Happy New Year!
1/3/15 I wish you all a Happy New Year 2015, good health and many interesting activities related to Simenon's Maigret!
re: Hotel de la Reine Morte?
First names in the Maigret Corpus
Maigret and the Killer
1/8/15 You have to smile when you read, as I just did in Maigret et le Tueur [Ch. 4], that while shaving at 7:30 in the morning le Commissaire turns on the radio to hear the news and, of course, hears about himself:
"...D'autre part, le bruit court que le commissaire Maigret pourrait intervenir, non dans l'affaire du vol des tableaux, mais à propos d'une autre activité des malfaiteurs..."
Simenon Lecture at BILIPO, Paris - Jan. 24
Simenon. From the story to the novel. Georges Simenon Cycle.
Simenon. De la nouvelle au roman. Cycle Georges Simenon.
New Portuguese Maigrets
1/16/15 A new set of Maigret translations into Portuguese from Brazil is being published:
They come from the publishing house Companhia das Letras which is 45% owned by Penguin Random House and are using the current Penguin covers.
More information along with scans of the covers and the first pages of each title are available from Companhia Das Letras.
Maigret's Military Service
1/24/15 In my most recent read, Maigret at the Coroner’s [CHE], on two separate occasions, Maigret refers to his military service. This was news to me.
When Maigret questions the airmen’s heavy drinking in the Penguin Bar, Cole explains they can basically drink as much as they want and return to the base whenever they want. So, Maigret asks himself: “Why did that provoke him? Was it because he was remembering his military service…?” [Pourquoi cela le faisait-il enrager ? Est-ce que parce qu’il se souvenait de son service militaire… ?]
And very much later, recalling how often the witnesses testified they didn’t know what time something happened because they didn’t have a watch, Maigret thinks to himself: “That had reminded him of his military service, …” [Cela lui avait rappelé son service militaire, …]
I’m wondering what, if anything else, others may have uncovered on the subject of Maigret in the military.
re: Maigret's Military Service
1/25/15 In the Hotel Majestic [MAJ], the Gambon TV series, Maigret mentions his military service to a hotel clerk. This happens near the end of the story. Because the clerk, Ramuel, was a quartermaster-sergeant, Maigret concluded that he was good at making fake signatures, just as the quartermaster-sergeant where Maigret served. I cannot remember if this fact was included in book. A fair guess - Maigret did his military service before joining the police.
This is in the novel at the end of Chapter 10:
re: Maigret's Military Service
1/29/15 Les Caves du Majestic was written in 1939. According to David Drake's Comparison, Maigret would have been between 45 and 49 in that novel. If his Chronology is correct, and Maigret was born in 1887, he would have been 27 when WWI broke out in 1914, a year after La première enquête de Maigret, "Maigret's First Case" [PRE].
Based on the Wikipedia article, "Conscription in France," France had a system of military conscription in place in the 19th century, but "it was not until 1905 that universal military service for a period of two years, without exception on any but medical grounds, was introduced." Maigret would have been 18 in 1905, and according to Drake's Chronology, he entered medical school at Nantes in 1907, so he could have served his two years between 1905 and 1907.
In 1913, France introduced a "3-Year Law", requiring "virtually all fit males of the appropriate age group to undertake full-time military service for three years from the age of 20." Maigret had begun to work as a Paris policeman in 1913, and was presumably exempt because of this, but in August 1914, slightly prior to the outbreak of WWI, 2.9 million Frenchmen were mobilized, comprising "conscripts undertaking their three years of obligatory service, and reservists of ages 24 to 30 who had completed their period of full-time service." This group too, would have included Maigret, if he had not been exempt as a policeman.
André P. Brink - 1935-2015
2/07/15 Renowned South African novelist and playwright, André P. Brink, one of the most outspoken critics of the apartheid regime, has died (Feb. 6). He wrote in both English and Afrikaans, and was a key figure in the Afrikaans literary movement Die Sestigers in the 1960s. He translated five Maigrets (in four books) into Afrikaans:
Two New Maigret ITV Films
2/21/15 I've just seen a report that Rowan Atkinson (creator of Mr Bean and star of the Johnny English films) is to play Maigret in two films to be made late this year. I think they are to be " Maigret Sets a Trap" and "Maigret's Special Murder".
Has anyone else heard this? I like Atkinson as a comedian but I simply don't think he has the physical build nor peasant-like quality to carry this off.
Many thanks, à Steve, for continuing to host this excellent site.
New Maigrets in >Polish
3/4/15 Three new Maigrets were published by C&T from Toruń last year:
On my list of best Maigrets, Maigret et le client du samedi [Maigret and Saturday caller] is near the top. In many other cases, Maigret was basically doing his job as he was required; other competent detectives would similarly solve those cases as well. But with the Saturday-night caller, Maigret went far and beyond his routine job description; anyone else - less sensitive and less dedicated - would probably dismiss that case without even starting, and let the crime go unsolved.
New Penguin Translations
3/14/15 I've now read a few of the new Penguin translations and I'm wondering what are others' opinions of them. Some work for me but others seem wrong. Unfortunately my French isn't up to reading them in the original but those translations I have grown up with seem right somehow.
I see that the new editions have different translators, so maybe that's why some seem "right" and others don't. I don't like the "Pietr the Latvian" [LET] translation at all, where is the Maigret I've got to know all these years? Or is my dissatisfaction because it's such an early story. I don't think I've read it before in an older translation. "The Carter of La Providence" [PRO] was another that disappointed me. However, in "The Misty Harbour" [POR] the translator has captured that essence of Maigret that I've come to recognise in the stories that I've read over the years.
I'd be interested to hear others' views about these new translations.
Thank you for continuing to provide such a super repository for Maigret aficionados.
Maigret's Favorite Places
In his indispensable book – almost a bible! – entitled Paris chez Simenon (Éditions Encrage, 2000), Michel Lemoine has catalogued all the Parisian places mentioned in Simenon's works, including those written under synonyms and autobigraphical texts. Therein we find the names of all the streets, avenues, and districts mentioned by Simenon, as well as buildings from hotels, cafés and restaurants, to shops, museums, ministries, hospitals and so on and on. We can make a tour of the capital, seen through the eyes of the novelist, and have a complete panorama of references.
It was with the assistance of this book that I was able to check my own research in the Maigret corpus, on the theme I've decided to treat at this time, to discover the cafés, restaurants, bistros and other bars frequented by the Chief Inspector in his long Parisian wanderings.
And indeed, when Maigret is looking for something to eat or drink, he goes into one of these public places, a bar, a bistro, a café or a restaurant. And while the latter may be exclusively reserved for culinary feasts, the others serve principally as thirst quenchers. Though if they happen to serve food as well, Maigret can't be blamed for giving it a taste.
