Please feel free to participate in this Forum... Over fifteen years of earlier Forums can be read in the Archives, where you can find answers to many Maigret/Simenon questions. You can search the archives with the site search form at the top and bottom of this page.
( Newest entries first )
Brilliant Staging for "The Red Barn"|
10/17/16 It will be interesting to see what the critics attending tonight's press showing make of David Hare's new play but the audience at the preview I saw a week ago certainly seemed to enjoy it. Brilliantly staged, especially the opening storm scene, and with Mark Strong as Donald Dodd looking at times uncannily like Simenon, it exerted a tight and intimate grip for its less than two hours uninterrupted running time.
The programme (£4) contains David Hare's article about his lifelong fascination with Simenon (see 10/3/16), a study of Simenon's "unique style" by novelist Julian Barnes, and a piece on Simenon's move to America by Patrick Marnham, author of "The Man Who Wasn't Maigret: A Portrait of Georges Simenon".
It was good to see all the new Penguin Classics translations of Simenon's work on display - and attracting interest - in the National Theatre shop.
An omen perhaps...on the tube on the way to the theatre the throng of people entering my carriage at Piccadilly Circus included the great Roger Allam, my dream casting for Maigret in a TV series that does justice to the original stories. This is the second time I have seen the actor during one of my Simenon-related excursions into London.
Richard ThomasRichard's (7/19) announcement of The Red Barn
Simenon's "La Main" in English?|
10/14/16 Was La Main ever translated in English? Under what title? Could not find any so far on the web.
Yes, as "The Man on the Bench in the Barn". And a new Penguin translation is coming, as "The Hand"... see Richard Thomas's discussion on July 19... about the publication and the stage presentation of The Red Barn.
New book on Simenon|
10/12/16 A new book (in French)... Le Paris de Simenon by Jean-Baptiste Baronian... More here
David Hare: the genius of Simenon|
"As he brings one of the crime writer’s novels to the National stage, David Hare reveals why he loves the pithy, power-obsessed creator of Maigret..."
"...But when I discovered that the author of the Maigret series – which I knew chiefly through the BBC television series with Rupert Davies – was also the author of stand-alone novels, my expectations of the genre changed and expanded. These books belonged more alongside Camus and Sartre than Arthur Conan Doyle..."
Les Petits Cochons sans queue?|
8/28/16 I don't see any reference to this compilation [Les petits cochons sans queue] at your excellent site. Did I miss it?
Also, TV episode 29, Cremer, Madame Quatre et ses enfants has the English title "Mrs. Four and her children". Did I miss the English title?
Actually, there are many references in the Archives... Try a search for Les petits cochons sans queue (using the Search form above), and the first one on the list is probably Murielle's Maigret of the Month column, January, 2012, where she wrote:
Les petits cochons sans queue [The little pigs without tails], Nov. 28, 1946, Bradenton Beach (Florida). We note that Maigret doesn't appear in this story, which gives its name to the title of the volume... the title was probably chosen for marketing purposes, as the book was included in Presses de la Cité's "collection Maigret", and using the Chief Inspector's name no doubt contributed to sales...In that same article she lists:
Madame Quatre et ses enfants [Mme Quatre and her children], January 1945, Les Sables-d'Olonne, a story without Maigret.So, the answer is that those two Simenon stories didn't originally include Maigret, but they were made into Crémer TV episodes with Maigret. The collection "Les petits cochons sans queue" contains two Maigret stories: L'Homme dans la rue [The man in the street] and Vente à la bougie [Sale by auction]. It was reissued in 1957 as "Maigret et les petits cochons sans queue", as Murielle explains above.
Penguin Maigret - The Two-Penny Bar|
The detective novel relies on a few simple assumptions:
Are the Maigret novels an embodiment of this Enlightenment myth, or are they a critique? Perhaps a bit of each. This becomes clear in The Two-Penny Bar, a 1932 novel in which the Inspector tries to identify a murderer hidden, six years after the fact, in a group of friends who meet every Sunday at a makeshift tavern near the Seine. We see right away that Maigret does not really resemble a Dupin or a Sherlock Holmes. He works by intuition rather than by logic, waiting for “that nibble, that little shift, the ‘click’ that told him he was on to something” – a flash of intuition triggered not by evidence, but by the “mildness of the evening” or the way a “little white house” looks at dusk.
