"He had his hands in the pockets of Maigret's overcoat,
"Without his pipe, Maigret is a naked man. At the start of any investigation, it supports his reflections and his tactile perception of the outside world. "Maigret smoked his pipe in little puffs, trying to imbue himself with all this world he hadn't known the day before, and which had suddenly appeared in his life." (Maigret Hesites. [HES]) Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Jean Morel, Jean Richard and Bruno Crémer, who successively portrayed Jules Maigret on the screen, were all supplied with the indispensable accessory which became the cover emblem of Simenon's books and the symbol of the writer." (extract of an article in Le Figaro, January 9, 2003: Simenon: the myth in 7 legends, with 1 color drawing by Loustal and 7 drawings in black and white.)
What are the elements which make Maigret a unique and easily recognizable character? The answer is given by Simenon himself, in his preface to Volume I of the Complete Works, published by Rencontre:
"I began to see drawing itself the powerful and impassive mass of a gentleman who, it seemed me, would make an acceptable Chief Inspector. … I added a few accessories to this character: a pipe, a bowler hat, a thick overcoat with a velvet collar."
So there, with a few features, the character is drawn: massive, endowed with specific clothing, and smoking a pipe. An outline, simple, but characteristic: "People must get used to you, to your silhouette, your step… For the moment you are only a shape, a back, a pipe, a way of walking, of grumbling." (Maigret's Memoirs [MEM], Ch. 2).
Throughout the corpus, Simenon will endeavor to describe this "silhouette", massive, heavy, recognizable by certain "accessories", like his overcoat, his hat and his pipe. (TRO: "encased in his overcoat, with his pipe sticking out through the raised collar").
We have previously discussed the clothing worn by Maigret. Today, we will concern ourselves with an accessory the Chief Inspector's pipe. And it's more that a simple accessory, as we will discover in this study.
1. The object or: What kind of pipe does Maigret smoke?
That enables him to always have several filled at the same time (TRO, ECO) and to smoke them one after another (TEN: "the five pipes which were in the ashtray and which he hadn't taken the time to empty"; NAH: Moving from a (too) hot pipe to a fresh one (NUI, SIG, NEW, DAM, PIC, VOY), allowing him to smoke a succession of pipes at an almost frantic pace. (see below). So that must be part of the pleasure of smoking, to be able to take the time to compare them, to decide among them, and finally to choose the one you want to smoke!:
CEC: "And finally sitting down, choosing the biggest pipe on his desk"
This example is noteworthy, because it mentions an important element the relationship between Maigret's pipe and his mood, his state of mind. We'll return to this below.
b) Types of pipe
The size of the pipe is a symbolic reminder of Maigret's physical aspect: "a large pipe which harmonized with his heavy face" (GAI), "this pipe was on the same scale as his broad face: it could hold almost a quarter of a package of gray tobacco" (POR), "the heavy silhouette of Maigret, whose pipe, at times, at a certain angle, seemed immense, almost as large as his head." (JUG).
The Chief Inspector has still other pipes at home, so that he leaves some in his office when he is on vacation (AMU). Among those that he only smokes at home is a meerschaum (CON, ENF). At home, he keeps his pipes in a pipe rack (CLO, ENF), which is kept in the dining room (REV), unless it is on the mantle (MIN), or on the sideboard (VIN)... Maigret's sense of order was never his strong point!
We know that it's "gray" (according to Petit Robert: "Ordinary tobacco in a gray paper package"), fairly strong, brown, sold in France, and that Maigret prefers it over other tobacco, like Belgian, "blond and too light, which took away his desire to smoke" (PHO), English (LIB) and American (NEW). Of course, nothing is better than France for Maigret, whose predilection for things of his own country goes well beyond tobacco! It sometimes happens, however, that he is tempted to be "unfaithful" to French tobacco, and to buy other sorts of tobacco, like Swiss in VOY (perhaps not so bad, after all... maybe Simenon, who lived in Switzerland, had recommended it to him!).