To begin, I've done a little statistical analysis concerning these places, and here are my results.
I worked with about 350 references to these establisments in my Maigret corpus, and the first thing we note is that the percentage of bars is the highest (about a third of the citations). Then bistros and restaurants (a fifth each). And finally, cafés (about 15%). However, sometimes these designations are interchangeable, the author referring to the same spot, sometimes as a bistro, sometimes as a café or a bar. And we can also cite brasseries (about 10%), which could be added in with restaurants, but which I've kept separate, since the author himself marks the difference by reserving the more precise term for them. And I've counted references to the Brasserie Dauphine separately, since rather than simply a place for Maigret to eat, it has become a kind of annex, an extension of his office...
re: Maigret's Favorite Places
3/16/15 Hats off to Murielle Wenger—once again!
To go even farther from Paris, across the Atlantic to the United States, specific places with their characteristic drinks and food punctuate these stories, too. Both Maigret à New York and Maigret chez le coroner reveal how a lot of plot goes down in such “necessary stops on the route of an investigation.”
re: Bars, bistros, cafes and hotels...
3/19/15 If we travel even further outside Paris to London to eat and drink with le commissaire Maigret, we are not quite so pleased,
Le Revolver de Maigret [REV]
Voilà! C'était aussi simple que ça. Il ne lui était pas venu à l'idée qu'il pouvait se faire servir dans le hall.
There! It was as simple as that. It had never occurred to him that he could be served in the hall.And later,
Il semblait lui dire, par-dessus le va-et-vient des voyageurs anonymes: « Nous sommes tous les deux victimes du devoir professionnel. Ne puis-je rien faire pour vous? »
He seemed to be saying, above the coming and going of the anonymous travellers: "We are both victims of professional duty. Can't I do anything for you?"
Simenon online broadcasts
3/28/15 There's a French language internet radio broadcast about Simenon online at www.franceinter.fr, a 54-minute dramatization entitled "Georges Simenon, l'homme aux 10 000 femmes". Originally broadcast March 6, 2015, it's available (online) through 11/29/2017.
Also at the site is a 2-minute 1989 French TV broadcast of the news of Simenon's death, including segments of Simenon interviews, and a brief bio page on Pierre Assouline with links to related online broadcasts.
3/28/15 Could you tell me if Teresa Sburelin, Simenon's last companion, is still alive?
I thank you in advance.
According to Assouline's biography, Teresa was 23 years younger than Simenon, so she would have been born ca. 1926. If she's still alive, she's about 89 now.
No Mme Maigret in the Bruno Cremer Series?
3/29/15 Could someone please tell me why Madame Maigret does not appear in the Bruno Cremer series of Maigret, which I have watched but can only partially enjoy due to her absence. Unfortunatety my French is not good enough to understand the interview in the extras so I am in the dark. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Mme Maigret, played by Anne Bellec, appears in only seven episodes of the Bruno Crémer series:
re: No Mme Maigret in the Bruno Cremer Series?
4/7/15 The few times I saw Mme Maigret were disappointing because I couldn’t get beyond the fact that she was so thin. I hope Rowan Atkinson doesn’t make the same mistake in his attempt to reincarnate Maigret.
re: No Mme Maigret in the Bruno Cremer Series?|
4/12/15 David, unless Atkinson is also the executive producer and casting director, he will have little say about which actress is cast as Madame Maigret.
Le Charretier de la Providence|
1. Why does M. Simenon have le Commissaire address Lucas as 'vous' rather than 'tu' in Le Charretier de la Providence [PRO]?
2. Is it possible to see a copy of the Guide officiel de la navigation intérieure which the lock-keeper gave to him [Ch. 1]? It would be helpful to the readers as well as to le Commissaire.
Isn't this just right?
Le commissaire avait faillit monter sur son vélo et suivre le canal, afin de rejoindre les péniches qui avaient passé la nuit du dimanche au lundi à Dizy. La vue du chemin détrempé, du ciel noir l'avait découragé.
The Chief Inspector had considered getting on his bike and following the canal, to catch up with the barges that had passed Sunday and Monday nights at Dizy. The view of the sodden path and the black sky had discouraged him.
Old version of "Maigret sets a trap"|
4/20/15 I just watched an old "Maigret sets a trap" [TEN] version with Jean Gabin made in 1958, France/Italy production. It has been few years since I read the book, but as I remember, the criminal was discovered through identification of a button, just as in the Gambon series. There was no need to identify the murder weapon because the investigation immediately focused on the button.
But in this Gabin version, a good part of movie was spent identifying the knife and harassing an innocent butcher who just happened to be working late in his shop located near the scene of the crime.
And the criminal was discovered by an improbably lucky coincidence. One of Maigret's detectives noticed the criminal's wife in a restaurant with a lover, followed her to the phone booth and overheard her compromising conversation. As it happened, she'd left the booth door open... ??!! Can you believe that?
Rupert Davies DVD release!|
4/20/15 Nine episodes of the first BBC series starring Rupert Davies will be getting a DVD release in Germany, July 17, 2015...
(PidaxFilm: 3 DVDs, PAL format, in German and English, €22,90)
re: Rupert Davies DVD release|
5/3/15 Thanks for this update Ian. This is excellent news. I've just watched the Michael Gambon Maigret DVDs for the first time since they were shown on television and I must admit they were far better than I remembered, but the old Rupert Davies series I watched as a child still seem the best I have watched. Please let us have any information on further releases.
As ever, Steve, thanks for hosting this excellent website.
re: No Mme Maigret in the Bruno Crémer Series?
5/9/15 Jacques-Yves Depoix has added several interviews with Crémer to his Bruno Crémer site. Included is one with Charles Nemes, who asks the question, "Why doesn't Mme Maigret ever appear?"
Here's Crémer's response:
Estella van Straten
The music in Crémer's "Maigret se trompe"? [TRO]|
5/9/15 “The episode ‘Maigret se trompe' with Bruno Crémer starts with Louise ("Lulu") dancing. Does anyone know the name of the piece of music she's dancing to?”
Thanks in advance!
re: Rupert Davies DVD release|
5/13/15 I was delighted to see the news of the German release of these long-awaited dramatisations. However I have noticed today that the company website no longer shows the release as being in German and English, only German. Has there been a change of heart on their part, or has the BBC or its rights holder in the UK intervened in some way to frustrate this release with the original English soundtrack?
The company releasing the DVDs has other BBC releases in both German and English.
Are we to have to wait even longer to see Rupert Davies in his finest role.
Maigret chez le coroner [CHE]|
5/14/15 Perhaps the views of le Commissaire about foreigners, in this book Americans, are the views of M. Simenon, as well. They are interesting, anyway...
