, enabling him to catch a train to Alsace in order to join his wife on holiday.
Note: Une guinguette is defined as a suburban tavern or café where it was possible to drink, eat and dance in the open usually at weekends and public holidays. Many were located near a river and were popular from the end of the nineteenth century until the end of the 1930s. In many guinguettes the music for dancing was provided by a coin operated mechanical piano (the forerunner of the juke-box).

In the film CASQUE D'OR (1952) (the English release was entitled GOLDEN MARIE) directed by Jacques Becker and set in 1898, the opening scene has a group of friends in four rowing boats coming along a river (filmed at Annet-sur-Marne) to land close to a guinguette where they enjoy a drink and dancing. On this occasion the music is provided by a few local musicians and Becker evokes the atmosphere of a summer Sunday in an open-air buvette by the river. Becker adapted his film from the real life Marie-Amélie Hélie, (nicknamed "Casque d'Or" on account of the colour of her hair and the way it was piled up in a large roll similar to the shape of an old Spanish helmet) who ran a group of petty criminals in Paris. In the film Marie is Simone Signoret and her lover, Manda, Serge Reggiani.
In another film, JOUR DE FÊTE (1949) by Jacques Tati, there is scene where François, the postman (Jacques Tati) joins in the dancing in the village café, where there is a mechanical piano that he deliberately kicks when it malfunctions.
Twenty odd years ago, Claude Menguy, a long time specialist collector, friend of Simenon and an expert on the author's work and life, researched the area along the river Seine that Simenon describes in this novel in an endeavour to locate the places that the author mentions, especially la Guinguette à deux sous. Not only did he explore the area on both sides of the river, but met some of the inhabitants and consulted local records. With the help of certain older members of the community and families he was able to put together a good record of what the area was like when Simenon moored his boat there in the summers of 1930 and 1931. Also he consulted the author and his first wife, Tigy, concerning certain facts.
(The boundary between two départements runs through this area. It was from the 1st of January 1968 that the département of Seine-et-Oise was divided into six, including Essonne — refer to 1/11/04, information from Jérôme).



Map, together with the basic information of the various locations, from the research by Claude Menguy (published in Traces N° 7, Université de Liège, Centre d'Études Georges Simenon, 1995, pages 191 to 224) of the area described by Simenon in his novel La Guinguette à deux sous. (Map simplified and adapted by Peter Foord).

• 1) L'Auberge du "Vieux-Garçon". This inn on the right bank of the river near Morsang-sur-Seine was where Maigret, James and several others stayed during the weekend when the mock village wedding was enacted. In reality, the patron of the inn during part of the 1920s and 1930s was Isidore Fauzé.
Le Four à Chaux. This was the main place along the bank where Simenon chose to moor his boat, the Ostrogoth, for some weeks in the summer of 1930, and where he wrote three of the first Maigret novels, starting with Pietr-le Letton, as well as other novels under pseudonyms.
• 2) "La Heurtinière", being the then residence of Monsieur and Madame Heurtin. In the novel this villa was named "Mon Loisir" and belonged to Marcel Basso and his wife. The Heurtins were friends with Simenon, but were annoyed, apparently, when the author gave their name later to a murder suspect in the novel La Tête d'un Homme.
• 3) Near Seine-Port, the restaurant "La Réserve", better known in the 1930s as "Chez Marius" after the proprietor Marius Guillemot. When Maigret first arrives, his taxi driver mentions this establishment as a possible place where he could stay.
4) Barrage et Écluse de la Citanguette (Weir and Canal). There was a mention of this when a need arose to find a place from which to telephone.
5) Le pont de Sainte-Assise (Sainte-Assise bridge). The group travelling in their carriages had to cross this bridge in order to reach the left bank of the river.
• 6) Buvette-épicerie de l'écluse de la Citanguette (Café and grocery). This establishment served the barge traffic near the canal. According to Claude Menguy's contacts in the community, a certain Madame Gaudry, who owned this café / grocery at one time, on Sundays was in the habit of playing the accordion so that her customers could dance. There was no evidence that this establishment ever had a mechanical piano that the guinguette in the novel possessed, nor was it in sight of "Mon Loisir" on the opposite side of the river.
• 7) Hôtel-Restaurant du "Beau-Rivage". This establishment was a favorite place for anglers in the fishing season and at some time a patron ferried people across the river from St-Fargeau to Seine-Port and back. It possessed a terrace and a large garden.
• 8) La Gare. The railway station mentioned as having a telephone.
• 9) Cantine Picketty. At the beginning of the 1920s, two brothers, Maurice and René Picketty came from Italy in order to take charge of working the Sand Quarries. When these quarries were worked out, they were flooded and became Les Lacs de la Guiche. In 1927 the brothers also were given the commission to construct villas in the area around the hamlet of Villers. Simenon became friends with Maurice Picketty and the villa project was similar to the one the author described in his Maigret novel Monsieur Gallet, décédé (Maigret Stonewalled). The Cantine Picketty was a canteen set up for the workers in the quarries and the villa building site.
• 10) Buvette Picketty. This Café and one other structure on this site was established by the brothers, the second acted as an office for the work in the quarries and the construction site, the office being demolished much later when the quarries were flooded. On Sundays the Buvette became a place where people could dance, with music provided by a mechanical piano, so geographically this was La Guinguette à deux sous in Simenon's novel. But from the facts of his research, Claude Menguy came to the conclusion that the author, for different reasons, created the structure of the guinguette in the novel from a mixture of three establishments. These were the Buvette-épicerie de l'écluse de la Citanguette (Café and grocery), the Hôtel-Restaurant du "Beau-Rivage" and the Buvette Picketty (as on a Sunday).



Photograph attributed to Hans Oplatka (1931) showing a group on the terrace of the Auberge du "Vieux-Garçon". They are, from the left, Georges Simenon and the patron of the inn, Isidore Fauzé, both standing, with two gendarmes (in light coloured kharki uniforms) and garde champêtre Gallet (in a dark uniform), seated. (Reproduced in the magazine / digest The Strand, October 1947, Volume N° 114, Issue N° 682, page 42).

