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First names
in the Maigret corpus

by Murielle Wenger

original French

Which first names does Simenon give his characters in the Maigret corpus? Which are used most frequently? How have they evolved over the years? Does the author use certain names for the various types of characters he creates?
Such are the questions I'll try to answer in this new study...

  1. SOME STATISTICS

    In exploring the corpus, novels and stories, and checking against Steve's list in the Maigret Encyclopedia (for which I offer my thanks, since his prodigious work allowed me to verify and correct my own data), I've been able to inventory over 400 first names. By regrouping some of them that I've considered to be variants of a single name (for example, Ernest and Ernesto; Fred, Freddo and Freddy; Marie and Maria; Hélène and Helen), variations I'll return to when they're semantically relevant, I come up with 209 different occurrences of masculine first names, and 207 feminine. I call a "different occurrence" the case of a name applying to a particular character in a particular novel or story.

    We note first off that of the 209 masculine names, 86 (41%), and of the 207 feminine names, 103 (50%), appear but a single time in the corpus (ignoring, of course, the number of times a name is mentioned within the text – only counting the application of the name to a particular character). About a third of both male names (68, 33%) and female names (66, 32%) appear betwen two and four times in the corpus. (In other words, on average, one out of three names appears in three different texts). 14% of both masculine (29) and feminine (30) names appear between five and nine times in the corpus.

    Names occurring ten times or more (the names most frequently used by the author) in the corpus number 26 (12%) for the masculine, and only eight (4%) for the feminine.

    Lastly, we note that new names appear regularly with each new novel – we could say the novelist "renews his stock" each time he advances the corpus, and numerous characters are given a name not previously used in the corpus: With every new novel, Simenon employed some names he'd never used before.
     

  2. FIRST NAMES OF MALE CHARACTERS

    1. The least frequently used masculine names

      1. names with a single occurrence

        As mentioned above, a large number of the names in the corpus appear in it only once. Among the 86 masculine names used, 47 (55%) apply to a main character in the text (25), or a secondary character (22). The other 39 are used, either to name a character who is merely tangential to the story (as, for example, Horace Van Usschen in La maison du juge, Stuart Wilton in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), or to mention a character who does not actually appear in the action of the story (as, for example, Aldo de Rocca, Dorothy Payne's second husband, in Maigret voyage, Claude Besson, Charles's son in Maigret et la vieille dame), or the mention of a name without actually referring to a specific person, (as in Maigret à New York, this sentence describing a bar, "Everyone's called Bob, Dick, Tom, or Tony"), or the second or third name of a compound name of a character, (as, Aldebert Ramuel's third name in Les caves du Majestic).

        So there are 25 names which the author has reserved for a single principal character in the corpus, as if the name in question could only apply to such a character, and weren't transferable to another. (Although perhaps chance also plays its role here, as when a name the novelist "had at hand" at a certain moment did not come to mind again during the writing of later works.)

        These 25 are Adrien (Josset in Une confidence de Maigret), Alban (Groult-Cotelle in L'inspecteur Cadavre), Aristide (Fumel in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), Conrad (Popinga in Un crime en Hollande), Cornélius (Barens in Un crime en Hollande), Dan (Mullins in Maigret chez le coroner), Daniel (Maigret's nephew in Maigret et l'inspecteur Malgracieux), Dieudonné (Pape in Maigret et le corps sans tête), Fédor (Yourovitch, alias Hans Johannson in Pietr le Letton), Fouad (Ouéni in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), Georges-Henry (Malik in Maigret se fâche), Guillaume (Serre in Maigret et la vieille dame), Jean-Charles (Gaillard in La colère de Maigret), Joachim (Maura in Maigret à New York), Maxime (Le Bret in La première enquête de Maigret), Michael (O'Brien in Maigret à New York), Mike (O'Rourke in Maigret chez le coroner), Norris (Jonker in Maigret et le fantôme), Olaf (Swaan, alias Pietr Johannson in Pietr le Letton), Omer (Calas in Maigret et le corps sans tête), Prosper (Donge in Les caves du Majestic), Ronald (Dexter in Maigret à New York), Tiburce (de Saint-Hilaire in Monsieur Gallet, décédé), Vicente (Alvaredo in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), and Vladimir (the sailor in Le charretier de la Providence). We note that a fair number of these names are not French, and are probably used by the author to give "local color" to a character, a device we will encounter again with other names in the corpus.

        The 22 names of secondary characters are Adolphe (Bonvoisin in Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!), Ed (Gollan in Maigret et le fantôme), Elias (Hansen in Maigret chez le coroner), Eusebio (Fualdès, alias Edgar Fagonet in Les caves du Majestic), Gérald (Conley in Maigret chez le coroner), Grégoire (Brau called the Canon in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants), Guido (Ferrari in La nuit du carrefour), Harold (Mitchell in Maigret chez le coroner), Isidore (Mme Roy's assistant in Signé Picpus), Jean-Loup (Pernelle in La patience de Maigret), Léopold (nickname of the usher at the PJ in Cécile est morte), Luigi (of the Manhattan Bar in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters), Nestor (the waiter in the café in Signé Picpus), Noël (Chapuis in Maigret s'amuse), Phil (Atwater in Maigret chez le coroner), Roland (Blutet in Maigret se défend), Serge (Madok in Maigret et son mort), Spencer (Oats in Cécile est morte), Stanley (Hobson in Maigret et le fantôme), Toto (the clochard in Maigret et l'homme tout seul), Yan (the Swedish sailor in Liberty Bar), and Yvon (Demarle in Maigret et le tueur).

      2. names occurring twice

        We find 30 names occurring twice in the corpus, for which we can make a similar analysis.

        Among these 30, eight are used on their first occurrencce for a principal character, and their second occurrence is merely an incidental mention (second name, a character simply mentionioned, or an incidental reference or appearance), and so they are very similar to names "used uniquely". These are Anselme (Léonard in Les mémoires de Maigret), Auguste (Point in Maigret chez le ministre), David (Ward in Maigret voyage), Frans (Steuvels in L'amie de Madame Maigret), Génaro (the patron of the nightclub in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin), Otto (Braun in Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!), Richard (Gendreau in La première enquête de Maigret), and Stan (in Stan le tueur, and we note that the second occurrence is "Stan the Pole" (Maigret et l'inspecteur Malgracieux) which has a certain relationship to the first…)

        Five names are used in their first occurrence for a secondary character, while the second occurrence is an incidental mention. These are Célestin (Grolet in Le port des brumes), Félicien (Gendreau in La première enquête de Maigret), Gabriel (Dossin in L'amie de Madame Maigret), Isaac (Goldberg in La nuit du carrefour), and Martin (Duché in Une confidence de Maigret).

