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Penguin Maigret - The Madman of Bergerac
1/1/18 –
The Madman of Bergerac

a review by Andrew Walser

By the end of the first chapter of The Madman of Bergerac, Inspector Maigret has already spent a sleepless night on a crowded train, jumped off in pursuit of his nervous cabinmate, received a gunshot wound in the left shoulder, and lost consciousness in a forest outside town. He has wakened to find himself in a hospital bed, surrounded by hostile interrogators and mistaken for a murderer. It will take some time before the skeptical prosecutor will admit “that Maigret was indeed Maigret and not the madman of Bergerac!”

Despite these dramatic beginnings, the rest of the novel is marked by near-stasis, an immobility caused by both Maigret’s confinement and the provinciality of life in Bergerac. Yet Simenon manages to energize the plot anyway. How? Through what one might call a structuralist motor, one that works by setting two opposing principles in simultaneous motion.

The first principle is Anti-Enlightenment – a worldview that emphasizes irrationality, uncertainty, and disorder. The Madman of Bergerac replaces the typical mystery’s stable core with a narrative in which (to repurpose both Marx and Marshall Berman) all that is solid melts into air. Instead of formal investigation, we get accident: “It all came about by pure chance!” Instead of comprehensible motives, we get behavior that baffles even the actor, with the Inspector as perplexed as we are about “what instinct had prompted him to jump off the train while his luggage continued on its way to Villefranche-en-Dordogne.” Instead of evidence, we get unbridgeable gaps in knowledge – signs that lie just outside the “halo of moonlight,” memories that collapse into one another. Every detail – bushy eyebrows, a pair of socks, a particular hat – could point to Maigret’s assailant, or to someone glimpsed during his delirium, or to nothing at all. The clues, in other words, seem to be originating within the seeker – a situation that raises the possibility, fatal to the Enlightenment myth, that we are not so much discerning patterns in the world as imposing patterns on the world. (For more on the mystery as the embodiment of the Enlightenment ethos, see my review of The Two-Penny Bar.)

A case so resistant to comprehension inevitably acquires a “nightmare” quality, which may explain why Simenon uses the word three times in the first chapter. The atmosphere of irreality grows especially dense in a strange, striking passage in which Maigret dreams he is a “gleaming black animal,” fat as a seal and awkward as a beached whale, sinking second by second into wet sand. The dream obviously refers to the Inspector’s physical condition – “Why was he so stiff? Had he been wounded by a hunter?” – but also seems to me a figure for a detective out of his depth, mired in a world in which reason and observation no longer take him where he wants to go...

complete review

re: Penguin Maigret - The Madman of Bergerac

1/1/18 – Thanks, Andrew!

Just for fun, I tried "Bergerac" in the Search form at the top of the page - and got 122 results! The Maigret-of-the-Month was #1, of course, but also this interesting #2 from 14 years ago (Dec. 29, 2003):

Comparison of Piron, Forest, Alavoine / Maigret handbook pages

(translations of)
the respective sections on
"The Madman of Bergerac" (Le Fou de Bergerac)

Maurice Piron's L'Univers de Simenon
Jean Forest's Les Archives Maigret
Bernard Alavoine's Les enquêtes de Maigret


Letter to The Times

1/7/18 – A comment I had in the TV pages of the Sunday Times Culture section (January 7th 2018):

Anthony Green

re: Letter to The Times

1/18/18 – It is becoming more and more probable that BBC does not have Maigret with Rupert Davies any longer.


More on La Nuit du carrefour
1/25/18 –

Night at the Crossroads: location

Luc Secret

original French

I can add some infomation to supplement Murielle's text, Maigret and the mysteries of the crossroads...

In Pierre Assouline's biography of Simenon, we find this about Jean Renoir's film, La nuit du carrefour:

"The interiors were shot in a studio in Billancourt, outside Paris, the exteriors at the intersection of Routes 1 and 309, in La Croix-Verte, [by Bouffémont]. Simenon was careful to show personal interest in the proceedings, visiting the set many times between January and March 1932. Marcel Lucien, the director of photography, submerged the images in a thick fog. The atomosphere was truly sinister, and the overall effect had a rare poetry.

A month before the commercial release, Simenon was invited to a small private screening. When the lights came on, he could not contain his emotion. Eyes wet, he put his arm around Pierre Renoir, not sure whether he was embracing the actor or the inspector." (tr. Jon Rothschild, Simenon: A biography, pp 106-108)*

And, at the site of the online archives of the Bibliothèque nationale française, we can find an article about it written by Simenon for the newspaper Paris-Soir, April 16, 1932, p.6...

complete article

Quai des Orfèvres at high water
1/27/18 –

The Quai des Orfèvres with the Seine very high...