Translations The first English translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury was published in 1940 and is somewhat wayward in comparison with Simenon's French text. All reprints have Geoffrey Sainsbury's translation, but in 2003, to coincide with the Simenon Centenary, Penguin Books (U.K. ISBN 0-14-118733-6) published in paperback a new translation of this novel by David Watson under the title The Bar on the Seine. It is good to have another translation which is closer to the author's text, but at times David Watson uses current phrases and words that don't quite go with Simenon's 1931 text. Unlike certain authors writing at the same time, these early novels by Simenon have not dated, as he has the ability always to convey his ideas in a selective and succinct way, with any period details adding to the interest of the narrative.
Also with some translations, additions and errors occur, as follows:
Simenon's French text (from La Guinguette à deux sous, 1st edition, Fayard, 1931, pages 17 and 18):
…Quant au canal Saint-Martin, il n'avait pas rendu moins de sept cadavres.
Et l'histoire des faux bons se compliquait, exigeait des démarches multiple. Ensuite, il fallut conduire Mme. Maigret en Alsace, chez sa soeur où, comme chaque année elle allait passer un mois.
Paris se vidait…

English translation by Peter Foord:
…As for the Canal Saint-Martin, it gave up no fewer than seven corpses.
And the business of the forged bonds became complicated, demanding numerous proceedures. Then he should have taken Madame Maigret to Alsace, to her sister's home where, as every year, she spent a month.
Paris was emptying…

English translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury (from The Guinguette by the Seine published in Maigret to the Rescue, 1st edition, Routledge, 1940, page 145):
…As for the Canal Saint-Martin, it had produced a crop of six corpses that year.
The forged bonds gave more and more trouble, and then, when the case was finally wound up, the inspector hurried off to Alsace with Madame Maigret, who always spent one of the summer months there with her sister.
He only spent a couple of days there himself, but he promised to take his holiday as soon as possible—or at any rate a weekend.
Day by day, Paris emptied…

English translation by David Watson (from The Bar on the Seine, Penguin Books UK, 2003, page 6):
…As for the Canal Saint-Martin, it had thrown up no less than seven corpses.
The forged bonds turned out to be a complicated case, involving many lines of enquiry. Then he had to drive Madame Maigret to her sister's in Alsace, where she stayed for a month every year.
Paris was emptying…

These are small details, but an example of "padding out" of the author's text, as well as an unintentional error, the supposition that Maigret could drive, which he never learned to do, although his wife did later near to his retirement.

Peter Foord, UK

Maigret
11/04/04 – I have just completed reading the Maigret series for the second time, en français, bien sur! My first reading was in 1993 / 94. Your site piqued my interest to read it a second time, especially in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mr. Simenon's birth.
However this second reading, in Chronological order of their writing as per Professor Jean Forest, has been greatly enhanced by Professor Forest's book, your WEB site and that of Guido de Croock, www.maigret-in-france.net. None of this material was available in 1993.
Commissaire Maigret, various locations in France and numerous personalities truly have come to life for me by the material that is available through these excellent resources.
I hope your WEB site encourages others to read and follow the career of this remarkable detective.

Francis X. Feeney
USA

Maigret of the Month: La Guinguette à deux sous. (Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine) - 2

11/05/04 –
This was the first Maigret that I read (a Belgian friend got me interested in the stories while I was living near Washington, DC) about 10 years ago and I wasn't overly impressed at the time. I had bought several HBJ paperbacks and reading the rest of them (I don't remember which ones) made me into a M fan. I thought this story was rather slow moving given all the rowing back and forth across the river and the lack of modern communications and I couldn't work out how M came to his conclusions. I've read it again more recently and I have a higher opinion of it now than I did at the beginning but I wouldn't call it one of my favorites, but it's not all that bad.
One of the interesting things about the M series is the passage of about 40 years between the first and the last. Not only is there a difference in Simenon's writing over time but the difference in police technology and equipment is tremendous. There is also the difference in everyday life as well and this is also reflected. One of the things that caught my attention is the number of married men who have mistresses in the different stories in a supposedly Catholic country. Another insight into French life of the times.

Regards,
Joe

Greetings from another Simenon
11/06/04 – I`ve been surfing over the internet and I feel very proud to see that there is so much information about the writer George Simenon. At the same time I`m very proud to have the same last name.

Greetings from Holland,
Christel Simenon

Michael Gambon's Maigret on DVD
11/06/04 – Adding to Roddy Campbell's information (10/30/04), these DVD's were put on sale in February 2004 as MAIGRET: The Complete Collection (Series 1: 1992 and Series 2: 1993) comprising all 12 Episodes. This collection is a boxed set of 4 DVDs, overall number CCD9934, with each disc consisting of three episodes:

Disc One: CCD9935 Series 1 Episodes 1-3

  • The Patience of Maigret (La Patience de Maigret, 1965)
  • Maigret and the Burglar's Wife (Maigret et la Grande Perche, 1951)
  • Maigret Goes to School (Maigret à l'École, 1953)
Disc Two: CCD9936 Series 1 Episodes 4-6
  • Maigret and the Mad Woman (La Folle de Maigret 1970)
  • Maigret on Home Ground (L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre, 1932)
  • Maigret Sets a Trap (Maigret Tend un Piège, 1955)
Disc Three: CCD9937 Series 2 Episodes 1-3
  • Maigret and the Nightclub Dancer (Maigret au "Picratt's", 1950)
  • Maigret and the Hotel Majestic (les Caves du Majestic, 1939)
  • Maigret on the Defensive (Maigret se défend, 1964)
Disc Four: CCD9938 Series 2 Episodes 4-6
  • Maigret's Boyhood Friend (L'Ami d'enfance de Maigret, 1968)
  • Maigret and the Minister (Maigret chez le Ministre, 1954)
  • Maigret and the Maid (Félicie est là, 1942)
Each one of the four discs can be purchased individually.
The twelve episodes were produced in the United Kingdom by GRANADA Television.
(The dates that I have added indicate when Simenon wrote the novels on which each episode is based).

NOTE
The DVDs listed above are those released in the UNITED KINGDOM and are playable on REGION 2 equipment only (UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East).
Earlier in December 2002 a boxed set of these 12 episodes was released in the UNITED STATES playable in REGION 1 only (USA, US territories and Canada).
I might be stating the obvious, but I have known mistakes to be made and agree with Roddy that care should be taken by checking the Region.
On a small point, the information on the packaging repeats two mistakes that occurred on all the Video releases:
'Michael Gambon plays the extraordinary Belgian detective, Inspector Maigret.'
And
'…in this highly acclaimed and imaginative series filmed on location in France.'
The latter should be … filmed on location in and around Budapest in Hungary (which was a stand-in for 1950s Paris).

Peter Foord, UK

Maigret of the Month: La Guinguette à deux sous. (Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine) - 3

11/07/04 –
While reading "La Guinguette à 2 sous", I wanted to find "la tavene royale" where James and Maigret drank their Pernod. I wondered where it was located.
Simenon wrote in Chapter 4, entitled "Les rendez-vous Rue Royale" that the "colonnade de la Madeleine" can be seen from the Taverne Royale. Today there is the restaurant Maxim's in the rue Royale but I cannot find any brasserie with a terrace. Do you know or have any old Michelin Guide Rouge that mentions a "Taverne Royale" in Paris?
In the book, James is always drinking Pernod. The company Pernod was created in 1928 by merging three companies. At that time, the liquor used for the Pernod was distilled in Montreuil in the suburbs of Paris. The company Pernod is located Rue des Pyrénées in the 20th arrondissement. Another company making the anise drink, Ricard, was founded in 1932. Both of them following the interdiction against drinking absinthe in 1915.

