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 )
11/25/15 Regarding temperature in Paris, you can get a full set of data (average, min and max) for January at www.meteo-paris.com.
-12° C is not unheard of* but the average is more like between 1° and 3° C.
*record low for January 14: -12.7° C (1985)
|re: Fahrenheit or Celsius?|
11/24/15 The Internet makes finding all kinds of trivia info so easy... Here is a graph of average temperatures in Paris: -12º C is very unusually cold there; -12º F, which is near -24º C , probably never happened.
|Fahrenheit or Celsius?|
11/23/15 In my Presses de la Cite edition of Maigret et l'affaire Nahour [NAH], are the following passages [from Chapter 1]:
On était le 14 janvier, le vendredi 14 janvier, et la température à Paris avait été toute la journée de moins 12º. La neige, qui était tombée en abondance les jours précédents, s'était durcie à tel point qu'il avait été impossible de l'enlever et, malgré le sel répandu sur les trottoirs, il restait des plaques de glace vive sur lesquelles les passants glissaient.
It was 14 January, Friday, 14 January, and the temperature in Paris had been twelve degrees below zero all day. The snow, which had fallen abundantly on the previous days, had frozen so hard that it was impossible to sweep it away, and, in spite of the salt strewn on the pavements, there were still some patches of sheer ice on which the passers-by would slip. (tr. by Alistair Hamilton, 1967.)
C'est ce qui le chiffonait le plus. Si le couple habitait Paris, c'était presque sûrement dans les beaux quartiers et on trouve des médecins dans presque toutes les rues de la ville... Si le coup de feu avait été tiré dans un immeuble, pourquoi ne pas avoir appelé un docteur au lieu de trimballer la blessée dans les rues par 12º sous zero ?...
That was what vexed him most. If the couple lived in Paris it was almost certainly in a smart district and there are doctors in nearly every street in town... If the shot had been fired in a building, why not call a doctor instead of carting the wounded woman through the streets at twelve degrees below zero?... (tr. by Alistair Hamilton, 1967.)
This was written in 1966. February 1966. Obviously, the 12º must be Fahrenheit, but I thought the French used the Celsius scale.
Anyway, it is lovely to read that description while here in warm Tobago.
France uses Celsius. Britain officially switched to Celsius in 1962, and so Alistair Hamilton's 1967 translation (above) is in Celsius.
| A Penguin a week|
11/22/15 Karyn Reeves's blog, A Penguin a week, about her vintage (pre-1970) Penguin book collection, has been online since September, 2010. Here are the Maigrets and a few additional Simenons that she's done so far:
| re: He Must Have Been Irresistable|
11/17/15 So that rumour about a thousand (or was it ten thousand) ladies ... could have been true ???
| re: Maigret Blog... en español !|
11/17/15 Gracias por esta nota, Ana. ¿Hay también algunas películas "Maigret" dobladas en español, excepto las con Michael Gambon?
Thank you for this note, Ana. Are there any Maigret films dubbed into Spanish, too, except those with Michael Gambon?
And I've got another question to the forum. I have heard the Davies Maigret exists in a French dubbed version, but I can hardly believe that! Does anybody know for sure?
| He Must Have Been Irresistable|
11/16/15 Thank you so very much for the information on 'Le vieil homme'. If he was so charming (that little smile) when he was 85 years, he must have been irresistable when he was younger. And I understand he certainly was that.
| Maigret Blog... en español !|
El Comisario Maigret, sagacidad con la panza llena -
[Commissioner Maigret, sagacity with a full stomach]
|Nov. 13, 2015
Vive la France !
| Simenon in 1988!|
11/8/15 Have you ever seen this? It’s not that easy to find online:
Lausanne, le 28 novembre, 1988. Agé de 85 ans, Georges Simenon accepte un interview de la TSR.
Interview in Lausanne with Pierre-Pascal Rossi for television programme Hôtel, Radio télévision suisse 1988 11 28 (date of filming), 1989 01 12 (date of broadcast)
It’s a rather heartening 13 minutes: one had assumed he was in far worse shape than this after a stroke, a brain operation and years of no more interviews. But he’s the old Simenon.
|re: Different Maigret Titles?|
Maigret in exile / Georges Simenon.
|Different Maigret Titles?|
11/5/15 Thank you very much for your excellent website on Maigret. I enjoy the historical covers and I deeply appreciate the fact that you're keeping it well up-to-date with the new Penguin editions of 2013-present.
I'm not a collector; just a faithful reader since the late 1970s. I own about 80 Maigrets in various English-language paperbacks. As far as I can tell, the new Penguin USA editions will publish very few books that were truly unavailable in English. These"new" Maigrets are mostly from the early 1930s, it seems to me, and they have already come out in the new Penguin series.
My question is, Penguin USA has announced two titles -- "Felicie" and "Signed, Picpus" -- without noting on their website whether they came out earlier in English under different titles. Can you help?
Thank you again for your help to Maigret readers everywhere.
All the Maigret novels and all but three of the stories have been published in English translations, although a number of them were never published in Penguin editions.
|La Foire du Trône|
11/5/15 The carousel mentioned in Les Caves du Majestic [11/1/15] is from early in Chapter 3, "Charlotte au « Pélican »"...