La maison du juge
1/31/18 –

Quelle folie, je me demande, est celle de Lise en La Maison du Juge?

I wonder what Lise's madness could be, in La Maison du Juge?

Robert Lantz

Penguin Maigret - Liberty Bar
2/20/18 –
Liberty Bar

a review by Andrew Walser

The pace at which Simenon wrote his novels – particularly the early Maigrets – insures that themes in them will emerge as much from unconscious processes as from intention and craft. This is why interpretations of the books must content themselves with strands that do not tie neatly into an overall pattern, and that sometimes trail off into inconsistency or inconsequence. Yet it would be a mistake to think of the novels as slipshod. They are better understood as a variety of realism, one that coherently develops the idea that reality can never be shapely or self-consistent.

I am keeping this willful inconsistency in mind when I call Liberty Bar a rumination about selves – about the way the passage of time changes one self into another, and the way potential selves exist within each person, and die off, one by one, when the conditions for their emergence no longer exist.

In the early chapters of Liberty Bar, Maigret is sent to Antibes to solve the murder of William Brown – and to solve it, his superiors say, with “no drama.” The refrain returns to Maigret’s mind again and again throughout the book, like an insipid pop hook that has taken one’s consciousness captive. After interrogating two of the suspects, he is surprised to find himself somewhat disheartened – almost personally affronted – by how the victim spent his final years.

Why should that matter to Maigret? The answer is obvious. Looking at a portrait of Brown, at the “exaggeratedly calm gaze” and “good natured but ironic curl of the lips,” Maigret has to admit: “[T]here was something about his general bearing, his expression, that reminded Maigret of himself.” The narrative reinforces this sense of identification, telling us that Maigret enters the dead man’s villa like “an owner returning home,” sits in his favorite armchair, and receives a box of his cigars as a gift. On his way out of the villa, he even grabs Brown’s raincoat by mistake. At the eponymous bar, Jaja, the owner, says:

“You remind me of William... That’s where he sat... He too put his pipe down next to his plate when he ate... He had your shoulders... Do you know you look like him?”

Thus, Maigret sees Brown as a second self – or, better yet, as one of those potential selves, somehow released from his interior into the visible world. This is why he is so disturbed by the dreary domesticity into which the dead man seems to have retired: “ʻHow on Earth did a fellow like Brown spend ten years with these two women?’” Could such a dismal fate await Inspector Maigret? ...

complete review

Maigret in Montmartre - the Atkinson film...
3/6/18 – On Christmas Eve I watched, in London, the fourth of the Atkinson Maigrets: Maigret in Montmartre. I take Vladimir's point about Maigret being created to be more along the lines of the Gambon/Cremer build, but as I've previously noted, I like Atkinson's portrayal. It rings emotionally true, to me, and Atkinson's persona is, again to me, nothing short of brilliant. But here's why I've sent in this posting: one of the magazines containing a listing of the television offerings during the December holidays (I forget if it was Radio Times or The Times or The Guardian) referred to Maigret in Montmartre as the latest offering in the "now decomissioned series." I think that would be a sad loss, should the series end with only the four films.

Steve Cribari

Bruno Crémer Cremer
3/11/18 – What a wonderful site! I note that you also have a book out with Murielle Wenger which I will order. I read nearly all the Maigret novels in English some thirty-five years ago when I was at university and now I am retired I am reading them all in French.

I am particularly impressed by your attention to detail on the site, which is why I am sending you this message. In your section Maigret Films & TV the name of the actor Bruno Cremer is spelt with an acute accent (Crémer). In fact there is no accent in his name.

Good luck with your site and keep up the excellent work!

Best regards,
James Nicholson

Thanks, James!

Bruno Cremer Crémer
3/12/18 – With regard to the accent in the name Crémer... it's actually not so clear. It's true that on the imdb and other cinéma sites we find the name "Cremer" without the accent, but if we search further, we actually find the name "Crémer" with the accent just as often as without.

Although I haven't been able to find an "official" version, I tend to favor (in spite of everything, even Wikipedia!) the version with the accent, based on the covers of the author's autobiography, on which his name is Crémer. If we can assume that the author himself approved these covers, he must therefore have approved of the spelling…



Cremer / Crémer / Kramer
3/14/18 –

To most Europeans, the name phonetically (K or) Cray-Mer would be spelt Germanically as Kramer rather than as Cremer. Kramer is a surname frequently found in Germany.