"Harry Cole n'était pas là comme il l'avait promis, et Maigret l'aperçut un peu plus tard qui descendait de sa voiture en face du County House. Il était aussi frais, aussi alerte que la veille, avec la même bonne humeur qui semblait jaillir de source. C'était une gaieté sereine d'homme qui n'a pas de cauchemars, qui se sent en paix avec lui-même et avec les autres.
"Harry Cole wasn't there as he'd promised, and Maigret saw him a little later getting out of his car across from the county courthouse. He was as fresh and alert-looking as the day before, with the same apparently inexhaustible good humor. It was the comfortable serenity of a man without bad dreams, who felt at peace with himself and others.
re: Rupert Davies DVD release - in German only|
5/16/15 I have had EMail contact with Pidax,the German company releasing the Rupert Davies Maigret DVDs in July, through their website and have had a reply that the release is only in German, and that advertising anywhere that it was in English too must have been erroneous.
re: Rupert Davies DVD release - in German only|
5/16/15 In this Forum, on Jan. 5, 2001, Hans Kiesl wrote from Germany to correct an erroneous listing here of a German television series from 1964-1968 starring Heinz Rühmann. That listing had been based on an article in Peter Haining's book, "The Complete Maigret", which we discovered has numerous errors.
Here's part of what Hans wrote back on Jan. 18, 2001:
Though Haining's book is filled with errors, using his dates, alongside the information supplied by Hans, suggests that there was a German rebroadcast of the Davies Maigret series from 1964-68. If that's true, it may well explain this German-language-only DVD release by Pidax...
re: Rupert Davies DVD release - in German only|
5/16/15 Here's a comment that appeared on Archive Television Musings: Articles and thoughts on British archive television, that apparently confirms the German tv series explanation:
Russian TV adaptation of Maigret chez le ministre [MIN]|
If any colleague will send me the English version of the novel "Maigret and the Minister," I will try to make English subtitles for the 1987 film.
In addition, I am willing to share some information concerning the Russian filmography of Commissioner Maigret, and to answer any questions regarding these adaptations.
I cannot call myself an expert on Commissioner Maigret in Russia, but always interested in watching TV shows, and enjoy reading the novels by Georges Simenon. Sometimes I find interesting material in newspaper archives.
I would be particularly pleased to read a full review of the 1987 Russian version, to translate into Russian, and then publish in my blog for the Russian audience.
Length of Maigret movies|
5/20/15 The big problem of Maigret movies with Armen D., as well all others I know about - except Gambon and Davies - is that they are too long to maintain viewers' excitement and interest. To avoid such a problem, Simenon limited his Maigret books to approximately 200 pages. So the reader will finish the book and want to buy another one before becoming bored, as is mentioned in his biography.
The Armen D. is nearly two and half hours, Cremer an hour and half, Gabin is two hours. To extend time, they are "fattened-up" with material that "waters-down" the main story line, including things like long walks and drives on city streets.
If I had a magic wand, I would turn the clock twenty years back and get Gambon to make another 12, or 20, episodes. Otherwise, if the Cremer movies are ever released in North America in English, I hope they will be re-edited and shortened to 50 minutes.
And, of course, new scenes can be shot with a female actress playing Madam Maigret and inserted into the re-edited episodes. With current technology, this is easily possible.
re: Length of Maigret movies|
5/20/15 In a sense, I agree that the problem of the length of Maigret movies exists. However, I would set up the assessment completely differently.
Granada studio's version [with Gambon] is the shortest; it fits in the 50-minute standard. But for this very reason, in my opinion, this adaptation of the novel "Maigret and the Minister" [MIN] has less Simenon spirit. I would prefer two 50-minute episodes. This is a very dynamic film with a distilled plot and largely evaporated psychology, while the main feature of Georges Simenon's detective stories is, namely, psychology. I like Michael Gambon who played Maigret, but I do not see the development of the chemistry between him and the minister. I do not see the friendly mutual sympathy that Simenon wrote. These characters have little in common.
In the Bruno Cremer and Jean Richard movies, the friendly sympathy is shown convincingly, in my opinion. But it seemed to me, Jean Richard's version in general does not have the necessary spark. Bruno Cremer's version is too much a thriller that negates Simenon's plot.
The Soviet film adaptation has the pace of Simenon's novel; the characters accurately convey their literary counterparts and the relationships between them are developed as in the original novel. Because of these things, the drama follows precisely the meaning and idea, the spirit and letter of the novel by Georges Simenon. And yet, even at a leisurely pace it is perceived, in my opinion, quite sharply.
re: Maigret chez le coroner [CHE]|
5/23/15 I agree with Arlene Blade (5/14/15). Maigret at the Coroner's is interesting for Maigret's/Simenon's observations about the American scene. The contrast of our system of justice with that of the French stands out.And this forum is always interesting,
Maigret au Picratt's [PIC]|
5/25/15 Rereading this on a quick trip to Portland. Just wanted to say that Picratt's appears in an otherwise forgettable volume of stories I picked up in Paris, Les 13 Coupables, where the hero of each story is a juge d'instruction. I can't tell you which story as I don't have the book with me.
Rereading Maigret au Picratt's, I think it is one of the best-crafted stories Simenon wrote in his Maigret series.
Les 13 coupables |
5/26/15 As a footnote to Oz Childs's recent comments [5/25/14], Picratt's (first mentioned in Maigret au Picratt's, 1951), is the setting of the ninth of the thirteen stories, or episodes, in Simenon's Les 13 coupables (1957), entitled Nicolas.
A footnote to John's footnote: The 1957 edition of Les 13 coupables is a later edition (1959 cover shown here). The first edition (Fayard) was in 1932, with the cover shown below. The story Nicolas was first published in two parts in Détective magazine, May 8 and 22, 1930, under the pseudonym George Sim. (source: Yves Martina's Simenon bibliographie).
Another rendition of Maigret... |
5/30/15 I wonder if anyone has come across other Maigret illustrations by this artist...
Info on a Maigret bd... |
5/30/15 Although recognition of the existence of this bande dessinée was posted here in June, 2004, there was no indication of a date of publication in the volume. There was, however, a notation on the title page that it had been "pre-published in the magazine le Nouveau Détective".
(click on the cover at left for a sample page)
Iʻve now been able to locate the editions of the magazine in which it first appeared, allowing us to assign 1983 as the year of publication:
Another TV Maigret!
This film can be viewed via YouTube here (in Russian).
(And if Danilov somehow reminds you of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, he also starred in that role in 1985 for the same production company, viewable here with English subtitles!)
Alexander also provided additional TV information, including the discovery of a previously unknown Boris Tenin film, a 1969 or 1970 Russian version of Cécile est morte [CEC]... however, no copy has yet been located.