Regards,
Jerome

Jean Richard Maigret DVDs
11/09/04 – I just saw an advertisement for the complete set of DVDs for the Maigret television series by Jean Richard. The first one is out this week. It will be on sale in the French newspaper shops. Each DVD will contain 2 stories. The first ones (Vols 1 and 2) are on sale for 14 euros. It does not seem to be avaible at this time on fnac.com.

Regards,
Jerome

More on Jean Richard Maigret DVDs?
11/09/04 – I wonder if Jerome could find out more about the French Maigret DVDs? Publisher etc?

Roddy

DVD regions
11/09/04 – Peter Foord warns (11/06/04) about the problem of different regions when buying DVDs. Although you have to be careful, there are ways round this, depending on your make of DVD player. A quick search on the internet will find sites which give information about converting your player to multi-region. In the case of my machine ( a Philips ) all I had to do was open the tray, enter a six digit number from the remote control and the machine became a multi-region version. Of course it may not be so simple with other machines but it is worth a try. I modified my player so that I could buy a DVD of " The Man on the Eiffel Tower " which was only available on region 1.

David Cronan, UK

La Taverne Royale
11/10/04 – Replying to Jerome's question as regards the location of this establishment (11/7/04), I mentioned in my entry for "La Guinguette à deux sous" (11/1/04) that it was at 25, Rue Royale (8e arrondissement). Jerome mentions Maxim's, which opened in 1899 and is at N° 3, Rue Royale close to the Place de la Concorde. La Taverne Royale was on the same side of the street, but near the Place de la Madeleine and so the colonnade of this church most likely would have been in view. I can find reference to this brasserie in the 1920s and 1930s, but nothing since.

Peter Foord, UK

Maigret and World War II
11/12/04 – I have been reading the Maigret stories more or less in the same order as they were written (not quite the same as the order of publication), and I am up to 1947. Unless I missed something I have not seen any reference to the second world war.
I read somewhere in the web that Simenon has been accussed of not being vocally opposed to the German occupation, and that he had some sweet deals under the Vichy government for making his books into film.
Is there any truth in those allegations?
Why doesn't he mention the war in his books?

Saludos,
Juan Castro

More on Jean Richard Maigret DVDs
11/14/04 – The new Maigret DVD are distributed by U.M.K Collections, which is Universal Music Kiosk. The movies come from I.N.A : Institut National de l'Audiovisuel, which kept all French television programs. The names of two companies : L.M.L.R and GSL, appear on the box, but I do not know yet what their role is in the DVDs. The DVDs are Zone 2 with only French soundtrack in mono.
There are 2 movies per DVD, and probably 30 DVDs. Each DVD is sold with a small booklet which gives information on the movie, on some part of Simenon's life, and on detective work (like what is "un object contondant"). The price is 13.50 euros per month to receive 2 DVD per month : 4 movies each month. The quality of the pictures looks good, but they are 1960 or 1970 movies. From what I saw, the new ones with B. Cremer are better filmed. The 1st movies are : Maigret a peur and Maigret et l'ambassadeur. There is an email address: collection@umusic.com.
From a personal point of view, I am not sure to buy all of them.

Regards,
Jerome

Maigret and World War II
11/15/04 – There is a story, The Patience of M if I'm not mistaken, whre there is a reference to a German air raid on the French city of Douai, located not far from the Belgian border. The incident in the book was not fiction, even the name of the mayor of Douai was correct. In the story, M was dealing with a gemcutter who was involved in that raid as a victim about 20 years later. It seems there was a reference in one story to the sister of one of M's customers being raped by German soldiers during the occupation and how seeing this take place affected him later on.
Although it's not a Maigret, have a look at The Train by Simenon. It deals with the flight of civilans from Belgium into France ahead of the German army. Of course this must have been written after the war. I'm sure there are other examples in other Simenon books.
Simenon did have some troubles with the occupiers and even more with certain French people after the war. This had a lot to do with him going to live in the USA back then.

Regards,
Joe

Further discussion in the archives at 09/15/01, etc.

Maigret and World War II
11/15/04 – The following may be of interest to Juan Castro's inquiry (11/12/04).
Nothing has been missed concerning the Second World War by reading the Maigret novels and short stories in the order in which they were written through the 1940s onwards. Simenon did not involve Maigret in any wartime investigations. There are some references to this war but only in a minor way. I assume the reason for this is that the author wanted to preserve the character as he had created him, and who had become very popular with the public, without plunging him into a very different environment with its restrictions, rationing, suspicions and fear. He may have also thought of the reading and buying public who may not have wanted to be reminded of the wartime atmosphere.
Also Simenon had his own problems during the war. He had always retained his Belgian citizenship wherever he was living and during the whole of the war and Occupation he was living in the Vendée region of south west France. In 1940, he was appointed Commissioner for Belgian refugees who were pouring into the area around La Rochelle, but by August, under the final Occupation, these had all been allowed to return to Belgium. (In 1946 he wrote a novel based on this experience — see below). In September 1942 he received a visit from an official implying that he, Simenon, was Jewish, and he hurriedly enlisted the help of his mother and younger brother, Christian, who were still living in Liège, to search out the necessary legal documents to prove it otherwise. (Pierre Assouline in his biography of Simenon covers this in detail: chapter 11 entitled Occupation 1940-1944)
His output of writing throughout the war period, September 1939 until May 1945, consisted of 21 novels (including 6 Maigrets), 24 short stories (including 2 Maigrets) and one work of autobiography.
Although some of his fictional characters were politicians, or were associated with political movements, in his interviews and written articles Simenon never seemed to express strong political views. He seemed far more interested in what he observed and to put that into his work, than being involved in any political sense.
During the same war period nine films were made based on his work, five of them under the control of Continental, the German based film company. He negotiated the film rights, as he did with all cinema projects over the years, but once they were agreed he lost interest in the film making, leaving that to others.
It wasn't until July 1949 that his position during the war was considered by the committee just before it was disbanded. At that time Simenon was living in America, but the committee found him guilty and put a two-year ban on all aspects of his work in France — nothing to be published, no radio programmes or films, no press coverage, a complete shut down of anything associated with his work. Simenon responded by drawing up a document and with the help of his lawyer in Paris won his side of the argument, so that the committee withdrew their verdict.
Far from being an exile from France thereafter, he visited that country often, was awarded the Légion d'honneur in February 1955 and lived on the Riviera for two years on his return from the United States. In the summer of 1957 he moved to Switzerland, mainly as the tax laws there were very much better for him than elsewhere.
References to the Second World War occur in the following Maigret novels:

  • Maigret chez le Ministre (Maigret and the Minister / Maigret and the Calame Report), written in 1954. Chapter 3 includes a short description of the minister Auguste Point's wartime background.
  • Les Scupules de Maigret (Maigret has Scruples), written in 1957. Chapter 2 includes a brief comment about the neurologist Dr. Steiner during the war.
  • La Patience de Maigret (The Patience of Maigret / Maigret Bides his Time), written in 1965. Chapters 6 and 8 have a rather longer description of two of the characters who were caught up in the bombing of the Northern French town of Douai in 1940.
  • Tempête sur la Manche (Storm in the Channel / Storm over the Channel), a short story written in the winter of 1937-38. Maigret, now retired, and his wife are in the port of Dieppe waiting to cross the Channel in order to spend a holiday in England. Near the beginning the narrative states:
    'And so, as Madame Maigret had long wanted to visit England, he (Maigret) had made up his mind:
    '"We'll go and spend a fortnight in London. I'll take the opportunity to look up some of my colleagues at Scotland Yard with whom I worked during the war."'