        Six are used in both occurrences for a principal character, Gilbert (Négrel in Maigret s'amuse and Pigou in Maigret et le marchand de vin), Marcellin (Pacaud in Mon ami Maigret and Rateau in Maigret à l'école), Octave (Fallut in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas and Le Cloaguen in Signé Picpus), Oswald (Oppenheim alias Hans Johannson in Pietr le Letton, and Clark in Les caves du Majestic), Walter (Lampson in Le charretier de la Providence andt Carus in Le voleur de Maigret), and William (Crosby in La tête d'un homme and Brown in Liberty Bar).

        Five names are used in one occurrence for a main character, and in the other for a secondary character, Boris (Krofta in L'amoureux de Madame Maigret and Saft in Stan le tueur), Jean-Luc (Bodard in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret and Caucasson in Maigret et le marchand de vin), Pietr (Johannson in Pietr le Letton and the young Pietr in Maigret et son mort), Thomas (Hauke in Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt! and La Sauterelle in Maigret au Picratt's), and Willy (Marco in Le charretier de la Providence and Mortier in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien).

      3. names occurring three or four times

        Among the 21 names with three occurrences, we find two where one occurrence concerns a a main character, while the other two are merely incidental, Ephraïm (Graphopoulos in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin) and James (in La guinguette à deux sous). Then two names which concern a secondary character while the two other occurrences are merely incidental, Baptiste (Canut in Monsieur Gallet décédé) and Gino (Pagliatti in Maigret et le tueur).

        From here on, with the number of occurrences increasing, it becomes interesting to compare characters with the same name. If sometimes it seems as if chance alone guides the choice of the same name for different characters, in other cases we can find certain similarities. We find, among the names with three occurrences, Manuel (Palmari in Maigret se défend and La patience de Maigret and Mori in Maigret et l'indicateur) two men of the underworld. André (Delteil in Le revolver de Maigret and Radel in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants), both lawyers. Jean-Paul (Gastin in Maigret à l'école and Lachaume in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants), two children; and we find this name again attached to a child in Maigret et la jeune morte, called out by Rose, the maid in the Rue de Clichy.

        Among the 17 names with four occurrences, we find Arsène (for two chauffeurs, in La première enquête de Maigret and La vieille dame de Bayeux, and a butler, in Maigret a peur), Jojo (three children, the son of the concierge in L'ombre chinoise, Germaine's son in Chez les Flamands, and a name written on a seashell in Le port des brumes), Yves (Joris and Lannec in Le port des brumes, Le Guérec in Maigret s'amuse, three men connected to the maritime world), and a series of "foreign-sounding" names which, as we mentioned above, suggest the origins of these characters... English-sounding, Bill (a private detective in Maigret à New York, Larner in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters), Harry (Brown in Liberty Bar, Cole in Maigret chez le coroner, Pills in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters), Jim or Jimmy (Parson in Maigret à New York, Van Fleet in Maigret chez le coroner, Mac Donald in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters, O'Malley in Maigret et la jeune morte), Ted or Teddy (Clark in Les caves du Majestic, Bellam in Mon ami Maigret, O'Neil in Maigret chez le coroner, Brown in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters). And Italian-sounding, Pepito (Moretto in Pietr le Letton, Palestrino in Maigret, Giovanni in La folle de Maigret, and a Pepito in Rue Pigalle, all four, members of the underworld).

    2. Masculine names occurring more frequently

      1. names with five and six occurrences

        Among the eight names with five occurrences, we find Antoine (for three young men, Cristin in Maigret et le corps sans tête, Batille in Maigret et le tueur, and Bizard in L'amie de Madame Maigret. We note its Italian variant in Antonio Farano, also a young man, in La colère de Maigret), and names with "foreign" connotations, Carl (Andersen in La nuit du carrefour, Wienands in Un crime en Hollande, Lipschitz in Maigret et son mort, and Jonker's valet in Maigret et le fantôme), Marco (Santoni in Maigret et la jeune morte, Palmieri in Maigret voyage, and Giovanni in La folle de Maigret). Certain names seem to be used intentionally for important characters in the plot, principal or secondary... Alfred (Moss in L'amie de Madame Maigret, Jussiaume in Maigret et la Grande Perche, and Meurant in Maigret aux Assises), Raymond (Couchet in L'ombre chinoise, Grandmaison in Le port des brumes, Auger in Le client le plus obstiné du monde). The name Armand, with its connotation "aristocratic" or upper-class, (Saint-Hilaire in Maigret et les vieillards, Lachaume in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, Barion in Monsieur Lundi) as opposed to the "working class" Nicolas (Ricou in Un échec de Maigret, Cajou in Maigret aux Assises, father Nicolas in Vente à la bougie, and the gangster in La pipe de Maigret).

        The three names with six occurrences are also used with a certain connotation. We find Angelino, either as a foreigner (Giacomi in Maigret à New York and Potzi in Maigret chez le coroner), or as the patron or waiter of a café (Angelino who had a "club", in Les caves du Majestic, the waiter at the little Italian restaurant in La première enquête de Maigret, and the one at Pozzo's in Maigret, Lognon et les gansgters); Evariste as a middle-aged man, especially from a rural area, (Joseph Heurtin's father in La tête d'un homme, Minister Point's father in Maigret chez le ministre, and Maigret's own father; and one named Cornu in Maigret à l'école); and Roger, for three victims of fate, who end by suicide (Couchet in L'ombre chinoise, Campois in Maigret se fâche, and Gaillardin in Un échec de Maigret).

      2. names with seven, eight, and nine occurrences

        The seven names with seven occurrences are:

        • Dédé, (probably a nickname…) most often mentioned "in passing", but sufficient to evoke the image of the underworld. The only character with that name playing an important role is Bob's friend in La première enquête de Maigret.
        • Etienne, two main characters, Naud in L'inspecteur Cadavre and Gouin in Maigret se trompe, and several characters more or less incidental
        • Ferdinand, two main characters, Fumal in Un échec de Maigret and Voivin in L'affaire du boulevard Beaumarchais, and some secondary characters, the garage man in Maigret et son mort, Besson, Valentine's husband in Maigret et la vieille dame, Cornu, the postman in Maigret à l'école, and Fauchois, the butler in Maigret hésite.
        • Jo and Joe, for the boys of the underworld, Jo the boxer in Maigret et son mort, Mascarelli in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters, Jo the wrestler in La colère de Maigret, Big Armed Jo, the bouncer at the Clou Doré in La patience de Maigret, Jo Mori in Maigret et l'indicateur, and Jo Fazio in Maigret et Monsieur Charles.
        • Lucien, something of an "all-purpose" name, associated with all sorts of characters... the waiter at the Tabac Fontaine in Maigret, Hardoin, the friend of the man with the red Peugeot in Maigret et le clochard, Romanel, Francine Lange's friend in Maigret à Vichy, the patron of the café in Rue Pigalle...
        • Robert, numerous incidental characters, and two main characters, Courçon in Maigret a peur and Bureau in Maigret et le tueur.
        • Xavier, besides Dr Bresselles in Maigret à l'école, Marton in Les scrupules de Maigret and President Bernerie in Maigret aux Assises, it's above all reserved for the Director of the PJ, Xavier Guichard…