Still more Maigrets!
Radovan Lukavský [1909-2008] starred as Maigret in the 1983 Czechoslovakian TV-film “Vzpurní svědkové” (Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants [TEM]), viewable here, on YouTube (in Czech, no subtitles). No sign of a pipe!
Mattias also provided the following links to YouTube presentations of three Boris Tenin Maigret films in Russian, with the caveat that "there are no subtitles and the beginnings seem to be missing": Мегрэ и человек на скамейке - Maigret and the Man on the Bench (1973), Мегрэ и старая дама - Maigret and the Old Lady (1974), Мегрэ колеблется - Maigret hesitates (1982).
New Maigret in Polish
The latest Maigret from C&T Publishers, Toruń, is scheduled to appear next week:
Maigret Actors (by country) |
Maigret actors by country of production
A few more Russian language Maigret films online |
The "new" Quai des Orfèvres |
Maigret's "place of work" |
6/6/15 Nice picture of the place where Maigret would have worked if he'd been a real person. Thanks, Jerome. Notice the people-friendly design of the river embankment. It is high enough to prevent floods, but has a lower level so people can enjoy to sit or walk closer to water.
"A real person"? |
6/6/15 Dear Friends,
I am enjoying L'Ombre Chinoise at the moment and thus, when I read the phrase, "...if he'd been a real person," I cannot understand what it could possibly mean...
Speaking of Maigret... in Alan Furst... |
6/16/15 In Alan Furst's 2008 novel The Spies of Warsaw, page 169, the main protagonist, Mercier, puts down Stendahl's The Red and the Black and picks up "what he really wanted to read, a Simenon roman policier, The bar on the Seine". [La Guinguette à Deux Sous GUI] Both books are mentioned again on page 177, "But, finally, it was Simenon - all to soon finished - and, indubitably, Stendahl..."
6/22/15 This is the second reference to Maigret I've noticed in a Furst novel. The other was in Spies of the Balkans . On page 196, "He tried to return to Inspector Maigret, waiting on his night table, but memories of the real Paris intruded... On 197, "While he'd slept, Maigret had disappeard. No, there we was, under the blanket." And on p. 216, "A restless reader, he'd put Inspector Maigret aside in favor of a novel by the Greek writer Kostykas..." Furst is obviously a Simenon fan!
There's another reference to a Maigret in a Furst novel, his 1996 The World at Night, noted by Jérôme here in 2009. See "Speaking of Maigret...", references to Maigret and Simenon in literature. (I have to admit I'd forgotten about this page until Jim's mail came in... There's a link to it now on the Bibliography page...)
Place Dauphine |
à la Place Dauphine... |
6/25/15 How perfect that the Place Dauphine photo has appeared. Just the other day I read:
"Un peu plus tard, Maigret et Lapointe pénétraient à la Brasserie Dauphine. Il y avait deux avocats en robe ainsi que trois ou quatre inspecteurs qui n'appartenaient pas à la brigade de Maigret mais qui le saluèrent. Ils passèrent dans la salle à manger."
"A little later, Maigret and Lapointe entered the Brasserie Dauphine. There were two barristers in their robes, as well as three or four inspectors who werenʻt from Maigretʻs squad, but greeted him. They went into the dining room."
Thank you for the photo and do you know the very, very good novel I was reading?
re: à la Place Dauphine... |
6/28/15 A good way to approach Arlene Blade's question is Steve's mammoth Maigret Encyclopedia. It contains references to 52 Maigret stories that mention La Brasserie Dauphine.
38 (?) Quai des Orfèvres...
7/2/15 I have only been to Paris once, many years ago. I do not know the Quai des Orfèvres...
In Maigret et le marchand de vin [VIN], I recently read:
L'addresse, sur une des enveloppes, était tracée en caractères bâtonnets. Dans le coin du haut, à gauche, le mot Personnel était souligné trois fois.
The address on one of the envelopes was written in block capitals. In the upper left corner, the word Personal was underlined three times.
Yet, at the beginning of this wonderful Forum, the address is 36, Quai dès Orfevres. Is it perhaps a very big building?
36 (or 38 ?) Quai des Orfèvres...
7/4/15 Excellent observation by Arlene. My Google map search shows that the correct address is '36', and '38' is non-existent. In this case, I presume Simenon used the '38' on purpose: in case a reader sends a letter to Maigret, the letter will be returned without causing any trouble at the real police department at '36'.
36 is certainly the correct address. But Simenon used both in the Maigrets...
re: 36 (or 38 ?) Quai des Orfèvres...
According to the web site, Paris Révolutionnaire, #38 was a specific address at least up into the 1940s:
7/18/15 I've been reading all these new Penguin translations and enjoying them - some more than others. roughly 20 books into the 75 novels, I've read Maigret's final police case followed by his return from retirement to save his nephew and I begin to wonder about internal chronology. I'd like to chart an idea of Maigret's age over the course of the series. I found the age comparison - David Drake vs. Simenon - and the Maigret Biography but there are a lot of novels that are not mentioned in either of these. Do you know of a comprehensive attempt to order the novels in this way?
Penguin Maigret - Pietr the Latvian|
In his Crime and Mystery: The Hundred Best Books, H. R. F. Keating calls Georges Simenon the “inventor of the story in which the detective is seen as a writer”. I would suggest, however, that the detective is every bit as much a reader in the Maigret novels, as is made immediately clear in Pietr the Latvian, newly translated by David Bellos.
The first of the Maigrets opens with a number of evocations of reading, decoding, decryption. Opening telegram after telegram – the first comes in IPC, the “secret international police code” – Inspector Maigret tracks Pietr the Latvian on paper, from Krakow to Bremen to Amsterdam to Brussels. The physical description of Pietr arrives in a numeric code, and the description itself is also a kind of cipher, allowing someone who is properly trained (like Maigret) to visualize the face as if he had seen it. A more familiar example of this phenomenon is the “huge map” that lets the Inspector predict the precise position and destination of the Étoile du Nord, Pietr's train. Everything is symbolic, and translation is the only constant.
Such a density of semiotic detail can make Pietr the Latvian seem oddly prophetic, a harbinger of certain aspects of French philosophy and 20th-century avant-garde literature. A remarkable early scene, for instance, should resonate with anyone who has read Paul Auster's City of Glass, often described as a “postmodern detective novel.” In both works, a detective waits in a train station for the arrival of a man named Peter, only to find two eerily similar candidates, one prosperous and the other shabby. Surely Auster – a Francophonic minimalist who wrote a pseudonymous mystery called Squeeze Play – would have known this crucial moment in a landmark Maigret. Could it have shaped not just his plot, but also his thinking about the mysteries of identity and the uncertainty of knowledge?...