This webpage, on a site for which, of course, I cannot vouch and itself admits that it is ageing, helps:

Part of the text:

This unusual and interesting name has Flemish origins and is an example of a name introduced into England by French and Flemish Huguenots seeking refuge from religious persecution on the continent during the latter half of the 16th Century and again during the late 17th Century. ‘Cremer’ is a variant of the German ‘Kramer’ and is an occupational name for a shopkeeper or tradesman or one who travelled through the countryside buying butter, hens and eggs which he carried to the market.
That supports there being a link from Kramer to Cremer. This Wikipedia page (though I never believe without corroboration what I read there) takes us further.

Again, an extract from the text:

Bruno Cremer was born in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. His mother, a musician, was of Belgian Flemish origin and his father was a businessman from Lille who, though born French, had taken out Belgian nationality after the French armed forces refused to accept him for service in the First World War. Bruno himself opted for French nationality when he reached the age of 18. His childhood was largely spent in Paris.

His parents’ roots were in that international triangle where the boundaries of religion, politics and nations often overlapped and came into conflict (before the EU), stretching between French Flanders (Lille), The Netherlands (Maastricht), Germany (Aachen) and embracing the whole of what are now Belgium and Luxembourg. Once the Cremer family was firmly in France, it is understandable that an acute accent was added, for it is that which makes Crémer phonetically almost identical to Kramer at the same time making it look familiar in French.

This is all just background: how the actor’s surname was actually spelt will have been what his birth certificate or any later document changing that said it was. It may, one conjectures, have had the accent added when he opted to be French, not Belgian, at 18. Lamentably, the relative inability of non-Francophones to appreciate accents may have clouded the issue ever since.

There are four little observations to make:

  1. At some point in its journey from High German to Low German to Flemish, Krämer lost its umlaut but kept its pronunciation. Without it, it would in German phonetically be Krarmer.
  2. There are divergent views in France on which accent is applicable on the middle e of all the words with the stem crem..., créme in common usage, but crème according to authority, the Academie Française.
  3. And, though a word with the same ending is not now used, it is very clear that the stem crem... gave Bruno’s surname the same meaning in French as it had in its German linguistic roots. The trade in dairy products was clearly already a single market.
  4. And it is fitting that Simenon, from Liège / Luik had a similarly heterogeneous background, with German in his mother’s ancestry.

with best wishes to all,
James Mackay

Harry Gruyaert photo exhibition in Antwerp
3/18/18 –

Antwerp, Begium 9/3/2018 - 10/6/2018

website (in Dutch)

translation from the website by Dirk:

Harry Gruyaert (Antwerpen, 1941) is one of the most famous Belgian photographers. With this retrospective exposition the FOMU (Museum of Photography) draws a rich and surprising image of his work. Gruyaert is one of the pioneers of colour photography and since 1982 member of the famous Magnum agency…..

The masterful use of color photography - with his beloved Kodachrome film - is Gruyaerts trademark. However, the exhibition at FOMU also shows its versatility and focuses on a few seldom seen sides of its career: early black and white work, a fashion campaign for Hermès, covers of Penguin pocket editions of Georges Simenon, a tribute to film maker Michelangelo Antonioni, family photos and diverse assignment photography.


Another Penguin Maigret cover
4/24/18 – Here's an image of the cover of the UK edition of Maigret Enjoys Himself [AMU], which differs from the US cover (left).

Stuart Radmore

Folio Society Maigrets
5/3/18 – The Folio Society has just published its first Maigrets. The “Society” used to be members only but now anyone can purchase them from their website.


From the blurb:

Maigret Three-Volume Set:

Maigret and the Calame Report
Maigret and the Saturday Caller
Maigret and the Wine Merchant

Georges Simenon; Introduced by Julian Barnes; Illustrated by Harry Brockway

Georges Simenon's celebrated French detective Maigret appears in his first illustrated editions, featuring woodcuts by Harry Brockway and an introduction by Julian Barnes.

With more than seventy novels to choose from, we have selected three that contain in abundance everything that Maigret is especially celebrated for: cases that explore the darker side of the human psyche, complex webs of societal intrigue, and an atmospheric mid-20th century Paris. In Maigret and the Calame Report, the detective is reluctantly drawn into the seedy world of political manoeuvring and corruption when 128 children are killed in a collapsing building. The second volume, Maigret and the Saturday Caller, sees the detective stumped when a man arrives at his home tearfully declaring, ‘I want to kill my wife’; and in volume three, Maigret and the Wine Merchant, one of the richest men in Paris is shot dead in front of a house frequently used for illicit liaisons.