When analytic logic necessarily takes over – when the givens of the case begin to constrain Maigret’s imagination – he tends to feel let down, “as if he thought it was all falling into place rather too easily.” He wants to prolong the state of not yet knowing indefinitely, to be an inquisitive stranger in a “little world which some event had shaken up.”
As for justice, Maigret seems to prefer criminals to his colleagues. The events in The Two-Penny Bar stem from his visits to a condemned man, Lenoir, whose common sense, confidence, and lack of self-pity have made the Inspector “[take] something of a shine to him.” When the young man mentions that he saw a body dumped in the Seine years earlier, and muses that “There are others who deserve this,” Maigret takes up the case out of curiosity and something like loyalty. Justice appears in his considerations, if at all, mostly in the way he resents – just as Lenoir does – the way the rich and respectable enjoy an unearned freedom from consequences.
For Maigret, detective work is a “bolt-hole,” a place where he can hide from the mundane. Fortunately, he has made his desire to retreat useful to the larger society, just as Simenon made a similar need to escape – to create entire worlds out of guidebooks and maps – useful to millions of readers. Yet such isolation does take its toll. At the end of The Two-Penny Bar, the Inspector feels a “dull, grey despair” – one that only dispels when he makes it to the country and the presence of Madame Maigret.
Simenon, Georges. The Two-Penny Bar. trans. David Watson. London: Penguin, 2014.
Simenon et Maigret en Normandie|
8/2/16 My new book Simenon et Maigret en Normandie: perspectives historiques et sociales (Presses Universitaires de Liege) will be available from 18 September (Amazon.fr, amongst other places). The book is in French but I know the Commissaire Maigret website has a plurilingual readership...
Previous titles of new Penguins?|
7/27/16 Is it possible to note a new Penguin Maigret title/translation in the currently-issuing series and quickly tell whether I already have the same book (old translation of course) under some earlier English title?
In other words, has this magnificent web site keyed each 2013-2016 Penguin Maigret to all or most previous English titles?
Thank you and best wishes.
Although I haven't finished rewriting the old index program, which did exactly what you're asking, here's a fairly easy way to check. Click on any of the new titles below and you'll get to the bibliography entry showing all the previous titles for that book... (In fact, most of the new titles are very close to literal translations of the French originals, so that may be a help as well.)
Simenon Pipe Rack|
7/25/16 Are there any Simenon fans in NYC that may want my Simenon pipe rack? I'd rather give it away than throw it away. But it costs too much to mail...
New Penguin pre-release covers|
"Using sparse typography, paired with Gruyaert's back catalogue of photographs, the intention was not to closely reflect a particular storyline, but rather evoke the atmosphere of Maigret and Simenon's writing."
The Guardian newspaper has an interesting article with commentary by picture editor Samantha Johnson on the Penguin covers.
and there's more from the same at www.creativereview.co.uk
Simenon-based play to open in London|
7/19/16 Further to New Penguin pre-release covers (6/1/16), La Main has in fact appeared under the Penguin imprint previously, though not in a stand-alone version. It was included under the title The Man on the Bench in the Barn in the 10th Simenon Omnibus (1976) along with Maigret and the Madwoman and The Glass Cage.
The new Penguin edition, The Hand, will coincide with a new play by renowned dramatist David Hare based on the book and opening at the National Theatre in London on 6 October with the title The Red Barn. John Simenon will be joining David Hare at the theatre to discuss the play and Simenon's legacy on 7 November.
As a footnote, the translation that appeared in the Penguin Omnibus was by Moura Budberg, surely the most exotic of Simenon's many translators. Described in press reports as "a glamorous tsarist beauty" suspected of spying for both Russia and Great Britain, her lovers included Maxim Gorky and H G Wells. To cap it all, she was the great great aunt of former leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party, Nick Clegg.
New Penguin pre-release covers|
7/18/16 I would agree with David that these covers do not add anything special to the Maigret story. As simple photographs, not much creativity went into creating these covers.
New Penguin pre-release covers|
7/17/16 Is this a good moment to ask: do people actually like these covers? I don’t much. The Revolver one, although it does show the Savoy, is full of anachronisms. Not that that need be a problem in itself... (The woman’s hairstyle, her bracelet, the shape of the taxi, the Exit sign are all from today. Not from 1952. It’s OK to do contemporary covers, but do we really want that? The longest-ever Maigret TV series, the one starring Jean Richard, was always set in the present and was not “in period”. But he was Simenon’s least-favourite Maigret actor.)