Does Maigret wear a mustache?|
"If in his youth Maigret wore a mustache... reddish [PRE] or mahogany [MEM] and which he formed into points [MEM] with a hot iron [PRE], it 'was reduced to no more than a toothbrush, before disappearing completely.'"However, in Félicie est là [FEL] , Maigret Omnibus III, p.820, we read:
Dans la rue, il [Maigret] contemple une fois de plus cette terrasse où les gens n'ont qu'à se laisser vivre et à humer le printemps. Allons! Encore un demi, en vitesse. Ses courtes moustaches trempées de mousse, il s'affale sur la banquette d'un taxi.
In the street, he [Maigret] considered once more this this terrace where people had simply to live and breathe in the spring air. Why not! One more demi, a quick one. His short mustache soaked with foam, he slumps into the seat of a taxi.I like to think he has a mustache. He just seems to me to be a mustache guy.
8/3/15 a text by Murielle, originally written for a blog by Maurizio Testa...
by Murielle Wenger
The novelist provides us a sketch of Maigret from the very beginning of the corpus, with a brief description in the first few pages of Pietr le Letton [LET], establishing his character like an anthropometric photograph freezes its representation... a plebeian frame, muscular, the whole forming a large and heavy mass. Maigret's silhouette, as sketched by Simenon, is not expanded, except for a few small points, with the progression of the series, and these are not only minimal, but hardly change over time. Almost nowhere in the texts are we told clearly about specific physical aspects of this character, nothing of what would be called in police language his "particulars", the shape of his nose, his ears, his face, or any "distinguishing features". But what can we find in the texts about Maigret's hair?
In Pietr le Letton [LET], Simenon tells us clearly that the Chief Inspector has no mustache. Certainly, no one imagines Maigret with a beard. That much, at least, is clear, for there are numerous scenes in the corpus where we see him shaving. He did, however, in his younger years, have a goatee, as was fashionable at the beginning of the past century (see Les caves du Majestic [MAJ]...: "a photo of a group of gentlemen in frock coats and top hats, wearing improbable mustaches and pointed beards... the association of police secretaries, when Maigret was 24!" and in La maison du juge... "at the time of the Bonnot affair, when he was thin, and had a long, pointed mustache and a goatee..."). As for the mustache, if when we see him in Pietr le Letton [LET], the author makes it clear that he's clean-shaven, that wasn't always the case... In La première enquête de Maigret [PRE], we learn that the young Maigret had a reddish mustache ending in points, and in Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM], that his mahogany mustache was quite long, also ending in sharp points, following men's fashion in vogue at the time, where a man had to have a mustache so as not to appear "a flunky". And we recall that Simenon was inspired, to some extent, in the creation of his character, by two true policemen, the Chief Inspectors Massu and Guillaume, who both had mustaches. But when the fashion changed, Maigret gave up his mustache, which "had shortened to little more than toothbrush length before disappearing completely" (Les mémoires de Maigret [MEM]). Curiously, in Félicie est là [FEL] (and this is the unique case in the corpus), Maigret is described as having a "short mustache"... was it an attempt to please Jules Lapie's young maid?!...
German Rupert Davies DVDs|
8/6/15 I recently purchased the German DVDs of the Rupert Davies series, which I've had a chance to examine over the past three days. While Davies is convincing enough in the role of Maigret, the way the films portray the episodes seems to me somewhat dated (as you'd expect...)
The decision to condense the action to just under an hour (the episodes run appx. 52-54 minutes) places the accent strongly on the police drama, which I find somewhat to the detriment of the psychology... And further, the manner of filming the era, relatively "theatrical", using stage sets (with a few outside scenes, it's true, set in Paris, but essentially scenes of Maigret in one of the "little black cars of the P.J." on his to the scene of the crime or to interrogate suspects), doesn't really correspond to our current vision...
What's more "disturbing" (the word is perhaps a bit strong), is that most of the action takes place as dialogues between Maigret and a suspect or witness (which you may well say is what actually happens in the novels), but these are long dialogues, often verbose... and maybe this impression is accentuated by the fact that it's dubbed into German...
I still find a number of positive points, like the touches of humor which appear in the relationships between Maigret and Lucas and Lapointe, and the fact that Davies and Helen Singler form a very credible Maigret-Mme Maigret couple.
Additionally, here is some of the information from the booklet accompanying the DVDs...
8/6/15 Does anyone else know the 1953 publication, Tournants Dangereux? It is a wonderful book illustrated by Hans Alexander Mueller and edited by Otis Fellows. I came across it, bizarrely, in the give-away bin of a grocery in Tobago some years ago. I was reminded of the lonely evenings I had spent in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer trying to improve my French by reading Georges Simenon and took advantage of the serendipitous occasion. Who else in Tobago could have appreciated it?
The real Maigret are pretty hard to come by out here. I am very happy to have all the information shared here.
re: Tournants Dangereux|
Some publication information on this book can be found here.
re: German Rupert Davies DVDs|
8/8/15 Murielle, how would you describe the accuracy of these "Davies" episodes on the Germans DVDs with regard to the original Simenon texts? Would you say they are more or less accurate than the "Gambon" series?
The Rupert Davies series and the Simenon texts|
8/10/15 At this point I haven't had time to watch all the episodes on the DVDs, and since I've never seen the Gambon series, of course I can't compare them. However, I can offer my response to Vladimir's question with regard to the Davies episodes...
If, by "accuracy", we mean fidelity to Simenon's texts, I can say that the Davies series is true to the novels. The original plot is closely followed, and the dialogues as well, on the whole. As I mentioned earlier, these episodes place the emphases on the police story, and so they stay close to what the author wrote, with, of course, the necessary adjustments to make the whole fit into fifty-some minutes – shortening and simplification, elimination of certain secondary characters, etc.. The accent is placed strongly on the character Maigret, and above all his interactions with suspects and witnesses, with, as previously mentioned, numerous scenes of dialogues and interrogations.
If by "accuracy" we also mean fidelity to the spirit of texts, I can say that here too it's relatively close to Simenon, but the "psychological" side of the novels is obviously more difficult to put into images. This is the potential pitfall facing all adaptations of Simenon's novels, in which much takes place "inside the head" of the characters, whether the protagonists of his "hard novels" [romans durs], or the Chief Inspector in the Maigret saga. In the Maigrets, Simenon has designed his texts so that events are often seen through the eyes of the Chief Inspector, and the reader is often "listening to Maigret's thoughts", something obviously very difficult to render on the screen. The screenwriter and the director must attempt to capture the "essence" of Simenon's work, a real challenge...
Whether for television or cinéma, some directors have chosen to follow the text almost "to the letter", while others have opted for some sort of "rewriting" of the story. Surprisingly, both formulas can lead as well to failures and true successes, and it's not always very clear by what magic the harmony is created...