— Écoutez plutôt... D’abord la demoiselle et lui ont dîné dans un petit restaurant à douze francs de la rue Lepic... Vous voyez ça d’ici ?... Le patron les a remarqués, car ce n’est pas souvent qu’on lui réclame du vrai champagne... Ensuite, ils ont demandé où il y avait des chevaux de bois... Ils s’expliquaient très mal... On a fini par les envoyer à la Foire du Trône...
“Listen... First he and the girl ate at a cheap little restaurant on Rue Lepic... You know the kind I mean? The patron noticed them, for it’s not often that someone orders real champagne... Then, they wanted to know where there were wooden horses... They couldn’t explain themselves very clearly... And he wound up sending them to the Trône [Throne] Fairgrounds...”Foire du Trône.
|German Davies Maigret DVD Vol. 3|
|re: Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
11/1/15 I have been re-reading Maigret as the new Penguin paperbacks have been published. Murielle has probably nailed it with the reference to Les Caves du Majestic. In the Howard Curtis translation ( "The Cellars of the Majestic"), on page 40, it states.. "then they asked where they could find a carousel... They couldn't explain themselves very well ... In the end they were sent to the fair near Place de la Nation..." That particular story is followed very closely by the Crémer version, except for the broken pipe at the beginning!
|re: Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
11/1/15 In response to Linda's question about the carousel scene, if it's really from the Crémer series, here's what I've come up with. The images don't exactly fit her description, but they're the closest I've found. The first is from the episode "Maigret et l’inspecteur Cadavre" [CAD], and it's not in Paris, but in Belgium (found near the end of the episode). The second is in "Maigret et les caves du Majestic" [MAJ], and it's from the opening credits, and is supposed to take place in Paris. If neither of these is the one Linda remembers, I can keep trying, but I may not find anything better...
|New Maigret in Polish|
|Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
10/31/15 I saw a TV program recently, maybe not a Maigret, that had a small carousel in a Paris square, no trees or park around, maybe a seasonal carousel, that a woman and a small boy walked by at least once, maybe from their apartment nearby. For some reason, the scene stuck in my mind and I’m trying to remember (memory going) where I saw it. I think the program was set in earlier times (20s to 70s). I thought someone might know if a scene like that is in one of the Bruno Crémer Maigret programs.
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
10/27/15 Thank you Vladimir. I will check the references you mention in your reply. It may be possible to do our own walk around some of the landmarks.
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
10/26/15 Interesting question by Paul (10/25/15). This topic has been, of course, discussed in-depth on this forum. [see, for example, Murielle's 2007 visit, Joe Richards's "In Maigret's Footsteps in Montmartre", ...] There is a memorial plaque on one of the buildings dedicated to Maigret. Otherwise, the answer is not very encouraging. While most, if not virtually all, locations in Maigret novels seem amazingly real - this is the talent of Simenon as a writer - they are impossible to point out with any accuracy. Nothing surprising about this - Maigret novels are works of fiction.
Paris has a quite interesting police museum, recently visited and described by Murielle. All material is in French, as I understand it. Every once in a while, there are literary events dedicated to Simenon and featuring Maigret.
When I am in Paris, I would not mind having a beer and sandwich at that bistro [Brasserie Dauphine] near the police department where Maigret so often sent Lapointe for a take-out or ordered delivery when he had to work late.
Have a nice trip.
|Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
|New Penguin Maigret covers|
"Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert
For its release of a new translation of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series, Penguin Books turned to Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert to provide covers for all 75 books. We talk to Penguin picture editor Samantha Johnson about how she has worked with Gruyaert to choose the covers…"
|Latest Penguin Maigret novels selection|
10/18/15 What logic did Penguin editors use in selecting which Maigret novels to include in recent publication? Does anyone have an idea?
The Penguin plan is to reissue all 75 Maigret novels in (mostly) new translations, in (approximately) the order in which they were first published in French.
Penguin Maigret - A Man's Head|
Any writer – not just the author of detective fictions – must lure the reader in with some pressing question, then replace that mystery, again and again, as long as the structure will bear it, with newer and deeper mysteries.
As in The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, the narrative of A Man’s Head starts in medias res, and once again Maigret acts as a kind of prime mover – arranging a jailbreak, letting a dimwitted convict escape in the hopes that he will somehow lead the police to the real murderer of a rich American widow and her maid. When Coméliau, the examining magistrate, disapproves of the plan, the Inspector sharply rebukes him: “And is a man’s head not worth a touch of scandal?”
The central figure in the novel is a mysterious redheaded Slav, bedraggled and a bit mischievous, who appears in the Coupole bar and, despite having no apparent connection to the case, begins to taunt Maigret:
“If you understand nothing, and I mean zero, it’s because from the very start you’ve been working with facts which had been falsified. And once that is conceded, everything that has flowed from them is false too, no? And everything you will discover will also be false, and so on all down the line.”
