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Maigret Entitled....

A mini-analysis of the titles of novels in the corpus

by Murielle Wenger

original French

translator's note: As this is an analysis of
Simenon's original titles and their translations,
the French titles have been kept in their original forms.
(French title index)

Here is a new subject for study, the titles which Simenon gave to the novels in the Maigret corpus. I'd like to do an analysis at once syntactic and semantic, using certain criteria I have defined and chosen.

1. The Presses de la Cité titles

  1. The first part of my analysis is devoted to novels from the Presses de la Cité period, including the three stories, La pipe de Maigret, Un Noël de Maigret, and Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux. Thus I'm concerning myself with titles in which the name 'Maigret' is present.

    In the novels of the Fayard and Gallimard periods, Simenon used titles in another style, similar to those given to the non-Maigrets. The name of the Chief Inspector appears in but one sole novel of this period, the last of the Fayard cycle, when the author, thinking he'd finished with his character, symbolically entitled the novel "Maigret", with the idea that he was going to finish with him, and that the name of the Chief Inspector would thus end a phase. This name does not reappear in the titles of the novels until the Presses de la Cité period. We know that it was Sven Nielsen, founder of that publishing house, who suggested that Simenon use the Chief Inspector's name in the titles. It was a good idea, not only because it indicated that they were part of a sort of collection, but also because it allowed, from an aesthetic point of view, interesting variations in the graphic compositions of the book covers.

  2. If we consider the titles of the Presses de la Cité period, we note that they can be grouped into various categories, according to the words used.

    • From a syntactic point of view, the name 'Maigret' is either accompanied by another substantive (Maigret et le fantôme, Une confidence de Maigret), or a verb (Maigret se fâche), or both (Maigret a peur, Maigret tend un piège)

    • From a semantic point of view, the substantives accompanying the name 'Maigret'are of four types:

      1. a noun designating an object or an abstract idea (Le revolver de Maigret, Un Noël de Maigret)
      2. a place (Maigret à New York)
      3. an emotion (La colère de Maigret)
      4. a person (Maigret et la jeune morte).

      These are summarized in the following table:

Maigret se fâche La pipe de Maigret Maigret à New York Un échec de Maigret Mon ami Maigret
Maigret se trompe La première enquête de Maigret Maigret au Picratt's Les scrupules de Maigret Maigret et son mort
Maigret tend un piège Maigret tend un piège Maigret en meublé La colère de Maigret Maigret et la Grande Perche
Maigret s'amuse Un Noël de Maigret Maigret à l'école La patience de Maigret Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters
Maigret voyage Les Mémoires de Maigret Maigret aux Assises Maigret a peur Maigret et l'homme du banc
Maigret se défend Le revolver de Maigret Maigret à Vichy Une confidence de Maigret Maigret et la jeune morte
Maigret hésite Maigret et l'affaire Nahour  Maigret chez le ministre
Maigret a peur Les vacances de Maigret  Maigret et le corps sans tête
    Maigret et la vieille dame
    Maigret chez le coroner
    Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux
    L'amie de Mme Maigret
    Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants
    Maigret et les vieillards
    Maigret et le voleur paresseux
    Maigret et les braves gens
    Maigret et le client du samedi
    Maigret et le clochard
    Maigret et le fantôme
    Le voleur de Maigret
    L'ami d'enfance de Maigret
    Maigret et le tueur
    Maigret et le marchand de vin
    La folle de Maigret
    Maigret et l'homme tout seul
    Maigret et l'indicateur
    Maigret et Monsieur Charles

    One obvious fact jumps to our eyes – Simenon preferred nouns for persons in his titles. I don't find this surprising, for we know that in his investigations, Maigret emphasized human relations, that it was above all the people that interested him in his search for the truth...

    • From a stylistic point of view, the relationship between the substantive, or the verb, and the word 'Maigret' are marked in various ways.

      1. If the accompanying word is a verb, or a substantive indicating a place, the word 'Maigret' is at the head of the title, and it is followed by either the verb, or a preposition introducing the place, (à, au(x), en) [at, in].

      2. If the accompanying word is a substantive indicating an object or an emotion, the word is at the head of the title and is attached to the word 'Maigret' by the preposition de [of] (with the exception of the title Maigret et l'affaire Nahour, which is constructed with the conjunction et [and]).

      3. If the accompanying word is a substantive indicating a person, two constructions are possible: either the word 'Maigret' is at the head of the title and it is attached to the substantive by the conjunction et [and] ou chez [at __'s]; or the substantive is at the head of the title and is attached to the word 'Maigret' by the preposition de [of, __'s].