Considering only the adaptations of Maigret, I can think of two particularly telling examples... In the series with Jean Richard, there's an episode adapted from L'amie de Madame Maigret [MME], where the director has stuck extremely close to the text, and the result is very convincing. And in the series with Bruno Crémer, we can mention for example, an adaptation of La vente à la bougie [ven], where the scenario differs greatly from the framework of the story, and the episode is, however, a success... How to explain that? An adaptation the captures the spirit of the writing? An interpreter who has slipped successfully into the character's skin? It's hard to say...
Returning to Davies, I'll have to watch a few more episodes to refine my analysis, but I think that, to this point, I can say the the spirit of the text has been presented "accurately", with all the restrictions mentioned above. To the extent that Davies is convincing in the role, the rest can, so to speak, "flow naturally"... And then, I think we can't help watching this series without recognizing that it was made over fifty years ago... A series could no longer be made in the same fashion today, with such theatrical staging and in settings which feel, quite "tailor made". We have somewhat the same feeling when watching the Gino Cervi series. He too is very convincing in the role, but the settings feel just like movie sets. We can't blame the filmmakers, who had no other means available at that time.
In conclusion, I can say that Davies is as good a Maigret as the other actors who've taken on the role, and that it's the magic of the character, as I've said so often, which allows almost all the interpreters who've slipped into his skin to be successful in the role, as if the extraordinary "presence" of Maigret will always rub off on someone who attempts to portray him...
re: The Rupert Davies series and the Simenon texts|
8/14/15 Thanks to Murielle for her analysis of the accuracy of Davis series. In my question, 'accuracy' meant fidelity to Simenon's texts, which was the first definition she used in her reply. I am glad to know that Davis episodes are 'accurate' in this way.
The Gambon series say in credits "From novel by Georges Simenon", which is usually indication for being accurate to text, When film director takes too many 'artistic liberties', the credits would say something like "based on" or "adopted" or "influenced" .... The result may still be a fascinating movie, but it feels as Paris PJ had two detectives called "Maigret" - Simenon wrote about one ... the film is about the other...
The second meaning of 'accuracy - true to Maigret's spirit - is, of course, much more difficult to achieve and analyze.
Murielle, please tell us more after you finish watching all episodes.
Neues vom Maigret – News about Rupert Davies Maigret|
8/16/15 Here are more of my thoughts about the Rupert Davies Maigret series, after having watched the other episodes in the coffret....
Returning to Vladimir’s question about the accuracy of the series, I’ve noticed some evolution since the first few episodes... little by little the writers have begun to risk a certain distance from the original text, no longer following the dialogues of the novel to the letter, and allowing themselves more significant changes to the plot. The basic outline of the police story still respects the essential points of the original, but some minor changes develop in the relationships between the characters and Maigret. Yet, once more, Simenon’s magic of the spirit of the story is respected, and we have to recognize that Rupert Davies, as the episodes progress, is more and more convincing in the role, both in his attitudes and his manner of dealing with the characters he encounters.
Furthermore — possibly aided by an increased production budget resulting from the success of the series — we start to find, in the later episodes, a greater number of settings which seem more "authentic" (less "cardboard cutout"), and more outdoor scenes, which add a certain credibility to it all.
I might mention an 'extra feature' of this series... the subtle, oh, so British humor introduced into the dialogues...
To conclude, I hope Pidax will continue to produce the other coffrets of the series, so that we can see its evolution develop, which will help us understand why it was such a great success at the time. And of course, it would be even better if BBC would decide to dig through its archives, and to offer to all Maigret fans DVDs of the original version of the series…
One last point... my information regarding the episode Maigret et la vieille dame, presented here in an earlier column, wasn’t exactly correct. After verification, that episode, which only exists in VHS format, of fairly poor quality (among other things, we see a continuous “time code” on the screen), is included as a bonus, as I said, but this bonus consists of the complete episode, not just an extract.
Penguin Maigret - The Carter of La Providence|
Maigret Rupert Davies as seen in Germany|
8/18/15 Maigret (Rupert Davies) was on German Television from 1965 until 1968, to begin with all of the 52 episodes (ZDF), followed by 24 repetitions (ZDF), followed by 9 repetitions out of these 24 ones on a different channel (ARD). I saw them all as a child. Almost 45 years later on, there came up the possibility of buying DVD or VHS copies of single episodes directly from ZDF. I bought a lot of them, but not all, because they were high priced. Now 10 episodes are available on DVDs (sadly with German soundtrack only), but at a more reasonable price.
I got used to seeing the episodes always mixed up, on German TV and on my ZDF DVDs. Now Pidax is presenting them exactly in chronological order according to the succession of the BBC production. This means to me a different kind of view. Now I can see the development of the series.
First of all, I miss Sergeant Torrence (Victor Lucas) in Maigret's team. Probably he will emerge for the first time in episode number 14, I suppose, as a fortification of the team. By the way, Sergeant Janvier will never appear on the whole of the series, he occasionally will only be mentioned by his colleagues: Maigret, Lucas (Ewen Solon), Lapointe (Neville Jason) and, of course, Torrence.
I notice that in the first episodes of the series, Maigret almost always wears a pinstriped suit. Later on, he will be dressed more casually and often wear a trenchcoat, when operating outside of his office. Scenes outside will be more and more a matter of course, and we will see a lot of the real Paris of the early sixties. Madame Maigret (Helen Shingler), highly present in the first episodes, will continue to be present later on, but not quite so often. She will appear in only about 30 episodes out of the 52. There had to remain enough space, of course, for all of the other famous actresses and actors of that time who would play a part in this ambitious series.
re: Penguin Maigret - The Carter of La Providence|
Rupert Davies Maigret as seen in the '60s|
8/20/15 The persons in charge of the ZDF program certainly had some reasons in mind when presenting in Germany the Maigret episodes mixed up instead of chronologically (as in England). Episodes of plain settings and few outside scenes took turns with episodes of better outfits and numerous scenes in streets and backyards. Surely the overall impression of the series therewith was improved, right from the start.
Nevertheless, according to a comment of the ZDF, the first seven episodes hardly got any spectators' feedback. Not till then came up a certain enthrallment and enthusiasm, constantly increasing up to the end of the series. And after the end there was the exclamation: "We want our Maigret back! Start again!"
I believe scarcely anybody noticed the "not so good" episodes as such, because the "strong" films were already in mind to hold up the weaker ones like a steel framework. What's more to be mentioned is that at that time many spectators, perhaps most of them, actually regarded a film, not as a film, but as transmitted reality.