Logic is not enough, in other words. Even the most airtight syllogism will lead to falsehood if you do not start from the right premises. And the “facts” themselves are always elusive and unstable, as A Man’s Head makes clear. We eventually learn that the Slav, whose name is Radek, has orchestrated everything: “’He took satisfaction in pulling the wool over my eyes . . . He made up things to confuse me . . . He proceeded to multiply the false leads . . . He had constructed an image for himself as all-powerful, a demi-god.” Radek is to the Inspector as Georges Simenon is to both his hero and the reader. The author (and by implication the deity) becomes a counterweight to logic, a way to inject uncertainty into a case to prevent the solution from becoming inevitable.
In the end, it is hard to say whether this artist of murder defeats or is defeated by the Inspector. On the one hand, Maigret does outwit his adversary and, through some clever stagecraft of his own, lure him into a decidedly inartistic act of violence. On the other hand, Radek’s insistence on grand gestures and ambitious plans does ultimately seem to judge the stolid Inspector. When he mocks Maigret, it sounds like Simenon – who was not even thirty when the first Maigrets appeared – taunting the bourgeois he might become. Fortunately, the young writer had much more than the “mild attack of genius” that Radek sees in Maigret, and this brilliant novel is one of the more enjoyable symptoms.
Simenon, Georges. A Man’s Head. trans. David Coward. London: Penguin, 2014.
Maigret's face... and its interpretations|
A pipe, a hat, an overcoat... There, in three strokes, the character Maigret as drawn by his creator. A summary sketch, as Simenon intended. This simplification provides the strength of the character, into which each reader can project his own imaginary vision. And it allows any actor who tries to portray him to live within his own skin, in his own style, with his own mannerisms. But it's also what makes interpretation difficult, for the character must be credible to the viewer, and the actor has to find a "niche", a channel by which he can capture the spectator's attention and create the feeling, "that's really Maigret!" Some emphasize the physical aspect (the heaviness of the silhouette), others the psychological, the "internal", (empathy, understanding), with the best of them managing to combine both.
That being said, in response to the recent interest on the Forum regarding Maigret's physical aspect, particularly his first cinematic interpreters, it may prove enlightening to consider Simenon's own comments. We can note first what the novelist wrote about adaptations of his novels... "In writing a novel, I see my characters and I know them down to the minutest details, including much more than I describe. How can a director or an actor portray this image which only exists in my mind? Not by my descriptions, which are always brief and summary, since I want to allow the reader free play with his or her own imagination." (in Mémoires intimes). This is exactly the problem for any transposition of a work to the screen, and I think most writers must consider this transposition as more or less a "betrayal" of their work. The question is to what extent they can accept this "betrayal", which is part of the game... And this is particularly the case for the character Maigret, with whom his creator had lived long enough to have a fairly precise image, perhaps indescribable in the novels. Especially, as we've said above, since Simenon intended for Maigret to remain physically a sketch. And that's perhaps also why the author could find certain interpreters more in harmony with his vision of his character, although the actors in question were physically quite different from each other...
When Roger Stéphane interviewed Simenon in 1963 for the television production Portrait Souvenir, he asked him how an actor should go about playing Maigret. Simenon's response is pertinent, but sufficiently vague to leave latitude for the actor's interpretation... "Maigret doesn't seem intelligent. He's not an intelligent man he's an intuitive. Not at all someone with sharp eyes who immediately sees the smallest detail. I'd even say, in the earliest novels, he seems almost bovine. He's a really big guy, almost elephantine, who walks around, sniffs around, feels his way... In other words, he's an intuitive, with nothing obviously clever about him. That's what, I believe, impresses the criminals most... When you have someone in front of you who doesn't react, someone who looks at you heavily as if he's bored, who smokes his pipe and looks at you like you're an insect, it's very hard to respond. That's a first impression of Maigret. In other words, a man of very ordinary appearance, with an ordinary intelligence too, with an average education, but who knows how to sense people, to sniff out what's inside them... When Maigret arrives at the scene of a crime, what does he do? Generally, you see him going from one room to another, opening up drawers or looking in the trash can, walking around, but not as if he's saying, 'Aha! here's a clue!'... Not at all. He seems to be thinking about something else."
Let's consider the first screen Maigret, the adaptation of La nuit du carrefour [NUI]. At the time of the making of this film (1932), what was known about the character of the Chief Inspector, physically speaking, from the novels that had been published up to that point? The essentials were laid out in the first one, Pietr le Letton [LET]... Maigret appears as a placid mass, broad and heavy, with a heavy step, a dark silhouette drawn by the outline of a heavy black overcoat. In the following novels, the novelist is satisfied to emphasize his character's corpulence, but a corpulence which must be regarded as muscular, not fat, the author making it clear that Maigret is agile, in spite of his weight. Simenon sometimes compares him to an animal, a huge beast, elephantine, who can have a monstrous side, nightmarish for the suspects he pursues. Subsequently, however, the portrait will be refined, and the heaviness will become more psychological than physical, which will not prevent the Chief Inspector from continuing to impress with his stature...
re: Maigret's aspects |
10/12/15 Berthold, to answer your question, "Does he bear a resemblance to the Maigret statue?", I'd need to see Pierre Renoir in a bowler hat :-)
10/11/15 First of all, thank you, Arlene Blade, for the extract (10/09/15), and thank you, Andrew Walser, for the reviews (7/29/15), (8/17/15), (9/05/15), (9/26/15). I hope there will emerge more reviews in the future. All of those contributions refer to the very first Maigret novels, and I would like to add some information about the very first Maigret film, because I am still in search of connections or even matches of Maigret's aspects in novels, films and the statue. Vladimir said (10/07/15), that "none of the actors who played Maigret after the statue was made looks like the guy of the statue". But did any of the actors who played Maigret before the statue was made, look like the guy of the statue?
