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The Chronology of Maigret's Life and Career

A Comparison of Simenon's and Drake's
Chronologies of Maigret's Life

David F. Drake

The ages that Simenon ascribed to Maigret for his cases was generally quite arbitrary and did not seem to be consistent with other events in the case histories. Jean Forest in an appendix to his Les Archives Maigret, summarized at Maigret's Age, records the specific ages Simenon uses in his case write ups or deduces Maigret's age from direct evidence in the novel. The table below compares the Forest-Simenon age with my analysis.

The only age on which we both agree is Maigret's age of 26 in his first case, which occurred in the spring of 1913. Thus, we agree that Maigret was born in 1887. Because Simenon had, retrospectively in 1950, made this determination carefully, it became foundation for dating all Maigret's subsequent cases in this chapter; e.g., when M Gallet died on June 27, 1930 in Maigret Stonewalled, Maigret's age is 43, not 45 as Simenon states in his write up. The principal problems with Simenon's dating are twofold: the large number of cases, 17, that would have had to occurred during World War II and the number of inconsistencies with the details of the lives of support personnel; e.g., the Calame Report case was described as Lapointe's first investigation even though Simenon suggested that this case occurred only one year before Maigret's retirement and Lapointe appeared in many earlier cases in the Simenon dateline; Dr. Paul's death was reported in several cases which occurred before Paul's last case in the Simenon chronology; and Judge Comeliau's retirement was reported in the Reluctant Witnesses case, but he appeared in subsequent cases in the Simenon sequence.

This chronology of Maigret's cases was constructed to avoid Dr. Paul's resurrection, post-retirement cases for Comeliau, pre-hiring cases for Lapointe, and any cases during World War II. It did, however require Maigret serving in the CID until 1956 when he was 69. The fact that Simenon made Maigret 65 in his last case, Maigret and Monsieur Charles, suggests that he finally realized that Maigret's career had to be at least ten years longer than he had previously suggested. If the four war years are added to his age, the two methods of establishing Maigret's age can be reconciled. In summary, Simenon used a "Jack Benny method" of ascribing age to Inspector Maigret with lots of cases when he was 45, more at 50 and 55, or just a couple of years before an indefinite retirement age. Such a method may be cosmetically acceptable, even pleasing as it was for Mr. Benny, but it is logically inconsistent with other facts in the cases.


Maigret's age at the time of some specific cases

caseForest/
Simenon
Drakedifference
M's First Case26260
M and the Enigmatic Lett4539- 6
M Goes Home4241- 1
M's War of Nerves4541- 4
M Stonewalled4543- 2
"Death of a Nobody"5046- 4
The Sailor's Rendezvous4546+ 1
M and the Hotel Majestic4549+ 4
M's Rival40s50+ 7
"M's Christmas"50+58+ 7
M's Special Murder5060+10
M Goes to School45+60+14
M on Holiday5060+10
M and the Calame Report5461+ 7
M's Revolver56+61+ 5
M's Mistake5563+ 8
M's Failure5063+13
M Has Doubts4564+19
M Loses His Temper5064+14
M in Court5364+11
M and the Reluctant Witnesses5364+11
M and the Lazy Burglar5365+12
M and the Bum5065+15
M and the Informer5565+10
M and the Loner5465+11
M and the Apparition4866+18
M's Boyhood Friend5366+13
M and the Black Sheep5566+11
M Afraid5067+17
M in Society45+67+19
M on Defensive5267+15
M Bides His Time5367+14
M and the Killer6368+ 5
M's Pickpocket5068+18
M in Vichy5368+15
M and the Wine Merchant5568+13
M and Monsieur Charles6569+ 4
The Lock at Charenton5569+14
"At the Etoile du Nord"5069+19
M in New York's Underworld5670+14
M Returns5671+15
M in Retirement5671+15
M's Memoirs6873+ 5

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