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Traces 4, 1992

 

The Confessions of Madame Maigret

(excerpts from a novel in progress)

Marie-Claire DESMETTE

translated and annotated by Stephen Trussel

 

Meung-sur-Loire, April 17, 19--

My dear Sim,
What did you think of Maigret's Memoirs,1 by this old fellow who's intruding on your territory?
As for myself, I enjoyed almost all of it. A little less when Jules poked fun at me for trying to clear up your confusion between plum brandy and raspberry...2
I would have liked to have settled a few other questions, if I could have without offending you. For example, you say that I'm 'fleshy' and that I have 'pudgy fingers'! No, Monsieur, though I may be 'snugly wrapped,' 'of a comfortable plumpness,' or any similar expression that a novelist of your talent would have no difficulty finding. Be careful, friend Sim, if the 'fleshy' one pinches you with her 'pudgy fingers,' I promise that you will feel it!
And then there's that I'm not courageous, that Jules doesn't always call me Madame Maigret and that I don't always call him Maigret, that... that... This letter would become miles long and I'd get lost in my reflections. (Go back to your kitchen, old woman, and leave literature to the writers.)
My dear Sim, I have just returned to my kitchen and abandoned literature. We look forward to seeing you next Tuesday, as planned. How would you feel about a good old-fashioned blanquette3? Jules will have fished up something edible,4 maybe, to make us a first dish. Otherwise... otherwise, I don't know. It will be a surprise.
Best regards,
Louise Maigret.

PS. Don't worry, I won't really pinch you.

 
Madame Maigret's Journal.

While going out to mail Sim's letter, I went into the shop of Mme Servall5 — it's her real name, I swear — and I bought myself a schoolchild's notebook of which I'm blackening the first page.

Because my need for the truth is stronger than my (good) resolutions.

Nothing written for nearly two weeks. It was enough for me to know the notebook was in the recipe drawer. This morning I received a letter from Sim - I'll paste it in:

Noland

Dear Mme Maigret,
Thank you for the enjoyable day at your home. You didn't pinch me but, on the contrary, you incredibly spoiled us, of which, needless to say, we won't complain.
After having tasted your apple pie, I can assure you that the word 'pastry'3 brings up nothing but pleasant images. Moreover, I never said that you were 'fleshy.' The exact quote (I looked it up) is: "Maigret preferred women who were fleshy7 to those who were dried up." You wouldn't like to be dried up, would you? But for nothing on earth would I want to cause you displeasure. I am therefore going to tax my imagination, to which you give too much honor. The next time you come to Noland, soon I hope, I will offer you some concrete examples. You may choose the one that will have the good fortune to please you.
Again thank you for lending us your apartment, our stay in Paris was pleasant, largely thanks to you.
Yours always,
SIM.

PS. I didn't bring up the topic. It's a little secret between us, isn't it, and I know that this letter will find you home alone.

 
This is one that I won't show to Jules, he'd make too much fun of me.

I don't often hide something from him, so I feel a little embarrassed.

You should... Well, no! It is a small revenge. He's too sure of always knowing everything. Particularly about me.

Today, I want to rush to my confessions.

 
First truth: I'm not courageous.

According to Sim, I stoically put up with a raging toothache8 so as not to disturb my husband. Here's the truth: I'm frightfully afraid of the dentist's drill, so I always put off going to have my teeth taken care of. And the result? A terrible toothache. When that happens, there's no point in groaning. And that's also the reason, when I have more pain than fear, that I decide to consult the gentlest dentist that I can find and the treatment lasts a long time. Because there's a lot to do.

Nor was it by reason of stoicism that I forbade Dr. Pardon9 to speak to Jules about my small circulation problem.10 It was from fear. Fear of becoming a kind of Mme Lognon11 — and Jules doesn't put up with the Mme Lognons. I have, somewhere, the fear that my husband won't put up with me anymore. Faintheartedness. (Here, I shrug my shoulders). Actually, it's me that can't stand being sick. It upsets me to be ill, and the less one speaks of my illnesses, the better.

In that story, I wasn't aware that I had caused my commissioner a failure. Sim makes me too clever when he writes that I had so well hidden the tablets that my husband never found them. It is true that he looked for them without letting on that he was doing so, so that I didn't know that Dr. Pardon had let the cat out of the bag, which restricted his search. Actually, I hadn't hidden anything at all. As the medicine was to be taken a quarter of an hour before meals, I had swallowed two tablets with a mouthful of water, in the bathroom. I put the small bottle back in the pocket of my apron, along with some things I'd picked up while straightening the apartment. When Jules came in, I didn't give it a thought. I noticed that he was rummaging about, but I thought that he had lost something and didn't want to confess it. I was miles away from thinking that he was looking for the tablets the doctor had told him about (he doesn't keep his word, the bandit!). As, unusually, I had neglected to take off my apron before sitting down at the table,12 my fine detective actually ate his lunch in front of his game.

The small bottle remained in the pocket of my apron, the best place to think about taking the medicine at a good moment. Still without intention of hiding on my part. No, that's not quite true. I didn't want Jules to know about my "sickness." Then one day, he came in earlier and more silently than usual. He opened the door of the kitchen just as I swallowed the tablet. A little vexed, I put the bottle in my pocket. He grumbled. I was afraid he'd get into a bad mood about drugs and the like. And especially as he worries about my health.13 When I read The Scruples of Maigret, I knew that he'd grumbled against himself and his lack of shrewdness.

One other time, I outclassed my commissioner, but I don't know if I'll speak about it, because that time I did it intentionally, and I still have some regrets.

 
Second truth: our understanding isn't without clouds.

Yesterday, we nearly had an argument.14 I blamed Jules... Knowing my man as I do, my reproaches were prudent and veiled. Maybe my voice betrayed me a little, showing more than I wanted. I told him therefore with circumspection that it would have maybe been better to rectify an additional detail in his Memoirs: "to tell me goodbye, Maigret would pat me on the behind!"

Jules exclaimed that Simenon had never written it and I maintained that he had.

"In what book?"

