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Penguin Maigret - Maigret|
This is the last of the Fayard novels – the nineteen Maigrets that Georges Simenon published with that Parisian company between 1931 and 1934. In his biography, Pierre Assouline reports that Simenon wanted to retire his most famous character and go to work on romans durs, the “real novel[s]” that he was convinced would make his literary reputation. He wanted to be Balzac or Proust or Flaubert. Although the hiatus lasted less than a decade, it does allow us to look at Maigret as a kind of conclusion – one that both sums up and illuminates the eighteen volumes that came before it.
In the novel, Maigret is drawn out of retirement – which was looming in the last book, Lock No. 1 – by a crisis involving his nephew Philippe, a young cop who loses his composure at a crime scene and ends up making himself the prime suspect:
“Please don’t be angry with me, Uncle. I don’t know myself how it happened. I can barely remember. In any case, I fired a shot, because I thought I saw something move. I rushed forwards and then stopped. I thought I heard footsteps, whisperings. But there was nothing but emptiness.”
We might start by noting a couple things about Maigret’s return to Paris.
First, he finds himself in an ambivalent position – revered by many members of the Police Judiciare, but also treated with a certain condescension, as if he were playacting or intruding by reappearing at the Quai des Orfèvres. He has put on some weight, after all, and become a bit soft while puttering around in his “little house in the Loire.” Look at him as analogous to Michael Jordan on the Washington Wizards – still a great player, but in danger of tarnishing his legacy merely by returning.
Second, he has missed the demimonde more than he might admit. He clearly enjoys questioning Cageot, the owner of the club where the murder took place, and relishes the company of Fernande, an attractive young prostitute whose body the narrative describes in unusual detail. Looking back on the Fayard novels, one realizes that contact with this side of life – with the criminal, the marginal, the disreputable – is for Maigret a means of balancing domesticity and danger, of having a life of adventure without giving up his safe sanctuary on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.
Because of his time away, the other officers can now see Maigret’s difference more clearly. The new division chief Amadieu points out that an up-to-date investigator would tend to look askance at Maigret’s way of working:
“Usually you get involved in people’s lives; you try to understand their thinking and you take as much interest in things that happened to them twenty years earlier as you do in concrete clues.”
In other words, criminology is less important to Maigret than psychology. Solving a crime is a matter of understanding the individuals before you in all their complexity, not following a set of standard procedures or looking assiduously for leads. In this novel, we see that his psychological insight allows Maigret to know the weak spots of his opponents – to manipulate them, one might say, into making his job easy. It puts him in the position of an author maneuvering his characters.
This may be what makes the Fayard novels so distinctive, what distances them not just from the pulp fictions of the day, but from predecessors like Arthur Conan Doyle and contemporaries like Agatha Christie. The patient modesty of his method allows Maigret to withdraw into a kind of invisibility, to create the illusion that each case solves itself. A similar desire to vanish may have animated Simenon’s attempt at retirement. He had become inseparable from his character, and that identity made it harder and harder for him to recede from the texts, to keep the focus on the tale and not the teller.
Assouline, Pierre. Simenon. trans. Jon Rothschild. New York, Knopf, 1997.
Simenon, Georges. Maigret. trans. Ros Schwartz. London: Penguin, 2015.
re: Maigret Short Stories?|
9/7/18 A Maigret Christmas And Other Stories is being issued in paperback on 25 October 2018 (9780241356746). The Penguin website lists no other publication of short stories, at least before July 2019.
Maigret Short Stories?|
9/6/18 Does anyone know if Penguin are going to publish another collection of Maigret short stories as they did last Christmas?
re: Maigret in New York - plot question|
6/27/18 To better understand the character Jean Maura, we have to examine the clues scattered throughout the text. We first return to Ch. 2, where Maigret tells O'Brien about the visit to the ship that he made with MacGill and the private detective Bill. Bill is looking (or rather pretends to be looking, as we later learn) for information about Jean Maura's disappearance. We get our first clue (still in Ch. 2), that these investigations of Bill's must be setting a stage, when O'Brien and Maigret, in the course of their conversation, decide that MacGill... "had pretended to go to a lot of trouble" to find Jean. So, we begin by wondering, was it John Maura, Jean's father, who had found his son and hidden him for some reason? Was it MacGill? Or was it someone else...?