The Maigret statue was unveiled in 1966, but certainly it will show us the basic image that Simenon had in mind when he created Maigret in 1929 and in the early thirties. The first Maigret novels instantly had success, so much so that already in 1932 there came up a Ciné film version of the seventh book of the series: "La Nuit du carrefour" (director: Jean Renoir), English book title: "The Night at the Crossroads".
(quotations below are translations based on the German Wikipedia article referring to the films)
The director was Julien Duvivier; Maigret was played by Harry Baur. "After the disappointment of not having created his own film, Simenon withdrew totally from the film business and didn't offer any more rights to make films from his works for the next seven years."
Now, let's have a thought and a look at Pierre Renoir. Does he look like our Chief Inspector Maigret? Does he bear a resemblance to the Maigret statue?
My own opinion is: yes, referring to his face, there is a certain resemblence. His body, though, does lack a lot of heaviness. Harry Baur seems to me more perfect to "look like the guy of the statue" ... But I knew I had to go back to the roots to find something.
You feel as though you are really there|
10/09/15 When you read this from Pietre-Le-Letton, you are not in Tobago (or anywhere else) but in Paris:
De Saint-Lazare à l'Hôtel de Ville, il y a loin. Il faut traverser tout le centre de la ville et, entre six et sept heures du soir, les passants déferlent par vagues sur les trottoirs, les voitures coulent dans les rues à un rythme aussi soutenu que celui du sang dans les artères.
It's a long way from Gare Saint-Lazare to Hotel de Ville, there’s the whole city centre to get through. Between six and seven in the evening, pedestrians flood the pavements in ocean waves, and traffic pulses along the streets like blood pumping down an artery.
Simenon's description of Maigret (re: More grumbling...)|
10/07/15 In the Maigret of the Month column here in March, 2008, for Maigret s'amuse (Maigret's Little Joke, None of Maigret's Business), Murielle catalogued Simenon's various descriptions of Maigret's physical appearance, including these references to his facial features...
...Finally, let's speak of his face. It's fleshy (PHO), heavy (PHO), thick (POR, SIG), it's a thick face (TET), broad (TET, AMI), even coarse (GAI). Maigret's hair is thick, of a dark chestnut brown, in which you can hardly make out a few white strands around the temples (LET), and his large eyebrows (CEC, VAC) thick (LET, SCR) surmounting his large eyes (JAU, GAI, JUG, CAD, FAC, NEW, MOR, AMI, MME, MEU, BAN, PEU, TRO, ECO, JEU, TEN, SCR, VIE) with heavy lids (GAL). The color of his eyes must be light, of a greenish gray, after a sleepless night (LIB).
The face of the statue (re: More grumbling...)|
I would not say that the face of the statue has "no particular features". It is definitely a recognizable face. I also noticed that none of the actors who played Maigret after the statue was made look like the guy of the statue.
Simenon's description of Maigret (re: More grumbling...)|
10/05/15 Again I am moved to bemoan the banal renderings of Georges Simenon’s vibrant, crackling prose that are foisted on readers of English. No doubt the passage quoted by Andrew Walser from Linda Coverdale’s translation of Le pendu de St. Pholien (9/26/15)
[Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broad-shouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were as still and dull as a cow's. In this he resembled certain figures out of children's nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as if to crush them.]conveys the raw sense of the original, but the style is as insipid and perfunctory as a school exercise.
Is it really expecting too much of a professional translator to ask for a version in literate, idiomatic English like the following?
He was tall and heavily built, very broad across the shoulders, and his ready-made suit did little to soften the rugged contours of his bulky frame. As stolid and unblinking as a beast of burden, he looked like one of those bloated, faceless horrors that haunt a child's nightmares and threaten to smother the dreamer in a lethal embrace.By the way, which of Maigret’s many screen impersonators ever managed to project that particular image?)
Here's Simenon's original (1931) French,
Place des Vosges|
Penguin Maigret - The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien|
The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien starts in medias res, as Horace thought all great narratives should. In a train station on the German-Dutch border, Inspector Maigret clandestinely switches a suitcase and then follows its owner to a humble hotel, where he peeks through a keyhole as this down-on-his-luck young man opens the case and – finding its original contents gone – promptly blows his own head off. When Maigret opens the first case, to see what might drive a person to such despair, he finds, stunningly, nothing but an old, tattered suit, several sizes too big for the young man.