There he had me. It was that kind of memory, impossible to prove.

"It's not possible," continued my husband. "Did I ever pat you on the behind?"

"He could have invented it."

"But he didn't."

Short and sweet. But I was sure I hadn't imagined it. What could I do? Reread carefully the Investigations of Commissioner Maigret.

 
I'm far from having finished my rereading, but I want to note something without delay. Jules has left to play cards,15 and I have my afternoon free.

 
Third truth: I have an Alsatian accent.

I wonder why he never asked me about it. Yet Sim is interested in accents.16 He often notices them and once (it made me laugh), he even wrote: "such a character had a Belgian or Swiss accent."17 As if one could confuse them! As if there were one Swiss accent! I don't know much about speaking Belgian, but I can assure you, Mr. Simenon's accent isn't at all similar to that of Mlle Beulemans' father. Therefore there's more than one Belgian accent. It would astonish me if there aren't many of them.

Inhabitants of Pantin18 don't know anything about the remainder of France or the world, for that matter. But you do, my little Sim. Don't copy them, continue to pick out accents. Those of other Alsatians, for example, even if you don't do it for me.

So, I've kept my Alsatian accent. — Confess, you didn't do anything to lose it. I talk about it, that's what's important. It's one of the reasons why we kept our Boulevard Richard-Lenoir apartment. It's quite a business, not simple to explain.

In 1871, a part of my family settled in France. We met at their house, Jules and I. My paternal grandfather didn't want to "emigrate," proclaiming that it wasn't worth the trouble, the French would come back before the renegades were installed anyway. He felt especially Alsatian, and was a member of the Bridge and Roadway Workers International. His optimism was unfounded and Colmar was still German when I was born.

We spoke French and Alsatian at home. French with our parents, Alsatian, especially with the maids and tradesmen. (At that time, even those who weren't at all rich had a maid, and a woman came from outside for the heavy work — that was funniest!). But my father adored telling jokes about "our national pidgin," as he called it with pride. Mamma would make a face, then sing a lullaby in "this language so soft." She also initiated us into the traditional cuisine. Impossible to do in French, of course!

In elementary school, we learned German, the true, the pure, the only. But we had horrible accents that made the Fräulein despair. What happiness to upset the Fräulein! At twelve, I went to a boarding school in Épinal, in the French part of Lorraine. And my accent brought despair to the good woman charged with instructing us in the subtleties of the language of Voltaire. I have therefore always had "a bad accent."

When I got married, I was technically German. I was anxious to have everyone that I rubbed shoulders with in the district know that I was Alsatian, which made all the difference. I was welcomed with sympathy. Sympathy which was not refuted on August 4, 1914.19

During the war, Paris was full to bursting, so there was no question of leaving our lodgings and our far-from-gleaming district. Even if we'd had an opportunity, we wouldn't have seized it. In another district, my "foreign" accent would have been noticed and... suspected. The poor Alsatian refugees were sometimes seen that way.

I became a member of the Emergency Committee for the Alsatian Refugees and I gave them French lessons to facilitate their life and to help them to integrate. The town hall of the 11th20 had lent us a room. I had objected, claiming incompetence and then... my accent. The deputy answered me: "We'll just have to make the best of it." (He could have said something else!) And I often went to lend a hand at the Saint-Antoine Hospital,21 and no one ever rejected me.

That's why, in addition to the bother that a move represents, we didn't want to leave the district. From fidelity and familiarity.

 
I spoke of the war of 1914-18. Sim often made allusion to it, but he never spoke of Jules in the war. I believe that if he had wanted to, my husband himself would have been opposed to it. The war was a bad memory for him. He was what was called "mobilized in place." He often asked to go to the front and his request was always denied. As at that time he was in Stations,22 and especially at the Gare de l'Est, the one for mobilizations, he had many opportunities to feel ashamed. He confessed this shame to me after the war. He read in the eyes of the men: "Another shirker! He must have friends in the right places!" Others looked for the defect that justified keeping him at the rear. Poor Jules!

Poor me also! My parents died in 1917. I believe that they were killed by the grief of living the war on the German side. Victory had a taste of tears.

Sim deprived me of my accent, and he's given me no childhood. Yet, God knows if he's at all interested. A man without a past isn't a man, he says. And a woman? Me, I arrived in his stories fully made, as if I hadn't existed before having met Maigret. Or nearly not.

Now, while I'm thinking of it. While reading the Maigrets, I often hear the voice of our French mistress: "commas, Louise, your commas!" I put them, apparently, between almost all the words. Simenon isn't quite that extreme, but he's close. Without being pedantic, while being the pedant, I wonder why he puts some after 'and,' for example. "A sign of separation next to a conjunction of coordination, is that right, dear!" Bah! This isn't serious. I say it because I still use a lot of commas. You could pay attention, my old friend. If I must pay attention while speaking to myself...! Continue as you wish, go, with commas, the '!', CAPITALS, the... the cascading 'that's.

When my sister23 comes, I try to speak French with her, and to talk about things Jules knows, but there always comes a moment when we recover our childhood, the mad laughter incomprehensible to others, our tribal language. My husband is as happy to see to her leave as to see her arrive. It's because he doesn't like not being master of the game, my husband.

It's different when we're in Alsace. First, he doesn't come so often. Then, he's on foreign territory, so he can accept being the foreigner. But not in his own apartment.

So far, I haven't found any trace of the sentence that's gnawing at me.

 
Truth number four: I'm called Louise.

I don't particularly like my first name, but I don't hate it the way Jules detests his. To make him happy, Sim once attempted to replace Jules with Joseph.24 That was worse, he said. Since then, Sim keeps it 'Maigret.' In life and books.

In life, he always calls me politely "Madame Maigret," and it is this name that he puts in his books. Except once, he gave me his mother's name, "Henriette,"25 in the investigation (I definitely must mention it) where I arrive at the truth before my husband the commissioner. If I had the courage to read some of Jules' psychological books and magazines,26 and if I understood anything there, I could probably extricate some interesting findings about this slip.