        The six names with eight occurrences are:

        • Bob and Bobby, the "classic" name for a barman (a memory of the barman at La Coupole that the author knew at the time…), but it's also that of the Count d'Anseval in La première enquête de Maigret, and of Mandille, the former stuntman who'd become a restaurateur, in Le voleur de Maigret.
        • Félix, an old comrade of Maigret's (Jubert in Les mémoires de Maigret), a professional gambler (Nahour in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), old Lachaume in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, and Fumal's chauffeur in Un échec de Maigret. It's often found among the personnel of cafés... barmen, waiters, patrons...
        • Fernand, besides Courcel in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret, and some underworld figures, (Barillard in La patience de Maigret and old Fernand in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), it's reserved for café patrons.
        • Germain, another name with no specific connotation, used equally for an underworld character (Cageot in Maigret) a lawyer (La Pommeraye in L'auberge au noyés) an elderly magician (Maigret à New York) and a neurologist (Parendon in Maigret hésite).
        • Hans, "foreign-sounding", above all used for the main character in Pietr le Letton…. The remainder are all more or less incidental characters.
        • René, except for Josselin (Maigret et les braves gens), generally reserved for young men (Delfosse in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin, Lecoeur in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Falk in Maigret chez le ministre, Lussac in Maigret et le voleur paresseux, Tortu in Maigret hésite, and another Lecoeur in Rue Pigalle).

        The five names with nine occurrences:

        • Georges, the name of the novelist, used in the corpus with a certain degree of self-mockery. Among others, the name of a head waiter in Maigret et son mort ("Something light, my dear Georges…" said Director Marchand, of the Folies-Bergères, at the Chope Montmartre…), a taxi driver (Peskine in L'amie de Madame Maigret), director of a debt-collection agency (Bachelier in Maigret et l'homme du banc), a car thief (Macagne in Maigret et le voleur paresseux), and still another waiter at Giovanni's in La folle de Maigret, an engineer in the Highways department who'd had his car stolen (Dennery in Maigret et Monsieur Charles), and lastly a womanizer, (Bompard in L'Etoile du Nord)…
        • Hubert, used for a good number of incidental characters covering the whole social spectrum, from the Prince de V (Maigret et les vieillards) and Vernoux (Maigret a peur), to the sailor Van Houtte (Maigret et le clochard) and a butcher (Ceux du Grand Café).
        • Jacques, reserved by the author for main and secondary characters, Rivaud in Le fou de Bergerac, Pétillon in Félicie est là, Fleury in Maigret chez le ministre, Mercier in La vieille dame de Bayeux, Sainval in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, Huguet in Le voleur de Maigret, Parendon (Gus) in Maigret hésite, and Riolle in Maigret et le marchand de vin.
        • Maurice, four main characters, from very different social backgrounds... Belloir (Le pendu de Saint-Pholien), the Count de Saint-Fiacre (L'affaire Saint-Fiacre), Marcia (Maigret et l'indicateur), and Tremblet (On ne tue pas les pauvres types).
        • Paul and Popaul, another name used for a very diverse set of characters, from the patron of the Arche at Porquerolles (Mon ami Maigret) to Dr Fabre (Maigret et les braves gens), including Maigret's nephew (Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!) and Paul Martin (Un Noël de Maigret), not to mention Popaul the bar owner (Maigret et le corps sans tête), and Christine Josset's friend (Une confidence de Maigret)….

    3. masculine names even more frequently used

      1. names with 10, 11 or 12 occurrences

        • Alain is the only name with 10 occurrences. It is used for two main characters (Lagrange in Maigret et la Grande Perche, and Vernoux in Maigret a peur), three secondary characters (de Folletier in Les vacances de Maigret, Mazeron in Maigret et les vieillards, and Marella in La folle de Maigret), and numerous incidental characters. We note that it's a name which appears very late in the corpus, not until the Presses de la Cité cycle.

        • Arthur is the only name with 11 occurrences, it's a "second string" name, if we can say that, for the author reserves it only for incidental characters . Except for Aerts in La péniche aux deux pendus, Giacomi (in its Italian variation, Arturo) in Maigret à New York, and Sainval's real name (Arthur Baquet) in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, the name is given to characters who are only mentioned in the text, or who appear but briefly.

        We find four names with 12 occurrences...

        • Eugène, while used rather frequently, is reserved for the most part for incidental characters. The only important characters given this name are unsympathetic to Maigret – Berniard in Maigret, Benoît in Maigret chez le ministre, and Labri in Une erreur de Maigret.
        • Gérard, unlike the preceding, is used for characters important to the plot. Four main characters, rather young for the most part, (Piedboeuf in Chez les Flamands, Pardon in Cécile est morte, Donavant in Le notaire de Châteauneuf, Sabin-Levesque in Maigret et Monsieur Charles), and also a number of secondary characters (for example, Lucile Duffieux's father in Les vacances de Maigret, Antoine Batille's father in Maigret et le tueur).
        • Jef, for numerous main and secondary characters, for characters originating in the north of Europe, Flemish, Belgian, or Dutch, such as Lombard in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien, de Greef in Mon ami Maigret, Van Meulen in Maigret voyage, Claes in La patience de Maigret, Keulemans in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour, Bebelmans in Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!; or Alsatian like Schrameck (Maigret et l'homme du banc). And it's often found on seamen, Van Cauwelaert in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, Van Houtte in Maigret et le clochard, Van Roeten in Maigret et Monsieur Charles.
        • Marcel, a number of principal characters, but very diverse in their personalites... Basso in La guinguette à deux sous, Airaud in La maison du juge, Sellier in Maigret à l'école, Moncin in Maigret tend un piège, Montrond in La folle de Maigret, Vivien in Maigret et l'homme tout seul, Potru in Les larmes de bougie.

        There are three names with 13 occurrences...

