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re: Le Café de la Paix in La Rochelle|
3/26/17 Regarding Vladimir's question about the food at the Café de la Paix, they do serve all kinds of meals: croque-messieurs, omelettes, etc... and coffee, drinks... I had lunch there and it was ok.
Maigret yn y Gymraeg / en gallois|
3/24/17 I’ve found a translation into Welsh of ‘On ne tue pas les pauvres types’ in a collection of stories – I don’t know if that counts as a long short story or a short novel - would you like the details?
Thanks for your website: brilliant, and especially useful now that Penguin are publishing new translations of Simenon’s work under new titles – your bibliography is invaluable in trying try to work out what I’ve already got in the old green Penguins!
Thanks, Matthew! "On ne tue pas les pauvres types" is generally regarded as a short story (see: How Many Maigrets for the relative lengths. And yes, please send us the details!
3/22/17 I have enjoyed your site for years. I still believes it's the best there is.
I have been a huge fan of Simenon, all of his books, for a long time, and I think I have read all of them that were translated to English. I only wish there were more to be translated.
Do you happen to know if the book by Denyse Simenon is available anywhere in English?
Thank you, and continued best wishes,
Thanks, Bill! I don't know of any translation... Anyone else?
re: Le Café de la Paix in La Rochelle|
3/18/17 Nice, such inviting pictures! Very typical of old good Europe. I'm curious... do they serve only coffee and desserts in places like that?
Le Café de la Paix in La Rochelle|
3/12/17 I spent a few days on Île de Ré and in La Rochelle last week, and I visited the Café de la Paix in La Rochelle.
When Simenon lived in Marsilly and Nieul sur Mer in the late '30s, he often went to the Café de la Paix. The story goes that there's still an iron hoop where he used to tether his horse.
Many of his books like Le testament Donadieu, Le Voyageur de la Toussaint, Les fantômes du chapelier and L'évadé have elements from La Rochelle.
Penguin Maigret - The Saint-Fiacre Affair|
The Saint-Fiacre Affair (1932) is one of the best early Maigrets. As Proust had shown a few years earlier, memory – even feigned memory, even memory that belongs to someone else – gives a depth and intensity to a narrative that mere invention can seldom match. Although barely 50,000 words, The Saint-Fiacre Affair somehow manages to suggest Proust’s seven-volume magnum opus, if only in the way that eddies of lost time keep pulling the protagonist beneath the surface of the story.
Inspector Maigret has returned to Saint-Fiacre, the village of his childhood, where his father worked as the estate manager of the chateau. This position – intermediary between the working people and the gentry – helps to explain a puzzling aspect of Maigret’s personality. Even as he recoils from the bourgeoisie and identifies with the common man, he nonetheless retains a surprising fondness for a certain kind of aristocracy – the kind grounded in behavior, rather than in rank. (Think of his admiration for Sir Walter in The Carter of La Providence.) The relevant aristocrat here is the Countess of Saint-Fiacre, “a young woman who had personified . . . femininity, grace, [and] nobility” for the young Maigret. After an anonymous letter prophesies her death “during first mass on All Souls’ Day,” Maigret is shaken enough to investigate.
Throughout the novel, the past seeps in unpredictably, uncontrollably, often stopping Maigret in his tracks. Waking on a November morning with “frozen fingertips.” The “smell of candles and incense” in church. The curtains in the confessionals, the communion wafers. An oak table with carved lions. His father’s “little office, near the stables.” The “linen maids” and “day labourers” waiting to get paid. The guests at the chateau during hunting season . . .
Yet The Saint-Fiacre Affair is hardly an exercise in nostalgia. Surrounded by the past, Maigret “ache[s], both emotionally and physically.” If the chateau had once “represented everything inaccessible in the world,” it is now all too accessible, with the crass doctor smoking in the Countess’s bedroom and assorted nobodies tramping through the hallways. At the village cemetery, even Maigret’s father’s gravestone is “blackened.” Maigret seems most disturbed by the revelations about the Countess’s descent into libertinism: “And there she was, a batty old lady who kept gigolos!” Is it because she played a formative role in the creation of his own erotic imagination?