I'm Louise for my sister, I'm Louise for Jules, and Aunt Louise for Colette.27

We sometimes call each other 'Maigret' and 'Mme Maigret.'28 Especially in moments of teasing. Here's the reason for it.

Fresh newly-weds29 and terribly shy, we were spending an evening at Commissioner Guichard's.30 Before an old gentleman with goatee and decorations, Jules bowed and presented himself: Maigret. At the moment to present me, I read panic in his look. He ended up saying: "Madame Maigret." While walking home I laughed at what he had done. He confessed that he'd been reluctant to say: "My wife." It appeared to him too intimate for strangers and impolite towards me. Since then, when I want to tease him, I call him Maigret and he answers me: Madame Maigret. I sometimes say "Monsieur Maigret" or "Commissioner" when he acts a little too much the chief superintendant with me.

Otherwise, it's Jules and Louise. Not often. We don't often need to call out to each other, and we don't feel the necessity, as some do, of mingling our names in our conversation. Even on the phone, I hear: "Hello, is that you?" Which is perfectly stupid. I must confess that I do exactly the same.

I won't write down our intimate names for each other.

 
I reread these last pages and it's time to come to my senses, to put Maigret back in the center of his books and to be content with the humble place of sacristan! One might believe that I claim an undue importance.

 
Still haven't found the contentious sentence. I've reread nearly all the books that we have at home. No doubt we've lent out the missing ones.

Eureka! In my notebook where I paste newspaper clippings.31 To an actor charged with portraying Maigret, Simenon counseled him to pat the behind of the actress who represented me, to tell her goodbye. I hope the actor didn't do it.

So I was wrong and right, and Jules was right and wrong.

 
I didn't find the sentence I was looking for, but I found something else.

Simenon once spoke of me as a child, or rather as a teenager. I remember that he told how when I was about thirteen, I had put on my mother's beautiful dress (I was as big as she), with her high-heeled shoes. I looked at myself in the wardrobe mirror and I thought I was very pretty. All girls have done that.

Once, he even gave us shared memories, rice cakes that we ate when we went to see our aunts. Maybe he wanted to say that Jules ate rice cake when he went to his aunt and that I did the same when I went to mine. I prefer to think that Sim forgot that we weren't the in the same family and that we weren't raised together. It is truer than the truth.

 
I've also found a mass of dressing gowns.32 In all the books. Of all shapes, kinds, and colors. More or less closed. There should be enough material to make a very feminine survey on Maigret and dressing gowns. And even of a missing one, the one that wasn't in his suitcase when he went to make I don't know what investigation anymore in Porquerolles.33 I hadn't been neglectful. His summer robe had been cut up into dust rags, as it deserved, and it was a question of buying a new one.

— That happens in the beginning of the summer.

My hero is never in a hurry to enter a store, as salespeople terrorize him when he's a customer. He has the impression that they are somehow more competent than he, and as he hates not being master of the game...

As for his winter robe, it made him look like a monk, it would have been quite out of place on the Coast, and besides, it wouldn't have been in his suitcase.

More seriously, I found a Madame Maigret on whom I want to reflect.

 
If I had to present myself, what would I say? I'm a wife without a child.34

I was a long time without hope of motherhood. We suffered, just the two of us, for the other and for ourselves. After several years, finally! So much hope, to arrive at a small girl who wasn't made to live.

I returned with empty arms from the maternity hospital. Jules' love and affection at that moment, his tenderness and sweetness in his own grief... We didn't say anything, it wasn't necessary. We never spoke about it. Except by looks, sometimes.

I didn't consult any physicians. I wanted to avoid everything that could have seemed a search for responsibility. We accepted being a childless couple. It's never easy to forget being childless.

When you knit for babies of others, receive birth announcements, go to visit someone who's just given birth, when colleagues speak to you of their problems with their children, when you meet a boy so good you want him for your own son, when a grandmother proudly shows photos of her grandchildren, when... So often! When arms close themselves again on a baby that won't ever be there...

The time has passed to push away dreams of motherhood, now we see ourselves as not being grandparents... If you cry, I'll... You'll do what to me? What difference does it make if I cry, no one can see me.

Couldn't we have adopted? Jules wasn't so much in favor of adoption. He had seen too many cases where it had turned out badly. Then came the gift of life, Colette.27 Something different from a daughter, a gift of life, I can't say it better.

 
I'm also a homemaker. My spouse is my boss. When we got married, it was natural. And I continued. If I'd wanted to work outside, what would I have done? I don't have a diploma. I'm not a bad cook. Should I have cooked for the indifferent, when I can do it for an amateur gourmet? Too much the gourmet, yes, I know. That's the way it is, it's like that!

And so I haven't a sou to my name. (I had a small dowry, of good Russian funds...) So, I don't have a coin of my own. If ever... Sometimes I'm a little afraid...

My husband is sometimes intolerable. There are times I would happily box his ears if his head weren't so high. My patron is also sometimes intolerable and I'd also gladly box his ears.35 But one doesn't do that to her boss, does she, especially when he's preoccupied. Then, I bring him his meal, a cup of coffee, a glass of raspberry brandy, I propose him a walk. And I listen to him. Oh yes! I'm the commissioner's rest! To a man who works and works at an absorbing profession, to which he subordinates everything, including our vacations and my projects. Sometimes, I should wait a little before I agree. Because yes, I always have, and always will, and he knows it.

 
Caricature: I'm always running behind Maigret with a thermometer, a cup of tea, a scarf, a hat, a suitcase. To bound out of my bed to open the door for him.

Jules catches cold easily.36 Maybe because he smokes too much. He forgets to dress warmly. So, I counsel him to put on his heavy overcoat, I bring him a scarf, his hat... which he forgets in his office regularly. Then, because he has caught cold, I bring him some tea, I bring him the thermometer. Because I want to fondle my great big baby, but I don't want to worry for nothing or not for much. Life gives us sufficiently good reasons to worry. Especially his life. The difficult arrests, the dangerous adversaries, risks that he takes so others won't have to, actual injuries. So, a good little cold... Just enough to play sick, to make him pamper himself, to not be the strongest...