When Maigret is out of tobacco, and doesn't have time to stop at a tobacconist, as he can't do without, he has someone buy it for him (LET; TET, GRA), unless he can "borrow" some from one of his pipe-smoking collaborators, like Torrence (LET) or Lucas (PRO, FEL), or one of his other colleagues (Delvigne in GAI), or someone he is talking with (Ducrau in ECL, Point in MIN). But we must recognize that he hmself also offers his own tobacco (GUI, POR, MAI, SIG, ENF, CHA), with a gesture of offering his pouch, since, if Maigret often has his package of "gray" simply slipped into his pocket, he has, nevertheless, a tobacco pouch, "well worn" (JAU)... no doubt through years of use!
e) And when Maigret leaves his office, where is he going to "stow" all this material to carry it? To this problem there is but one solution... his pockets! Let's recall here this extract we cited in the study of Maigret's wardrobe...
VAC: "For years and years, you might say forever, each of his pockets had a clearcut role. In his left pants pocket, his tobacco pouch and handkerchief as a result of which there were always bits of tobacco in his handkerchiefs. In his right pocket, his two pipes and small change. Left hip pocket, his wallet, which, always filled with unnecessary papers, made one side of his rear bigger than the other… He put almost nothing in his jacket, only a box of matches in the right-hand pocket. That's why, when he had newspapers to carry or letters to mail, he slipped them into his left pocket."
As we've already mentioned above, Maigret always carries at least two pipes, which he puts in his pockets, his pants pockets according to the text below, and we often see him taking a pipe from his pocket, where he replaces it according to the situation (see below). And it sometimes happens that he has a pipe in the pocket of his overcoat (NEW, cho).
Here we'll examine the sequence of actions employed by Maigret in the act of smoking, and the relationship of these actions with the progress of the investigation.
a) Step 1: filling the pipe: This is Maigret's first action on taking a pipe from his pocket. It is also, chronologically, Maigret's first action with his pipe in the corpus at the beginning of Ch. 1 of LET we find this phrase we will reread numerous times, "he filled a pipe". Inaugural act, the intitial phase of an almost immutable ritual, in the relationship between Maigret and his pipe. This is the first sequence, the preparation, setting the scene, the introit of the ceremony.
Maigret fills his pipe to "get started" before an interrogation (REN, GAI, OMB, LIB, MAI, eto, owe, TEN, VOY, SCR, VIE), or to gain the strength to continue an interrogation (JAU, NUI, POR, JUG), to gain the patience to wait for something to happen (TET, PAT), to return "to reality" after an interrogation (TEN), to "recover" from a painful or violent scene (LET, PHO, amo, DAM, LOG, CHA), to give himself time to think (LET, CLO, VIC), to regain his "composure" (HOL, REN, MEU), to calm down (MAJ, SIG), to avoid an embarassing question (AMU), so as not to fall asleep (SCR), or more prosaically, to finish off a meal (GAL, FLA, noe, REV, MIN, ECH). And this is not to mention all the other times, when he "simply" wants to smoke for pleasure, or out of need for this is often the case (see below) to the extent that he sometimes has to have his pipe filled by others, when he can't do it himself (by Leduc and his wife in FOU)!
We soon realize how much this gesture resembles the beginning of a ceremony, how much solemnity it involves, when we study Maigret's manner of filling his pipe. Simenon has repeated numerous times a characteristic and ritualistic sentence which could be an immutable phrase from a Mass we find throughout the corpus, "He/Maigret slowly fills/filled his/a pipe"... in JAU, OMB, bea, MAJ, FAC, cho, GRA, DAM, ECH, TEN, VOY, SCR, CLI, COL, CLO, PAT, VIC, VOL, CON, HES, FOL; VIN, SEU, and CHA.
The word "slowly" can be extended by another word, "carefully" (CAD), "meticulously" (LOG), "distractedly" (PEU), "voluptuously" (FLA). We also find variations where the word "slowly" is replaced by another, quasi-synonym... "gently" (LIB), "tranquilly" (noy); or, modifying the sense slightly... "with minute care" (MOR), "methodically" (TEN, ASS), "extremely carefully" (MAJ, eto), "with meticulous movements" (CLI), "with very slow movements" (ECO), "with gestures slow and meticulous" (GRA), "with slowness" (DEF).