        • Désiré, except for Inspector Lecoeur (Maigret à Vichy), reserved for secondary or incidental characters. Campois in Maigret se fâche, Oscar Chabut's father in Maigret et le marchand de vin, Boursicault in Maigret en meublé...
        • Julien, another name appearing late in the corpus, first used in Maigret et la vieille dame (Julien Sudre, Arlette's husband). After that it was frequently used for more or less important characters, Foucrier in Maigret en meublé, Chabot in Maigret a peur, Sellier in Maigret à l'école, Calame in Maigret chez le ministre, Baud in Maigret hésite, Mila in Maigret et le tueur.
        • Oscar, numerous main characters, the garage man in La nuit du carrefour, Bonvoisin in Maigret au Picratt's, Chabut in Maigret et le marchand de vin, Laget in La fenêtre ouverte. The remainder are generally incidental.

      2. names with 14, 15, 16 or 17 occurrences

        • Léon: the only name with 14 occurrences. Associated with patrons of bistros and restaurants, of the Brasserie Dauphine in particular (La folle de Maigret). Chez Léon is a sign often encountered in the corpus. Additionally, it's Le Guérec's first name (Le chien jaune), and Florentin's (L'ami d'enfance de Maigret).

        Three names have 15 occurrences:

        • Fred (including its variants Freddo, Freddy, as well as Frédéric), often reserved for men of the underworld, like Alfonsi in Maigret au Picratt's and Michaud in Vente à la bougie
        • Justin, appeared in the Gallimard period, attached to all sorts of characters. Colleboeuf in Les caves du Majestic, Hulot in La maison du juge, Justin de Toulon in Signé Picpus, Cavre in L'inspecteur Cadavre, Minard in La première enquête de Maigret, Brême in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants, Goulet in Maigret et le clochard, Crotton in Maigret et l'indicateur, and the boy in Le témoignage de l'enfant de chœur.
        • Philippe, encountered for the first time in Maigret, designating Maigret's nephew. Apart from him, others with this name are generally not favored by Maigret... Bellamy in Les vacances de Maigret, de Moricourt in Mon ami Maigret, M. Liotard in L'amie de Madame Maigret, Mortemart in Maigret au Picratt's, Jave in Maigret s'amuse, Deligeard in La vieille dame de Bayeux.

        16 occurrences:

        • Victor is the only name with 16 occurrences. It's often attributed to important characters in the plot, with diverse characteristics... from Victor the waiter in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin to Lamotte in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret, and including Gaillard in La guinguette à deux sous, Judge Bréjon in L'inspecteur Cadavre, Poliensky in Maigret et son mort, Gadelle in Les mémoires de Maigret, Ricou in Un échec de Maigret, Deligeard's valet in La vieille dame de Bayeux.

        There are two names with 17 occurrences:

        • Gaston, numerous incidental characters, though associated with several important ones, Janin in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien, Buzier in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, and Meurant in Maigret aux Assises.
        • Henri (and its variant Henry), also used for numerous incidental characters, and the occasional important one, Gallet's son in Monsieur Gallet, décédé, Trochu in Maigret et la vieille dame, and Paget in Menaces de mort.

    4. The ten most frequently occurring names

      We have now arrived at the "top ten" masculine names used by the author in the corpus. Used at least 18 times, for the tenth, and as many as 49 times for the first, these 10 names are also, for the most part, those the novelist used most throughout his work in general, as shown in the research of Michel Lemoine (see his Quelques considérations onomastiques online, a text published during the public conference, "Simenon, the passenger of the century", November 23, 2002, organized by the Royal Academy of French language and literature of Belgium, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the writer, and the 50th year since his election to the Academy.)

      Why these ten names in particular? We might assume that for the author, it's not so much a case of partiality, as of possibly being influenced, in his "concern for realism", as Lemoine puts it in his text cited above, by the fact that these ten names are, statistically speaking, the most utilized in French society contemporary with the years of the writing of the novels. In other words, the names the author would have most often encountered. However, it doesn't appear to be quite that simple, as we shall see…

      These ten names are, from the least frequent to the most, Charles, Ernest, Pierre, François, Albert, Jules, Louis, Emile, Jean and Joseph. If we refer to the statistical data presented by the INSEE [National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies] (catalog of names, 2010 edition), which inventories the names given to infants each year, Jean is the name most often encountered in the French population between 1902 and 1953, declining after that in its popularity. Pierre was among the 10 most frequent names until the beginning of the 1950s, while Louis and Joseph were among the most popular in the ten most frequent until the beginning of the 1920s, after which they were still in the range of 11 through 20 until the beginning of the 1940s. Charles, François, Emile and Albert are found in the range 11 through 20 until the 1920s, then dropping lower down the list.

      And so it is not simply a case of the author's adhering to the reality of his time... first, he makes a choice among the most frequent names that he hears around him, not necessarily chosing the most common; and then, his characters continue to bear, as they advance through the corpus, names that were frequent during the first years of the writing of the texts (used by the author even when they were declining in popularity in later years, or out of fashion), as if these characters were more or less all born in the first twenty years of the 20th century, placing the action for most of the novels in the France of 1930 to 1950, or more precisely, pre-war France (leading us think that the novelist continued to see his saga, in spite of the spread in time of writing, as a description of the France that he knew), and this is echoed by similar remarks made by numerous researchers on the subject.

      There remains an interesting question. Why, among these ten names, did he include Jules and Ernest, although they're much less frequently used in the population? And again, while Jules is also a frequent name in Simenon's work in general, this is not the case for Ernest. Where did the author find these names, including that of his most famous character? What was his inspiration? An examination of the names of members of the Simenon family doesn't provide any clues, and it will probably require an eminent Simenon scholar to delve into the subject…

      Let's return now to a more detailed look at each of these ten names:

      • Charles (and its variants Charlot and Charlie), encountered in 18 examples, for many important characters, such as Dandurand in Cécile est morte, Malik in Maigret se fâche, Besson in Maigret et la vieille dame, Cinaglia in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters, all characters of which the least we can say is that they are not among Maigret's favorites. We note that Inspector Lognon is named Charles in Maigret et le fantôme, and that the term "Monsieur Charles" is often found under the author's pen as a sort of pseudonym or nickname for a character, as when, for example, he'd prefer that his schemes went unnoticed.
      • Ernest (and its variants Ernst and Ernesto), found in 19 occurrences, used for numerous important characters in the first part of the corpus (Michoux in Le chien jaune, the altar boy in L'affaire Saint-Fiacre, Grandmaison in Le port des brumes, Malik in Maigret se fâche, Descharneau in La fenêtre ouverte, Combarieu in Le client le plus obstiné du monde), and beyond these, for incidental characters.
      • Pierre (and its variant Pierrot), 20 occurrences, for several important characters, generally rather young men, Le Clinche in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, Delteil in Le revolver de Maigret, Eyraud in Maigret se trompe, Mazet in Maigret tend un piège, and Duché in Maigret aux Assises.
      • Albert appears in 22 occurrences, for some important characters with diverse roles (Forlacroix in La maison du juge, Babeau in Félicie est là, Retailleau in L'inspecteur Cadavre, Rochain in Maigret et son mort, Jorisse in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Falconi in Maigret et la jeune morte), and a name often connected with personnel of a house, hotel or café. It's also the first name of Inspectors Lapointe and Janvier.
      • François, also present in 22 occurrences, attached at first to incidental characters, shifting to more important ones, secondary or principal... Lepape in Félicie est là, d'Hoquélus in Maigret à New York, Lagrange in Le revolver de Maigret, Keller in Maigret et le clochard, Mélan in Maigret se défend, Ricain (also called Francis) in Le voleur de Maigret, Paré in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret.
      • Jules, in 26 occurrences, was only used by a few charactrers, Lapie in Félicie est là; Mosselet in Tempête sur la Manche, before becoming the name assigned to Maigret. (Maigret was first called Joseph in L'écluse no 1, the only novel in the Fayard period where he is named. He received the name Jules in Maigret se fâche, where the unpleasant Malik calls him that, although "for years and years, no one had called him Jules, to the extent that he'd almost forgotten his name", and it doesn't bring him much pleasure, as he avoids it as much as possible…), It's thereafter found for other characters as well, but except for Piquemal in Maigret chez le ministre, it's most often for secondary characters, or incidental ones.
      • Emile (and its variant Mimile) appears in 28 occurrences. It's never a trivial name under the pen of the author, who almost always saves it for characters important to the plot, like Gallet (Monsieur Gallet décédé), Klein (Le pendu de Saint-Pholien), Michonnet (La nuit du carrefour), Gautier (L'affaire Saint-Fiacre), Ducrau (L'écluse no 1), Janin (La maison du juge), Blaise (Signé Picpus), Mimile (Maigret se fâche), Chevrier (Maigret et son mort), Duffieux (Les vacances de Maigret), M. Emile (Mon ami Maigret), Paulus (Maigret en meublé), Chalus (Maigret a peur), Lentin (Un échec de Maigret), Boulay (La colère de Maigret), Parendon (Maigret hésite), and Grosbois (Menaces de mort).
      • Louis also appears in 24 occurrences, assigned to several incidental characters, but also found in those more or less important... Jeunet in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien, Big Louis in Le port des brumes, Fillou in L'inspecteur Cadavre, Viaud in La première enquête de Maigret, Thouret in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Pierrot's friend in Maigret se trompe, Paumelle in Maigret à l'école, Boubée in La colère de Maigret, M. Louis in La patience de Maigret, Pélardeau in Maigret à Vichy, Mahossier in Maigret et l'homme tout seul, M. Louis in L'improbable Monsieur Owen, and several P'tit Louis, including P'tit Louis in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas and P'tit Louis in Mademoiselle Berthe et son amant.
      • Jean is encountered in 45 occurrences, often principal characters in the beginning of the corpus, (Archambault in Le charretier de la Providence, Radek in La tête d'un homme, Servières in Le chien jaune, Duclos in Chez les Flamands, Chabot in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin, Métayer in L'affaire Saint-Fiacre, Ramuel in Les caves du Majestic, Maura in Maigret à New York), it is later assigned mostly to secondary characters, if not incidental. We note that this is the name given to the office assistant at the PJ in the Fayard cycle, before he was "replaced" by old Joseph in the Presses de la Cité period.
      • Joseph appears in 49 occurrences, of which ten are reserved exclusively for the old "office boy". It's also Moers' first name, and that of the waiter at the Brasserie Dauphine. But it's additionally the name of a number of important characters, Van Damme in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien, Heurtin in La tête d'un homme, Peeters in Chez les Flamands, Ambrosini in Liberty Bar, Audiat in Maigret, Mascouvin in Signé Picpus, Gastin, and Marcellin Rateau's son in Maigret à l'école, Mascoulin in Maigret chez le ministre, Goldman in Un échec de Maigret, and Leroy in La pipe de Maigret.

     
  3. FIRST NAMES OF FEMALE CHARACTERS

    1. Least frequent feminine names

      1. names with a single occurrence

        Among the 103 names used only once, 70 (68%) represent either a principal character (45), or a secondary character (25), of the novel or story. The other 33 names are used for incidental characters, either simply mentioned in the text (for example, Yvette at Mariette Gibon's in Maigret et l'homme du banc, or Dorothy Payne in Maigret voyage), or making a relatively brief appearance (like Angelina Dodds in La maison du juge or Irène de Marchangy in Maigret et les vieillards).

        The 45 names reserved for a single main character are Ada (Farano in La colère de Maigret), Adine (Hulot in La maison du juge), Aglaé (the postmistress in Mon ami Maigret), Aimée (Malik in Maigret se fâche), Anneke (Van Houtte in Maigret et le clochard), Any (Van Elst in Un crime en Hollande), Aurore (Gallet in Monsieur Gallet, décédé), Beetje (Liewens in Un crime en Hollande), Bessy (Mitchell in Maigret chez le coroner), Christine (Josset in Une confidence de Maigret), Clotilde (Motte in Le notaire de Châteauneuf), Colette (Martin in Un Noël de Maigret), Désirée (Brault in Maigret se trompe), Edna (Reichberg in La tête d'un homme), Eléonore (Boursang in Monsieur Gallet, décédé), Eliane (Paget in Menaces de mort), Else (Andersen in La nuit du carrefour), Eva (Goldfinger's sister-in-law in Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux), Gabrielle (Vivien in Maigret et l'homme tout seul), Gigi (Charlotte's friend in Les caves du Majestic), Gina (Martini in Liberty Bar), Jaquette (Larrieu in Maigret et les vieillards), Jenny (Marton's sister-in-law in Les scrupules de Maigret), Jessie (Dewey in Maigret à New York), Jojo (the maid at the Arche in Mon ami Maigret), Josée (Papet in L'amie d'enfance de Maigret), Josépha (Chauvet in Maigret s'amuse), Lena (Leinbach in Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrêt!), Léone (the secretary in Maigret et l'homme du banc), Léonie (Birard in Maigret à l'école), Liesbeth (Popinga in Un crime en Hollande), Loraine (Martin in Un Noël de Maigret), Mariette (Gibon in Maigret et l'homme du banc), Marinette (Augier in Maigret et le fantôme), Mina (Barillard in La patience de Maigret), Mirella (Jonker in Maigret et le fantôme), Monita (Malik in Maigret se fâche), Nathalie (Sabin-Levesque in Maigret et Monsieur Charles), Nelly (Velthuis in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour), Nora (Carus in Le voleur de Maigret), Nouchi (Siveschi in Cécile est morte), Sonia (Lipchitz in Peine de mort), Sophie (Ricain in Le voleur de Maigret), Stéphanie (Polintskaïa in Stan le tueur), and Yvonne (Moncin dans Maigret tend un piège).