 
The cup of coffee, one of those acts to give pleasure, that becomes a ritual.37

I wake up in the morning easily.38 Jules emerges from sleep and stays half-unconscious a good while. Especially, let's be fair, when he's gone to bed late. Still, it's necessary for him to wake up. The ringing of the alarm clock doesn't reach him, but the odor of coffee, yes. That's why I bring him a cup, freshly made, before he rises. Not every day, but often. Sometimes, he gets up at dawn, in full form. That's true, but sometimes the opposite as well!

They say habit is the death of couples. Why, if it's a good habit? These good habits, like loving an old armchair that has become comfortable or an old garment that has taken your measure. These good habits that let you be understood by a simple look...

 
I don't sleep well when the place next to me is empty. The habit of feeling him stretching out his arm. I listen for noises that announce his arrival, I'm happy to hear his steps on the staircase. He's hardly a butterfly, even when he's trying hard not to make any noise. I can't do anything about the creaking steps, but by opening the door for him, I can at least stop him from fiddling noisily with the lock. How can such a clever man be so clumsy? All to explain why I get out of my bed and open the door for him before he has time to take out his key.39 To avoid having him accused of disturbing the peace! And also to welcome him.

I'm defending myself, as if I do too much. I hate the idea of being servile. I want to do my profession well and, in addition, give pleasure to the man I love. It pleases me to live this way, and if there are some who see in me a caricature, for whatever good it does them, opportunities to laugh are too rare to disregard one.

I repeat, I like my profession. I claim this word. I like to cook, I believe I've already written. Particularly small simmered dishes. They permit fantasy, improvisation in the choice of ingredients, seasonings, herbs. And then, they are even better reheated. As I never know at what time Jules will come in, nor if he will come in... In that case, I have enough for three days. I bless two inventions: the fridge and the telephone.40 Both permit me a better organization, keep me from eating these famous leftovers several days in succession, or from throwing out food, a mortal sin.

Now, we have a more regular life, not without its surprises all the same.

There's also the straightening and cleaning. A little less pleasant. But it's so nice when order and cleanliness replace the chaos. It's necessary to admit that cooking and cleaning are activities whose result isn't lasting. It's like with recidivists! To sew and to knit are more consoling.

I never put up with anyone pushing me when I'm busy doing something. Nor anyone doing my work for me. Because they don't respect my rights? Why are things put as power and privilege? I'm not happy that I'm not better able to do all my work, to note that I age. Besides, the woman who comes for the heavy work doesn't always do it the way I want. Is it, nevertheless, that I can't support not being the center? Do I have a tendency toward the autocratic in my sphere of expertise? Well said, Louise. One cannot be and have been, my poor Louise. Your disabused wisdom gets boring, my poor Louise.

 
He's spading the vegetable garden, as I supervise from the window. When I hear the noise of his sabots on the paving stones of the courtyard, I'll hide this notebook carefully in the middle of my recipe notebooks. I'm afraid that he'll laugh at me. Yet, I never wanted to laugh at him when he took notes and wrote his Memoirs. Why do I think he'll make fun of me? I don't know, it's stronger than me. I wonder what I'd do if he surprised me.

Why am I so afraid he might laugh at me? He often makes fun of me, gently. More exactly, he teases me... and I give him back the same, he'll say. If he really mocked me, I believe it would kill me. So I say: "You're going to make fun of me," so he won't do it. And he does it nevertheless! He will always be the stronger of the two. I should benefit from the moments when he gets into bed nearly sick, when I'm the stronger. Next time.... next time, alas! I'll make him some crème caramel,41 like his mother. He will always be the stronger.

Having said all that, I hate being made fun of, and I'm always afraid that there's a good reason for it. I seem to be spreading out my humility while writing this, and it's my pride that speaks. I don't know how to express what I feel very well but to speak to this paper made me feel good. To tell him, to confess what I hide from others, even without doing it intentionally.


translator's notes
"The Confessions of Madame Maigret" appeared in the Simenon studies journal Traces, the majority of readers of which are probably familiar with the complete Maigret Chronicles. The original paper was without annotations. For those who might not be as familiar with the works, I have provided some notes and citations, below. The key to the 3-letter codes for the novels and stories is at the bottom.

1.   Maigret's Memoirs. [MEM] Commissioner Jules Maigret presents his own, corrected version of some aspects of his portrayal by Simenon in the Chronicles, his relationship with Simenon, how he met his wife, background features of his life and cases...

2.   Confusion between plum brandy and raspberry. At the very end of Maigret's Memoirs, Mme Maigret asks M to mention that Simenon had erroneously described the 'raspberry brandy' [(l'eau-de-vie de) framboise] they got from her sister as 'sloe gin' [la prunelle] (usually translated as 'plum brandy').
as plum brandy: MIN, NOE, OMB, PAR, PHO, REN, CON.
as raspberry brandy: IND, MEM, VIN.

M told Lucas to help himself to some of the plum brandy [la prunelle] his sister-in-law in Alsace made herself, in the long-necked bottle. [PHO]
Mme M offered prunelle or framboise after dinner which Pardon refused for both of them, [DEF]
Mme M was at home when she was at Alsace, where she helped with the jam and the plum wine. [REN]
Mme. Pardon asked Mme M how she made her coq au vin. She added a dash of Alsatian plum brandy. [CON]
an exception:
she'd brought out the kirsch she kept for special occasions. M said it was from her part of the country [PRE]
3.   a good old-fashioned blanquette.
one of M's favorite dishes,blanquette de veau, appearing in various episodes:
For the past week M had been lunching in the Place Dauphine every other day, because of his wife's dentist appointments. M and Lucas went into the back room, where there was an old-fashioned coal stove, which M liked. blanquette of veau? M agreed. [ECH]
At the Brasserie Dauphine M ordered the blanquette de veau.... [ENF]
Lunch was blanquette of veal. [FOL]
lunch at the Brasserie Dauphine. The proprieter said they had his favorite for lunch, blanquette de veau. [VIN]
4.   Jules will have fished up something edible, maybe. Fishing is often mentioned as one of M's hobbies:
M and Mme M discussed where they might go, the banks of the Loire, where M could fish [AMU]
In two years time he would be going fishing, [ASS]
M had gone fishing, played belote with the locals while at Meung-sur-Loire. [BRA]
M didn't have his fishing-rods nor tackle with him, having left them in their little house in Meung-sur-Loire, but he could borrow some from the patronne. [COL]
Although M wanted to see his wife, to spend a few hours trout fishing in the streams of Alsace, he too wanted to go to Morsang.... [GUI]
M often went fishing at Meung-sur-Loire [HES]
M had done a little fishing in his day. If he'd never been an expert, he at least knew the technique.... [SIG]
5.   Mme Servall. In the French, Mme Sertout: Presumably for servir (to serve) + tout (all) je sers tout = I serve everything, so, similarly, in English I've used: Mme Servall.