For this special boxed set, the great Harry Brockway has returned to provide a series of woodcut illustrations and a set of stylish binding designs that feature Maigret and his familiar pipe, hat and heavy overcoat. In his introduction, novelist Julian Barnes explores the idea of ‘Maigretland’, the irresistible romanticised vision of France captured in Simenon’s novels.

Ward Saylor

English sub-titled Gabin Maigrets
5/3/18 – Kino Lorber has released two Jean Gabin Maigret films with English subtitles. Film quality is good. No extras. On DVD and Blu-Ray.

Maigret Sets a Trap (DVD)
Directed by Jean Delannoy
Year: 1958
Running Time: 119
Cast: Jean Gabin, Annie Girardot, Lino Ventura, Olivier Hussenot
Writers Georges Simenon, Michel Audiard, Jean Delannoy and Rodolphe-Maurice Arlaud
Inspector Maigret tries to trap a killer and discovers why a happily married, wealthy, and talented man should want to bump off women at night. Jean Gabin is perfect as Georges Simenon's secure and steady sleuth, and old-hand Jean Delannoy expertly keeps up the pace and suspense in this enjoyable whodunnit.

Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case (DVD)
Directed by Jean Delannoy
Year: 1959
Running Time: 97
Language: French w/ English subtitles
Cast: Jean Gabin
Writers Jean Delannoy, Michel Audiard and Rodolphe-Maurice Arlaud
Maigret is summoned by the Countess to the Château de Saint-Fiacre, where she shows him a letter she has received predicting the day on which she will die

Ward Saylor

re: Folio Society Maigrets
5/4/18 – As no translators were listed, I contacted the Folio Society who supplied them:

Maigret and the Calame Report - Moura Budberg, 1969
Maigret and the Saturday Caller - Tony White, 1964
Maigret and the Wine Merchant - Eileen Ellenbogen, 1971


re: Another Penguin Maigret cover
5/08/18 – Has anyone actually seen a copy of Maigret Enjoys Himself with the red "US cover"?

The Penguin UK and US websites show the green cover. A Google image search shows many thumbnails of the red version, but all the ones I clicked took me to the green version. Penguin Australia's website shows the red version, but they are selling the green one.

I suspect the red version was replaced by the green in the final stages of publication, but it would be interesting to know if any proofs or sale copies exist.

Ward Saylor

Maigret and the Black Sheep reissued?
5/08/18 – Can you tell me whether “Maigret and the Black Sheep” (Maigret et les Braves Gens) [BRA] has come out in the new Penguin series yet? The way Penguin changes the titles …!!

Thanks very much
Don Buck

re: Maigret and the Black Sheep reissued?
5/20/18 – According to the Penguin website, Ros Schwartz's translation of "Maigret et les braves gens" [BRA] is scheduled to appear in August as "Maigret and the Good People of Montparnasse".

Most of the new Penguin titles are closer translation of the originals, but for this one they've added "of Montparnasse". Here are the titles and covers of the 2018 editions, including those which have been announced but not yet released:
Maigret Travels [VOY]
Maigret's Doubts [SCR]
Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses [TEM]
Maigret's Secret [CON]
Maigret in Court [ASS]
Maigret and the Old People [VIE]
Maigret and the Lazy Burglar [PAR]
Maigret and the Good People of Montparnasse [BRA]
Maigret and the Saturday Caller [CLI]
Maigret and the Tramp [CLO]
Maigret's Anger [COL]
Maigret and the Ghost [FAN]
Maigret Defends Himself [DEF]
Maigret's Patience [PAT]

"Maigret's Doubts" [SCR] has been previously published as "Maigret's Scruples", and
"Maigret's Secret" [CON] has been previously published as "Maigret has Doubts"

All the new titles are included in the Bibliography and the Simplified Index. The previous titles for these new Penguins can be found by clicking the [Title Code] link to Plots [BRA], and then clicking the bibliography entry link. All the Penguin covers can be seen here.


Maigret travels

Maigret's doubts

Maigret and the
Reluctant Witnesses

Maigret's Secret

Maigret in Court

Maigret and the
Old People

Maigret and the
Lazy Burglar

Maigret and the Good
People of Montparnasse

Maigret and the
Saturday Caller

Maigret and the Tramp

Maigret's Anger

Maigret and the Ghost


Davies Maigret portrait... comic style
5/23/18 –

In the golden age of suspense TV series, the most popular titles had some additional appearances in the form of comic strips. Specially I think of Dell and Gold Key comics in the States, that, in the sixties, published TV-unseen episodes, even from original British series. Most of those US comics were adapted for the Latin American audience as well, by Novaro and SEA publishers.