        The 25 names of secondary characters with one occurrence are Adrienne (Laur in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters), Augustine (a tenant of the Place des Vosges in L'amoureux de Madame Maigret), Babette (the Grosbois's maid in Menaces de mort), Carlotta (Josset's maid in Une confidence de Maigret), Carola (Dr Mélan's maid in Maigret se défend), Caroline (Deligeard's nurse in La vieille dame de Bayeux), Claudine (Marella in La folle de Maigret), Dolorès (the Aresco's maid in Maigret et les braves gens), Dora (Strevzki in L'homme dans la rue), Erna (Bolton in Maigret chez le coroner), Fanny (the "madwoman" in L'ombre chinoise), Jocelyne (Huguet in Le voleur de Maigret), Josette (Fay in La patience de Maigret), Lucia (Pagliati in Maigret et le tueur), Lucienne (Jouffroy in L'Etoile du Nord), Maguy (the journalist in Maigret tend un piège), Mauricette (Gallois in Maigret et le tueur), Minou (Batille in Maigret et le tueur), Noémi (the chambermaid in Un échec de Maigret), Odile (the Moncin's maid in Maigret tend un piège), Pauline (the Chabot's tenant in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin), Potsi (Siveschi in Cécile est morte), Tania (a dancer in Maigret au Picratt's), Victorine (Heurtin's mother in La tête d'un homme), and Zoé (a hostess in Maigret et monsieur Charles).

      2. names with two occurrences

        Among the 31 names with two occurrences, we find ten whose first occurrence is a main character, and the second but an incidental mention, Amélie (Potru in Les larmes de bougie), Annette (Duché in Une confidence de Maigret), Bernadette (Amorelle in Maigret se fâche), Charlotte (Prosper Donge's friend in Les caves du Majestic), Ernestine (Jussiaume in Maigret et la Grande Perche), Félicie (Lapie's maid in Félicie est là), Géraldine (Léonard in Les mémoires de Maigret), Jaja (in Liberty Bar), Raymonde (the maid in Maigret se fâche), and Renée (Planchon in Maigret et le client du samedi).

        Five names are used in their first occurrence for a secondary character, with the second occurrence an incidental mantion, Betty (a dancer in Maigret au Picratt's), Dolly (Arlette's replacement in Maigret au Picratt's), Georgette (Jeanne Debul's maid in Le revolver de Maigret), Mélie (the Ducrau's maid in L'écluse no 1), and Nana (the clocharde in Maigret et l'homme tout seul)

        Three names are used in two occurrences for a main character, Ginette (Marcellin's friend in Mon ami Maigret and Meurant's wife in Maigret aux Assises), Gloria (Negretti in Le charretier de la Providence and Lotti in L'amie de Madame Maigret), and Véronique (Lachaume in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants and Fabre in Maigret et les braves gens).

        Four names are used in both occurrences for a secondary character, Florence (Wilton in Maigret et le voleur paresseux and Mme Maigret's sister in Maigret et le clochard), Gertrud and Gertrude (Borms in Les caves du Majestic and Oosting in Maigret et la Grande Perche), Liliane (Laboine in Maigret et la jeune morte and Pigou in Maigret et le marchand de vin), Muriel (Britt in Un échec de Maigret and Halligan in Maigret voyage).

        Six are used with one occurrence for a main character, and the other for a secondary character, Claire (Marelle in Maigret et Monsieur Charles and Jusserand in Maigret s'amuse), Justine (Cuendet in Maigret et le voleur paresseux and M. Emile's mother in Mon ami Maigret), Mado (Feinstein in La guinguette à deux sous and Mascarelli's companion in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters), Paulette (Lachaume in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants and Parendon (Bambi) in Maigret hésite), Valentine (Besson in Maigret et la vieille dame and Forlacroix in La maison du juge), Viviane (La Pommeraye in L'auberge aux noyés, and the young girl at Mlle Irène's in Maigret et la jeune morte).

      3. names with three or four occurrences

        Among the 16 names with three occurrences, we find, Adèle (Noirhomme in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, Bosquet in La danseuse du Gai-Moulin, and the musician's companion in Félicie est là, three "easy woman"); Eveline and the variant, Evelina (Jave in Maigret s'amuse, Schneider in Maigret et le voleur paresseux, and Nahour in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour, three principal characters); Lise (Forlacroix in La maison du juge, Gendreau in La première enquête de Maigret, and the Parendon's maid in Maigret hésite, three young women); and Sylvie (three more "easy women", in Liberty Bar, Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters and Maigret et le client du samedi).

        Among the 19 names with four occurrences, we find, Arlette (Sudre in Maigret et la vieille dame, the dancer in Maigret au Picratt's, a girl in Maigret et l'homme du banc, and a prostitute, one of Moncin's victims in Maigret tend un piège – if two are officially listed as "registered prostitutes", the two others also maintain multiple relationships with men…); Cécile (used in two cases for young women, Pardon in Cécile est morte and Ledru in La vieille dame de Bayeux, and once for an infant, little Cécile Perrin in Maigret aux Assises); Clémentine (used for three elderly women, Bréjon in La maison du juge, Pholien in Maigret et le client du samedi, and Michou in Maigret et l'homme tout seul); Ellen (the name of four women either English or American, Crosby in La tête d'un homme, Darroman in Les caves du Majestic, Wilcox in Mon ami Maigret, and Ward in Maigret voyage); Fernande (also used for women who've had numerous relationships with men, Bosquet in Maigret, Steuvels in L'amie de Madame Maigret, Fumal in Un échec de Maigret, and a regular at the Vieux Pressoir in Le voleur de Maigret); Lulu (a name used for numerous "easy women", Françoise Binet in Maigret en meublé, Ernestine's friend in Maigret et la Grande Perche, Louise Filon in Maigret se trompe, and La Torpille in La patience de Maigret); and Thérèse (for three servants, in La maison du juge, Maigret à l'école, and Vente à la bougie).