Penguin Maigret - The Grand Banks Café|
Maigret is not exactly a round character. He does not “change” or “grow” the way creative writing teachers insist a compelling character must; he never has an epiphany, and the experiences he has in one book are usually utterly forgotten by the time we get to the next. No, Maigret is always self-identical, in the manner of heroes and villains or gods and monsters. Always the same pipe, always the same hat, always the same impassive and imperturbable manner. An actor who plays him – whether he is Jean Gabin, Michael Gambon, Bruno Cremer, or Rowan Atkinson – may be tempted to slip into these traits as if he were donning a cape to play Dracula.
In The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin, the minimal development of Maigret – or what we might now redescribe as the efficiency of his characterization – is used to striking effect. For much of the book, Maigret is conspicuously absent. Yet we know he is near. He must be the stranger in the “bowler hat” who enters the nightclub in the opening scene; he must be the “man with the broad shoulders” who appears so often – and so hauntingly – on the periphery of events. Unnamed and unrecognized, Maigret is the mystery here. Even the Belgian police begin to suspect he may be guilty of the murder at the Gai-Moulin, and the papers in Liege all wonder: “Where is the man with broad shoulders?” What was he doing at the club that night? Why does he not come forward?
In the near-absence of Maigret, the book zeroes in on two teenagers, Delfosse and Chabot, who, robbing the club after closing time, are stunned to find a corpse in the middle of the dance floor. We immediately empathize more with the younger of the two, Chabot, and see in his relation to the older boy a familiar dynamic, reminiscent of Leopold and Loeb or, much later, Harris and Klebold – one in which a strong psychopath dominates and leads astray his weaker companion. Chabot senses that, by hiding in the cellar of the Gai-Moulin, he and Delfosse have crossed a terrifying line. He is horrified by a life so sordid, so dangerous, so low. The dread and guilt he feels make him too nauseated to eat his mother’s cooking, and he is still juvenile enough to imagine his pursuer as an “unknown man pacing the street, just in front of the school he had attended as a child.”
When he does appear, Maigret functions as a kind of deus ex machina – or, more accurately, an auctor ex machina. A plot always seems to move by its own volition in the early stages, but as things come closer to resolution – as the strands of narrative converge, and the themes begin to bend toward a desired outcome – the writer’s hand inevitably becomes more visible. Here the process is done mostly in fun, as we (and the Belgian police) learn just how much Maigret really intervened in the case: “‘Yes, all right, I cheated! I didn’t tell you at once all I knew.’” Even the title of the book is a piece of legerdemain, since the Adele in The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin is considerably less important than the Adele in The Grand Banks Café.
The eventual salvation of Chabot involves two ironies. The first is his posting in the Congo – a location that would have been well known to European readers of the time as a criminal enterprise in its own right, the site of unspeakable atrocities under King Leopold II and the Congo Free State. If Delfosse was a bad influence, surely a corporation only a generation from genocide is even worse.
The second concerns the source of much of the public’s knowledge of those atrocities – a bestselling book called The Crime of the Congo.
Its author? Arthur Conan Doyle.
Simenon, Georges. The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin. trans. Siân Reynolds. London: Penguin, 2014.
ITV orders two more 'Maigret' movies starring Rowan Atkinson|
Atkinson will reprise his role of French fictional detective Jules Maigret in the small-screen mysteries, which are set in 1950s Paris and based on Georges Simenon's novels.
The next installments in the franchise -- Night at the Crossroads and Maigret in Montmartre -- will be shot this fall and winter...
6/20/16 C21 Media - By Andrew Dickens - 6-20-2016 -
Vol. 4 trailer of German Rupert Davies Maigret|
Click here to watch a Vol. 4 trailer of the German Rupert Davies Maigret:
In Germany the series is a success, that's why there will be DVD Vol. 5 as well (from 22nd of July). 45 episodes out of 52 have survived in the ZDF archives, plus "Maigret und die alte Dame" ("The Old Lady"), which lacks good picture quality and is time coded throughout the film. The whole collection will look like this, but unfortunately can be heard in German only: www.pidax-film.de
Rowan Atkinson: Maigret his biggest challenge|
Rowan Atkinson on why the French detective Maigret has been his biggest challenge yet
Atkinson has just returned from Budapest where the streets of Paris in the 1950s were recreated for the two films – Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret's Dead Man. Viewers can expect something "quite distinct, dark and seedy", definitely not Agatha Christie, he adds.