      Here is a table summarizing them:

'Maigret' at the head of the title + ...... + de + 'Maigret' at the end of the title
verbconjunction et/chez placeobject or emotionperson
Maigret se fâche Maigret et les braves gens Maigret à New York Un échec de Maigret Le voleur de Maigret
Maigret se trompe Maigret et le clochard Maigret au Picratt's Les scrupules de Maigret L'ami d'enfance de Maigret
Maigret tend un piège Maigret et le fantôme Maigret en meublé La colère de Maigret La folle de Maigret
Maigret s'amuse Maigret et le tueur Maigret à l'école La patience de Maigret  
Maigret voyage Maigret et le marchand de vin Maigret aux Assises Une confidence de Maigret L'amie de Mme Maigret
Maigret se défend Maigret et l'affaire Nahour Maigret à Vichy La pipe de Maigret  
Maigret hésite Maigret et son mort La première enquête de MaigretMon ami Maigret
Maigret a peur Maigret et l'homme tout seul Un Noël de Maigret  
 Maigret et Monsieur Charles Les Mémoires de Maigret  
  Maigret et la Grande Perche Le revolver de Maigret  
  Maigret et l'homme du banc Les vacances de Maigret  
  Maigret et l'indicateur    
  Maigret et la jeune morte   
  Maigret et le corps sans tête   
  Maigret et la vieille dame   
  Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux   
  Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants   
  Maigret et le client du samedi    
  Maigret et les vieillards   
  Maigret et le voleur paresseux   
  Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters   
  Maigret chez le ministre    
  Maigret chez le coroner   

    We note, 1, that the titles where the word 'Maigret' is at the head are much more numerous than those where 'Maigret' is at the end, and 2, that the titles where a noun for a person is mentioned are much more frequently constructed with the conjunction et [and]: Maigret's name is "put in front" as being the principal element and first in the title... it's the Chief Inspector who is the most important character - the hero - of the story.

    • From the point of view of the story told, we note that the word accompanying the name 'Maigret' does not necessarily indicate the most important element of the plot. The title is often there to "hook" the reader, a technique that Simenon learned to control during his years of writing novels under pseudonyms. Thus, the title Maigret chez le coroner informs us of the fact that the action takes place in America, but tells us nothing of the main characters in the story (the coroner himself being obviously not the most important one). Maigret et la Grande Perche certainly mentions one of the characters, but nothing about other persons equally as important, like Guillaume Serre and his mother. Moreover, the title Maigret chez le dentiste, as for example this novel could be called, would certainly be less captivating and intriguing than the words "Grande Perche" [beanpole, tall, skinny girl]

    Similarly, Mon ami Maigret, if it tells us nothing of the main characters of the story, leads the reader nonetheless to various conjectures (for example, we might ask the question, "is this story going to be told by a narrator recalling his friendship with Maigret?"), and it's not until reading the novel that the reader will understand that the words "mon ami Maigret" had been those of the victim...

    We note also the sense of expression that Simenon possessed, his art of arranging the words to render a title more enticing – for example, La folle de Maigret is much more evocative than Maigret et la folle, which is equally valid for Le voleur de Maigret (much better than Maigret et le voleur). We could further make the same remark in examining the modifications of the titles that Simenon made during the writing of the novels (information drawn from this site). For example, Maigret voyage was first entitled Maigret et la petite comtesse; Maigret et le client du samedi was first called Maigret s'obstine; Maigret a des remords became Les scrupules de Maigret; Le portefeuille de Maigret became Le voleur de Maigret; Maigret au Quai d'Orsay gave Maigret et les vieillards; and even the banal La visiteuse de Maigret took on the title, Maigret et Monsieur Charles. Similarly, before finding the definitive title, Maigret et le tueur, Simenon tried various others... Un coup double de Maigret, Maigret se méfie, and Maigret et le "forcené".

2. Translation of the titles

This leads us to the second part of the analysis, in which we'll concern ourselves in more detail with the relationship between the title and the story. We'll finish the analysis with a comparative study of these titles with those of their translations into other languages (German, English and Italian) and with the titles of television series episodes. For a little more clarity, I'll study these titles by grouping them according to the syntactic and semantic categories defined above, those titles containing verbs, and those containing substantives designating objects, places, emotions and people.

  1. Let's first consider titles containing verbs...

    • Maigret se fâche: We note first off the tense of the verb, the present, evoking both continuity of the action and the duration of a feeling. Maigret not only "flies into a rage" when he understands the evil role played by Malik in this family affair, but further this emotion of anger endures throughout the length of the story, and supports Maigret's actions (for example, the "kidnapping" of Georges-Henri or the discussion with Campois). In sum, Maigret is not only angry at a given moment in the narrative, but he est fâché throughout the entire story. That is probably why the Italian translation of this title is La collera di Maigret or La furia di Maigret, which we could translate as "la colère de Maigret", if, of course, the title had not already been used for another novel... The German translation takes up this idea of a "present" which lasts (Maigret regt sich auf), while the English translation puts the accent on another element of the plot, Maigret in Retirement ("Maigret à la retraite", since in fact, the Chief Inspector is no longer on active duty at the time the events take place). The title of the episode in the English series with Rupert Davies takes into account another aspect, The Dirty House, Malik's house, hiding, under the wealth of well-to-do bourgeoisie, a sordid family story...