The investigation entangles Maigret with a group of suspicious Belgians – wealthy Belloir, the photoengraver Jef Lombard, and businessman Joseph Van Damme. He eventually learns that the three men (along with their friend Janin) are trying to cover up the suicide of Émile Klein, almost ten years earlier – but why? In a typical mystery, the plot converges on a single question, to which the detective delivers his definitive answer. In the Maigret novels, things are less tidy, and often the case turns out to be the least perplexing problem the Inspector faces.
Here the investigation leads Maigret to the Companions of the Apocalypse, a group of pretentious young people whose flirtations with nihilism and violence end in the murder of a Jewish student named Willy Mortier. As he confesses to the Inspector, Belloir describes the victim in terms that chillingly prefigure the kind of rhetoric that would become inescapable in Europe just a few years later: “’He hated us! And we hated him! On top of everything else, he was stingy – and cynical about it . . . He was the alien, hostile element that crops up almost every time when men get together.’” Are we supposed to sympathize? Although Pierre Assouline’s biography devotes several pages to evidence of Simenon’s anti-Semitism, this prejudice is almost indiscernible in the Maigret novels. Only a reader already sensitive to the question will wonder to what degree the author shared Belloir’s attitudes about the “alien, hostile element.”
The title of an earlier translation, Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets, refers to the drawings Jef Lombard did in the wake of Émile’s death – hanged man after hanged man, obsessively, many of them dangling from the church where Klein hanged himself. These artworks are still hanging themselves, in Lombard’s studio, but, as the years since the deaths accumulate, are being crowded out by more innocuous images: landscapes, portraits, family pictures, scribbles by the kids. This process, this slow erasure of youthful mistakes, operating alongside their painful and destructive persistence, is perhaps the real mystery of the book. Maigret’s sense that it works in the direction of justice may account for his decision to let the Belgians go. As he says to Lucas: “‘You know, vieux, ten more cases like that one and I’ll hand in my resignation. Because it would prove that there’s a good old Good Lord up there who’s decided to take up police work.’”
The novel also contains a remarkable early description of Maigret, one that portrays the Inspector as relentless, impassive, perhaps a little slow – almost a French golem. We realize as we read that we are seeing him through the Belgians’ eyes:
Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broad-shouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were as still and dull as a cow’s. In this he resembled certain figures out of children’s nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as if to crush them.
The children who surround Maigret’s targets are figures for the children that the killers and the accomplices and the dead men once were. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien is complex enough to make Maigret – its embodiment of the law – both the protector of these once and future children, and the nightmare coming to crush them.
Simenon, Georges. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien. trans. Linda Coverdale. London: Penguin, 2014.
"C'est Maigret" - A blog dedicated to Rupert Davies|
Rowan Atkinson as Maigret|
9/8/15 Rowan Atkinson to get serious as filming for ITV remake of Maigret begins Atkinson, 60, who found fame as Blackadder and Mr Bean, has started filming the first two-hour ITV film, Maigret Sets A Trap. But now the TV favourite is to reinvent himself as an altogether more serious character, in the form of French detective Jules Maigret. ITV has started filming on the first of the two-hour films. Made on location in Budapest, Hungary, it is set in 1950s Paris and will be followed by a second film, Maigret’s Dead Man.
Atkinson took the role of pipe-smoking Maigret, played by Michael Gambon in the 1990s, as a fan of Georges Simenon’s books. He said: “I have been a devourer of the Maigret novels for many years and I’m very much looking forward to playing such an intriguing character, at work in Paris during a fascinating period in its history.” ITV boss Peter Fincham declared he was “delighted” by the “prestigious commission”, which is due to hit the screen next year. Atkinson has focused on films over the past two decades, particularly with his characters Mr Bean and Johnny English. His last TV series was Ben Elton’s short-lived BBC police comedy The Thin Blue Line, which ran for two years from 1995. The new version of Maigret was inspired by the popularity of European crime fighters such as Danish detective Sarah Lund in The Killing and Swedish sleuth Wallander, played by Kenneth Branagh.
Next (German) Rupert Davies DVD coming...|
9/7/15 Volume II of the Rupert Davies Maigret (German version) will be available on DVDs soon. I am overjoyed with this news. One thing is the great acting of the leading man and, of course, of all of the other performers. Another thing is, that I grew up with this series. I have seen many actors in the role of Maigret, almost all of them. I find them all good, but Rupert Davies is the best one for me. I wonder if I would have had a different opinion, if I'd grown up with some other actor as Maigret, not even knowing of this Englishman. I reckon, in that case, perhaps, I would not be such a big Maigret fan.
But if I were an Italian (I'm German) I'd surely be a fan of Gino Cervi's Maigret, and if a Dutchman I'd surely be a fan of Jan Teulings's Maigret... There are lots of factors that take part in the decision-making of who is the best Maigret. It's not quite so simple as it seems to be at first glance. Some reasons even remain concealed.
I would like to add, that I admire Murielle's work (I've discovered her Maigret website with all the Maigret book covers of many nations, even the German ones). And I appreciate this Maigret thread very much, too, which I discovered only a few weeks ago. There are lots of pages to be read ...