    Considering when Simenon wrote this short story, the statement could only refer to the First World War.
    There may be other Maigret novels and short stories that have some reference to either war, but Simenon did write a few other works that were set in wartime:
  • Pedigree (Pedigree), written between 1941 and 1943. This novel, the author's longest, is based on his autobiography Je me Souviens (I Remember — but the text is not translated into English). It was the writer André Gide who advised Simenon to turn the autobiography into a novel. Although written as fiction, it is a detailed account of the first fifteen years of the author's life in Liège (1903-1918), with Georges Simenon being called Roger Mamelin. There is much description of the invasion and occupation of Liège in the First World War, 1914-1918.
  • Le Clan des Ostendais (The Ostenders), written in 1946. This novel is set in La Rochelle and the surrounding area in May 1940 and is based on the author's experience with the influx of Belgian refugees into that part of France at the beginning of the Second World War.
  • La Neige était Sale (The Stain on the Snow / The Snow was Black / Dirty Snow), written in 1948. This, one of Simenon's best novels, is set in an unidentified town under occupation. The author was insistent that the setting was not occupied France and that he had in mind Austria or its neighbour Czechoslovakia. Not identifying the country universifies the narrative, which centres on the amoral and cynical nineteen-year-old Frank Friedmaier living under the Occupation in a winter of endless snow that acts as a symbol throughout the novel.
  • Le Train (The Train), written in 1961. Mostly set in the spring of 1940 at the beginning of the Second World War amid the confusion of refugees fleeing south through France.
  • Les Mains Pleines (His Hands Full — not translated into English). A short story written in March 1945, near the end of the war, reflecting the atmosphere and the events of the Occupation in France and concerning a young man of twenty wanting to join a Resistance group in the countryside. Simenon does not name the location or any of the characters, but it is my guess that he had in mind the village of Saint-Mesmin-Le-Vieux, in the Vendée, where he lived for most of the war.
    First published in a Brussels newspaper in 1945, it finally appeared in the collection of short stories entitled La Rue aux Trois Poussins (Presses de la Cité, 1963).

Also refer to comments in The Forum Archives 9/15/01 to 9/23/01 and 11/2/02 to 11/4/02.
Peter Foord, UK

Owens?
11/15/04 – I am looking for a short story written by Simenon as part of his Maigret series. The name "Owens" is in the title and it takes place on the Riviera while Maigret is on holiday. Can you tell me the full name of the short story and where I might find it? Is it available in English?

Gregory Bufithis

That's L'improbable Monsieur Owen.
My translation is here: The Unlikely Monsieur Owen
ST

Enfin . . .
11/19/04 – Well it's taken a while but I finally finished my last Maigret this afternoon.
It seems like a good time to thank Steve and all the contributors to the website and forum without whom/which I probably couldn't have found them all in the first place and certainly wouldn't have enjoyed them so much.
I read them back-to-back so I'm really looking forward to reading something else now - with just the Maigret of the month to keep my hand in !
Anyway, thanks again for all your efforts Steve.

Muir,
Scotland

La Guinguette à deux sous
11/19/04 – Ah, at last we have gotten to the "Guinguette à Deux Sous". Of all the early Maigrets, this one defines what is unique about Simenon's style. It is every bit as ambiguous and uncertain as a real-life investigator would have felt. And, it describes a slice of French life that has long since disappeared.
I have only read this book in French, and judging from the published English translations, it's just as well. Though both the published (Watson) and unpublished (Foord) ones are better than Sainsbury. I think Watson did OK, by and large, but the "drive" verb is wrong, and Foord's "as every year, she spent a month" is very close in feeling to the original. Watson's "thrown up" is very jarring for an American, who has to think of vomiting when he reads it. On the other hand, Foord has I think misread "fallut" which in this context simply means "had to" -- in this case, "had to take Mme. Maigret..."

Oz Childs

French TV : LA FUITE DE MONSIEUR MONDE
11/20/04 – Next Thrusday, 11/25, France 2 will broadcast "LA FUITE DE MONSIEUR MONDE". This is not a Maigret but it is adapted from a Simenon book.

LA FUITE DE MONSIEUR MONDE
Réalisation : Claude Goretta.
Distribution : Bernard Le Coq (Lionel Monde), Nozha Khouadra (Leila), Nathalie Nell (Séverine), Didier Cauchy (Serge).
Directeur d'une grande entreprise parisienne, Lionel Monde est lassé par sa vie dorée, entre famille, argent et pouvoir. Épris d'évasion, il étouffe et décide de tout quitter le jour de ses 48 ans. Afin de se fondre dans l'anonymat, il rase sa moustache, troque ses vêtements et revêt une nouvelle identité. À bord d'un train en direction du Sud, Lionel commence une nouvelle vie, sous le signe de l'aventure. Il compte ainsi tout recommencer à zéro. Lors de sa première nuit à Marseille, dans un modeste hôtel, Lionel sauve une jeune femme qui s'apprêtait à se suicider après le départ de son amant. Elle devient sa compagne de fortune.

It was published just after the war when Simenon arrived in the USA.

Regards,
Jerome

A New Italian Maigret
11/24/04 – Hi. I don't know if, abroad of Italy, the portrayal of Maigret made by Gino Cervi is known (I would like to know). Anyway, for Italian people Maigret IS Gino Cervi.
Now, there is a new production of Maigret. The actor is Sergio Castellitto, well known in France.
This is the official site of the series: www.maigret.tv.
I dislike this series on the whole. Sergio Castellitto, even if a good actor, has not at all the phisique du role. Paris has been shot in Prague. Madame Maigret is absolutely outcasting. What else?
The great part of Italian newspapers expressed, more or less, this same opinion.

Pietroselli

Maigret, les meilleurs enquêtes en DVD
11/24/04 – There are a few internet sites in France where you can order magazines directly. I’ve found www.journaux.fr who will supply magazines anywhere in the world at retail cost plus shipping. The Jean Richards Maigrets can be purchased by going to this page: www.journaux.fr/liste.php?sousfam=100013&collec=1. The cost of shipping [normal] was 6€, making the total cost of volumes 1 & 2 up to 19.50€, about £14.

