Bibliography  Reference  Forum  Plots  Texts  Simenon  Gallery  Shopping  Film  Links

Maigret's Humor

Murielle Wenger

original French

Here again, still in response to the comment in Dubourg's article [on the lack of humor in Maigret], some more excerpts from the Maigret Files, to advocate my position "pro riso et ironia Maigreti" – in defense of Maigret's humor...

Maigret's Revolver (REV), Ch. 6: Maigret, who must leave for London and is in a bad mood, receives a phone call from the Examining Magistrate, whom he doesn't particularly care for...

"You're saying...?"
"I'm saying that I don't have time, that I'm taking the plane for London in 35 minutes."
"For London?"
"That's right."
"But what have you discovered that...?"
"I'm sorry for hanging up – the plane won't wait." He was in such a frame of mind that he added, "I'll send you a post card!" By that time, of course, he had already hung up the phone.

The Unlikely M. Owen (owe), Ch. 1: Maigret is enjoying his vacations in the South...

Maigret was happy! He had eaten like four, drunk like six, absorbed the sun through all his pores like fifty candidates in a bathing beauty contest!

Storm in the Channel (man), Ch.1: Description of a guest at the pension, at a meal...

The sad woman regarded her whiting with pretty much the same eye as the fish regarded her... and she opened her mouth from time to time, not to eat, but to let out a little air, as if sighing.

Maigret in New York (NEW), Ch. 7: Dialogue between Lieutenant Lewis and Maigret:

"What do you think, Lieutenant?"
Instead of bursting out laughing as Maigret wanted to, O'Brien's colleague contemplated his notes seriously and said, "That it was not MacGill who had Jean Maura taken."
"You don't say!"
"You think so too?"
"I'm convinced of it."
"Well, we're certain about it." And he seemed to make a point of this fine distinction between a simple French conviction and an American certainty.

Maigret and the Saturday Caller (CLI), Ch. 3:

In fact Maigret hadn't asked him what weapon he was planning to use. Hadn't the painting contractor declared that he had planned his double crime down to the smallest detail? He probably didn't have a revolver, and even if he did, he would be unlikely to use it. Men like him, who work at a manual profession, tend rather to use one of their familiar tools. What tool would a house painter... He couldn't help laughing out loud as he thought of a paintbrush!

Maigret in Vichy (VIC), Ch. 4: Maigret is taking the cure, and so must follow a strict dietary regimen... and food he gets to absorb hardly gives him great pleasure...

They had eaten noodles, which took the place of hors d'oeuvres, and they had just been served cutlets when Maigret was called to the phone...
"Hello! ... Am I disturbing you? Were you already eating?..."
He recognized Lecoeur's voice and grumbled, "For all I get to eat!..."

Maigret in Exile (JUG), Ch. 5: Maigret, prisoner of the rainy Vendée, awaits with impatience an urgent phone call from Nice (where it is probably hot and sunny!), that never seems to come...

[Maigret] checked the time... What were they doing in Nice, under their cut-out tin sun!

Maigret and the Toy Village (FEL), Ch. 3:

The owner of the Anneau-d'Or had lent him an old bicycle, on which Maigret looked like a performing bear.


May I challenge other Maigret fans to seek out more examples of our commissioner's humor?

Home  Bibliography  Reference  Forum  Plots  Texts  Simenon  Gallery  Shopping  Film  Links