Penguin Maigret - The Late Monsieur Gallet|
An earlier translation called this book Maigret Stonewalled – and stonewalled is about right. The case frustrates Maigret, and the novel frustrates its reader’s expectations, denying him smooth forward progress, a coherent cast of suspects, and a just resolution.
A murder in Sancerre seems bleak and uninteresting to Maigret. The dead man has an unpleasant look, a stuck-up wife in Saint-Fargeau, an aloof and ambitious son – and yet none of them is quite bad enough to hold the Inspector’s attention. Ultimately, it is this very mundanity that pulls him in: “Every criminal case has a feature of its own, one that you identify sooner or later, and it often provides the key to the mystery. He thought that the feature of this one was, surely, its sheer mediocrity”. Yet mediocrity does not necessarily make for scintillating narrative. One might see The Late Monsieur Gallet as both a critique of and an apologia for the exaggeration and romance that underpin most detective fiction. This is everyday crime, the novel seems to say, and everyday crime is a bit drab.
The book itself is anything but dull, and not just thanks to Anthea Bell’s expert translation. The interest lies in the way Maigret cuts through the “fog that distort[s] the view” and brings into focus all that underlies the ordinary. The story he pieces together is as improbable as the wildest fantasy. “Mediocre” Monsieur Gallet has been leading a double life – pretending to work as a salesman for eighteen years, but in fact engaging in petty scams involving elderly royalist sympathizers and being blackmailed by a mysterious figure named Monsieur Jacob. There is also intrigue in Indo-China, a vast inheritance, a bartered birthright... Ultimately, we learn that the victim had rigged up an elaborate mechanism to shoot himself, making it look like homicide so that his wife could collect 300,000 francs in insurance. The solution to the crime is that there is no crime.
The novel ends with Maigret in a furious mood. He senses that poor Gallet has been wronged every step of the way – especially by Tiburce Saint-Hilaire, the nobleman who took over his identity. Even the usual return to Madame Maigret at the end of the case does not ease the Inspector’s mind. It is as if he has seen what “ordinary” success and failure entail, and the revelation makes him nostalgic for extraordinary crime: “’All the same I’d rather have a real murder victim and a real murderer...’”. There is little satisfaction, apparently, in seeing through the crime that is the everyday.
Simenon, Georges. The Late Monsieur Gallet. trans. Anthea Bell. London: Penguin, 2013.
re: Police Museum|
9/3/15 Thanks Murielle, very interesting. Is all the info in the museum in French only?
Paris Police Headquarters Museum|
Blvd Richard Lenoir - error in the caption|
8/26/15 I enjoyed Joe Richards' (2003) pictures in In Maigret's Footsteps in Montmartre. However, there's a misunderstanding about the ventilator on the picture below. Underneath the Blvd. Richard Lenoir is a canal that runs from the Seine to the Canal St. Martin. Absolutely not the Metropolitan. I've taken photos in which you can see the water, and boats passing. The ventilators, if you can call them that, bring light and air into the hidden canal.
Rupert Davies Maigret as seen in the '60s|
8/20/15 The persons in charge of the ZDF program certainly had some reasons in mind when presenting in Germany the Maigret episodes mixed up instead of chronologically (as in England). Episodes of plain settings and few outside scenes took turns with episodes of better outfits and numerous scenes in streets and backyards. Surely the overall impression of the series therewith was improved, right from the start.
Nevertheless, according to a comment of the ZDF, the first seven episodes hardly got any spectators' feedback. Not till then came up a certain enthrallment and enthusiasm, constantly increasing up to the end of the series. And after the end there was the exclamation: "We want our Maigret back! Start again!"
I believe scarcely anybody noticed the "not so good" episodes as such, because the "strong" films were already in mind to hold up the weaker ones like a steel framework. What's more to be mentioned is that at that time many spectators, perhaps most of them, actually regarded a film, not as a film, but as transmitted reality.
Concerning this matter, I once read in an English commentary that, to some extent, television viewers were convinced that events on screen were live broadcasts, and that the actors at times had to change their clothes very quickly between scenes and, furthermore, that they also had to run like lightning to the location of the next scene.
In this respect we must not forget that, at the beginning and in the midst of the sixties, television was relatively new - and something outstanding. The whole family gathered in front of the screen in order to watch the programme as if hypnotized. When the TV hero got hurt, the viewers were wounded, too (so to speak). Nowadays the TV perception is totally different. Blood in a film at most leads to the question: What sort of ketchup did they use?
At the beginning of the Maigret film "Death in Mind" a dead woman is being rolled out of her bed, falling into a pool of blood. I watched that scene as a 12-year-old child and will never forget it in all my life. Today, when I see in a modern crime thriller a man being shot with his brains splashing on the wall - of course shown as close-up view, in slow-motion and high-resolution - it's only everyday food, nothing extraordinary in a crime thriller of today. Even children will rather find it boring, because it's not a new idea, and they had already seen something like that at least a hundred times.
Neither can "Maigret" get by without effects. What distinguishes those films though (and the books as well) is rather the often hidden humanity which has to be revealed, including the strengths and the weaknesses of persons, who - perhaps due to only a slight cause in their surrounding field - were thrown off track and inwardly driven to commit a crime.