    • Maigret a peur: We can class this title with either the verbs or under substantives evoking emotions. Fear is certainly one of the essential components of the novel, not only the fear reigning at Fontenay, but the fear felt by Maigret when he understands the dangers this sentiment could provoke on the actions of people (for example, the consequence of the arrest of Louise Sabati on the actions of Alain Vernoux). The sense of the title is retained in the titles rendered literally... Maigret Afraid, Maigret hat Angst, Maigret ha paura. Only the episode with Rupert Davies carries another title, evoking rather the place of the action, The Fontenay Murders.

    • Maigret se trompe: here, the present tense doesn't so much evoke the duration of the action, as rather the final act of the plot. Maigret errs in thinking that Gouin will protect the guilty party. So he makes a "mistake" (the sense of the title of the English translation, Maigret's Mistake). The German and Italian translations are faithful... Hier irrt Maigret and Maigret si sbaglia. The title of the episode of the series with Rupert Davies is more ambiguous, The Mistake ("l'erreur")... who "makes the foul" in the story?

    • Maigret s'amuse: The title chosen by Simenon is particularly well conceived, for it intrigues the reader ("what is Maigret playing at?"), it evokes "leisure" (Maigret is "on vacation"), and the reader understands that Maigret "amuses himself" also by playing a trick on Janvier by sending him anonymous letters. The sense of "leisure" and "amusement" is taken up by a German translation, (Maigret amüsiert sich), and the Italian (Maigret si diverte), while another German translation, as well as English translations, uses the idea that Maigret amuses himself by playing at amateur detective (Maigret als Zuschauer ("Maigret en spectateur"); None of Maigret's Business). The other English translation, used in the title of the episode with Rupert Davies, keeps the idea of a trick played on Janvier, Maigret's Little Joke.

    • Maigret voyage: Here, once more, an intriguing title ("why does Maigret travel?"), where the form in the present tense gives an idea of duration, a notion preserved in the German (Maigret auf Reisen) and Italian (Maigret si viaggia, Maigret si mette in viaggio) translations. The English translation puts the accent on the characters of the mystery (Maigret and the Millionaires), and the title of the episode with Rupert Davies emphasizes rather Maigret's relationship with these characters (Another World).

    • Maigret se défend: Originally titled L'affaire Maigret, which perhaps brought to mind a little too much the title L'affaire Saint-Fiacre, the new title is more evocative and puts us again into the "active present", where Maigret is not a prisoner of the affair, but reacts to his problems by trying to defend himself – which, of course, he successfully does. This meaning is maintained in the German translation (Maigret verteidigt sich), but slightly altered in the English (Maigret on the Defensive, which I understand as "Maigret sur la défensive", with a nuance of passivity which is not present in the verb "se défendre"). The Italian translation pushes the idea of passivity even further, Maigret sotto inchiesta ("Maigret sous enquête"), in the same way as the title of the Rupert Davies episode, Maigret at Bay. If I have understood correctly, the meaning is that of the locution "to keep at bay", meaning "tenir en échec".

    • Maigret hésite: still another well-conceived title (the discarded titles of the typescript were Maigret sur la pointe des pieds and Maigret marche sur des œufs), which pushes the reader to ask, "with regard to what, and why, does Maigret hesitate?". The translations are very true to the original, Maigret Hesitates, Maigret zögert, Maigret esita. The title of the episode of the series with Bruno Crémer puts the accent on another aspect of the story... entitled Maigret chez les riches, it's this aspect of Maigret's relationship with the well-to-do bourgeoisie that is so well treated in the episode, one of the best of the series...

  2. Now let's examine titles containing a substantive designating an object or idea...

    • La pipe de Maigret: The first text published by Presses de la Cité, this story inaugurates the third cycle with a title which nicely sums up the essentials of Maigret in two words: the Chief Inspector's name, and his inseparable instrument. Useless then, to search for a translation other than literal... Maigret's Pipe, Maigrets Pfeife, La pipa di Maigret.

    • Les vacances de Maigret: The title is clear, and just intriguing enough to make the reader want to dive into the book to learn what the Chief Inspector can actually do while he's on vacation... The closest translation is the Italian, Le vacanze di Maigret. There are three English translations – one is very close, Maigret on Holiday, another a little distant A Summer Holiday, and finally the last which reverses the sense a little, No Vacation for Maigret. The three German translations are close enough to the original, (Kommissar) Maigret nimmt Urlaub, Maigret macht Ferien. The title of the episode with Rupert Davies is rather laconic... On Holiday, And the title of the episode of the series with Jean Richard turns the proposition around, Maigret en vacances.