In Ch. 3, Maigret pays a visit to John Maura, and during their conversation the Chief Inspector asks him, "Do you know where you son is?," to which the father replies, "My son is free to do whatever he wishes." Maigret responds, "So you know where he is." His intuition appears correct, for these words shake up MacGill, showing the Chief Inspector that MacGill knows more than he's saying.
In Ch. 4, MacGill meets Maigret again, and tells him that John Maura "has been moving heaven and earth" to find his son. At the beginning of Ch. 5, O'Brien announces to Maigret that Jean Maura has been found, and the Chief Inspector deduces that he's back at the hotel with his father. Maigret then goes there and meets Jean, who tells hem that he's now relived about his father. But once again, Maigret has the feeling that there's something wrong with his story, since even Jean Maura himself appears astonished by the atitude of his father, who seems disinterested in what's going on.
In Ch. 7 it's Ronald Dexter who gives his version of the story... There were gangsters who kidnapped Jean on his debarking the ship, to extort John Maura. A few pages laters, Lt. Lewis tells Maigret that the police have discovered that a man had come in search of Jean with a letter from his father, and had taken him to his father's cottage... And then two days later John Maura had had his son brought to him. Maigret deduces that Maura had "reasons to keep the young man out of circulation" for two days.
In Ch. 8, Maigret goes to see off the ship that will bring Jean Maura back to France. And finally, in Ch. 10, it's John Maura who tells Maigret the truth, that there actually were gangsters extorting him about the death of Jessie... "Bill... had arranged the whole show to throw you off track. You thought Bill was obeying our orders, while he was actually the one giving them."
There remains some question as to whether John Maura himself arranged for his son to be hidden away, or whether he was acting under orders from the gangsters. Whichever it was, the character Jean Maura was at the center of an intrigue that was over his head, and if he'd become a sort of pawn in the hands of the protagonists, he was not the actual object of the game...
Lastly, we can add this... Simenon has the art of spreading clues throughout his text, but the reader must be very attentive to retrieve them, and to reconstruct the sequence of events. And it's made even more difficult since the novelist has a principle of not revealing the development of Maigret's thinking. We know that he functions on intuition, which doesn't prevent him from reasoning, but that remains hidden from the reader. The Maigret novels in particular function in the mode of "internal focus", that is, the plot is seen through Maigret's eyes, and the reader finds himself in the same position as the Chief Inspector. But at the same time, to respect the principe of the detective story, the novelist must keep certain things hidden, and not reveal all the deductions that Maigret makes...
Maigret in New York - plot question|
6/24/18 I had never heard of Maigret until I was reading a review of an Agatha Christie novel recently, and the reviewer said that the M books are so much better. I agree.
So, I just finished Maigret in New York and don't understand the character of Jean Maura — the younger son of John Maura. I understand why he went to fetch M out of concern for his father's situation, but after that, I'm lost. I don't understand the significance of him disappearing when the ocean liner docked or how/why he inexplicably turned up in his father's hotel suite. And then if I'm not mistaken, he doesn't feature in the book after that, except by reference, where it's explained near the end that he's the son of Maura's second wife.
Am I missing something? Or is he just irrelevant to the story, after he lures M to New York? Seems like an awkward handling of the character, tho.
Maigret on the Radio - Nicholas le Prevost|
6/24/18 I was happily consulting your list at Maigret on the Radio to add a few tags to my iTunes collection, and noticed a minor error on the cast lists for Series III and IV: Maigret is played by Nicholas le Prevost — not Provost. I confirmed this with www.radiolistings. Their database is taken directly from BBC's own listings. I'm also emailing your source, www.suttonelms.org.uk , as they have the same typo.
Thank you so much for the stunning amount of information at your site! I hope you will accept this as a small contribution and by no means a criticism.
Penguin Maigret - Lock No. 1|
Historians tend to look askance at presentism, the anachronistic insertion of ideas from the historian's era into the period of his study. One might have similar scruples about typology, the practice by which the authors and interpreters of the New Testament converted the stories of the Hebrew Bible into coded anticipations of Jesus and Christianity.
Why do I mention these disreputable intellectual practices? Because I am about to suggest – in the most ridiculously presentist, typological fashion – that Lock No. 1 is a novel about Donald Trump.
I do not mean this literally, of course. Yet it is hard not to think of Trump when one encounters Emile Ducrau, the blustering, contemptuous bully at the center of this case. With considerably more justification than Trump, Ducrau sees himself as a self-made man, one who started at the bottom and worked his way into wealth and power. The people he employs bow and flatter, but Simenon makes sure we understand that Ducrau's domain is actually quite limited. He is more petty tyrant than Alexander the Great.