6.   the word 'pastry'. There is word play in the French which doesn't translate. In Mme M's letter, "you say that I am 'fleshy' and that I have 'pudgy fingers'", the word translated as 'fleshy' is empâtée (clogged, choked, thick, fleshy, bloated). In his reply, Sim uses the root form of that word, pâte (pastry, dough, batter) when talking about the apple pie, and s'empâtent ([they] thicken out, fatten out, grow fleshy) when explaining that he'd originally written, "Maigret preferred women who were 'fleshy' to those who were dried up."

7.   "Maigret preferred women who were fleshy to those who were dried up." for more on Maigret and women see: Robert Jouanny: How Maigret Regards Women

8.   I stoically put up with a raging toothache. Mme Maigret's toothaches appear in three episodes:

For the past week M had been lunching in the Place Dauphine every other day, because of his wife's dentist appointments. ... Mme M didn't have the flu; she had a toothache. She tried not to, but she woke him in the middle of the night... had even offered to sleep in the six floor servant's room. [ECH]
M's neighbor on the fourth floor, had recommended Dr. Floresco, when Mme M needed a dentist. [MME]
Said she'd no doubt sat on a bench in a park, when she was too early for a dentist's appointment [FOL]
9.   Dr. Pardon. Dr. Pardon and his wife live in the same neighborhood as the Maigrets. Their best friends, the Pardons appear in numerous episodes.

10.   I forbade Dr. Pardon to speak to Jules about my small circulation problem.

The day before, Pardon, his friend in the Rue Picpus, had called to tell M that Mme M had been in for a checkup. Nothing serious, for some time getting out of breath going upstairs, legs feel heavy. Pardon prescribed some tablets and going on a diet, to lose 10 or 12 pounds. [SCR]
11.   Fear of becoming a kind of Mme Lognon. Mme Lognon was the wife of Inspector Lognon, a sad a grouchy man, no doubt, at least in part, because of his wife:
Mme. Lognon's doctor confided to Mme M that she was not at all as sick as she claimed to be, but played the helpless invalid as revenge for her husband's failure to advance in his job. She told Mme M that when she became a widow her pension wouldn't even let her keep the apartment she'd had for 25 years. [FAN]
M thought of Mme Lognon, a thin, whining woman, whose ill health confined her to their flat in the Place Constantin-Pecqueur. [JEU]
M had only met Mme. Lognon once, at their apartment on Place Constantin-Pecqueur, in Montmartre. Since then he no longer resented the man, although he still avoided him as much as possible, but pitied him from the bottom of his heart. [LOG]
A new tenant at the Place Constantin-Pecquer had convinced Mme. Lognon to try the cure at Pougues-les-Eaux. While she was gone Lognon wore a straw hat and red tie, and almost a smile. [TEN]
12.   As, unusually, I had neglected to take off my apron before sitting down at the table.
M noticed something Mme M did every day. She used to take off her apron before sitting down at the table, [BRA].
13.   And especially as he worries about my health.
When M asked her if she'd been taken ill replied, "Have I ever been taken ill in my life?" [MME]
Mme M had had to have an emergency operation three days after their arrival at Les Sables-d'Olonne. [VAC]
14.   Yesterday, we nearly had an argument.
After 20 years of marriage, they were bickering gently.... M was a different M now, the M whose bursts of ill-temper terrified young detectives at Police Headquarters. "Stop that sewing! You get on my nerves! Can't you sit still for a minute with your hands idle?" [AMO]
M was angry with her. "I'm not asking your advice... From now on you can keep your thoughts to yourself..."[FOU]
15.   Jules has left to play cards. Another of M's pastimes:
In two years time he would be going fishing, and probably playing belote on winter afternoons with a few cronies in a corner of a café where they had already begun to go regularly. [ASS]
M had gone fishing, played belote with the locals while at Meung-sur-Loire. [BRA]
M was invited to a game of cards that afternoon... M played belote at the local inn. Your call. "diamonds". His opponent on the left announced a sequence of three, his partner 4 queens. "trump". ... arranging the cards in fans, announcing tierces or bellas. "We'll stop at 500 points, all right?" [TUE]
Mme M had said to him, why don't you go and play cards with those at the Grand Café. [CEU]
Nine days ago M had been sitting in his usual place in the Café du Cheval Blanc in Meung. [Meung-sur-Loire]. M was playing belote.... M was playing belote, bidding three high in trump... To think that ten days before he'd been peacefully playing belote with the mayor of Meung-sur-Loire, the doctor, and the fertilizer merchant. [NEW]
16.   Sim is interested in accents. He often notices them.
a Belgian accent, probably actually Canadian. [LOG]
a Central European accent [JEU]
a Hungarian accent [MME]
a little vulgar with her Toulouse accent. [NEW]
a pronounced Polish accent [STA]
a southern accent. [ECO]
a strong English accent [MAN]
a strong Norman accent. [DAM]
almost accentless French. [AMI]
by accent probably not Genoa or Naples. An accent all his own. [AMI]
Central European by her accent. [AMO]
English with a bad accent [NAH]
from Brussels, spoke with a musical accent, like of the south of France [PRO]
from Montélimar, as was obvious from his accent [VIC]
native of Cantal, who had kept his rough local accent and style of speech. [REV]
native of Cantal, with a flavorful accent. [TUE]
Simenon proceeded to demonstrate, with a hint of a Belgian accent [MEM]
strong Slavic accent [GAI]
strong Swiss accent [NOE]
the Paris accent of working class people [MOR]
the same Rumanian accent as a famous actress [MOR]
the slow accents of her native Switzerland. [PAR]
with a Genoese accent [NEW]
17.   "such a character had a Belgian or Swiss accent."
At the bar [...] some pilots speaking French with a Swiss or Belgian accent.... [VOY]
18.   Pantin. [commune, N France, Seine-Saint-Denis dept. pop. 1968: 47,607. NE suburb of Paris], mentioned in a few episodes:
They'd built a Juva plant at Le Havre, then at Pantin, a Paris suburb. [DAM]
The taxi driver that Lamballe had sent came from Pantin. [MME]
Dr. Rivière's Serums had other buildings at Pantin. Only the labs were at Place des Vosges. [OMB]
19.   August 4, 1914. The German army invaded Belgium on the morning of August 4, 1914, the day after declaring war on France.