    • La première enquête de Maigret: A straightforward title, which had two earlier versions in the typescript, Les débuts de Maigret and Le chien du commissaire, this last probably eliminated at once because it didn't contain the name Maigret, and because it lent itself to misinterpretation. The translations are faithful, Maigret's First Case, Maigrets erste Untersuchung, La prima inchiesta di Maigret. The title of the episode with Rupert Davies is more eye-catching: A Taste of Power.

    • Un Noël de Maigret: Here again, everything is said in the title. The English and Italian translations are faithful, Maigret's Christmas, Un natale di Maigret. The German translations differ somewhat, Weihnacht mit Maigret and Maigret und der Weihnachtsmann ("Maigret et le Père Noël"). The episode with Rupert Davies is cheerfully entitled, A Crime for Christmas.

    • Les Mémoires de Maigret: Still another obvious title, to be translated literally, Maigret's Memoirs, Maigrets Memoiren, Le memorie di Maigret.

    • Le revolver de Maigret: For this title Simenon chose to put the accent on an object which certainly plays its role in the story, as a sort of "detonator", if you will, but which is certainly not one of the most important elements in the plot (moreover, a variant title in the typescript was Le jeune homme qui attendait, a title no doubt too banal to be kept). The translations hold to the same idea, probably because of the eye-catching aspect of this title, Maigret's Revolver, Maigret und sein Revolver, La rivoltella di Maigret. The title of the episode with Rupert Davies is again more concise, The Revolver.

    • Maigret tend un piège: This title could also be classed under the catergory 'verbs', but in the end, the most important element is the piège that Maigret prepares to catch the killer. The English and German translations are literal, Maigret Sets a Trap, (Kommissar) Maigret stellt eine Falle. The Italian title differs slightly, La trappola di Maigret, while the episode with Rupert Davies is once again more concise, The Trap.

    • Maigret et l'affaire Nahour: We could also classify this title in the category 'person', as attested by the choice made for the Italian translation, Maigret e il libanese. The English and German translations are faithful, Maigret and the Nahour Case, Maigret und der Fall Nahour, the "police mystery" aspect of the word "affaire" is no doubt appreciated on the cover of a novel...

  3. Let's move to titles containing a word for a place. There are three types, a geographical name, (Maigret à New York, Maigret à Vichy), the name of an establishment (Maigret au Picratt's), or a more general word designating a building or institution, (Maigret en meublé, Maigret à l'école, Maigret aux Assises).

    For the geographical names, the translations opt either for literalness (Maigret in New York in English and German, Maigret a New York in Italian; Maigret in Vichy in English, Maigret a Vichy in Italian), or for a more explicit translation, ((Inspector) Maigret in New York's Underworld; and for Vichy: Maigret Takes the Waters, Maigret in Kur).

    For Maigret au Picratt's, with a title so evocative, but perhaps evocative above all for readers of Simenon, diverse translations abound, according to where they want to put the accent... on the principal character, (Inspector) Maigret and the Strangled Stripper; Maigret and the Night Club Dancer (title of an episode with Michael Gambon); Maigret und die Tänzerin Arlette; Maigret, die Tänzerin und die Gräfin (good one!) or on the location, Maigret in Montmartre (also title of an episode with Rupert Davies), Maigret al night-club, Maigret al Picratt's in Italian, and Maigret a Pigalle for the cinematic version with Gino Cervi. The episode for the series with Bruno Crémer, the first to have been released, had the very evocative title, Maigret et les plaisirs de la nuit.

    For the three final titles of this category, the translations are also varied, depending on whether they want to stay with the original text, or to put the accent on another element of the plot...

    Maigret à l'école, translated into English as Maigret Goes to School, and Italian as Maigret a scuola. But there are also different translations. In Italian, Maigret a un dubbio ("Maigret a un doute"), in German Maigret und die schrecklichen Kinder ("Maigret et les enfants terribles"), which we can connect with the title of the episode with Rupert Davies, The Liars.

    Maigret en meublé has semi-literal translations, Maigret Takes/Rents a Room, Maigret als möblierter Herr, and an Italian translation giving greater precision, Maigret et l'affittacamere ("Maigret et la logeuse"). The title of the episode with Rupert Davies puts the accent on an important detail of the story, The Cactus.

    Maigret aux Assises, with its meaning-laden title, translates well literally, Maigret in Court, Maigret vor dem Schwurgericht, Maigret alle Assise or Maigret in corte d'Assise. Only the episode with Rupert Davies finds a more evocative title, Raise your Right Hand.