We learn also that Maigret uses no other instrument to fill his pipe but his fingers! He can stuff his pipe "with little taps of his finger" (POR, VIC, men), or "with slow little movements of his finger" (LET), or "with little taps of his thumb" (PHO, MAI), or "with minute taps of his finger" (OMB), "with a meticulous finger" (obs), "a familiar gesture of his finger" (PAT), "with a patient thumb" (CEC), and finally, in GAL: "Maigret stuffed his pipe with exagerrated slowness, tamping each pinch of tobacco with a dozen little taps of his finger."
Slowness, attention to detail, and pleasure (volutptuously) seem well to be the keywords for this gesture, which confirms Maigret in his ponderousness, his "quiet force", aids him to concentrate his energy against the difficulties of an investigation. How many times, had he not paused to stuff and light his pipe before confronting an unpleasant reality, would he have blown up at a reluctant witness, made too rapid a judgment about a suspect, or missed the solution by not letting his imagination run free, aided and sustained by the wisps of the smoke of his pipe!
It can sometimes happen for the Chief Inspector to manifest, by his fashion of filling his pipe, other sentiments, like anger or irritation, but this is quite rare. His pipe is synonymous, above all, with pleasure!
MAI: "he couldn't light it, so strongly had he tamped down the tobacco."We note also that this gesture has truly become a necessary ritual, a required step in the course of an investigation, when Maigret arrives at stuffing his pipe "automatically" (the term is mentioned in FLA, CEC, noe, VAC, MEU, BAN, PAR, COL, VIC, SEU), without particularly thinking of wanting to light it immediately to smoke it...
TET: "Then, without realizing it, he slowly filled a pipe which he forgot to light."And finally, we see that this gesture has become a necessary step, and even more, a need...
VIN: "he vacillated over filling a last pipe and, of course, finished by doing so."A need that at this point can't be ignored, even while on the phone!
VIC: "Maigret's pipe had gone out, and he performed delicate gymnastics to fill another without releasing the receiver."b) Step 2: lighting the pipe: Once the pipe is filled, it has to be lit. The second gesture of the ritual, the "firing" of the tobacco, whose combustion will allow Maigret to make those smoke rings he requires for his ruminations.
Here also, Maigret lights his pipe for the same reasons as he filled it, since it is the logical continuation: to regain a footing in reality (MAJ: "he lit a pipe, as if to put himself in balance."), to start or continue an interrogation, maintain his calm (ENF: "Maigret relit his pipe, forcing himself to be patient."), to gain his "bearing" (PEU, VIN), before reading a file, etc.
In the same way, this gesture can have the same solemn slowness as the filling: the phrase "Maigret/he slowly (re)lit a/his pipe" is found in GUI, ven, JUG, PIC, ECO, ASS, TEN, FAN; HES; IND; CHA. We also find the phrase: "Maigret/He/The Chief Inspector took the time to (re)light his pipe" in MEU; TRO; SCR, BRA, DEF, PAT, VIC. He can light his pipe "with a voluptuous slowness" (GUI), "placidly" (CEC), "drawing little puffs" (obs, PEU, VOL), "with care" (IND), or "automatically" (GUI, sta, ber, CAD).
And finally, we find the following variations:
POR: "Maigret … took the time to light his pipe."
And again, this gesture can have the same obligatory character, like a need, as the filling:
AMI: "He had put down his pencil, and was trying, with his free hand, to relight his pipe." (Maigret on the phone)This "lighting" does not always go easily: the wind sometimes blows out the match, and Maigret must "huddle in a corner to light his pipe" (LET), or use the overcoat of a nearby inspector (JAU), or "cup his hands" (ceu).