Concerning this matter, I once read in an English commentary that, to some extent, television viewers were convinced that events on screen were live broadcasts, and that the actors at times had to change their clothes very quickly between scenes and, furthermore, that they also had to run like lightning to the location of the next scene.
In this respect we must not forget that, at the beginning and in the midst of the sixties, television was relatively new - and something outstanding. The whole family gathered in front of the screen in order to watch the programme as if hypnotized. When the TV hero got hurt, the viewers were wounded, too (so to speak). Nowadays the TV perception is totally different. Blood in a film at most leads to the question: What sort of ketchup did they use?
At the beginning of the Maigret film "Death in Mind" a dead woman is being rolled out of her bed, falling into a pool of blood. I watched that scene as a 12-year-old child and will never forget it in all my life. Today, when I see in a modern crime thriller a man being shot with his brains splashing on the wall - of course shown as close-up view, in slow-motion and high-resolution - it's only everyday food, nothing extraordinary in a crime thriller of today. Even children will rather find it boring, because it's not a new idea, and they had already seen something like that at least a hundred times.
Neither can "Maigret" get by without effects. What distinguishes those films though (and the books as well) is rather the often hidden humanity which has to be revealed, including the strengths and the weaknesses of persons, who - perhaps due to only a slight cause in their surrounding field - were thrown off track and inwardly driven to commit a crime.
This demands a very special serendipity from the viewer, and from Maigret himself. Maybe the viewer can hardly cope with this. Anyway, within 50 to 55 minutes of one episode he hasn't got much time for thinking, with the usually rapid progress of the story line. What's left for him is to be orientated towards Maigret. For that reason the actor representing Maigret has got to be very, very particular. Never fear! Rupert Davies was born to be Maigret, among other things.
Blvd Richard Lenoir - error in the caption|
8/26/15 I enjoyed Joe Richards' (2003) pictures in In Maigret's Footsteps in Montmartre. However, there's a misunderstanding about the ventilator on the picture below. Underneath the Blvd. Richard Lenoir is a canal that runs from the Seine to the Canal St. Martin. Absolutely not the Metropolitan. I've taken photos in which you can see the water, and boats passing. The ventilators, if you can call them that, bring light and air into the hidden canal.
Paris Police Headquarters Museum|
re: Police Museum|
9/3/15 Thanks Murielle, very interesting. Is all the info in the museum in French only?
Penguin Maigret - The Late Monsieur Gallet|
An earlier translation called this book Maigret Stonewalled – and stonewalled is about right. The case frustrates Maigret, and the novel frustrates its reader’s expectations, denying him smooth forward progress, a coherent cast of suspects, and a just resolution.
A murder in Sancerre seems bleak and uninteresting to Maigret. The dead man has an unpleasant look, a stuck-up wife in Saint-Fargeau, an aloof and ambitious son – and yet none of them is quite bad enough to hold the Inspector’s attention. Ultimately, it is this very mundanity that pulls him in: “Every criminal case has a feature of its own, one that you identify sooner or later, and it often provides the key to the mystery. He thought that the feature of this one was, surely, its sheer mediocrity”. Yet mediocrity does not necessarily make for scintillating narrative. One might see The Late Monsieur Gallet as both a critique of and an apologia for the exaggeration and romance that underpin most detective fiction. This is everyday crime, the novel seems to say, and everyday crime is a bit drab.
The book itself is anything but dull, and not just thanks to Anthea Bell’s expert translation. The interest lies in the way Maigret cuts through the “fog that distort[s] the view” and brings into focus all that underlies the ordinary. The story he pieces together is as improbable as the wildest fantasy. “Mediocre” Monsieur Gallet has been leading a double life – pretending to work as a salesman for eighteen years, but in fact engaging in petty scams involving elderly royalist sympathizers and being blackmailed by a mysterious figure named Monsieur Jacob. There is also intrigue in Indo-China, a vast inheritance, a bartered birthright... Ultimately, we learn that the victim had rigged up an elaborate mechanism to shoot himself, making it look like homicide so that his wife could collect 300,000 francs in insurance. The solution to the crime is that there is no crime.
The novel ends with Maigret in a furious mood. He senses that poor Gallet has been wronged every step of the way – especially by Tiburce Saint-Hilaire, the nobleman who took over his identity. Even the usual return to Madame Maigret at the end of the case does not ease the Inspector’s mind. It is as if he has seen what “ordinary” success and failure entail, and the revelation makes him nostalgic for extraordinary crime: “’All the same I’d rather have a real murder victim and a real murderer...’”. There is little satisfaction, apparently, in seeing through the crime that is the everyday.
Simenon, Georges. The Late Monsieur Gallet. trans. Anthea Bell. London: Penguin, 2013.
Next (German) Rupert Davies DVD coming...|
9/7/15 Volume II of the Rupert Davies Maigret (German version) will be available on DVDs soon. I am overjoyed with this news. One thing is the great acting of the leading man and, of course, of all of the other performers. Another thing is, that I grew up with this series. I have seen many actors in the role of Maigret, almost all of them. I find them all good, but Rupert Davies is the best one for me. I wonder if I would have had a different opinion, if I'd grown up with some other actor as Maigret, not even knowing of this Englishman. I reckon, in that case, perhaps, I would not be such a big Maigret fan.
But if I were an Italian (I'm German) I'd surely be a fan of Gino Cervi's Maigret, and if a Dutchman I'd surely be a fan of Jan Teulings's Maigret... There are lots of factors that take part in the decision-making of who is the best Maigret. It's not quite so simple as it seems to be at first glance. Some reasons even remain concealed.
I would like to add, that I admire Murielle's work (I've discovered her Maigret website with all the Maigret book covers of many nations, even the German ones). And I appreciate this Maigret thread very much, too, which I discovered only a few weeks ago. There are lots of pages to be read ...
Rowan Atkinson as Maigret|
9/8/15 Rowan Atkinson to get serious as filming for ITV remake of Maigret begins Atkinson, 60, who found fame as Blackadder and Mr Bean, has started filming the first two-hour ITV film, Maigret Sets A Trap. But now the TV favourite is to reinvent himself as an altogether more serious character, in the form of French detective Jules Maigret. ITV has started filming on the first of the two-hour films. Made on location in Budapest, Hungary, it is set in 1950s Paris and will be followed by a second film, Maigret’s Dead Man.
Atkinson took the role of pipe-smoking Maigret, played by Michael Gambon in the 1990s, as a fan of Georges Simenon’s books. He said: “I have been a devourer of the Maigret novels for many years and I’m very much looking forward to playing such an intriguing character, at work in Paris during a fascinating period in its history.” ITV boss Peter Fincham declared he was “delighted” by the “prestigious commission”, which is due to hit the screen next year. Atkinson has focused on films over the past two decades, particularly with his characters Mr Bean and Johnny English. His last TV series was Ben Elton’s short-lived BBC police comedy The Thin Blue Line, which ran for two years from 1995. The new version of Maigret was inspired by the popularity of European crime fighters such as Danish detective Sarah Lund in The Killing and Swedish sleuth Wallander, played by Kenneth Branagh.