Today almost all of those printings are still available on the antique book market, and you may decide, whether to enjoy a good old story in English or in Spanish. The comic strips I find, generally, as good as the corresponding TV episodes, some even might be better, because they content special scenes that would have been difficult to be realised for a TV show of those days, but for the cartoonists - no problem at all. Another big advantage of the comics is, they are always in colour, even though the early TV shows are in black & white. An example is "The Detectives", with Robert Taylor starring. The original b&w TV series has not come out on DVDs yet, as far as I know, but there are some colourful episodes to be read as comic strips! The same for "The Untouchables" (starring Robert Stack), and...

If there would have been the Rupert Davies Maigret series on American TV screens, perhaps there would exist some colourful episodes as comics as well. But the BBC Maigret was not presented there, the mighty US TV bosses had some objections. Davies: "I reckon, our series was too cheeky for them." At those times, it simply was unthinkable to serve a programme to the American audience, in which the Chief inspector occasionally, as a matter of course, would ask questions like "Did you spend the last night with......?" or "Tell me the truth, is......your lover?" But those can be, in many Maigret cases, the key questions! You can't cut them out!

Anyway, there remained my desire, to have Rupert Davies as a comic-style picture. Recently, at last, I have tried to make it myself. The result is not too bad, I think, and I hope, you will like it, too.


See more articles by Berthold at Simenon-Simenon

Learning to read Simenon in French

6/9/18 –

If anyone is wanting to learn to read Simenon in French may I suggest "Le Revolver de Maigret" edited by Herbert F. Collins which has a great vocabulary/idioms section at the back which would have helped me a lot had I read it earlier!


Macmillan, 1967. 179 pp.

Maigret on the Radio - Nicholas le Prevost
6/24/18 – I was happily consulting your list at Maigret on the Radio to add a few tags to my iTunes collection, and noticed a minor error on the cast lists for Series III and IV: Maigret is played by Nicholas le Prevost — not Provost. I confirmed this with www.radiolistings. Their database is taken directly from BBC's own listings. I'm also emailing your source, , as they have the same typo.

Thank you so much for the stunning amount of information at your site! I hope you will accept this as a small contribution and by no means a criticism.

Kate Derie

Penguin Maigret - Lock No. 1
6/24/18 –
Lock No. 1

a review by Andrew Walser

Historians tend to look askance at presentism, the anachronistic insertion of ideas from the historian's era into the period of his study. One might have similar scruples about typology, the practice by which the authors and interpreters of the New Testament converted the stories of the Hebrew Bible into coded anticipations of Jesus and Christianity.

Why do I mention these disreputable intellectual practices? Because I am about to suggest – in the most ridiculously presentist, typological fashion – that Lock No. 1 is a novel about Donald Trump.

I do not mean this literally, of course. Yet it is hard not to think of Trump when one encounters Emile Ducrau, the blustering, contemptuous bully at the center of this case. With considerably more justification than Trump, Ducrau sees himself as a self-made man, one who started at the bottom and worked his way into wealth and power. The people he employs bow and flatter, but Simenon makes sure we understand that Ducrau's domain is actually quite limited. He is more petty tyrant than Alexander the Great.

Like Trump, Ducrau is combative and aggressive, rude to everyone in his sphere and downright cruel to the women, particularly his mistress and long-suffering wife. Yet this arrogance and spite also contains a strong element of theatricality: “One minute he was threatening, yelling, cursing and the next it was far from clear if he wasn't behaving that way because it amused him.” He is a performer – a consummate con artist – and he detests the weaklings who mistake his playacting for reality...

complete review

Maigret in New York - plot question
6/24/18 – I had never heard of Maigret until I was reading a review of an Agatha Christie novel recently, and the reviewer said that the M books are so much better. I agree.

So, I just finished Maigret in New York and don't understand the character of Jean Maura — the younger son of John Maura. I understand why he went to fetch M out of concern for his father's situation, but after that, I'm lost. I don't understand the significance of him disappearing when the ocean liner docked or how/why he inexplicably turned up in his father's hotel suite. And then if I'm not mistaken, he doesn't feature in the book after that, except by reference, where it's explained near the end that he's the son of Maura's second wife.

Am I missing something? Or is he just irrelevant to the story, after he lures M to New York? Seems like an awkward handling of the character, tho.