The density of the smoke parallels the density of the rumination:
TET: "drawing a thick cloud from his pipe"Maigret can also have the need to smoke without stopping, "without a break" (TET), almost like a machine, smoking or thinking. This act of smoking should prolong itself, like Maigret's reflections:
LET: "Maigret reboarded the train, with his heavy step, without ceasing to smoke." and later: "Without stopping smoking, the Chief Inspector set himself to eating and drinking."
Maigret's most familiar way of smoking is to draw "small puffs" from his pipe (GAL, TET, JAU, GAI, OMB, FOU, amo, sta, man, owe, FEL, NEW, pau, VAC, MOR, AMI, PIC, MEU, GRA, LOG, BAN, ECO, MIN, VOY, AMU, VIE, PAR, NAH, HES, ENF, FOL, SEU, IND, CHA). These puffs can also be, according to the Chief Inspector's mood, "abrupt" (LET, POR, MAI), "short" (arr, JUG, VIE), "very spaced out" (NEW), "rapid" (NEW), "dense" (LET), "thick" (eto, CEC), "long" (NAH), "nervous" (TET), "reflective" (HOL), "gourmand" (GUI, OMB, cho, obs, VIC), "voluptuous" (bay, cho), "slow" (POR, AMU, CLI), "lazy" (GRA, PEU), "angry" (POR, CEC), "savage" (CAD), exhaled "one by one" (FIA), "regular" (MAI), or even "great" (ECL) or "large" (obs, HES)!
Maigret can also smoke "slowly" (JAU, FIA, SIG, obs, REV, AMU, CON, CLI, DEF, VOL, VIC, TUE; FOL, SEU), "tranquilly" (JAU, CAD, VAC, JEU, ECH, SEU), "gravely" (GAI, PIC), "blissfully" (FLA, NEW, pau), "dreamily" (MIN), "peacefully" (ENF), "with an easy-going air" (SIG), "with a dreamy air" (ECH), or draw on his pipe "softly" (MAI, JUG, SIG, DAM, MME, TUE, IND; he sometimes smokes "nervously" (TET), or "savagely" (LIB), or "with a sullen air" (GUI, MOR).
The smoke can be provocative, gay, voluptuous or gloomy:
TET: "He leaned back, blew the smoke of his pipe toward the ceiling."But it can also happen that, in the midst of a "tornado" of events, the Chief Inspector can even forget to smoke (believe it or not!):
LET: "He filled his pipe and suddenly realized that for several hours he had forgotten to smoke."
d) Step 4: putting out the pipe: we will soon come to the end of the ceremony; the tobacco is consumed;, the ritual will be consummated. Often, the pipe goes out by itself, as Maigret has set it aside; the ritual is accomplished without any action. Thus, caught up in an event, in his ruminations, he "let his pipe go out" (GAL, NEW, BRA).
But since, in fact, the ritual should be accomplished, Maigret is free to relight his cold pipe, to lead his investigation to its conclusion.
HOL: "Then, for the first time, we see the Chief Inspector embarrassed. He stuffed a pipe, lit it, let it go out… He relit his pipe, to give himself time to reflect."
e) Step 5: emptying the pipe: The Mass is said, the nave is empty; Maigret empties his pipe, but he doesn't hesitate to fill another, because the ceremony is without end, infinitely repeatable (the numerous cases where we read that "he filled a new pipe").