Like Trump, Ducrau is combative and aggressive, rude to everyone in his sphere and downright cruel to the women, particularly his mistress and long-suffering wife. Yet this arrogance and spite also contains a strong element of theatricality: “One minute he was threatening, yelling, cursing and the next it was far from clear if he wasn't behaving that way because it amused him.” He is a performer – a consummate con artist – and he detests the weaklings who mistake his playacting for reality...
Learning to read Simenon in French
If anyone is wanting to learn to read Simenon in French may I suggest "Le Revolver de Maigret" edited by Herbert F. Collins which has a great vocabulary/idioms section at the back which would have helped me a lot had I read it earlier!
Davies Maigret portrait... comic style|
In the golden age of suspense TV series, the most popular titles had some additional appearances in the form of comic strips. Specially I think of Dell and Gold Key comics in the States, that, in the sixties, published TV-unseen episodes, even from original British series. Most of those US comics were adapted for the Latin American audience as well, by Novaro and SEA publishers.
Today almost all of those printings are still available on the antique book market, and you may decide, whether to enjoy a good old story in English or in Spanish. The comic strips I find, generally, as good as the corresponding TV episodes, some even might be better, because they content special scenes that would have been difficult to be realised for a TV show of those days, but for the cartoonists - no problem at all. Another big advantage of the comics is, they are always in colour, even though the early TV shows are in black & white. An example is "The Detectives", with Robert Taylor starring. The original b&w TV series has not come out on DVDs yet, as far as I know, but there are some colourful episodes to be read as comic strips! The same for "The Untouchables" (starring Robert Stack), and...
If there would have been the Rupert Davies Maigret series on American TV screens, perhaps there would exist some colourful episodes as comics as well. But the BBC Maigret was not presented there, the mighty US TV bosses had some objections. Davies: "I reckon, our series was too cheeky for them." At those times, it simply was unthinkable to serve a programme to the American audience, in which the Chief inspector occasionally, as a matter of course, would ask questions like "Did you spend the last night with......?" or "Tell me the truth, is......your lover?" But those can be, in many Maigret cases, the key questions! You can't cut them out!
Anyway, there remained my desire, to have Rupert Davies as a comic-style picture. Recently, at last, I have tried to make it myself. The result is not too bad, I think, and I hope, you will like it, too.
See more articles by Berthold at Simenon-Simenon
re: Maigret and the Black Sheep reissued?|
5/20/18 According to the Penguin website, Ros Schwartz's translation of "Maigret et les braves gens" [BRA] is scheduled to appear in August as "Maigret and the Good People of Montparnasse".
Most of the new Penguin titles are closer translation of the originals, but for this one they've added "of Montparnasse". Here are the titles and covers of the 2018 editions, including those which have been announced but not yet released:
All the new titles are included in the Bibliography and the Simplified Index. The previous titles for these new Penguins can be found by clicking the [Title Code] link to Plots [BRA], and then clicking the bibliography entry link. All the Penguin covers can be seen here.
Maigret and the Black Sheep reissued?|
5/08/18 Can you tell me whether “Maigret and the Black Sheep” (Maigret et les Braves Gens) [BRA] has come out in the new Penguin series yet? The way Penguin changes the titles …!!
Thanks very much
re: Another Penguin Maigret cover|
5/08/18 Has anyone actually seen a copy of Maigret Enjoys Himself with the red "US cover"?
The Penguin UK and US websites show the green cover. A Google image search shows many thumbnails of the red version, but all the ones I clicked took me to the green version. Penguin Australia's website shows the red version, but they are selling the green one.
I suspect the red version was replaced by the green in the final stages of publication, but it would be interesting to know if any proofs or sale copies exist.
re: Folio Society Maigrets|
5/4/18 As no translators were listed, I contacted the Folio Society who supplied them:
English sub-titled Gabin Maigrets|
5/3/18 Kino Lorber has released two Jean Gabin Maigret films with English subtitles. Film quality is good. No extras. On DVD and Blu-Ray.
Folio Society Maigrets|
5/3/18 The Folio Society has just published its first Maigrets. The “Society” used to be members only but now anyone can purchase them from their website.
From the blurb:
Another Penguin Maigret cover|
4/24/18 Here's an image of the cover of the UK edition of Maigret Enjoys Himself [AMU], which differs from the US cover (left).