Uncharacteristically for Simenon, there is a happy ending to this tale of crime and cowardice. It comes about through the moral resurrection of Maurice Saint-Fiacre, heir to the estate. A scene around a dinner table is one of the more spectacularly tense in Simenon’s oeuvre, and the behavior of the Count leaves even Maigret impressed:
Maigret felt he was in the presence of an irresistible force. Some individuals, at a given point in their lives, experience a moment of plenitude, a moment in which they are somehow elevated above the rest of humanity, and themselves . . . Maurice de Saint-Fiacre was master of the situation, and he was up to the task.
The end of the novel is peaceful and serene. Early in the book, Maigret had questioned and befriended an altar boy whose humble background and sneaky desires reminded him of his youthful self. At the conclusion, he shares a secret smile with Saint-Fiacre – a fellow aristocrat of the spirit, and one who seems to have restored his faith in the superiority of the chateau.
Simenon, Georges. The Saint-Fiacre Affair. trans. Shaun Whiteside. London: Penguin, 2014.
Death of Dick Bruna|
2/18/17 Dick Bruna, Dutch artist and children's author, who designed numerous covers for the Dutch editions of Maigret and other Simenon novels, has died at 89.
re: Maigret in the 13th arrondissement?|
Simenon, Maigret, and the 13th arrondissement
Maigret in the 13th arrondissement?|
2/17/17 I follow your site and appreciate all the details about Maigret. Is there Maigret or other Simenon novel that takes mainly or has some portions of the 13th arrondissement in Paris?
Maybe featuring or mentioning Buttes aux Cailles, Hopital Pitie Salpertriere, Blvd Arago, or the Gobelins?
Maigret in Polish|
2/17/17 I haven't reported for long time about progress in publishing the complete Maigrets in Polish. Here's what the past 2 years produced:
all the best from Toruń
re: Guide to Maigret?|
2/17/17 No, I do not think we need to learn French law of the last century - or law at all - to enjoy Maigret. Newer translations shall remove out-of-use words and replace them with current words. In the French original, this may be more difficult, as no one except the author is qualified to correct the original. But footnotes on each page where arcane words appear with modern equivalents is possible.
Guide to Maigret?|
2/11/17 I've been looking through your site, hoping to find a sort of Guide to Maigret, and the world he lived in. I read the novels in French, so I have no problem with the language. What I don't understand are the 1940s police terms, like "hôtel garni", a hotel for single night sleepovers where you had to fill out an identity slip which was then passed on to the police daily (can you imagine the effort and bureaucracy?).
If you know of a resource that might help, I'd appreciate it.
I think that's a pretty tall order. For example, I took a quick look at the French Wikipedia article on hôtel garni, and it seems it's a term not in current use with a long legal history, apparently concerned with guaranteeing the character of a lodger...
(Administration) (Désuet) Hôtel doté de toutes les choses nécessaires pour loger. Que ces dispositions du Code pénal sont fondées sur la confiance nécessaire que le voyageur doit accorder durant son voyage, tantôt à un aubergiste, tantôt à un loueur d’hôtel garni ; qu’elles ne lui ont pas refusé dans un lieu, la garantie qu’elles lui ont accordée dans un autre ; qu’elles n’ont pas voulu que le loueur d’hôtel garni, coupable du Vol des effets d’un voyageur soit puni d’un simple emprisonnement, tandis que l’aubergiste, dans le même cas, doit subir une peine afflictive et infamante […] — (Philippe-Antoine Merlin, Répertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence, 1828)Do we want to study 19th French law to read a Maigret? I suppose it's a question of how deep an understanding you require to be able to enjoy the story... As you say, it's not so much a problem of understanding the language, as it is the early-to-mid-20th-century world of Paris... For that, I'd suggest reading more novels of the era... such as more Maigrets!