    2. Feminine names used more frequently

      1. names with five or six occurrences

        Among the ten names with five occurrences, we find Angèle (for two main characters, Louette in La folle de Maigret and the waitress in Ceux du Grand Café, and a secondary character, Mme Sauget in Maigret et le fantôme); Catherine (for middle-aged women, the dance hall woman in L'écluse no 1, Mme Biron in Signé Picpus, the Lachaume's servant in Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants); Martine (appearing very late in the corpus, for Martine Gilloux in Un échec de Maigret; then used immediately afterwards in the next novel, for Martine Chapuis in Maigret s'amuse, then for several incidental characters).

        Among the seven names with six occurrences, we find Anna (a name indicating a character's foreign origin, especially Flemish, Gorskine in Pietr le Letton, Peeters in Chez les Flamands, Bebelmans in Mon ami Maigret, de Groot in Maigret voyage, Van Houtte in Maigret et le clochard, and Keegel in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour); Eugénie (for servants and maids, Gallet's in Monsieur Gallet, décédé, Campois's in Maigret se fâche, Pardon's in Maigret et le tueur; for housekeepers, Serre's in Maigret et la Grande Perche; or for cooks, Barion's in Monsieur Lundi); Isabelle (not found until the Presses de la Cité period when the first character of importance with this name appears, Isabelle Auger in Le client le plus obstiné du monde; thereafter fairly numerous, Mlle Clément's young tenant in Maigret en meublé, Vernoux's wife in Maigret a peur, the Princess de V. in Maigret et les vieillards, and Planchon's daughter in Maigret et le client du samedi); Juliette (after two main characters, Juliette Martin in L'ombre chinoise and Juliette Boynet in Cécile est morte, we find Juliette Tremblet in On ne tue pas les pauvres types, and then characters with this name become incidental); and Mélanie (the name of three bistro managers, in Cécile est morte, Maigret se trompe, and Maigret et le fantôme).

      2. names with seven, eight, or nine occurrences

        The four names with seven occurrences are:

        • Aline: a name given to a number of principal characters, Aline Gassin in L'écluse no 1, Aline Calas in Maigret et le corps sans tête, Aline Bauche in Maigret se défend and La patience de Maigret, three characters towards whom Maigret is sympathetic. Other characters with this name are incidental.
        • Antoinette: the name of six characters more or less important to the plot, Mme Le Cloaguen in Signé Picpus, Mme Machère in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Antoinette Ollivier in Maigret se trompe, Antoinette Chauvet in Maigret s'amuse, Mlle Vague in Maigret hésite, and Antoinette Lesourd in Maigret et le client du samedi.
        • Emilie: only two important characters are given this name, Mme Thouret in Maigret et l'homme du banc and Mme Mosselet in Tempête sur la Manche; the others are incidental characters.
        • Monique: a name reserved for young women, (Monique Thouret in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Monique Batille in Maigret et le tueur), and young girls in incidental characters (like Janvier's daughter in Maigret chez le ministre).

        The four names with eight occurrences are:

        • Hélène (and its English variant, Helen): the name of a number of more or less important characters, from Mme Grandmaison in Le port des brumes, to Hélène Lange in Maigret à Vichy, and including Hélène Godreau in Les vacances de Maigret, Hélène Grossot in L'amie de Madame Maigret and Helen Donahue in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters.
        • Léontine: aside from the young maid, Félicie's friend, it's a name generally reserved for middle-aged women, like the Naud's cook (L'inspecteur Cadavre), Courçon's housekeeper (Maigret a peur), Meurant's aunt (Maigret aux Assises), and Mme de Caramé (La folle de Maigret).
        • Marthe: is a name used for secondary characters, or incidental ones. We can mention James's wife (La guinguette à deux sous), Cageot's housekeeper (Maigret), Mme Duffieux (Les vacances de Maigret), the young assistant, Marthe Jusserand (Maigret tend un piège) and Marthe Dorval, the victim in L'auberge aux noyés.
        • Mathilde: a name attached to all sorts of characters, like Joseph's young friend in La pipe de Maigret, Mme Goldfinger in Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux, old Mathilde in L'ombre chinoise, the Ducrau's servant in L'écluse no 1, and Bernadette Amorelle's housekeeper in Maigret se fâche. It's a name which disappears almost completely from the corpus during the Presses de la Cité period.

        The five names with nine occurrences are,

        • Emma:a name often attached to maids and shop clerks; we can mention the girl at the Café de la Marine in Le charretier de la Providence, at Hôtel de l'Amiral in Le chien jaune, and the clerk in the dairy in Signé Picpus
        • Blanche: appears late in the corpus, during the Presses de la Cité period, We find Blanche Dubut, one of Mlle Clément's tenants (Maigret en meublé), Blanche Lamotte, the secreatary of Minister Point (Maigret chez le ministre), Mme Blanche, proprietress of a "lovers' rendezvous" (Maigret et le marchand de vin), Blanche Bonnard, nightclub owner (Maigret et Monsieur Charles), and Blanche Pigoud, the Flea's friend (Maigret et l'indicateur).
        • Joséphine: for several characters more or less important to the plot, (Joséphine Beausoleil in Le fou de Bergerac, Joséphine Papet in L'ami d'enfance de Maigret, Joséphine Croizier in La vieille dame de Bayeux), and numerous incidental characters, for the most part middle-aged women.
        • Julie and Julia: two main characters, (Julie Legrand in Le port des brumes and Julia Michaux in Vente à la bougie), and numerous incidental characters, for the most part waitresses and maids.
        • Rose: several characters more or less important to the plot, (Ducrau's mistress in L'écluse no 1, Valentine's maid in Maigret et la vieille dame, Fred's wife in Maigret au Picratt's, the owner of the Vieux Pressoir in Le voleur de Maigret), and numerous incidental characters, who are, for the most part, either women "of the streets", or maids.

    3. The eight most frequent feminine names

      The situation is parallel to that for the ten most frequent masculine names, both with regard to their frequency of occurrence within the Simenon corpus in general, and within French society contemporary with the writing of the novels..

      The eight names are, from least to most frequent in the corpus, Marcelle, Lucile, Olga, Louise, Berthe, Germaine, Jeanne, and Marie. According to the INSEE statistics, Marie was the name most often given until the middle of the 1950s; Jeanne was second until the 1920s, thereafter descending (it still occupied 18th place at the beginning of the '40s); Berthe was in 18th place in 1902, then disappeared from the top 20 until 1911; Germaine was in the top 10 in 1911, descended to 14th in 1920, disappearing from the top 20 by 1929; Louise was in the top 10 until 1911, dropping to 18th in 1920. Neither Olga nor Lucile was found in the top twenty by 1902; Marcelle was in the top ten until 1920, then descended to 18th in 1929, before disappearing from the top 20 by the beginning of the 1930s. We can say, therefore, that on the one hand, as for the masculine names, Simenon uses certain feminine names which were basically out of fashion at the time of writing. But on the other hand, certain of the author's favorite names don't seem to have been chosen as a function of their frequency of occurrence in the population at large, but rather according to other criteria (women Simenon met who left a lasting impression?) to be determined. The research remains to be done...