20.   11th. 11th arrondissement, where the Maigrets' Boulevard Richard-Lenoir apartment was located

21.   Saint-Antoine Hospital. [184 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine, 12e], mentioned:

The ambulance took Antoine Batille to the Saint-Antoine Hospital. [TUE]
22.   Stations.
He was 26 and had been married only five months. Since he had joined the force four years ago, he had been through the humblest of its branches, street duty, railway stations, big stores, and secretary of the Saint-Georges District Police Station for almost a year... [PRE]
23.   sister.
M kissed his sister-in-law, who had put on weight again. The two women were talking cookery. The brother-in-law was listening vaguely as he smoked a cigar.... [PIP]
M told Mme M that a card from her sister had come in the mail, that possibly she was going to have another baby. [GAI]
Mme M called her sister, Florence, in Mulhouse. Asked how the children were. [CLO]
Mme M had visited her sister that afternoon, [AMO]
Mme M was disappointed, because her sister had come for a visit from Orléans, and she had prepared a special dinner, but M rushed out again. [HOM]
Mme M was entertaining her sister to dinner at 6 to make sure M wouldn't be late and to remind him to stop at the cake shop....[MOR]
Mme M was spending a fortnight in Alsace with her sister, who was expecting a baby.... M's sister-in-law in Alsace... her third baby in four years.... Mme M accepted the situation as she accepted everything, without either astonishment or fuss. She said her sister had had a 10-pound girl....[FOU]
Mme M's sister had come from Alsace, and brought a bottle of plum brandy, as she always did. She was out doing errands with André, her husband, a worthy fellow who ran a brickfield, when M returned home. That evening, they all played Pope Joan, but since Mme M was a poor card-player, she made numerous mistakes... [OMB]
Mme M's sister lived in Colmar with her husband and children, owned a chalet on the Col de la Schlucht, where the Ms had been fairly often, and where life was pleasant and restful.... Charles, M's brother-in-law, had just bought a new car, and decided to take the family on a trip to Italy. [AMU]
She had been called away to Alsace, to the bedside of her sister, who was going to have an operation.... [MEU]
24.   once attempted to replace Jules with Joseph. In "Maigret's First Case" [PRE], he worries about the report that will be written about him: Jules Amédée François Maigret. But in "Maigret's Revolver" [REV], his American colleagues knew of his first two names, but not the third: Jules-Joseph Anthelme Maigret.

25.   once, he gave me his mother's name, "Henriette,"

M called out, "Henriette, come and look" for the stranger was in the square. [AMO]
26.   Jules' psychological books and magazines.
M brought home a psychiatric text from the Director's office, which included a section on Adler's opinion on neurosis. Also Kraepelin and Capgras were mentioned. [SCR]
M told Jean Duclos he assumed he'd quoted Lombroso, and no doubt Freud. [HOL]
Ey, Henri. Émile Parendon asked M if he knew his works. M had read his textbook on psychiatry. ... M had been forced to give up his study of medicine. If he had been able to have gone on with it, would he not have chosen psychiatry? [HES]
M, fed up with psychiatric texts, took the bottle of prunelle and filled one of the little gilt-edged glasses. [SCR]
27.   Colette. Colette Martin, 7-year-old girl who lived with her aunt in a building opposite the Maigrets. At the end of the story, her aunt arrested, father a recovering alcoholic, Colette has no one to stay with, and M tells his wife that she can stay with them temporarily, until something is worked out. [NOE]

28.   We sometimes call each other 'Maigret' and 'Mme Maigret.'

"Are you out there, Maigret" she called to M at the Pretty Pigeon.... [SIG]
"My poor Maigret," Mme M said. She only called him Maigret on special occasions, implying recognition of his superiority as the man, the master-mind, the head of the house. [FOU]
"There you are at last Monsieur Maigret". She often called him "Monsieur Maigret" when she was joking.... [MAJ]
"What are you thinking about Jules?" She used not to call him Maigret in those days.... [1948-PRE]
"You've got something on your mind, Maigret," his wife commented during dinner. [1945-PIP]
For as far back as he could remember he'd called her "Madame Maigret" and she'd called him "Maigret". Possibly it had begun as a joke... [CHO]
She woke him up, "Maigret..." [VIN]
Don't you think it's odd, Maigret, she said, for she always addressed her husband by his surname. [AMO]
From time to time M and his wife would exchange a glance. They never talked much when they were on their own alone.... M called out, "Are you ready, Madame Maigret?" [AMU]
M calls home: "Is that you Madame Maigret?" [COR]
Mme M was on the phone. "Is that you, Maigret?" for she'd never got used to calling him by anything but his surname.... [NEW]
She seldom called him Jules, only when she was feeling protective towards him. [COR] They never addressed each other by name, nor were they in the habit of exchanging endearments.
What was the point, since both felt, in many ways, they were one person. [FAN]

29.   newly-weds.