This demands a very special serendipity from the viewer, and from Maigret himself. Maybe the viewer can hardly cope with this. Anyway, within 50 to 55 minutes of one episode he hasn't got much time for thinking, with the usually rapid progress of the story line. What's left for him is to be orientated towards Maigret. For that reason the actor representing Maigret has got to be very, very particular. Never fear! Rupert Davies was born to be Maigret, among other things.
re: Penguin Maigret - The Carter of La Providence|
Maigret Rupert Davies as seen in Germany|
8/18/15 Maigret (Rupert Davies) was on German Television from 1965 until 1968, to begin with all of the 52 episodes (ZDF), followed by 24 repetitions (ZDF), followed by 9 repetitions out of these 24 ones on a different channel (ARD). I saw them all as a child. Almost 45 years later on, there came up the possibility of buying DVD or VHS copies of single episodes directly from ZDF. I bought a lot of them, but not all, because they were high priced. Now 10 episodes are available on DVDs (sadly with German soundtrack only), but at a more reasonable price.
I got used to seeing the episodes always mixed up, on German TV and on my ZDF DVDs. Now Pidax is presenting them exactly in chronological order according to the succession of the BBC production. This means to me a different kind of view. Now I can see the development of the series.
First of all, I miss Sergeant Torrence (Victor Lucas) in Maigret's team. Probably he will emerge for the first time in episode number 14, I suppose, as a fortification of the team. By the way, Sergeant Janvier will never appear on the whole of the series, he occasionally will only be mentioned by his colleagues: Maigret, Lucas (Ewen Solon), Lapointe (Neville Jason) and, of course, Torrence.
I notice that in the first episodes of the series, Maigret almost always wears a pinstriped suit. Later on, he will be dressed more casually and often wear a trenchcoat, when operating outside of his office. Scenes outside will be more and more a matter of course, and we will see a lot of the real Paris of the early sixties. Madame Maigret (Helen Shingler), highly present in the first episodes, will continue to be present later on, but not quite so often. She will appear in only about 30 episodes out of the 52. There had to remain enough space, of course, for all of the other famous actresses and actors of that time who would play a part in this ambitious series.
Penguin Maigret - The Carter of La Providence|
Neues vom Maigret – News about Rupert Davies Maigret|
8/16/15 Here are more of my thoughts about the Rupert Davies Maigret series, after having watched the other episodes in the coffret....
Returning to Vladimir’s question about the accuracy of the series, I’ve noticed some evolution since the first few episodes... little by little the writers have begun to risk a certain distance from the original text, no longer following the dialogues of the novel to the letter, and allowing themselves more significant changes to the plot. The basic outline of the police story still respects the essential points of the original, but some minor changes develop in the relationships between the characters and Maigret. Yet, once more, Simenon’s magic of the spirit of the story is respected, and we have to recognize that Rupert Davies, as the episodes progress, is more and more convincing in the role, both in his attitudes and his manner of dealing with the characters he encounters.
Furthermore — possibly aided by an increased production budget resulting from the success of the series — we start to find, in the later episodes, a greater number of settings which seem more "authentic" (less "cardboard cutout"), and more outdoor scenes, which add a certain credibility to it all.
I might mention an 'extra feature' of this series... the subtle, oh, so British humor introduced into the dialogues...
To conclude, I hope Pidax will continue to produce the other coffrets of the series, so that we can see its evolution develop, which will help us understand why it was such a great success at the time. And of course, it would be even better if BBC would decide to dig through its archives, and to offer to all Maigret fans DVDs of the original version of the series…
One last point... my information regarding the episode Maigret et la vieille dame, presented here in an earlier column, wasn’t exactly correct. After verification, that episode, which only exists in VHS format, of fairly poor quality (among other things, we see a continuous “time code” on the screen), is included as a bonus, as I said, but this bonus consists of the complete episode, not just an extract.
re: The Rupert Davies series and the Simenon texts|
8/14/15 Thanks to Murielle for her analysis of the accuracy of Davis series. In my question, 'accuracy' meant fidelity to Simenon's texts, which was the first definition she used in her reply. I am glad to know that Davis episodes are 'accurate' in this way.
The Gambon series say in credits "From novel by Georges Simenon", which is usually indication for being accurate to text, When film director takes too many 'artistic liberties', the credits would say something like "based on" or "adopted" or "influenced" .... The result may still be a fascinating movie, but it feels as Paris PJ had two detectives called "Maigret" - Simenon wrote about one ... the film is about the other...
The second meaning of 'accuracy - true to Maigret's spirit - is, of course, much more difficult to achieve and analyze.
Murielle, please tell us more after you finish watching all episodes.
The Rupert Davies series and the Simenon texts|
8/10/15 At this point I haven't had time to watch all the episodes on the DVDs, and since I've never seen the Gambon series, of course I can't compare them. However, I can offer my response to Vladimir's question with regard to the Davies episodes...