  4. Here now are titles containing a noun designating a feeling. We note that this emotion could as well have been expressed by the corresponding verb (for example, Une confidence de Maigret could be entitled Maigret se confie), and that the other part of the emotion must be made explicit to be understood. This explains why the translations are rather varied for titles in this category.

    • Un échec de Maigret: Semi-literal translation, Maigret's Failure, Uno scacco di Maigret; or slightly modified, Maigret erlebt eine Niederlage ("Maigret subit une défaite"), and Maigret prende un granchio ("Maigret commet une bévue"); and a title putting the accent on another element,for the episode with Rupert Davies, Death of a Butcher.

    • Les scrupules de Maigret (which was first called Maigret a des remords): Semi-literal translation, Maigret has Scruples, Maigret hat Skrupel, Gli scrupoli di Maigret; and once more a title different and eye-catching for the episode with Rupert Davies, Unscheduled Departure.

    • Une confidence de Maigret: Literal translation, Maigrets Geständnis, Una confidenza di Maigret, Maigret si confida, or accent on another aspect, Maigret has Doubts, Maigret und der Fall Josset, A Man Condemned (title of the episode with Rupert Davies).

    • La colère de Maigret: Semi-literal translation, Maigret ist wütend, Maigret gerät in Wut, Maigret perde le staffe ("Maigret sort de ses gonds"), Maigret Loses his Temper; or, accent on another element, Maigret e l'affare Strip-Tease.

    • La patience de Maigret (preferred title in the typescript, instead of Maigret et M. Paul or La plus longue enquête de Maigret). Literal translation, The Patience of Maigret, Maigret hat Geduld, La pazienza di Maigret; or different, but preserving the same idea, Maigret Bides his Time, Maigret lässt sich Zeit. The title of the episode with Gino Cervi puts the accent on another element, Maigret e i diamanti.

  5. And here, finally, the most significant category, that of titles containing a name of a character; the translations opt for a number of solutions...:

    • The name of the character is preserved.

    • The title is simplified with regard to the original title.

    • The character of the original title is preserved, but with some attribute.

    • The title refers to another element of the story, another character, mention of a place, an object or abstract idea...