Harry Gruyaert photo exhibition in Antwerp|
Antwerp, Begium 9/3/2018 - 10/6/2018
translation from the website by Dirk:
Harry Gruyaert (Antwerpen, 1941) is one of the most famous Belgian photographers. With this retrospective exposition the FOMU (Museum of Photography) draws a rich and surprising image of his work. Gruyaert is one of the pioneers of colour photography and since 1982 member of the famous Magnum agency…..
The masterful use of color photography - with his beloved Kodachrome film - is Gruyaerts trademark. However, the exhibition at FOMU also shows its versatility and focuses on a few seldom seen sides of its career: early black and white work, a fashion campaign for Hermès, covers of Penguin pocket editions of Georges Simenon, a tribute to film maker Michelangelo Antonioni, family photos and diverse assignment photography.
Cremer / Crémer / Kramer|
To most Europeans, the name phonetically (K or) Cray-Mer would be spelt Germanically as Kramer rather than as Cremer. Kramer is a surname frequently found in Germany.
This webpage, on a site for which, of course, I cannot vouch and itself admits that it is ageing, helps:
Part of the text:
This unusual and interesting name has Flemish origins and is an example of a name introduced into England by French and Flemish Huguenots seeking refuge from religious persecution on the continent during the latter half of the 16th Century and again during the late 17th Century. ‘Cremer’ is a variant of the German ‘Kramer’ and is an occupational name for a shopkeeper or tradesman or one who travelled through the countryside buying butter, hens and eggs which he carried to the market.That supports there being a link from Kramer to Cremer. This Wikipedia page (though I never believe without corroboration what I read there) takes us further.
Again, an extract from the text:
Bruno Cremer was born in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. His mother, a musician, was of Belgian Flemish origin and his father was a businessman from Lille who, though born French, had taken out Belgian nationality after the French armed forces refused to accept him for service in the First World War. Bruno himself opted for French nationality when he reached the age of 18. His childhood was largely spent in Paris.
His parents’ roots were in that international triangle where the boundaries of religion, politics and nations often overlapped and came into conflict (before the EU), stretching between French Flanders (Lille), The Netherlands (Maastricht), Germany (Aachen) and embracing the whole of what are now Belgium and Luxembourg. Once the Cremer family was firmly in France, it is understandable that an acute accent was added, for it is that which makes Crémer phonetically almost identical to Kramer at the same time making it look familiar in French.
This is all just background: how the actor’s surname was actually spelt will have been what his birth certificate or any later document changing that said it was. It may, one conjectures, have had the accent added when he opted to be French, not Belgian, at 18. Lamentably, the relative inability of non-Francophones to appreciate accents may have clouded the issue ever since.
There are four little observations to make:
with best wishes to all,
3/12/18 With regard to the accent in the name Crémer... it's actually not so clear. It's true that on the imdb and other cinéma sites we find the name "Cremer" without the accent, but if we search further, we actually find the name "Crémer" with the accent just as often as without.
Although I haven't been able to find an "official" version, I tend to favor (in spite of everything, even Wikipedia!) the version with the accent, based on the covers of the author's autobiography, on which his name is Crémer. If we can assume that the author himself approved these covers, he must therefore have approved of the spelling…
3/11/18 What a wonderful site! I note that you also have a book out with Murielle Wenger which I will order. I read nearly all the Maigret novels in English some thirty-five years ago when I was at university and now I am retired I am reading them all in French.
I am particularly impressed by your attention to detail on the site, which is why I am sending you this message. In your section Maigret Films & TV the name of the actor Bruno Cremer is spelt with an acute accent (Crémer). In fact there is no accent in his name.
Good luck with your site and keep up the excellent work!
Maigret in Montmartre - the Atkinson film...|
3/6/18 On Christmas Eve I watched, in London, the fourth of the Atkinson Maigrets: Maigret in Montmartre. I take Vladimir's point about Maigret being created to be more along the lines of the Gambon/Cremer build, but as I've previously noted, I like Atkinson's portrayal. It rings emotionally true, to me, and Atkinson's persona is, again to me, nothing short of brilliant. But here's why I've sent in this posting: one of the magazines containing a listing of the television offerings during the December holidays (I forget if it was Radio Times or The Times or The Guardian) referred to Maigret in Montmartre as the latest offering in the "now decomissioned series." I think that would be a sad loss, should the series end with only the four films.
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