John Tempest

Ceci n'est pas un Maigret
11/25/04 – While searching www.chapitre.com for out-of-print items related to Maigret, I came across the following entry in the magazines section (revues - journaux):

La doublure de Magrite par Lahougue (ceci n'est pas un Maigret) - Ed les Impressions Nouvelles Simenon. (1987 Broché bel état Simenon - 50 €)
A rough translation might be "The understudy/stand-in for Magrite by Lahouque (this is not a Maigret)" (if I am correct). Some echoes of "This is not a pipe", a painting by Magritte, the Belgian surrealist painter.
Can anyone provide any further information as to exactly what this item might be? Is this a fictional work (written when), or a pastiche, or what?
John Tempest

Lahougue: Doublure
11/25/04 – There's a good deal of background information for a reply to John Tempest's query (above) about Lahougue's pastiche at: www.cas.unt.edu/~sirvent/readerinvestigator.html

John H. Dirckx

Maigret of the Month - 2004-2005

monthtitle
JanuaryLe chien jaune - The Yellow Dog (1931)
FebruaryM. Gallet décédé - Maigret Stonewalled (1931)
MarchLa nuit du carrefour - Maigret at the Crossroads (1931)
AprilLe charretier de la Providence - Maigret Meets a Milord (1931)
MayLa tête d'un homme - A Battle of Nerves (1931)
JuneUn crime en Hollande - Maigret in Holland (1931)
JulyPietr-le-Letton - Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett (1931)
AugustLe pendu de Saint-Pholien - Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets (1931)
SeptemberAu rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas - The Sailors' Rendezvous (1931)
OctoberLa danseuse du Gai-Moulin - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin (1931)
NovemberLa guinguette à deux sous - Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine (1931)
DecemberL'ombre chinoise - Maigret Mystified (1932)
2005
JanuaryL'affaire Saint-Fiacre - Maigret Goes Home (1932)
FebruaryChez les Flamands - The Flemish Shop (1932)
MarchLe port des brumes - Death of a Harbormaster (1932)
AprilLe fou de Bergerac - The Madman of Bergerac (1932)
MayLiberty Bar - Liberty Bar, Maigret on the Riviera (1932)
JuneL'écluse no. 1 - The Lock at Charenton (1933)

This has been a great first year for the Maigret-of-the-Month project. On behalf of all the readers of this Forum, I'd like to offer especial thanks to Peter Foord for his fine contributions, the latest of which, L'Ombre Chinoise, is immediately below. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say I always enjoy Peter's enlightening articles!
I'd also like to thank Jerome, Roddy, Joe and all the others who contibute to making this a valuable resource. All the Maigrets-of-the-Month are accessible via their respective Plots pages, as linked to above.
Contributions to previous MoMs are welcome at any time.

ST

Maigret of the Month: L'Ombre Chinoise (Maigret Mystified) - 1

12/01/04 –

(Quotations are taken from the translation by Jean Stewart published in Penguin Books UK, N° 2024, 1964).

This is one of the few times in this early series of novels that Maigret investigates a crime within his jurisdiction - the city of Paris.
The crime has taken place at the end of November in the Marais area of the city in one of the houses in the Place des Vosges. This Square was completed in 1610 and has nine houses with identically designed façades on each of its four sides that overlook the enclosed central formal garden with its trees, benches and fountains.
In this novel, Simenon plays safe by locating the crime at N° 61, which does not exist, as there are only 36 houses in the Place des Vosges, but by the naming of neighbouring streets and other details, it is most likely that the house the author is describing for the setting of this crime is N° 21 (on the 3rd arrondissement side, in the north west corner):

'Less than a hundred yards away... the Rue de Béarn...' (page 7).
'"It's almost at the corner of the Rue de Turenne..."' (page 13).
'"A laboratory where they make serums...Dr. Rivière's Serums..."' (page 9).
'Facing him were the offices and laboratory of Couchet's firm.' (page 56).


N° 21, Place des Vosges, Paris (3rd arrondissement). (Photo: Peter Foord 1999).

From mid-summer 1924 until early 1929, Simenon lived at N° 21 Place des Vosges, at first renting two modest rooms off the courtyard on the ground floor, then at the end of the summer of 1926 a much more spacious apartment on the second floor. In reality at the end of the courtyard were the Laboratoires Hoffmann-Laroche, which Simenon used in his novel, but with a change of name.
The author wrote L'Ombre Chinoise in December 1931 at the villa "Les Roches Grises" at Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes) on the French Riviera, having moved there after selling his boat, the Ostrogoth, early in November.
In this novel, Maigret is called to the house by the concierge and after the inspection of the crime scene by the Parquet, the Examining Magistrate and the district police, he is left to investigate by himself. Although he has the resources of the Quai des Orfèvres at his disposal and his own team on which to call, he carries out the investigation virtually on his own. Apart from a later journey to Jeumont on the Franco-Belgian border in order to bring back a suspect, and with a few visits to addresses in Montparnasse, the Montmartre area and the Boulevard Haussmann, most of his attention is focused on the house.


Map of part of Paris showing the Place des Vosges at the time when Simenon first lived there (in the north west corner), with the surrounding areas. (Baedeker's Paris and its Environs, 1924).

Maigret is informed by the concierge that there are twenty eight tenants living in the house, as well as the daily laboratory staff, whose details have been collated at headquarters, but intuitively he decides to concentrate mainly on those tenants and others who are connected by family ties, friendship or work.
With these dozen or so people, Simenon presents a collection of very varied personalities of different ages and backgrounds. Maigret moving among them gradually encounters feelings of enmity, greed, class distinction, hatred and paranoia, with more than a touch of irony. Also it is possible to gauge with these early novels the direction in which he was aiming.
This novel was the fifteenth that Simenon had written and one of a series that Fayard was publishing under the author's patronym. Of these fifteen, all but two involved Maigret, the others being Le Passager du "Polalys" (The Mystery of the "Polalys") and Le Relais de Alsace (The Man from Everywhere), both in the mystery vein.


The Arcades of the Place des Vosges (Photo: Peter Foord 1999).

'Under the arcades which form a tremendous girdle round the Square there were few lights. Only in three or four shops.' (Page 7).
On the left of the photograph there are shops, cafés and now some art galleries, with, at intervals, doors that lead to the interior of the houses. On the right are the arches through which there is direct access to the roadway.

By now, Simenon had developed his method of expressing his ideas through the creation of Maigret. At times, the latter, in the course of his investigations, comes up against someone who taxes his mental powers in various ways, as Jean Radek in La Tête d'un Homme (A Battle of Nerves), or Anna Peeters in Chez les Flamands (The Flemish Shop) or Juliette Martin in the current novel. As an extension of this focus on a particular person, less than a year later Simenon started to write (non-Maigret) novels such as La Maison du Canal (The House by the Canal), Le Coup de Lune (Tropic Moon) and Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire (Monsieur Hire's Engagement), where it gave him the opportunity to explore the character from a different perspective, from the individual's point of view.