Let us examine the way that Maigret empties pipe, and where he does it: he can empty his pipe "in the coal scuttle" (Coméliau's office in LET), "in the fireplace" (at the Mayor's in JAU, at Grandmaison's in POR, at Mlle Decaux's in TRO), "in the ashtray" (at Ducrau's in ECL, at Little John's in NEW, at Mme Boursicault's in MEU, in his office in SCR, in the doctor's office in CLO, at Nahour's in NAH, at Parendon's in HES, in the house at Meung in ceu (we can well imagine that Mme Maigret wouldn't permit her husband to empty his pipe on the floor!); in the airplane in VOY), "in the sawdust of the spittoons" (at the PJ in MAI), "in the coal bucket" (in his office in CEC, MAJ, JEU), in an enormous spittoon " (at the movies in MME), "on the rug" (at the Le Cloaguen's in SIG, at the hotel in DAM and in owe), "on the floor" (in a bar in owe, in the inspectors' office in MAJ), by tapping his pipe "against the window sill" (in the local of the Police-Secours in SIG) or "on the window ledge" (in his office in pip), and also:
fen: "Maigret took the time to fill a pipe, after having emptied his on the ground, because the floor was already dirty." (good excuse!) (at Laget's)
But the most familiar gesture is that of Maigret tapping his pipe against his heel (mentioned in TET, JAU, HOL, POR, FLA, MAI, fen, bay, ber, not, CEC, MAJ, JUG, pip, NEW, VAC, MOR, AMI, DAM, BAN, TRO, ECO, JEU, MIN, COR, VIE, PAT, VOL, VIC, HES), without worrying about carpets or other flooring!
a) Sight: or: Maigret's mists:
The smoke can be "a thin blue stream which rises in a spiral" (sta), "a thin gray stream" (JAU), " a trail of smoke rising straight up from the bowl of his pipe" (FEL), "pale blue smoke escaped from his pipe" (SIG), or "in slow puffs of smoke" (CON), "a light cloud of smoke" (cho).
The smoke can form "a moving layer" (MEU), "a layer of fog at the level of the lamp" (GRA), "a cloud of smoke which spread with the slightest movement of the air" (TET), "a blue layer at forehead level " (TEM) of Maigret, whose "head was haloed by the smoke of his pipe" (ber).
LET: "The silence was not broken, but rather emphasized by the crackling of his pipe."
c) Touch or Maigret's thick fingers in his tobacco
But it's also the material of the pipe itself that Maigret appreciates
FAC: "this caress of his large thumb on the bowl"Maigret also touches his pipes when he is lost in reflection: his most usual action is to "fiddle" with them (FAN, DEF, VIC, ASS, CON, BRA).
Maigret and the seasons:
FEL: "His large pipe itself had a flavor of spring."
Maigret in a good mood:
PHO: "Maigret sat in a taxi, savoring both his pipe and the familiar bustle of the street."
Maigret in a bad mood:
man: "his pipe didn't have the same taste as other mornings"
cho: "He must have caught the flu… On top of that his pipe didn't have the same taste as usual, and that was the sign." And further. "His pipe had a strange taste of illness, which wasn't without its flavor"
MAI: "He smoked his pipe, whose odor impregnated the office"This pipe odor becomes "professional":
BRA: "Even the tobacco smell was a professional smell: that of a pipe, extinguished the night before, relit in the middle of the night on being awakened for an emergency."
The phrase "his hands in his pockets, pipe in his teeth / mouth" appears again in PHO, JAU, HOL, REN, GUI, POR, OMB, FLA, LIB, MAI, pei, CEC, MAJ, FAC, NEW, MOR, DAM, MME, PEU, JEU, MIN, COR, CLO, ENF and CHA.
More often, he has simply "his pipe in his mouth" (pip, MEU, PEU, VOY, ASS, COL, CLO, DEF, NAH, VOL), "pipe between his lips" (pip), or "his pipe in his teeth" (GAL, PHO, PRO, JAU, HOL, POR, OMB, LIB, MAI, fen, bay, amo, sta, eto, man, not, owe, CEC, MAJ, JUG, SIG, CAD, FEL, NEW, mal, MOR, MEU, BAN, MIN, CLI, CLO, DEF, VIN).