original titlepreserved titlemodified title
Maigret et l'inspecteur malgracieux Maigret and the Surly Inspector
Maigret und Inspektor Griesgram
L'ispettore biloso/sgarbato
Maigret e l'ispettore scontroso
Questa notte a Parigi ("cette nuit-là à Paris")
Inspector Lognon's Triumph (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et l'ispettore sfortunato ("Malchanceux") (Gino Cervi)
Maigret et son mort Maigret's Dead Man
Maigret und sein Toter
Il morto di Maigret
Maigret's Special Murder
Ben tornato, Maigret
The Winning Ticket (Rupert Davies)
Mon ami Maigret My Friend Maigret
Mein Freund Maigret
Il mio amico Maigret
The Methods of Maigret
My Friend the Inspector (Rupert Davies)
Maigret chez le coroner Maigret at the Coroner's
Maigret beim Coroner
Maigret va' dal coroner
Maigret dal giudice
Maigret in Arizona (allemand)
Maigret en Arizona (Jean Richard episode)
Maigret et la vieille dame Maigret and the Old Lady
Maigret und die alte Dame
Maigret e la vecchia signora
The Old Lady (Rupert Davies)
L'amie de Madame Maigret Madame Maigret's Friend
The Friend of Madame Maigret
Madame Maigrets Freundin
L'amica della signora Maigret
Madame Maigret's own Case
Frau Maigret als Detektiv
The White Hat (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et la Grande Perche Maigret und die Bohnenstange
(la "perche à haricots")
Maigret e la spilungona/stangona
Maigret und die Dirne ("prostituée")
(Inspector) Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
The Burglar's Wife (Rupert Davies)
Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters Maigret, Lognon und die Gangster
Maigret, Lognon e i gangster
Inspector Maigret and the Killers
Maigret and the Gangsters
Maigret und die Gangster
Maigret e il gangster
Maigret e l'ispettore Lognon
The Experts (Rupert Davies)
Maigret voit rouge (film with Jean Gabin)
Maigret et l'homme du banc Maigret and the Man on the Bench
Maigret und der Mann auf der Bank
Maigret e l'uomo della panchina
Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
The Man on the Boulevard
Le due pipe di Maigret
Murder on Monday (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et la jeune morte Maigret and the Dead Girl
Maigret und die junge Tote
Maigret e la giovane morta
Maigret and the Young Girl
Maigret und die Unbekannte ("l'inconnue")
The Lost Life (Rupert Davies)
Maigret chez le ministre Maigret and the Minister
Maigret und der Minister
Maigret e il ministro
Maigret and the Calame Report
Maigret è solo
High Politics (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et le corps sans tête Maigret and the Headless Corpse
Maigret und der Kopflose
Maigret und die kopflose Leiche
Maigret e il corpo senza testa
Das hat Maigret noch nie erlebt ("Maigret n'a encore jamais vécu cela")
The Simple Case (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses
Maigret und die widerspenstigen Zeugen
Maigret e il testimoni reticenti/recalcitranti
Die Zeugen schweigen ("Les témoins se taisent")
The Reluctant Witnesses (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et les vieillards Maigret und die alten Leuten
Maigret et i vecchi signori
Maigret in Society
Maigret e gli aristocratici
Voices from the Past (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et la princesse (Bruno Crémer)
Maigret et l'ambassadeur (Jean Richard)
Maigret et le voleur paresseux Maigret and the Lazy/Idle Burglar
Maigret und der faule Dieb
Maigret e il ladro pigro/indolente
The Amateurs (Rupert Davies)
Il ladro solitario (Gino Cervi)
Maigret et les braves gens Maigret und die braven Leute
Maigret e le persone perbene
Maigret e la famiglia felice ("Maigret et la famille heureuse")
Maigret and the Black Sheep
Maigret et le client du samedi Maigret and the Saturday Caller
Maigret und sein/der Sonnabend-Besucher
Maigret und der Samstagklient
Maigret e il cliente del sabato
Maigret et le clochard Maigret and the Bum/Dosser
Maigret und der Clochard
Maigret e il vagabondo
Maigret et le fantôme Maigret and the Ghost
Maigret and the apparition
Maigret und das Phantom
Maigret und das Gespenst
Maigret e il fantasma
Le voleur de Maigret Maigret's Pickpocket
Maigret und der Dieb ("Maigret et le voleur")
Maigret e il ladro ("Maigret et le voleur")
Maigret in Künstlerkreisen ("Maigret dans les cercles artistiques")
L'ami d'enfance de Maigret Maigret's Boyhood Friend
Maigret und sein Jugendfreund
L'amico d'infanzia di Maigret
Maigret et le tueur Maigret and the Killer
Maigret und der Mörder
Maigret und der Messerstecher ("knifer")
Maigret e il capellone imprudente ("Maigret et le hippie imprudent")
Maigret et le marchand de vin Maigret and the Wine Merchant
Maigret und der Weinhändler
Maigret e il commerciante di vini
La folle de Maigret Maigret and the Madwoman
Maigret und die Spinnerin
La pazza di Maigret
Maigret und die verrückte Witwe ("Maigret et la veuve folle")
Maigret et l'homme tout seul Maigret and the Loner
Maigret und der Einsame
Maigret und der einsame Mann
Maigret e l'uomo solo
Maigret et l'indicateur Maigret and the Informer
Maigret e l'informatore
Maigret und der Spitzel
Maigret and the Flea
Maigret et monsieur Charles Maigret and Monsieur Charles
Maigret und Monsieur Charles
Maigret e il signor Charles

    We can also note the following elements...

    • The majority of the titles have literal translations, proof that the title found by Simenon was good, and sufficiently well-suited to be preserved even in translation.

    • The changes to titles in the translations are usually minor modifications, the principal idea of the original title is most often maintained.

    • The greatest modifications appear in titles of episodes for television series, no doubt because the title of a televised episode should be more attractive, to "lead" the viewer to the choice of a program...

3. The titles without Maigret: novels of the Fayard and Gallimard cycles

To finish, I'd like to do a parallel analysis for the titles of the first two periods of the corpus, those in which Maigret's name does not appear. As mentioned above, these title are more similar in style to those of the non-Maigrets.

  1. If we use the same syntactic and semantic criteria we used earlier, we note the following elements...

    • The titles of these two cycles can be roughly regrouped into three categories, titles containing the name of a person (Monsieur Gallet, décédé), of a place (Le port des brumes), or sometimes both (Le fou de Bergerac).

    • The title is most often formed of two words, in principle two substantives, the one elucidating the other (La nuit du carrefour). Sometimes the second substantive is replaced by an adjective (Le chien jaune) or a verb form (Cécile est morte).

    This can be summarized in the following table:

    a single nounnoun + adjectivenoun + placenoun + nounnoun + verb
    Maigret Le chien jaune (1)
    Monsieur Gallet, décédé
    L'ombre chinoise (1)
    Signé Picpus (1)
    Le pendu de Saint-Pholien
    La danseuse du Gai-Moulin
    Le fou de Bergerac
    La maison du juge (2)
    Le charretier de la Providence
    La tête d'un homme
    L'inspecteur Cadavre
    Cécile est morte
    Félicie est là
    a single noun or two adjacent nounstwo nouns connected by a preposition
    Liberty Bar
    L'écluse no (1)
    Chez les Flamands (3)
    L'affaire Saint-Fiacre (4)
    Le port des brumes
    Les caves du Majestic
    La nuit du carrefour
    Un crime en Hollande
    Au rendez-vous des Terre-neuvas
    La guinguette à deux sous

    (1) I've placed Le chien jaune under 'person', for this dog is almost as important as a character in the story. Similarly, L'ombre chinoise, which is the silhouette of a person, and Signé Picpus, the "character" who signs the anonymous letter announcing the death of the fortuneteller...