Le petit chien repèrè [The little spotted dog]|
1/29/17 I just watched "The French Connection II" with commentary by producer Robert Rosen and Gene Hackman, and earlier in the week I watched the Crémer "La Maison De Félicie".
I couldn't help but to notice a little white dog with black spots and a curly tail walking and running in many of the outdoor sequences.
The supplements on the Maigret disc included several interviews regarding Georges Simenon's novels, and included clips from a vintage French film in black and white, AND in a sequence... a little dog with the same characteristics and markings in the foreground.
And in "The French Connection II" at 31mins/45secs, one of the little dog's lineage is filmed trotting alongside Hackman!
I wondered if John Frankenheimer had intentionally added a tribute to Simenon... I was hoping that it would be mentioned in their comments, but no such luck.
re: Atkinson's "Dead Man"|
1/28/17 I'm responding to Vladimir's question (1/21) about the Atkinson Maigret.
Vladimir has asked if I would elaborate on what I mean by the Atkinson Maigret's Dead Man being "slow'? (Is it boring? Predictable? Without suspense? Does it not hold viewer attention or include scenes that make no contribution to the story line? Would I want to watch it again?)
Before I answer let me note that I have now received the DVD of this film (British, still unavailable in American format) and it also includes the first Rowan Atkinson Maigret, Maigret Sets a Trap, and I've now watched that, too. Also on the DVD are interviews with Atkinson, various people associated with the films, and with Simenon's son.
By using the word 'slow' (which I admit was an unhelpful choices of words) I meant to distinguish the film from tv mysteries that are filmed with more attention to pace than to character or setting, films in which the editing might switch rapidly among camera angles, or might include unnecessary but extravagant shoot-outs or chase scenes, or which infest the screen with fast-paced distracting details. For example, 'Sherlock,' with it's rapid language, computerized images and words appearing and moving around and disappearing, the use of successive, quick-cut, close-ups of people talking rather than a longer shot with several people in the scene, and some many things happening all at once that your adrenaline pumping so hard that maybe you've just forgotten just what the story is about. Pulse-racing, but to me artificial, action. Watching the Atkinson films felt more like reading a book that you couldn't put down. They held my attention; I might say I was riveted to the screen -- even when Maigret was just standing there, reflecting, nothing happening except a twitch of the lip. This is Atkinson's genius. I thought the way the films were made reflected Maigret's thoughtful nature, not unlike the Bruno Cremer films. That is to say, watching the films felt like reading Simenon's novels.
That's not to say there was no action. A family hacked to death in a farm house: the fact is chilling even if the action is implied from the aftermath, whereas spending a few minutes recreating the killings is to me contrived and an example of a scene unnecessary to the plot, included to extend the length of the film and raise your blood pressure. A man running down an alley who is suddenly shot in the back; a body dumped out of a car; a woman attacked on a dark street in Montmartre; a woman screaming in childbirth in a seedy hotel room. But the choices made in filming and editing seemed to me to be driven by a respect for Simenon's writing rather than just to manipulate your heart-rate. I often found myself asking not "what happens next" but "who happens next." And that's Simenon, isn't it? The extraordinary becomes part of the ordinariness of life, rather than the extraordinary being italicized so you don't miss it. If you've seen the Australian "Dr. Blake Mysteries" you'll know what I mean.
There were no scenes that did not contribute to the story line, or to developing the sense of character and atmosphere. There was no excess, nothing I think might have been cut. I've had that experience of thinking "hey! good film! too long, though -- maybe 20 minutes shorter?" Not these.
Would I watch them again? Already have. In fact, after watching Maigret Sets a Trap, I immediately watched the Cremer Maigret Tend un Piege. As Audrey Hepburn says in "Roman Holiday:" "Each, in its own way, was . . ." I've watched the Cremer multiple times; I've now watched the Atkinson three times. Similarities, differences, each in its own way excellent. Or so I think.