This way of holding his pipe in his mouth gives him a certain power:
LET: "Was it because he had his pipe once more between his teeth? … It was always at this moment that he was more solid than ever."But it can also be his emotions which are revealed in his fashion of holding the pipe in his mouth: Very often, he "clenches" his pipe or the stem of his pipe between his teeth (LET, GAL, TET, JAU, NUI, REN, GUI, CEC, MOR, VAC; ECH, COL, DEF, VIC, noy), sometimes "with force", or "strongly", "furiously"; he may also "bite" it (PHO), or "chew" it (POR, owe, JUG, ASS), "munch" it (ber), and futher:
NUI: "His lips made a funny crease around the stem of his pipe."His attitude can also reveal his thoughts:
FAC: "Maigret was deep in himself… with that pout of his lips around the stem of his pipe"He could also attach to it a certain gaiety:
pip: "with a funny little short laught around the stem of his pipe"And it can serve for daydreaming:
obs: And he dozed voluptuously throughout the whole trip, his eyes half-closed, a ribbon of smoke drifting from his lips which circled the stem of his pipe."
In summary, all these attitudes add up to an authentic "pipe smoker", as he recognized himself in fen: "Me, I'm an old pipe smoker", or as others define him as well:
PRO: Willy Marco to Maigret: "It's true that you're a pipe smoker"
It's also to preserve this identity, this image of himself, that he refuses other forms of tobacco: offered a cigar or cigarette, he responds "thanks, nothing but a pipe" (TET, LIB), "only the pipe" (PRE, FAN), "always a pipe" (PEU) or "thanks, I prefer my pipe" (FOL, men) or "thanks, I only smoke a pipe" (ECO).
a) To smoke like a
LET: "He stayed camped there for nearly an hour, smoking his pipes"
GAL: mechanically raising his empty pipe to his mouth "
Maigret sometimes uses his pipe for other purposes than smoking:
And lastly let's note, in CHA, this lovely scene which opens the novel:
"Maigret played, in a ray of March sun still a bit cool. He didn't play with blocks, like when he was a child, but with some pipes. … Mechanically, with the greatest seriousness, he arranged the pipes on his blotter in a way of making more or less geometrical shapes, or suggesting some animal." And further: "He played, his mind empty. The pipes, in their last arrangement, looked like a stork." And still further: "He stared at the pipes that he sometimes rearranged, like chess pieces."
7. The adventures of a pipe or "the pipe in battle" (PAT)
The events which befall Maigret's pipe are tied to the development of the investigation, which they change the course of or depend on:
a) broken pipes: if Maigret knows well to hide his nervousness, it is however betrayed by the force with which he clamps down on the stem of his pipe: it "cracked between his teeth" (owe), or it's the ebonite which "cracks" (FEL, PAR), "splits" (ENF) or "shatters" (PAT).
b) forgotten pipes: The case is rare, although it arrives in TET, when Maigret assists in Heurtin's flight to the Citanguette café, where he is so caught up in the events that he forgets to pick up his fallen pipe. But Maigret can also pretend to forget a pipe, an excellent pretext to reenter a house! That's the case in POR, where Maigret pretends to have forgotten his pipe in Grandmaison's office, and in BAN; where Maigret claims to have forgotten his pipe in Thouret's room at Mariette Gibon's.
c) a stolen pipe: we can simply recall here that the entire short story "Maigret's Pipe" [pip] revolves around the theft of his pipe by a young man who wants to emulate him. "Maigret's pipe, well! And, you know, Maigret said these words with the certain satisfaction of a man whose pride was somehow agreeably tickeled. Someone had stolen his pipe, like they might have swiped a famous writer's pencil."
d) gift pipes, received or bought: Maigret received a present of a Belgian pipe from Delvigne (GAI), was offered one in New York (NEW), which he regretted because usually it was Mme Maigret who gave them to him "for every birthday" (see also noe), because this pipe was very expensive and also because it was the fault of this pipe that Maigret had arrived too late at old Angelino's. And "as if by chance", it was that pipe that he would break. He also bought a Swiss one in VOY. And he gave (or lent?) one of his pipes to Picard in SIG, and to Joseph in pip.
a) Smoking in front of others:
LET: with Mortimer-Levingston: "He put his pipe once more between his teeth since he had deigned to remove it to speak to the millionaire and groaned."We should give particular mention to Judge Coméliau, whose relationship with Maigret finds an original illustration in the manner in which the Chief Inspector smokes with him:
TEN: "Coméliau... stared at Maigret's pipe, which he had never gotten used to. The Chief Inspector was actually the only one permitted to smoke in his office, and the judge felt a sort of defiance to it."