    (2) I've put this title under 'person', ranking 'person' higher than 'place'...

    (3) I've put this title with nouns of 'place', because of the preposition "chez", but here too we could consider that it's the persons who count, and put it in another category of the table...

    (4) Here too, we could consider that "Saint-Fiacre" is not just a place, but also the name of a person...

  2. From the point of view of translations, here's what we find:

original titlepreserved titlemodified title
Pietr-le-Letton Pietro il Lettone
Pietr il Lettone
Peter the Lett (Rupert Davies)
The (Strange) Case of Peter the Lett
Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
(Kommissar) Maigret und die Zwillinge ("les jumeaux")
Maigret und Pietr der Lette
Maigret e il Lettone
Monsieur Gallet, décédé Il signor Gallet, defunto
Il defunto signo Gallet
The death of Monsieur Gallet
Maigret Stonewalled
Maigret und der tote Herr Gallet
Maigret und der verstorbene Monsieur Gallet
Maigret e il castellano ("le châtelain")
A Man of Quality (Rupert Davies)
Le charretier de la Providence Il carrettiere della Providenza Maigret und der Treidler der Providence
Die Nacht an der Schleuse ("La nuit à l'écluse")
Der Schiffsfuhrmann ("Le charretier du bateau")
Maigret tappt im Dunkeln ("Maigret tâtonne dans l'obscurité")
Il cavallante ("chevalier") della Providence
Maigret si commuove ("Maigret se passionne")
The crime at Lock 14
Maigret Meets a Milord
Lock 14
Le pendu de Saint-Pholien L'impiccato di Saint-Pholien Il viaggiatore di terza classe ("Le voyageur de 3e classe")
Der Schatten ("L'ombre")
Maigret unter den Anarchisten
Maigret und der Gehängte von Saint-Pholien
The Crime of Inspector Maigret
Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
The Children's Party (Rupert Davies)
La tête d'un homme A man's head
Um eines Mannes Kopf
La testa di un uomo
A battle of nerves
Maigret's War of Nerves
The Patience of Maigret
Der Alpdruck ("Le cauchemar")
(Kommissar) Maigret riskiert seine Stellung ("Maigret risque sa place")
Maigret kämpft um den Kopf eines Mannes ("Maigret se bat pour la tête d'un homme")
Maigret e una vita in gioco ("Maigret et une vie en jeu")
Maigret et la vita di un uomo
Una testa in gioco
Una vita in gioco (Gino Cervi)
Death in Mind (Rupert Davies)
Le chien jaune The yellow dog
Der gelbe Hund
Il cane giallo
A face for a Clue
Maigret and the Concarneau Murders
Maigret and the Yellow Dog
Maigret und der gelbe hund
La nuit du carrefour Die Nacht an der Kreuzung The Crossroad Murders
Maigret at the Crossroads
Maigret und der Mann von Welt ("Maigret et l'homme du monde")
Maigret'sNacht an der Kreuzung
Il mistero del crocevia
Maigret e la casa delle tre vedove ("Maigret et la maison des trois veuves")
Il crocevia delle tre vedove
The Crooked Castle (Rupert Davies)
Un crime en Hollande A Crime in Holland
Un delitto in Olanda
Maigret in Holland (German and English)
Maigret und das Verbrechen ("crime") in Holland
Maigret in Olanda
Maigret en Finlande (Bruno Crémer)
Au rendez-vous des Terre-neuvas Al convegno dei Terranova All'insegna dei Terranova
The Sailor's Rendezvous
Maigret Answers a Plea
Maigret und das Verbrechen an Bord
Maigret am Treffen der Neufundlandfahrer
The Log of the Cap Fagnet (Rupert Davies)
La danseuse du Gai-Moulin La danzatrice del Gai-Moulin
La ballerina del Gai-Moulin
At the Gai Moulin
Maigret at the Gai Moulin
Die Tänzerin ("La danseuse")
Ein Fremder stirbt ("Un étranger meurt")
Maigret und der Spion ("Maigret et l'espion")
Maigret e la ballerina
La guinguette à deux sous L'osteria dei due soldi
La balera dei due soldi
Guinguette by the Seine
Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
Maigret to the Rescue
A Spot by the Seine
The Bar on the Seine
Maigret und die Groschenschenke ("Maigret et le bistrot à dix pfennigs")
Maigret und die kleine Landkneipe ("le petit bistrot de campagne")
The wedding guest (Rupert Davies)
L'ombre chinoise L'ombra cinese The Shadow in the Courtyard
Maigret Mystified
Maigret und der Schatten am Fenster
Maigret und das Schattenspiel
Shadow Play (Rupert Davies)
L'affaire Saint-Fiacre The Saint-Fiacre Affair
L'affare Saint-Fiacre
Il caso Saint-Fiacre
Maigret and the Countess
Maigret Goes Home
Maigret on Home Ground
Maigret und das Geheimnis im Schloss ("Maigret et le secret du château")
Maigret kennt kein Erbarmen ("Maigret ne connaît pas de pitié")
Maigret und die Affäre Saint-Fiacre
The Countess (Rupert Davies)
Chez les Flamands La casa dei fiamminghi
Maigret bei den Flamen
The Flemish Shop
Maigret and the Flemish Shop
Maigret chez les Flamands (Jean Richard/ Bruno Crémer)
Le port des brumes Il porto delle nebbie (Maigret and the )Death of a Harbor Master
Maigret und der geheimnisvolle Kapitän ("Maigret et le capitaine mystérieux")
Nebel über dem Hafen ("Brouillard sur le port")
The Lost Sailor (Rupert Davies)
Le fou de Bergerac The Madman of Bergerac
Il pazzo di Bergerac
Maigret und der Verrückte ("Maigret et le fou")
Maigret und der Verrückte von Bergerac
The Madman of Vervac (Rupert Davies)
Maigret et le fou de Sainte-Clotilde (Bruno Crémer)
Liberty bar Liberty Bar (English, German, Italian) Maigret on the Riviera
Maigret in der Liberty Bar
L'écluse no 1 Lock No.1
La chiusa no 1
The lock at Charenton
Maigret Sits it Out
Maigret in Nöten ("Maigret dans l'embarras")
La chiusa (Gino Cervi)
The Golden Fleece (Rupert Davies)
Maigret Maigret (italien) Maigret Returns
Maigret und sein Neffe ("Maigret et son neveu")
Maigret et il nipote ingenuo ("Maigret et son neveu naïf")
Maigret va in pensione (Gino Cervi)
Les caves du Majestic I sotterranei del Majestic
The Cellars of the Majestic (Rupert Davies)