Barbara Fleming
Edgewood NM

re: Maigret in New York - plot question

6/27/18 – To better understand the character Jean Maura, we have to examine the clues scattered throughout the text. We first return to Ch. 2, where Maigret tells O'Brien about the visit to the ship that he made with MacGill and the private detective Bill. Bill is looking (or rather pretends to be looking, as we later learn) for information about Jean Maura's disappearance. We get our first clue (still in Ch. 2), that these investigations of Bill's must be setting a stage, when O'Brien and Maigret, in the course of their conversation, decide that MacGill... "had pretended to go to a lot of trouble" to find Jean. So, we begin by wondering, was it John Maura, Jean's father, who had found his son and hidden him for some reason? Was it MacGill? Or was it someone else...?

In Ch. 3, Maigret pays a visit to John Maura, and during their conversation the Chief Inspector asks him, "Do you know where you son is?," to which the father replies, "My son is free to do whatever he wishes." Maigret responds, "So you know where he is." His intuition appears correct, for these words shake up MacGill, showing the Chief Inspector that MacGill knows more than he's saying.

In Ch. 4, MacGill meets Maigret again, and tells him that John Maura "has been moving heaven and earth" to find his son. At the beginning of Ch. 5, O'Brien announces to Maigret that Jean Maura has been found, and the Chief Inspector deduces that he's back at the hotel with his father. Maigret then goes there and meets Jean, who tells hem that he's now relived about his father. But once again, Maigret has the feeling that there's something wrong with his story, since even Jean Maura himself appears astonished by the atitude of his father, who seems disinterested in what's going on.

In Ch. 7 it's Ronald Dexter who gives his version of the story... There were gangsters who kidnapped Jean on his debarking the ship, to extort John Maura. A few pages laters, Lt. Lewis tells Maigret that the police have discovered that a man had come in search of Jean with a letter from his father, and had taken him to his father's cottage... And then two days later John Maura had had his son brought to him. Maigret deduces that Maura had "reasons to keep the young man out of circulation" for two days.

In Ch. 8, Maigret goes to see off the ship that will bring Jean Maura back to France. And finally, in Ch. 10, it's John Maura who tells Maigret the truth, that there actually were gangsters extorting him about the death of Jessie... "Bill... had arranged the whole show to throw you off track. You thought Bill was obeying our orders, while he was actually the one giving them."

There remains some question as to whether John Maura himself arranged for his son to be hidden away, or whether he was acting under orders from the gangsters. Whichever it was, the character Jean Maura was at the center of an intrigue that was over his head, and if he'd become a sort of pawn in the hands of the protagonists, he was not the actual object of the game...

Lastly, we can add this... Simenon has the art of spreading clues throughout his text, but the reader must be very attentive to retrieve them, and to reconstruct the sequence of events. And it's made even more difficult since the novelist has a principle of not revealing the development of Maigret's thinking. We know that he functions on intuition, which doesn't prevent him from reasoning, but that remains hidden from the reader. The Maigret novels in particular function in the mode of "internal focus", that is, the plot is seen through Maigret's eyes, and the reader finds himself in the same position as the Chief Inspector. But at the same time, to respect the principe of the detective story, the novelist must keep certain things hidden, and not reveal all the deductions that Maigret makes...



Maigret Short Stories?
9/6/18 – Does anyone know if Penguin are going to publish another collection of Maigret short stories as they did last Christmas?

Alan Cheshire

re: Maigret Short Stories?
9/7/18 – A Maigret Christmas And Other Stories is being issued in paperback on 25 October 2018 (9780241356746). The Penguin website lists no other publication of short stories, at least before July 2019.

Ward Saylor

Penguin Maigret - Maigret
9/12/18 –

a review by Andrew Walser

This is the last of the Fayard novels – the nineteen Maigrets that Georges Simenon published with that Parisian company between 1931 and 1934. In his biography, Pierre Assouline reports that Simenon wanted to retire his most famous character and go to work on romans durs, the “real novel[s]” that he was convinced would make his literary reputation. He wanted to be Balzac or Proust or Flaubert. Although the hiatus lasted less than a decade, it does allow us to look at Maigret as a kind of conclusion – one that both sums up and illuminates the eighteen volumes that came before it.

In the novel, Maigret is drawn out of retirement – which was looming in the last book, Lock No. 1 – by a crisis involving his nephew Philippe, a young cop who loses his composure at a crime scene and ends up making himself the prime suspect:

“Please don’t be angry with me, Uncle. I don’t know myself how it happened. I can barely remember. In any case, I fired a shot, because I thought I saw something move. I rushed forwards and then stopped. I thought I heard footsteps, whisperings. But there was nothing but emptiness.”