LET: "Maigret's presence at the Majestic was unavoidably tinged with hostility. He had formed a sort of block which the atmosphere could not penetrate. … His pipe was riveted to his jaw. He would not remove it just for being in the Majestic."
And lastly we should mention the bus with the outside platform, preferred by Maigret and missed by him, which we often meet at the end of the Presses de la Cité period:
TEM: "it made him even more sullen to see that the great machine arriving had no platform, which obliged him to put out his pipe."
c) Mme Maigret and the pipe
LET: Maigret has finally returned home at the end of his investigation: "She scurried around the apartment, content…, asking from time to time: 'A pipe?'"The scenario becomes so familiar that Mme Maigret and her husband repeat it over time:
PRE: Maigret is in bed following a blow he received to his head: "'Will you give me a pipe.?' 'You think you should?' 'Did the doctor say I can't smoke?' 'He didn't mention it.' 'Well, then...' she sets herself to filling a pipe, offers it to him, along with a match."
d) Maigret, his pipe… and Simenon
"My host [Simenon] studied my pipes, my ashtrays"
To end this journey into the relationship between Maigret and his pipe, I'd like to examine here a few extracts from the novel "The House of Anxiety", where we discover the importance the pipe already has for the Chief Inspector.
This novel, the last of the four "proto-Maigrets", is the one where the character is the closest to that which he will become in the official cycle. As Lacassin wrote: "Unlike his preceding attempts, the story is not told from the point of view of one of the ephemeral characters, the guilty or the victim. It is no longer a novel of misfortune, but a police story. And Maigret takes possession of the stage from the first lines, and until the last. … the author endows him with all his accessories … inseparable from his pipe …". And Claude Menguy and Pierre Deligny in their The true beginnings of Chief Inspector Maigret, "This work, centered indeed on the police enigma, is the first where Superintendent Maigret is the central character, and in which he does his investigation from beginning to end … in "The House of Anxiety" it is certainly a flesh and blood Maigret who walks, the pipe already clamped in his teeth, a Maigret who isn't missing any of his sartorial attributes." And, finally, Lemoine writes: "Thus, at the end of The House of Anxiety, Maigret is ready for the great adventure that will be his: many of his notable characteristics are already very present, and all that is left for Simenon is to exploit this character of a policeman created with small strokes at the end of his twenties. ".
If I cite here these three texts, it is indeed to underline how much Maigret's pipe is one of his essential attributes, to the point where it is an obligatory index for the recognition of the character, allowing us to consider that "The House of Anxiety" is actually a "true" Maigret. Here are some phrases taken from this novel, where we not only see already the necessary relationship between Maigret and his pipe, but where we will note the same genre of formulations for this "pipe play" that we have found throughout the length of the corpus:
"Maigret filled a pipe with slow movements of his thick fingers."
By this journey through the corpus, we have discovered the importance the pipe has in the Chief Inspector's reflections. It is often said, and it's true, that Simenon does not describe the functioning of Maigret's thinking, but we can discover this process through his gestures, and in particular in those regarding his pipe. In his way of filling it, lighting it, smoking it and emptying it, we discover Maigret's progress in his investigation, his relationship with others and his way of apprehending the world.
first, I encourage you to reread the text of Lanzmann's interview of Simenon which appeared in LUI of June 1967, and where Simenon speaks of his relationship with the pipe: you will see that we can draw a parallel with Maigret!
next, I suggest the exposition "Simenon of a pipe": 31 (minus one) pipes in the streets of Liège a seriously funny manifestation, which took place in 2003 in the place Saint-Lambert, where some 30 trash cans were decorated and transformed into giant pipes. The site shows the photographs,
and finally, for those among you who like pastiches, you can read this little text (in French) on Jacques-Yves Depoix's site, where you will discover a further adventure of one of Maigret's pipes!
translation: Stephen Trussel