He was 26 and had been married only 5 months. Since he had joined the force 4 years ago, he had been through the humblest of its branches, street duty, railway stations, big stores, and secretary of the Saint-Georges District Police Station for almost a year.... [PRE]
30.   Commissioner Guichard.
M's mind was back in the days of the Bonnot case, when he had been thin, and had sported a waxed mustache and a little pointed beard, and worn four-inch-high starched collars and a top hat. Xavier Guichard, Chief Superintendent at the time, before he became Chief Commissioner of the Police Judiciaire, had said "all this talk of flair -- is just a publicity stunt.... what really matters is evidence" [JUG]
Xavier Guichard's hobby was archaeology, and he'd written a book about the remote origins of Paris. Georges Sim had made a point of talking to him about it. ... And this particular chief M thought of as the real Chief in the fullest sense of the word, under whom he'd served his first term in the Police Judiciaire, and whom he'd watched, in his black coat and bowler hat, walking alone under fire toward the door of the house in which Bonnot and his gang had for two days been resisting police and gendarmes, or armed police. That was Xavier Guichard, whose white hair was as long as a poet's. ... A call came for M to go up and see the Chief, Xavier Guichard. They didn't shake hands in the office. M had been to his apartment on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, opposite Place Maubert, in a new building that rose amid rickety houses and squalid hotels. [MEM]
M thought of going directly to see the big chief, the Chief of the Sûreté, Xavier Guichard, for he knew him personally. He'd often spent his holidays near his family home in the Allier, and at one time had been a friend of his father's. [PRE]
Xavier Marton was there to see M. Later M remembered only that the first name had been Xavier, the same as his first chief at the Quai des Orfèvres, old Xavier. [SCR]
31.   notebook where I paste newspaper clippings.
M couldn't remember the dates, and only recently he'd remembered that Mme M had secretly kept scrapbooks of the newspaper articles about him. [MEM]
Mme M kept a scrapbook of all M's articles. One has a photo of them taken three years earlier by a journalist in Normandy, where they were spending a few days at Dieppe, on the steps of their pension. [MME]
32.   a mass of dressing gowns. see: Robert Jouanny: How Maigret Regards Women, who noticed the same thing.

33.   the one that wasn't in his suitcase when he went to make an investigation in Porquerolles, In My Friend Maigret [AMI], where M, accompanied by Inspector Pyke of Scotland Yard goes to Porquerolles to investigate the murder or Marcellin, an old sailor who claimed he was "a friend of Maigret's". On the train on the way down from Paris:

"Madame Maigret hadn't put a dressing-gown in his suitcase. She hadn't wanted him to take the old one, which looked like a monk's habit, and he had been meaning to buy a new one for the last two months. He felt indecent in his nightshirt." [AMI]
34.   I am a wife without a child.
M shook his head when asked if he had any children, and thought that if Mme M heard the question she'd be sad all day, for that was her great grief.... [NOT]
"Have you any kids?" [M:] "Only one girl, and she died." [p.48] [ECL]
Mme M's great sorrow was that they had not children. [MAJ]
35.   I'd also gladly box his ears.
One day Mme M said "What surprises me is that more people haven't been goaded into slapping you in your time." [CEC]
36.   Jules catches cold easily.
Mme M took M's temperature, for he'd caught cold. [CHO]
M had a hot toddy with lemon at the café in Place des Abbesses, as he felt a cold coming on. [CLI]
M's eyes were stinging from lack of sleep and the cold in his head.... M told Mme M he simply had a cold and was going to bed with a grog and two aspirins. [LOG]
M had a bad cold, which lasted three days.... [PRE]
The fog had turned into a fine cold rain, which made M think of a cold in the head, and he stopped at the corner bar for a hot toddy.... [TRO]
Mme M suggested having Pardon look in on M for his cold. He hated bothering the doctor, especially when it was his old friend Pardon, who seldom managed to get through a meal without interruption.... M said that while Mme M always felt grog was the best cure for the flu Pardon didn't agree. ... M put on his heavy black overcoat and the navy blue woolen scarf Mme M had just knitted for him.... Mme M returned with a bottle of viscous fluid, the main ingredient of which was methylene blue. It was an old-fashioned remedy, but she still believed in it, after more than 20 years.... She woke him up, "Maigret..." [VIN]
Mme M told him he'd better wear his muffler, words which would stick in his mind... [1958-TEM]
37.   The cup of coffee, one of those acts to give pleasure, that becomes a ritual.
Mme M sighed but said nothing as her husband left at 7:00 am after just a scalding cup of coffee. [TET]
38.   I wake up in the morning easily.
As a rule, Mme M got up quietly at half past six and went to the kitchen without M's noticing. [SCR]
M nearly always heard her get up quietly about 7:00 o'clock on Sundays. [CLI]
Mme M had a mania for getting up at an impossibly early hour. [MAN]
39.   I get out of my bed and open the door for him before he has time to take out his key.
A few minutes later M was groping in his pocket for the key to his apartment on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, and heard Mme M saying "Is that you?"....[FAN]
As he went out she said "You're opening the door with your right hand." She was superstitious. [NUI]
As M was trying to fit his key into the lock, Mme M opened the door, in her nightdress, and blinked at him with dazzled eyes.... [JEU]
As on every day for years past, M had no need to knock, for Mme M always opened the door just as he was stepping on the mat. He could not remember every having used the electric bell. [SCR]
Before M was halfway up the door opened and Mme M came out to meet him.... [VIN]
By the time he put his key in the lock he'd call out, it's me, and go to the dining room, with its tall window open to the dazzling light of the square with its four fountains. (Place des Vosges) [AMO]
He didn't have his key but he knew it would be under the doormat. [SCR]
He never had any keys on him - he always mislaid them. [VAC]
His wife had a special way of taking his umbrella from his hand at the same time as she bent her head to kiss him on the cheek, when he came home on a rainy day. [MIN]
M climbed the stairs with heavy steps and found the door opened by Mme M in her nightdress.... [BRA]
M had no need to take his key from his pocket, since Mme M always recognized his step. [PRE]
Mme M greeted M, in the doorway of the apartment on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, [MAJ]
40.   I bless two inventions: the fridge and the telephone.
At half past eight M phoned his wife. His erratic comings and goings were nothing new to her.... [FEL]
It was unusual for her to call him. She had probably taken Alain Lagrange into the living room where they scarcely ever set foot. The telephone was in the dining room, which they normally used, and where they entertained their friends. [REV]
M called his wife and said he'd be home for dinner.... [ENF]
M said he'd be home in half an hour. [NAH]
M upset his glass of water, as often happened, and Mme M switched on the bedside lamp just as his fumbling hand reached the telephone....[PAR]
Mme M called told M Popaul (Paul Vinchon) was on the phone. She wondered if he'd get up. [ARR]
Mme M was on the phone. "Is that you, Maigret?" for she'd never got used to calling him by anything but his surname.... [NEW]
Mme M woke M by saying "Jules... Telephone [NAH]
41.   crème caramel, like his mother.
M hadn't even noticed that he'd eaten a delicious crême caramel [CEC]