If, by "accuracy", we mean fidelity to Simenon's texts, I can say that the Davies series is true to the novels. The original plot is closely followed, and the dialogues as well, on the whole. As I mentioned earlier, these episodes place the emphases on the police story, and so they stay close to what the author wrote, with, of course, the necessary adjustments to make the whole fit into fifty-some minutes – shortening and simplification, elimination of certain secondary characters, etc.. The accent is placed strongly on the character Maigret, and above all his interactions with suspects and witnesses, with, as previously mentioned, numerous scenes of dialogues and interrogations.
If by "accuracy" we also mean fidelity to the spirit of texts, I can say that here too it's relatively close to Simenon, but the "psychological" side of the novels is obviously more difficult to put into images. This is the potential pitfall facing all adaptations of Simenon's novels, in which much takes place "inside the head" of the characters, whether the protagonists of his "hard novels" [romans durs], or the Chief Inspector in the Maigret saga. In the Maigrets, Simenon has designed his texts so that events are often seen through the eyes of the Chief Inspector, and the reader is often "listening to Maigret's thoughts", something obviously very difficult to render on the screen. The screenwriter and the director must attempt to capture the "essence" of Simenon's work, a real challenge...
Whether for television or cinéma, some directors have chosen to follow the text almost "to the letter", while others have opted for some sort of "rewriting" of the story. Surprisingly, both formulas can lead as well to failures and true successes, and it's not always very clear by what magic the harmony is created...
Considering only the adaptations of Maigret, I can think of two particularly telling examples... In the series with Jean Richard, there's an episode adapted from L'amie de Madame Maigret [MME], where the director has stuck extremely close to the text, and the result is very convincing. And in the series with Bruno Crémer, we can mention for example, an adaptation of La vente à la bougie [ven], where the scenario differs greatly from the framework of the story, and the episode is, however, a success... How to explain that? An adaptation the captures the spirit of the writing? An interpreter who has slipped successfully into the character's skin? It's hard to say...
Returning to Davies, I'll have to watch a few more episodes to refine my analysis, but I think that, to this point, I can say the the spirit of the text has been presented "accurately", with all the restrictions mentioned above. To the extent that Davies is convincing in the role, the rest can, so to speak, "flow naturally"... And then, I think we can't help watching this series without recognizing that it was made over fifty years ago... A series could no longer be made in the same fashion today, with such theatrical staging and in settings which feel, quite "tailor made". We have somewhat the same feeling when watching the Gino Cervi series. He too is very convincing in the role, but the settings feel just like movie sets. We can't blame the filmmakers, who had no other means available at that time.
In conclusion, I can say that Davies is as good a Maigret as the other actors who've taken on the role, and that it's the magic of the character, as I've said so often, which allows almost all the interpreters who've slipped into his skin to be successful in the role, as if the extraordinary "presence" of Maigret will always rub off on someone who attempts to portray him...
re: German Rupert Davies DVDs|
8/8/15 Murielle, how would you describe the accuracy of these "Davies" episodes on the Germans DVDs with regard to the original Simenon texts? Would you say they are more or less accurate than the "Gambon" series?
re: Tournants Dangereux|
Some publication information on this book can be found here.
8/6/15 Does anyone else know the 1953 publication, Tournants Dangereux? It is a wonderful book illustrated by Hans Alexander Mueller and edited by Otis Fellows. I came across it, bizarrely, in the give-away bin of a grocery in Tobago some years ago. I was reminded of the lonely evenings I had spent in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer trying to improve my French by reading Georges Simenon and took advantage of the serendipitous occasion. Who else in Tobago could have appreciated it?
The real Maigret are pretty hard to come by out here. I am very happy to have all the information shared here.
German Rupert Davies DVDs|
8/6/15 I recently purchased the German DVDs of the Rupert Davies series, which I've had a chance to examine over the past three days. While Davies is convincing enough in the role of Maigret, the way the films portray the episodes seems to me somewhat dated (as you'd expect...)
The decision to condense the action to just under an hour (the episodes run appx. 52-54 minutes) places the accent strongly on the police drama, which I find somewhat to the detriment of the psychology... And further, the manner of filming the era, relatively "theatrical", using stage sets (with a few outside scenes, it's true, set in Paris, but essentially scenes of Maigret in one of the "little black cars of the P.J." on his to the scene of the crime or to interrogate suspects), doesn't really correspond to our current vision...
What's more "disturbing" (the word is perhaps a bit strong), is that most of the action takes place as dialogues between Maigret and a suspect or witness (which you may well say is what actually happens in the novels), but these are long dialogues, often verbose... and maybe this impression is accentuated by the fact that it's dubbed into German...
I still find a number of positive points, like the touches of humor which appear in the relationships between Maigret and Lucas and Lapointe, and the fact that Davies and Helen Singler form a very credible Maigret-Mme Maigret couple.
Additionally, here is some of the information from the booklet accompanying the DVDs...
Maigret of the Month - 2012
Maigret of the Month - 2011
Maigret of the Month - 2010
Maigret of the Month - 2009
Maigret of the Month - 2008
Maigret of the Month - 2007
Maigret of the Month - 2006
Maigret of the Month - 2005
Maigret of the Month - 2004
Search all the Maigret pages at this site