Peter Foord, UK

Maigret on TV in the UK
12/01/04 – I stumbled upon the Michael Gambon version of Maigret on ITV3 (on satellite) last night (Tuesday) at about 8pm.
I don't know whether they are being shown weekly on Tuesdays or indeed how many have already been shown.
It was " Maigret on home ground "
There are twelve in total, 2 series of 6 episodes each during which M manages to have 2 different wives ! - Barbara Flynn who strikes me as a very convincing Mme. M and Ciaran Madden who doesn't.
Hope this is of interest to some of you.

Muir
Glasgow

Good source for Maigret DVD magazine
12/02/04 – Thanks to John Tempest for his advice on buying magazines from France. I ordered the Maigret DVD magazine from www.journaux.fr last Friday evening and it was delivered on Wednesday. Good service, reasonable postage.

Roddy

Update about Italian Maigret on TV
12/03/04 – First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Gianalberto Terziari and I'm a teacher at the Popular university in Rome www.upter.it. I teach the history of crime literature and mysteries. This is the site: www.letteraturagialla.supereva.it.
I wanted to inform you that last November we had a new Maigret on TV played by a fantastic Italian actor called Sergio Castellitto. The two episodes (at the end another 4 will be filmed) were La trappola (Maigret tend une piège), and L'ombra cinese (L'ombre chinoise).
The two episodes in a particular "Parisienne" atmosphere were a real surprise for me, because the two films were turned in Prague. The actor is really super and the two stories well turned in a film, the only weak points were the police team beside Maigret: Lucas, Torrence, Lapointe, were really without the thickness necessary as in the books.
I said it was a surprise because all Italians love the Maigret played in the sixties by Gino Cervi and so it is almost impossible to do a comparison. But I have to say that I loved these two films. Especially the music was fantastic, the composer in fact is Nicola Piovani, already Oscar winner with the soundtrack of "Life is beautiful" made by Roberto Benigni. If you go to the site of the tv serial, www.maigret.tv, you can download the music.

Best regards,
Gianalberto Terziari

Tout Simenon
12/03/04 – I just discovered the Maigret Forum; what a delight. I've amassed and read most of the Maigret novels over a number of years. Recently I've resumed my search for the ones I don't have. Has "Tout Simenon" been translated into English? Is it indeed one massive volume?

Best regards,
Joyce

No Tout Simenon in English - for details see Peter Foord, 7/11/04.

Question about Maigret DVD
12/05/04 – I was hoping you might be able to answer a question I had about the U.S. Maigret DVDs.
I appreciate the info you had on them but wondered whether the DVD's are in French or just in English. The Amazon page about them just says: DVD Features:

* Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)

but I didn't know if that was an additional feature beyond the normal - or whether that's all there is. I'm assuming there's no option for subtitles.
Thanks,
Kathy Bilton

Maigret US DVD language
12/05/04 –To answer Kathy Bilton's question about the language used on the Maigret DVD, the DVDs are distributed by Lance Entertainment (lanceentertainment.com) They can be contacted via the website or by phone at (800) 690-8161. They should be able to provide an answer on their product.

Regards,
Jerome

Maigret of the Month: L'Ombre Chinoise (Maigret Mystified) - 2

12/08/04 –
In Chapter One when Maigret enters the office, he spends 3 or 4 minutes looking around him, smoking his pipe, but before that he has to suffer the caretaker's comments and slow story. Later on he is disturbed by the forensic people. He cannot do what he likes most: become impregnated with the victim's life, the place where he lived. He got at least some time to have a "tête-à-tête" with the victim. As usual, everybody is expecting him to get an opinion and reveal the thruth immediatly: the caretaker or Mr. Martin. In the third chapter, there is in the hotel room this sentence typical of Maigret "Je ne crois rien du tout." when asked by Mr. Martin what he believes. In Chapter Nine, when Mathilde starts to tell what she knows, the description of her talking with hatred is opposite to Maigret described as bliss on his face. He must have started to understand the story about the crime.
The couple Martin is also similar to the one of Mr. Gallet, the wife is looking for money and the husband does not have enough money. In the story with Mr. Gallet, at least Mr. Gallet is happy that he has his own secret life and his way of getting money from the royalist famillies. The description of the married wife is often not a very nice one. Perhaps it is a remnant of Simenon's relationship with his mother that makes him describe wives so often as cantankerous or avaricious. In the other hand, young girls are often nice (except Adele in "Le rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas"), as Nine in this story or unlucky as in "Maigret et la jeune morte".
As Peter Foord said, he works mostly alone, just calling Lucas for a short query on the ragmen around Place des Vosges. At Number 6 Place des Vosges is the House of Victor Hugo where the writer lived for many years. The House is now a museum and can be visited.


In this story Maigret took the tramway. Here is a picture of a typical tramway of Paris in the thirties. The tramway ran up to 1938 in Paris and was then replaced by the bus. (It is now being built again in the southern part of Paris on the Great boulevard).

As "Maigret et l'ombre chinoise" was one of the first two Maigret with Jean Richard relased on DVD, I will now be able to watch the movie.
Regards,
Jerome

Favorite Maigret
12/08/04 –I saw that next month's Maigret is l'affaire Saint-Fiacre. This is my favorite Maigret, particularly the scene in the church when the Comtesse dies. The way it is discribed, the church becoming empty, the Comtesse not moving. This is really Simenon style: he removed everything and left only the few really needed words. Do any of the forum readers have a Maigret they like the most and can they share with us their choice of "prefered Maigret"?

Regards,
Jerome

Paris tramway
12/12/04 –What a lovely picture of a Paris tramway car!
The reason Maigret so seldom rode the tramway is because in the 1920's and after, the tramway system was primarily suburban. There were one or two lines that went into, or close to central Paris, but by and large, the tramway lines started where the Metro ended. They were the primary means of (relatively) rapid transport in the banlieue, but little used in the center. So, we see him using the tram when he is headed slightly out of the "ville".
This is somewhat in contrast to London, where although the tramways were largely used to reach the more remote parts of the town, the Kingsway project (ca. 1911) included a tunnel to connect the North London and South London systems, and a huge contrast to most European cities like Amsterdam or Madrid, where there used to be no underground system and the tramways were vital (as they still are in Amsterdam, and to a surprisingly large extent, in San Francisco, where I used to live).