Maigret and the Hotel Majestic
The Hotel Majestic
Maigret im Luxushotel
Maigret und die Keller des Majestic
Maigret et il sergente maggiore
La maison du juge The Judge's House (Rupert Davies) Maigret in Exile
Maigret im Haus des Richters
Maigret e la casa del giudice
Cécile est morte Cecile e' morta Maigret and the Spinster
Maigret verliert eine Verehrerin ("Maigret perd une admiratrice")
Un ombra su Maigret
Poor Cecile! (Rupert Davies)
Signé Picpus Firmato Picpus To Any Lengths
Maigret and the Fortuneteller
Maigret verschenkt seine Pfeife ("Maigret offre sa pipe")
Maigret contra Picpus (allemand)
Maigret e la chiromante
Maigret e l'affare Picpus
L'affare Picpus (Gino Cervi)
The Crystal Ball (Rupert Davies)
Félicie est là Maigret and the Toy Village
Maigret und das Dienstmädchen ("Maigret et la bonne")
La ragazza di Maigret ("La jeune fille de Maigret")
Félicie (italien)
Maigret and the Maid (Michael Gambon)
Love from Felicie (Rupert Davies)
La maison de Félicie (Bruno Crémer)
L'inspecteur Cadavre Inspector Cadaver
L'ispettore Cadavre
Maigret's Rival
Maigret und sein Rivale
Maigret e la ragazza di provincia

    • The translations of these titles differ much more than those of the novels of Presses de la Cité; one of the reasons for this is probably that, as the name 'Maigret' is not in the original title, the translations feel an obligation to mention it in the titles, so the potential reader knows that it's a Maigret.

    • The literal translations are very often the Italian ones.

    • When the modifications are not simply the addition of Maigret's name, they can show, as the Presses de la Cité novels, a change of person, place, or another element of the plot.

    • We also find here relatively different titles for television series titles, particularly those of the series with Rupert Davies, which often show proof of a certain originality.

4. For a conclusion which really isn't one...

In this long succession of titles, Maigret travels... from Holland to Vichy, from the Majestic to the Assises Court, from Picratt's to a boarding house. Maigret hesitates... but Maigret enjoys himself... he plays with encounters, in this long procession of characters that he seeks to understand... Cécile, Félicie, the clochard or the old people, the dead young girl or the old lady, the man on the bench or the wine seller, and finally, not so far, from Peter the Lett to Monsieur Charles... always the same eternal quest for human truth...

translation: S. Trussel
Honolulu, May 2009

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