      Let's look in detail at these names...

      • Marcelle: this name appears in 10 occurrences, though most often for incidental characters; we note, of those more important, the concierge in Maigret et la jeune morte, Jo Mori's young friend in Maigret et l'indicateur, and Mirella's real name, in Maigret et le fantôme.
      • Lucile shows 11 occurrences, not appearing until the beginning of the Presses de la Cité period. Used by the author for various characters more or less important to the plot, from old Lucile in Maigret à New York, to Lucile Decaux in Maigret se trompe, and including little Lucile in Les vacances de Maigret, Bob's friend in La première enquête de Maigret, the housekeeper at the Hôtel de Bretagne in Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters, and Vernoux's sister in Maigret a peur. From there on, through to the end of the corpus, it's only used for incidental characters.
      • Olga appears in 13 occurrences, found from the very beginning of the corpus, where it is used for Berthe Swaan's young daughter, and again in three stories, (Olga Boulanger in Monsieur Lundi, Olga Tserewska alias Stéphanie Polintskaïa in Stan le tueur, Olga Poissonneau in On ne tue pas les pauvres types), and then in Les vacances de Maigret (Olga, Odette's friend); after that, it is reserved for several secondary characters (Olga Grossot in L'amie de Madame Maigret, two "women of the street" in Maigret voyage and Maigret et le voleur paresseux), and numerous incidental characters.
      • Louise is found in 15 occurrences... mentioned in passing in Le chien jaune, we encounter it again for two main story characters, (Louise Voivin in L'affaire du boulevard Beaumarchais) and L'inspecteur Cadavre (Louise Naud), and then an incidental mention in L'amie de Madame Maigret. It's not until Les mémoires de Maigret that the name is attributed to Mme Maigret (and that's the only novel I know of where she is named; thereafter, in the other novels, her husband always calls her "Mme Maigret". We recall that in the story L'amoureux de Madame Maigret, he called her "Henriette", like Simenon's mother… but also like Henriette Liberge, called "Boule"…). In the remainder of the corpus, the name is used for several important characters, including three young women for whom Maigret is filled with empathy, (Sabati in Maigret a peur, Filon in Maigret se trompe, and Laboine in Maigret et la jeune morte), and then other characters less "charismatic", like Louise Bourges in Un échec de Maigret, the Countess Palmieri in Maigret voyage, Louise Bodin in Maigret et l'affaire Nahour. Finally we note a last wink of the author's eye in Maigret et Monsieur Charles, with the old flower-seller Louisa, whom Maigret "had known young and vibrant, one of the prettiest girls to walk the streets", and "once when Maigret had nabbed her, she'd expected him to 'take advantage' of the situation..."
      • Berthe is found in 18 occurrences, appearing at the very beginning of the corpus (Berthe Swaan in Pietr le Letton). Then it's used for several incidental characters, as well as Berthe Decharme (L'écluse no 1), before being given to three young women who don't leave the Chief Inspector cold... (Mlle Berthe in Mademoiselle Berthe et son amant, Berthe Pardon in Cécile est morte, and Berthe Janiveau in Signé Picpus); it's not found again except for certain rare secondary characters (a cashier in Le client le plus obstiné du monde, a cook in Maigret et l'homme tout seul) and some incidental characters, including several secretaries.
      • Germaine also appears in 18 occurrences, a name the reserved for a good number of more or less important characters, but of very different types... Oscar's wife in La nuit du carrefour, Mme Couchet in L'ombre chinoise, Germaine Piedboeuf in Chez les Flamands, Mme Rivaud in Le fou de Bergerac, Germaine Devon in L'improbable Monsieur Owen, Germaine Baboeuf in La première enquête de Maigret, Lapointe's sister in L'amie de Madame Maigret, Mme Gouin in Maigret se trompe, Mme Gastin in Maigret à l'école, Germaine Laboine in Maigret et la jeune morte, and Fumal's maid in Un échec de Maigret.
      • Jeanne appears in 25 occurrences, another name attributed to all sorts of characters, Jeanne Jeunet in Le pendu de Saint-Pholien, Jeanne Ducrau in L'écluse no 1, Mlle Jeanne in Signé Picpus, Jeanne Fénard in Tempête sur la Manche, the owner of the Auberge de l'Ange in Maigret se fâche, the Bellamy's housekeeper in Les vacances de Maigret, Jeanne Debul in Le revolver de Maigret, Mme Thouret's sister in Maigret et l'homme du banc, Jeanne Vernoux in Maigret a peur, Jeanne Fumal in Un échec de Maigret, old Mlle Jeanne in Maigret et les braves gens, and Jeanne Chabut in Maigret et le marchand de vin.
      • Marie (and the "foreign" variants, Mary and Maria) appears in 27 occurrences, a name reserved for numerous principal characters in the first half of the corpus, (Mary Lampson in Le charretier de la Providence, Marie Leonnec in Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, Marie Tatin and Marie Vassilief in L'affaire Saint-Fiacre, Maria Peeters in Chez les Flamands, Marie Deligeard in Les caves du Majestic, Marie Picard in Signé Picpus, Sister Marie des Anges in Les vacances de Maigret, Maria of the Czech gang in Maigret et son mort, Marie, the Gendreau's maid in La première enquête de Maigret, and Maria Van Aerts in Maigret et la Grande Perche). It becomes thereafter relegated to several secondary characters, (Maria Smelker in Maigret à l'école, Marie Jalon in Maigret et Monsieur Charles), and several incidental ones.

     
  4. CONCLUSION

    What conclusions can we draw from this analysis? First, while the author's range of choices of names is great, he nevertheless utilizes a relatively limited selection from one novel to another, Otherwise said, Simenon uses a "selection procedure" for some of his names, he has preferences for certain characterizations, while others seem more or less whimsically motivated, or at least, that their selection in the plot does not seem to procede from any process evident to the reader.

    And further, certain names are used almost as benchmarks for the reader, providing a sort of "reassurance", giving the illusion of a familiar world, in which maids are called Rose, housekeepers, Eugénie, shopkeepers, Emma, gangsters, Jo or Fred, where barmen are called Bob, and Maigret will go to get his white wine or Calvados at Chez Fernand or Chez Léon, while at the cabaret next door, he can pass the evening in the company of an Arlette or a Sylvie…


 

translation: S. Trussel
Honolulu, Jan. 5, 2015

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