New Penguin pre-release covers|
6/1/16 A Maigret and three non-Maigrets. This is the first time La neige était sale has had its title translated literally. The Hand has never appeared in Penguin before and seems a better as well as more literal title for La main than The Man on the Bench in the Barn.
Cremer's Maigret se trompe [Maigret's Mistake]|
5/27/16 There is no mention of who played Alberte (the woman who wore a man's suit)... was she also Bernadette Lafont who played Madame Brault?
[No, Alberte was played by Rébecca Potok.]Bruno Cremer as Superintendent Jules MAIGRET -- his objective demeanor endearing, his brilliant crime solving most admirable, and the man behind that man is dearly missed.
Penguin Maigret - The Grand Banks Café|
Simenon wrote the early Maigrets at an astonishing clip, and by the ninth book – published, like the first eight, in 1931 – he has already begun to revisit familiar scenes and themes. In The Grand Banks Café, the investigation once again centers on a café, as in The Yellow Dog, while the mystery once again involves fishermen and Fécamp, as in Pietr the Latvian. Such repetitions should not be taken as a sign of literary exhaustion. Like Shakespeare – another popular artist who combined great productivity and high literary quality – Simenon is confident that each return will also be a first visit, with new motives to plumb and new vantages to explore.
The Grand Banks serves the sailors who work fishing for cod off the coast of Newfoundland. The milieu is overwhelmingly male, and misfortune and death are constant threats. Yet, even in this environment, the murder of the captain of the Océan seems extraordinary, an indication that something uncanny must have happened on the trawler’s last voyage. When the ship’s bookkeeper, a young man named Pierre Le Clinche, is charged with the crime, the air of dread in the town only intensifies.
Maigret enters a case marked by sex, secrecy, and “rage.” The constellation first appears when the café’s landlord shows the Inspector a photograph he found in Le Clinche’s room – a picture of a woman, voluptuous and attractive, but with her head “scribbled all over in red ink.” The image suggests both erotic obsession and misogynistic fury: “The pen had bitten into the paper. There were so many criss-crossed lines that not a single square millimetre had been left visible.” The desire to possess and the desire to destroy are disturbingly proximate.
They will remain close throughout the novel. Pierre’s fiancée Marie – a charmingly Gallic Nancy Drew – starts her own investigation and discovers, underneath the bed in the Captain’s cabin, a hiding place, with the words “Gaston – Octave – Pierre – Hen . . .” etched obsessively into the wall, a kind of clandestine sexual inventory. The etcher’s name is Adèle, and even the Inspector finds her “seductive, desirable in the full bloom of her animal presence, magnificent in her sensuality.” She is the most obvious cause of the discord on the ship – the reason
three men [the Captain, Pierre, and the mechanic Laberge] had circled for days, for weeks on end, far away in the middle of the ocean, while other crewmen in the engine room and in the foredeck dimly sensed that a tragedy was unfolding . . . and talked of the evil eye and madness.
The tendency to make women the focus of all desire, as well as the corresponding tendency to blame women for the uncontrollability of that desire, is a constant over three thousand years of Western literature. (Perhaps I should say Western culture – and not just Western.) Simenon seems aware that this is a masculine rationalization. He makes sure that the underlying crime – the one of which the Captain’s murder was a mere symptom – has little to do with anyone’s “animal presence,” no matter what the sailors believe.
In the end, the revelation of Le Clinche’s desire to hear Adèle call him “my big boy” comes across almost as a mockery of Freud – one as outrageous as that scene in Blue Velvet where Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini reenact the family triangle with the aid of a blue robe, amyl nitrate, and scissors. Simenon is not as dark and strange as David Lynch, but he has the same keen sense of the secrets buried beneath the normal, and of how their uncovering is a surprise each time it recurs.
Simenon, Georges. The Grand Banks Café. trans. David Coward. London: Penguin, 2014.
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