Oz Childs

New Maigret published in Polish
12/12/04 –A new Maigret novel has been published in Polish. I thought that you might be interested to add it to your excellent bibliography:
Polish title: Poganiacz z "Opatrznosci" (2004) / Le Charretier de la Providence.
Best Regards,
Jaroslaw Prokop

Favourite Maigret?
12/13/04 – In response to Jerome, I nearly always find that my favourite Maigret is the one I'm reading! I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed each of the Maigrets of the Month so far, many of which I had read before
I have to say that Le Charretier de la "Providence" (Maigret Meets a Milord) is by far my least favourite Maigret, and re-reading it did nothing to change that opinion. The characters are repulsive, the back story clumsily handled (and frankly unbelievable), the setting drab and depressing.
But as for my favourite, I think my favourite out of the first twelve novels is La Danseuse du Gai Moulin, with its unusual structure and marvellous characters, as well as a rather mischievous and lively Maigret.
Let's hear about more favourites (and least favourites too).

Roddy

My Favorite Maigret
12/13/04 – In response to Jerome's question about a favorite Maigret, I have to vote for M and the Man on the Bench. I think what I like the most is the little racket that Louis Thouret, the victim, had going. He and a friend were robbing the tills of Paris shops as a team and were making a fair living at it. What I liked the most was how this was done. Thoret would check the place out and the his friend would get himself locked in during the lunch break. Afterwards he would walk out with the takings. I thought that was quite clever. I also noticed the theme that shows up several times in Simenon's writing of a weak man and a strong wife and the sad life that he had. He managed to pretty much become someone else with an appartment and girlfriend in town and his wife thought he was still going to work every day. His old job dried up when the company closed down for good and he was forced to do something so as not to have to tell his wife that he had lost his job. I could go on and on, but we'll leave that for when this story becomes the Maigret of the Month.
Other stories I like a lot are M and the Fortuneteller and M and the Loner. These would be my top three Maigrets.

Regards,
Joe Richards

Tramways in London, Paris and Liège
12/19/04 –Adding to the subject of trams from Jerome and Oz Childs, the following may be of interest.
The use of trams as a means of public transport was far more extensive than was first thought. I do have a slight connection with the trams in London, as I had an uncle who was a tram conductor and one of my earliest childhood memories is of observing the trams going past my aunt's house on route to central London less than two miles away. My recollections are vague as they were taken out of service in July 1952 and replaced with trolleybuses. The huge fleet of electric double-decker trams served central London, starting in 1901, and their routes extended well into the suburbs (refer to the photograph).
Photograph of a London double-decker tram in service in May 1949 (from London's Trams by Paul Collins, Shepperton, Surrey, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. 2001). (click to enlarge)

The Kingsway Subway in central London mentioned by Oz Childs solved the problem of the North-South communication by tramway across the city and was partly opened in late 1906, with the whole section being in operation by 1908 with single-decker trams. It was only in 1931 that the tunnels were enlarged to take the normal double-deckers. An unused and closed section of the tunnel still exists today in the centre of the road along Southampton Row, near Holborn, which I pass from time to time.
From 1901, Paris had electric tram routes throughout the city, with a fleet of single-decker trams, like the one in Jerome's photograph, although there were some double-deckers as well (refer to the map).


Map of the centre of Paris in 1924, with surrounding areas, indicating the Tramways (red lines and red numbers), Métropolitain and Railways (black lines). (From Paris and its Environs by Karl Baedeker. London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1924).   (click to enlarge)

Simenon does refer to the tramways at times in his Parisian settings written before the Second World War, as the tramways were phased out in 1938. Maigret rarely travels by tram or the Métro, his favourite mode of public transport being the bus with the open platform at the back (and here), where he can stand and smoke his pipe and observe the people in the streets and boulevards.
There is this passage from Le Voleur de Maigret (Maigret's Pickpocket), written in 1966, Chapter 1, page 1 (London, Hamish Hamilton / New York, Harcourt, Brace and World, both 1968, in the translation by Nigel Ryan).
'He had chanced to see a bus with an outside platform coming, which was already a source of satisfaction. These means of transport were becoming more and more rare, as they were being withdrawn from circulation, and soon he would be obliged to empty his pipe before being swallowed up inside one of those enormous conveyances in which the passenger feels a prisoner.
There were the same platform buses when he arrived in Paris nearly forty years before, and in those early days he never grew tired of going up and down the main boulevards on the Madeleine-Bastille line. It had been one of his first discoveries.'

In some of his work set in his home city of Liège and in certain autobiographies Simenon refers to the trams:
From the autobiography Je Me Souviens...(I Remember.... — but not translated), written in 1940, 1941 and 1945, Chapter 1, pages 10 and 11 (Paris, Les Presses de la Cité, 1945):
'The Rue Léopold is certainly in the centre of the town. The Pont des Arches separates it from the suburbs. But it is the street where the tramways meet coming from the countryside...Trams went by every minute or so, green ones going to Trooz, Chênée or to Fléron, red and yellow ones going unendingly round the town.' (Refer to the photo of the Pont des Arches below).


Photograph of the Pont des Arches, Liège, in Belgium, with trams travelling across it.
This bridge across the river Meuse links the Rue Léopold (on the left of the photograph) with the district of Outremeuse and beyond. Georges Simenon was born at N° 26 (now N° 24) Rue Léopold, spending his early years mainly in the district of Outremeuse. (Photograph from Les Chemins belges de Simenon by Michel Lemoine and Michel Carly. Liège, Éditions du Céfal. 2003). (click to enlarge)

From the novel Pedigree (Pedigree), written 1941 to 1943, Part 1, Chapter 1, page 11 (London, Hamish Hamilton 1962 / New York, London House, 1963, in the translation by Robert Baldick):
'Somewhere outside — it was just in the Rue Léopold — a strange life was flowing by, dark because night had fallen...and the trams were passing by, extracting blue sparks, as sudden as flashes of lightning, from the ends of their trolleys.'
From Pedigree, Part 1, Chapter 1, page 17:
'A noise outside, as if two trams had collided...
Three times in two months there had been tram accidents under the windows in the Rue Léopold.'

At the very comprehensive retrospective exhibition devoted to the life and work of Georges Simenon held in Liège in 1993 entitled TOUT SIMENON, there was a clever introduction. After obtaining a ticket, visitors passed along a Liège street of 1900 complete with sound effects of vendors hawking their wares, at the end of which was a single-decker yellow tram. Boarding this, visitors were requested to sit on the bench seat that ran along each side of the interior of the tram until an exhibition attendant escorted everyone to the lift that went up to the fourth floor where the exhibition began.
Going back to the year 1919 the young Georges Simenon, then calling himself Georges Sim, was taken on as a junior reporter by the daily newspaper La Gazette de Liège, a month before his sixteenth birthday. He learned quickly, reporting all kinds of events, and in November of the same year he was given his own small column, the first one being published on the 30th of November. His small column was about 300 words in length and between 1919 and 1922 he wrote 789 of them for the newspaper (there being certain days when it did not appear).
Pierre Deligny, a collector, researcher and friend of Simenon has sorted out all of these columns from the archives. The first 657 columns are headed Hors du Poulailler (Outside, or Out of, the Henhouse), with the remaining 132 entitled Causons (Let's Chat). The first 414 were signed Monsieur le Coq (Mr. Rooster), whilst the rest were signed Georges Sim.
These columns usually convey a humorous slant to the subject matter and are written in a somewhat flowery use of language. None of these have been translated into English and it is very difficult for collectors to locate copies of the newspaper in which these columns appear, although a few examples of the columns have been reproduced in books about Simenon. One such example, published in the newspaper on the 13th of December 1919, appears below in my translation:

Gazette de Liège
13 December, 1919

OUT OF THE HENHOUSE

Yesterday evening, contrary to my usual routine I was stamping my feet on the pavements of our city brought on by the biting cold. All of a sudden, a terrible, indefinable noise and at the same time one made out searing groans, explosions, the hissing of the intrusive lava, the turmoil of the typhoon...briefly a dreadful chaos was taking place some hundred metres from me, approaching at a dizzy speed. I was very nervous all the more so since my mind was still somewhat edgy by the sombre predictions of the American astronomer.
'That's it,' he wrote, 'the end of the world is four days ahead of schedule!'
The noise continued. Instinctively I huddled close to the corner of a doorway.
Scarcely had I installed myself when the hissing noises, squealing, roaring stopped, whilst I heard the grating of badly oiled axles and chains lugubriously clinking together.
With much caution I risked a look.
A tram had arrived there, rooted before the fated sign "Compulsory stop".
What a terrible accident then!
What another damaging effect of progress!
Just as well I am thinking I'm no longer afraid for myself. The monster was overwhelmed, and his wildest surges could no longer reach me.
I went nearer. The crew came down from the vehicle; one of them even disappeared halfway under the platform...
I enquired:
"An accident? Serious? How many dead?"
The driver mockingly eyed me up and down:
"No, really! Honestly, whe're you from that you don't know! You're not yet aware that it's like this at every stop, because of the defectiveness of the materials!"
I ran off, appalled, afraid of injuring my eardrums with the chaotic discords that were going to begin again.
Mr. ROOSTER
translated by Peter Foord

Peter Foord, UK
"—A quelle heure passe le premier tram?"
A couple of trams at Nantes...

Evolutions du site Maigret ... (from Jacques-Yves Depoix, webmaster of France Channel 2's Bruno Cremer Maigret series.)

12/25/04 – Cher Maigret-philes
Voici désormais deux ans que le site consacré à la série "Maigret" avec Bruno Crémer existe ... grâce à vous notamment et je vous en remercie.
Aujourd'hui nous sommes à un tournant de la série : ou la série s'arrête au bout de la cinquième saison avec l'épisode "Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord" de Charles Nemes, ou Bruno Crémer rempile pour une sixième saison de six épisodes ... suspense pour tous les fans de la série que nous sommes !
Dans tous les cas, l'année 2005 verra donc la diffusion des épisodes 52, 53 et 54 ... au moins ! La série continue à faire des scores remarquables d'audiences puisque le dernier épisode en date "Maigret en meublé" a attiré plus de 5 millions de téléspectateurs face à "Star Academy" qui est, on ne peut le nier, un rouleau compresseur d'audience ! Tout va bien donc d'autant que les films n'ont rien perdu de leur qualité ! Pour avoir déjà visionné "Maigret et la demoiselle de compagnie" et "Maigret et les sept petites croix", je peux vous dire qu'ils sont d'excellente facture. Ne les ratez pas lorsqu'ils seront diffusés sur France 2 !
Côté DVD, la mobilisation prévaut toujours : les DVD sortent mais rien ne dit que tous les épisodes sortiront ! Seuls 42 épisodes ont l'air prévus au catalogue ... il faudra attendre la fin 2005 pour être fixé. Continuons à signer et faire signer la pétition pour la sortie de tous les épisodes en DVD !
Pour ce qui est de la vie du site, je tiens à remercier tous ceux qui, outre leurs visites régulières sur le site, le font vivre également par le biais du forum ou des votes sur Weborama par exemple. Le site ne cesse de grimper en audience et cela fait plaisir ...
Je ne manquerai pas de vous tenir au courant des nouveautés du courant de l'année prochaine ... et il y en aura ! D'ici là, portez-vous bien et recevez tous mes voeux de bonheur pour cette prochaine année 2005 !

New Simenon Bibliography

12/26/04 – Merry Christmas! I just saw a reference to a new book on Simenon by Claude Menguy: www.omnibus.tm.fr/FR/leslivres/ficheslivre/586.html. The book is a complete list of Simenon's work. I plan to buy it this week. It is on sale at Fnac.com.
Regards,
Jerome

Thanks
12/28/04 – Thanks to Richard Budelberger for supplying corrections to some of the film listings for Maigret Chez les Flamands.

ST

DVDs from other regions
12/28/04 – I received a present of the first set of two Jean Richard DVDs this week (Merry Christmas!), and of course when I put them into my (U.S. Region 1) DVD player, nothing happened. But when I tried one in the DVD drive on my computer, I got a message that the DVD was Region 2, and "would I like to change my setting to Region 2?" Apparently the computer DVD drive allows that change to be made, in my case at least, 4 times, before it becomes the permanent setting. So it seems that if you have a computer DVD drive as well as a separate DVD player, you can maintain machines for different regions... but you have to watch the films on your computer screen.

ST

Two books on Simenon
12/28/04 – I just finished reading "Souvenirs" by Tigy Simenon. This book is copy of the diaries written by Tigy Simenon. It starts with their meeting and goes up to their separation. The texts are short, 2 or 3 pages per year, mainly about the travels they did (where and with whom). There are few comments about Simenon. There is mention of the books being written during each of those travels. She writes also a lot about the different apartments and houses they rented or bought. She speaks also a lot of Marc, her son. The book is very interesting for the pictures of Simenon with different people, in various places.
I bought also "De Georges Sim à Simenon, bibliographie" by Claude Menguy - which I mentioned above. This is the complete list of all Simenon work: published under his original name or pseudonym. It is a reference list of 400 pages: a lot of work to gather all the data.

Regards,
Jerome

The last open-platform bus in Paris


12/28/04 – Joe Richards found this model of a Saviem SC10UM2A, the last type of open-platform bus in Paris. They were withdrawn in the mid-90s.

RATP #sYeartotal
7476-7485197610
7856-7900197745
 55


Saviem was part of Renault.

(The model is 5¼" long - 13cm., scale 1/87)

Thanks, Joe!
ST

Happy New Year!
12/30/04 – Happy New Year to Steve and all the contributors to the Forum!
I have really enjoyed reading the Maigrets of the Month (though I'll have to rush to get L'Ombre chinoise finished by tomorrow!)
Peter Foord's contributions have been tremendous, and have saved me a lot of work.
Looking forward to next year.

Best wishes,
Roddy

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