We might start by noting a couple things about Maigret’s return to Paris.

First, he finds himself in an ambivalent position – revered by many members of the Police Judiciare, but also treated with a certain condescension, as if he were playacting or intruding by reappearing at the Quai des Orfèvres. He has put on some weight, after all, and become a bit soft while puttering around in his “little house in the Loire.” Look at him as analogous to Michael Jordan on the Washington Wizards – still a great player, but in danger of tarnishing his legacy merely by returning.

Second, he has missed the demimonde more than he might admit. He clearly enjoys questioning Cageot, the owner of the club where the murder took place, and relishes the company of Fernande, an attractive young prostitute whose body the narrative describes in unusual detail. Looking back on the Fayard novels, one realizes that contact with this side of life – with the criminal, the marginal, the disreputable – is for Maigret a means of balancing domesticity and danger, of having a life of adventure without giving up his safe sanctuary on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.

Because of his time away, the other officers can now see Maigret’s difference more clearly. The new division chief Amadieu points out that an up-to-date investigator would tend to look askance at Maigret’s way of working:

“Usually you get involved in people’s lives; you try to understand their thinking and you take as much interest in things that happened to them twenty years earlier as you do in concrete clues.”

In other words, criminology is less important to Maigret than psychology. Solving a crime is a matter of understanding the individuals before you in all their complexity, not following a set of standard procedures or looking assiduously for leads. In this novel, we see that his psychological insight allows Maigret to know the weak spots of his opponents – to manipulate them, one might say, into making his job easy. It puts him in the position of an author maneuvering his characters.

This may be what makes the Fayard novels so distinctive, what distances them not just from the pulp fictions of the day, but from predecessors like Arthur Conan Doyle and contemporaries like Agatha Christie. The patient modesty of his method allows Maigret to withdraw into a kind of invisibility, to create the illusion that each case solves itself. A similar desire to vanish may have animated Simenon’s attempt at retirement. He had become inseparable from his character, and that identity made it harder and harder for him to recede from the texts, to keep the focus on the tale and not the teller.

Assouline, Pierre. Simenon. trans. Jon Rothschild. New York, Knopf, 1997.
Simenon, Georges. Maigret. trans. Ros Schwartz. London: Penguin, 2015.

Puzzling passage in M. Gallet, décédé
11/5/18 –

Feb. 10, 2004: Roddy Campbell posts a question to the Forum about the Maigret-of-the-Month, Monsieur Gallet, décédé. (You can see it here, in Archive 7....)

Fourteen years later, a reply...

Mentioning Mme Maigret’s small rôle in this novel Roddy comments:

I have to admit that I am rather puzzled about the exchange between her and her husband, and I wonder if this is the fault of the translation. The whole conversation reads as follows:
"You look as though you have just come from a funeral!" remarked Madame Maigret, when he got home to his flat in Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.... "Have you had something to eat?"
"I have," he said to himself, looking round, happy to be back in the familiar surroundings. "From the moment he was buried..." He added, though she couldn't have understood, "However, I would rather deal with a real genuine corpse, killed by a proper murderer…."

Peter Foord later replied:
The French text for the passage in Chapter 11(Penguin edition, page 135) is as follows (taken from the first edition, Fayard, 1932 page 247):
— Tu as l'air de revenir d'un enterrement! remarqua Mme Maigret quand il pénétra dans son logement du boulevard Richard-Lenoir… Tu as mangé, au moins?
— Tu as raison… articula-t-il pour lui-même en regardant avec plaisir le décor familier. Du moment qu'il est enterré… Il ajouta, sans quelle pût comprendre:
— Quand même!… Je préfère m'occuper d'un vrai mort, tué par un véritable assassin…
The translator for the Penguin edition, Margaret Marshall, has followed Simenon's text closely.

However, the translation is actually not correct.

“Tu as raison” is not “I have” ( answering her question whether he had eaten) but “You’re right” (responding to her observation that he looked as if he’d been to a funeral).

"Du moment qu’il est enterré" is not at all “From the moment he was buried”, but rather “[You’re right, I must look as if I’ve been to a funeral] since (=because) he has been buried”.

I presume Maigret’s last sentence means that he’d rather investigate a real murder than a suicide disguised as murder.