Alphabetical by Code

1AMIMon ami Maigret (1949)
2AMOL'amoureux de Madame Maigret (1937-38)
3AMUMaigret s'amuse (1956)
4ARRJeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt! (1936)
5ASSMaigret aux assises (1959)
6BANMaigret et l'homme du banc (1952)
7BAYLa vieille dame de Bayeux (1937-38)
8BEAL'affaire du boulevard Beaumarchais (1936)
9BERMademoiselle Berthe et son amant (1937-38)
10BRAMaigret et les braves gens (1961)
11CADL'Inspecteur Cadavre (1943)
12CECCécile est morte (1940)
13CEUCeux du Grand Café (1938)
14CHAMaigret et Monsieur Charles (1972)
15CHEMaigret chez le coroner (1949)
16CHOLe témoignage de l'enfant de choeur (1946)
17CLIMaigret et le client du samedi (1962)
18CLOMaigret et le clochard (1962)
19COLLa colère de Maigret (1962)
20CONUne confidence de Maigret (1959)
21CORMaigret et le corps sans tête (1955)
22DAMMaigret et la vieille dame (1949)
23DEFMaigret se défend (1964)
24ECHUn échec de Maigret (1956)
25ECLL'écluse n° 1 (1933)
26ECOMaigret à l'école (1953)
27ENFL'ami d'enfance de Maigret (1968)
28ERRUne erreur de Maigret (1936)
29ETOL'Étoile du Nord (1937-38)
30FACMaigret se fâche (1945)
31FANMaigret et le fantôme (1963)
32FELFélicie est là (1942)
33FENLa fenêtre ouverte (1936)
34FIAL'affaire Saint-Fiacre (1932)
35FLAChez les Flamands (1932)
36FOLLa folle de Maigret (1970)
37FOULe fou de Bergerac (1932)
38GAILa danseuse du Gai-Moulin (1931)
39GALM. Gallet, décédé (1930)
40GRAMaigret et la Grande Perche (1951)
41GUIGuinguette à Deux Sous (1931)
42HESMaigret hésite (1968)
43HOLUn crime en Hollande (1931)
44HOML'Homme dans la rue (1939)
45INDMaigret et l'Indicateur (1971)
46JAULe chien jaune (1931)
47JEUMaigret et la jeune morte (1954)
48JUGLa maison du juge (1940)
49LARLes Larmes de bougie (1936)
50LETPietr-le-Letton (1929-30)
51LIBLiberty Bar (1932)
52LOGMaigret, Lognon et les gangsters (1951)
53LUNMonsieur Lundi (1936)
54MAIMaigret (1934)
55MAJLes caves du Majestic (1939)
56MALMaigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux (1946)
57MANTempête sur la manche (1937-38)
58MEMLes mémoires de Maigret (1950)
59MENMenaces de mort (1942)
60MEUMaigret en meublé (1951)
61MINMaigret chez le ministre (1954)
62MMEL'amie de Mme Maigret (1949)
63MORMaigret et son mort (1947)
64NAHMaigret et l'affaire Nahour (1966)
65NEWMaigret à New York (1946)
66NOEUn Noël de Maigret (1950)
67NOTLe notaire de Châteauneuf (1937-38)
68NOYL'auberge aux noyés (1937-38)
69NUILa nuit du carrefour (1931)
70OBSLe client le plus obstiné du monde (1946)
71OMBL'Ombre chinoise (1931)
72OWEL'improbable Monsieur Owen (1938)
73PARMaigret et le voleur paresseux (1961)
74PATLa patience de Maigret (1965)
75PAUOn ne tue pas les pauvres types (1946)
76PEIPeine de mort (1936)
77PENLes péniches aux deux pendus (1936)
78PEUMaigret a peur (1953)
79PHOLe pendu de Saint-Pholien (1930-31)
80PICMaigret au Picratt's (1950)
81PIGRue Pigalle (1936)
82PIPLa pipe de Maigret (1945)
83PORLe port des brumes (1932)
84PRELa première enquête de Maigret (1948)
85PROLe charretier de la Providence (1930)
86RENAu Rendez-Vous des Terre-Neuvas (1931)
87REVLe revolver de Maigret (1952)
88SCRLes scrupules de Maigret (1957)
89SEUMaigret et l'homme tout seul (1971)
90SIGSigné Picpus (1941)
91STAStan le tueur (1937-38)
92TEMMaigret et les témoins récalcitrant (1958)
93TENMaigret tend un piège (1955)
94TETLa tête d'un homme (1930-31)
95TROMaigret se trompe (1953)
96TUEMaigret et le tueur (1969)
97VACLes vacances de Maigret (1947)
98VENVente à la bougie (1939)
99VICMaigret à Vichy (1967)
100VIEMaigret et les vieillards (1960)
101VINMaigret et le marchand du vin (1969)
102VOLLe voleur de Maigret (1966)
103VOYMaigret voyage (1957)

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