And after watching both, I felt like ordering a beer and a ham sandwich and having them sent up and starting in all over again . . . except I was the one who had to go down to get the beer and make the sandwich.
re: Bruno Crémer - subtitles|
1/27/17 As Steve mentioned, there was an exhaustive discussion regarding sub-titles or the lack thereof some time ago [2/6/2012..., 7/27/2012, 9/12/2012...]. I recall working out which US sets (all of which had sub-titles) one had to purchase to get a complete English sub-titled collection of the 54 episodes. I had purchased the 5 French produced coffret. Coffret 5 presented the problem as it provided sub-titles for 2 episodes only (Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit and Maigret et l'Etoile du Nord). If you purchase US sets 1,2,3 and 4 you are covered.
Bruno Crémer - early episodes - subtitles|
1/26/17 MHz Networks released the early episodes in the USA with subtitles, and the sets can still be obtained via Amazon.com. I purchased the DVDs in 2012 - the picture quality is a little subdued and you need a Region 1 player of course.
Well worth the purchase.
How many Crémer episodes are there?|
1/25/17 I'm getting back into my Crémer Maigret box set, after five years, it's like seeing them for the first time again. I'm trying to figure out, if the actual number of Crémer episodes is greater than the 54 that are both on the Maigret website, and the newer box set (coffret)
Seems that my set only has 42 episodes, and I did notice that the earlier episodes from the 1990's weren't included for some reason. Has anyone else mentioned this?
It's such a shame too, because the 42 episode set comes in such a nice box...
Additional information on the Crémer series is avaliable here.
re: Atkinson's "Dead Man"|
1/21/17 Thanks to Steve C. for his review of Atkinson's 'Dead Man' (1/16/17). Maybe he can elaborate on what he means by "slow'? Is this movie boring? Predictable? Has no suspense? Does not hold viewer attention? Does it include many scenes that make no contribution to the story line and only add time to the movie length? Finally, would he want to watch this movie again?
Maigret on Radio|
1/18/17 Gary Marsa has just updated and corrected a few of the CBC listings for Maigret on the Radio, and provided an interesting new discovery of his - a listing of French language Maigret serial broadcasts by BBC Radio 4 in England in 1969 of Le chien jaune and Félicie est là, for people learning French.
He also pointed out that it was very difficult to locate the Maigret on the Radio page. You either had to use the search form or go to Reference and click on radio to get to the link. I've now added a link at the top of the Film page as well, as that seems like an easy-to-remember place to find it...
Atkinson's "Dead Man"|
1/16/17 First of all, congratulations on Maigret's World. Wish it were out now!
Secondly, I was in London over Christmas and watched the Atkinson's Maigret's Dead Man. I thought it brilliant, for these reasons: when Rowan Atkinson's face is expressionless it remains full of meaning; high marks on atmosphere and attention to original story line (easy to forgive substituting Mr and Mrs M for the police barkeep and his wife and also high marks for not dwelling on the sordid sexual relationships and undertones); and two heartbreaking moments, one carried off by Atkinson without a word, the other by Atkinson's voice off-camera: replacing the shoe of Maigret's Dead Man and the (albeit non-canonical) telephone question to his wife "we have a happy home, don't we?"
Much of the criticism of this film was its slowness, but that's Simenon's novels: for all their brevity, they are slow. That's the point. Maigret is the eye that sees and absorbs and does not rush to judgment. There's a contemplative rhythm to most of the novels, and I thought the film captured that. But it wants a commitment to paying attention to the smallest detail, such as Atkinson's expressionless face that is not expressionless underneath. Unfortunately, I think most viewers are more attuned to the pace of a "Sherlock," something I find boring precisely because of its lack of depth and focus.
Again, congratulations on the book!
re: Maigret's World!|
2017 is here!|
1/1/17 Happy New Year to all Maigret Fans!
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