Stuart Brown

re: Puzzling passage in M. Gallet, décédé
11/6/18 – "Tu as raison… articula-t-il pour lui-même en regardant avec plaisir le décor familier. Du moment qu'il est enterré…"

To understand what Maigret means by "du moment qu'il est enterré" you need to link it with his reflections just before he went home, and with what he would say to his chief after that.

Maigret is reflecting on this case of a suicide that Gallet tried to disguise as murder so that his wife could get the life insurance money. That's why Maigret tells his wife that she's right: since Gallet has been buried, it wouldn't be worth revealing the "trick" about this suicide (as shown by Maigret's thoughts just after his answer to his wife, "Tout un écheveau embrouillé d'intérêts, de haines, de procès à n'en plus finir…")... so it's better to "bury" the whole case, just as Gallet has been buried, and will probably be soon forgotten…


Maigret with Gambon still the best
11/12/18 – Finally, I had a chance to see the new Maigret movie with Mr. Bean, Maigret in Montmartre. It was on TV here last Saturday on the public television network. I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Bean's Maigret since it was announced a couple of years ago, and so I was quite excited about this opportunity.

But I changed the channel after about 30 minutes. The events on the screen were developing too slowly, typical of British mysteries that focus on testing a viewer's intelligence rather than on just providing entertainment. To be exciting, a mystery movie must 'hook' the viewer in the first few minutes: in this case, what I saw was more confusing than interesting. If I did not know the story well, I would not have figured out what was happening from what I saw on the screen. They just lost me.


Simenon in Paris-soir - 1937
11/18/18 – Jérôme has just sent a link to full-page images of Paris-soir issues at Retro News, in which a series of articles by Simenon appeared in 1937. Murielle reports that they are also available at Gallica.

Below is a (slightly enhanced) image of the page 1 introduction to the series (which you can see at those above links), from Paris-soir February 6, 1937, followed by a link to a transcription of it, and then my translation.

There are links under the translation to both a transcription of the the first article in the series (in French), which appeared on p. 5, and my English version.

The subject of the article, Police Emergency Servics (Police-Secours) is a familiar theme in the Maigrets, and Murielle and I included a brief discussion in Maigret's World, which you can read here.

French transcription

and a translation...

February 6, 1937

Begins Today
A Great Reportage
from Georges Simenon

Emergency Services,
The New Mysteries of Paris

How crime takes a different face
from one neighborhood to another in Paris,
and how with the same courage and similar methods,
it is pursued everywhere, and usually punished

The secret life of Paris has greatly changed since Eugène Sue [1804-1857] wrote his famous novel, "Les Mystères de Paris" [pub. 1842-43]. The methodical and scientific organization of our police has made life more difficult for criminals of all types.

But if the Apaches are just a memory, or if they have changed their name, evil still lurks in the districts of the immense city. To detect it, men keep watch night and day over the safety of the citizens. How successful are they at their task? How are we protected? How are we defended? Do the dramas of today resemble those of the days of Vautrin, Javert, or Bonnot, and do calls for help still pierce the night, as they did in the time of seedy gambling joints and streetwalkers? That's what we've asked Georges Simenon, the famous novelist, to explain to our readers.

In the remarkable series of articles that we are now beginning to publish, Georges Simenon will show how crime takes a different face from one district to another in Paris, and how, with the same courage, the same spirt of self-denial and similar methods, it is everywhere pursued, and usually punished. Georges Simenon will tell us a series of true stories which, in their human simplicity, constitute a veritable fresco of the "New Mysteries of Paris".

READ ON PAGE 5 : Citizens, the Police Keep Watch"
LIRE EN PAGE 5 : Citoyens, la police veille"

Maigret et ses verres

Risto Rank has written from Finland to report the publication (in July of this year, in French) of his book, Maigret et ses verres, "une description humoristique mais fidèle et chaleureuse des habitudes du héros de Simenon en matière de boisson" [a humorous but faithful and warm description of Simenon's hero's drinking habits], available via Books on Demand (France) at most online booksellers.

Typo in synopsis of Maigret et son mort
12/30/18– Enjoyed reading your synopsis of Maigret et son mort [MOR] as it was broadcast quite late last night and I couldn’t stay up to watch the whole thing.

I think there’s a typo in the sentence:

A stakeout of the hospital where Maria is kept results in two more gang members, one shot by another, and own captured...
which should read:
A stakeout of the hospital where Maria is kept results in two more gang members, one shot by another and now captured...

Best regards,
Mark Bush

Thanks, Mark! A small caveat -- the plot summaries correspond to the published texts, and don't always match up perfectly with the various TV and cinema adaptations...


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