"C'est Maigret" - A blog dedicated to Rupert Davies|
Penguin Maigret - The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien|
The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien starts in medias res, as Horace thought all great narratives should. In a train station on the German-Dutch border, Inspector Maigret clandestinely switches a suitcase and then follows its owner to a humble hotel, where he peeks through a keyhole as this down-on-his-luck young man opens the case and – finding its original contents gone – promptly blows his own head off. When Maigret opens the first case, to see what might drive a person to such despair, he finds, stunningly, nothing but an old, tattered suit, several sizes too big for the young man.
The investigation entangles Maigret with a group of suspicious Belgians – wealthy Belloir, the photoengraver Jef Lombard, and businessman Joseph Van Damme. He eventually learns that the three men (along with their friend Janin) are trying to cover up the suicide of Émile Klein, almost ten years earlier – but why? In a typical mystery, the plot converges on a single question, to which the detective delivers his definitive answer. In the Maigret novels, things are less tidy, and often the case turns out to be the least perplexing problem the Inspector faces.
Here the investigation leads Maigret to the Companions of the Apocalypse, a group of pretentious young people whose flirtations with nihilism and violence end in the murder of a Jewish student named Willy Mortier. As he confesses to the Inspector, Belloir describes the victim in terms that chillingly prefigure the kind of rhetoric that would become inescapable in Europe just a few years later: “’He hated us! And we hated him! On top of everything else, he was stingy – and cynical about it . . . He was the alien, hostile element that crops up almost every time when men get together.’” Are we supposed to sympathize? Although Pierre Assouline’s biography devotes several pages to evidence of Simenon’s anti-Semitism, this prejudice is almost indiscernible in the Maigret novels. Only a reader already sensitive to the question will wonder to what degree the author shared Belloir’s attitudes about the “alien, hostile element.”
The title of an earlier translation, Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets, refers to the drawings Jef Lombard did in the wake of Émile’s death – hanged man after hanged man, obsessively, many of them dangling from the church where Klein hanged himself. These artworks are still hanging themselves, in Lombard’s studio, but, as the years since the deaths accumulate, are being crowded out by more innocuous images: landscapes, portraits, family pictures, scribbles by the kids. This process, this slow erasure of youthful mistakes, operating alongside their painful and destructive persistence, is perhaps the real mystery of the book. Maigret’s sense that it works in the direction of justice may account for his decision to let the Belgians go. As he says to Lucas: “‘You know, vieux, ten more cases like that one and I’ll hand in my resignation. Because it would prove that there’s a good old Good Lord up there who’s decided to take up police work.’”
The novel also contains a remarkable early description of Maigret, one that portrays the Inspector as relentless, impassive, perhaps a little slow – almost a French golem. We realize as we read that we are seeing him through the Belgians’ eyes:
Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broad-shouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were as still and dull as a cow’s. In this he resembled certain figures out of children’s nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as if to crush them.
The children who surround Maigret’s targets are figures for the children that the killers and the accomplices and the dead men once were. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien is complex enough to make Maigret – its embodiment of the law – both the protector of these once and future children, and the nightmare coming to crush them.
Simenon, Georges. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien. trans. Linda Coverdale. London: Penguin, 2014.
Place des Vosges|
10/05/15 Again I am moved to bemoan the banal renderings of Georges Simenon’s vibrant, crackling prose that are foisted on readers of English. No doubt the passage quoted by Andrew Walser from Linda Coverdale’s translation of Le pendu de St. Pholien (9/26/15)
[Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broad-shouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were as still and dull as a cow's. In this he resembled certain figures out of children's nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as if to crush them.]conveys the raw sense of the original, but the style is as insipid and perfunctory as a school exercise.
Is it really expecting too much of a professional translator to ask for a version in literate, idiomatic English like the following?
He was tall and heavily built, very broad across the shoulders, and his ready-made suit did little to soften the rugged contours of his bulky frame. As stolid and unblinking as a beast of burden, he looked like one of those bloated, faceless horrors that haunt a child's nightmares and threaten to smother the dreamer in a lethal embrace.By the way, which of Maigret’s many screen impersonators ever managed to project that particular image?)
Here's Simenon's original (1931) French,
Simenon's description of Maigret (re: More grumbling...)|
The face of the statue (re: More grumbling...)|
I would not say that the face of the statue has "no particular features". It is definitely a recognizable face. I also noticed that none of the actors who played Maigret after the statue was made look like the guy of the statue.
Simenon's description of Maigret (re: More grumbling...)|
10/07/15 In the Maigret of the Month column here in March, 2008, for Maigret s'amuse (Maigret's Little Joke, None of Maigret's Business), Murielle catalogued Simenon's various descriptions of Maigret's physical appearance, including these references to his facial features...
...Finally, let's speak of his face. It's fleshy (PHO), heavy (PHO), thick (POR, SIG), it's a thick face (TET), broad (TET, AMI), even coarse (GAI). Maigret's hair is thick, of a dark chestnut brown, in which you can hardly make out a few white strands around the temples (LET), and his large eyebrows (CEC, VAC) thick (LET, SCR) surmounting his large eyes (JAU, GAI, JUG, CAD, FAC, NEW, MOR, AMI, MME, MEU, BAN, PEU, TRO, ECO, JEU, TEN, SCR, VIE) with heavy lids (GAL). The color of his eyes must be light, of a greenish gray, after a sleepless night (LIB).
You feel as though you are really there|
10/09/15 When you read this from Pietre-Le-Letton, you are not in Tobago (or anywhere else) but in Paris:
De Saint-Lazare à l'Hôtel de Ville, il y a loin. Il faut traverser tout le centre de la ville et, entre six et sept heures du soir, les passants déferlent par vagues sur les trottoirs, les voitures coulent dans les rues à un rythme aussi soutenu que celui du sang dans les artères.
It's a long way from Gare Saint-Lazare to Hotel de Ville, there’s the whole city centre to get through. Between six and seven in the evening, pedestrians flood the pavements in ocean waves, and traffic pulses along the streets like blood pumping down an artery.
10/11/15 First of all, thank you, Arlene Blade, for the extract (10/09/15), and thank you, Andrew Walser, for the reviews (7/29/15), (8/17/15), (9/05/15), (9/26/15). I hope there will emerge more reviews in the future. All of those contributions refer to the very first Maigret novels, and I would like to add some information about the very first Maigret film, because I am still in search of connections or even matches of Maigret's aspects in novels, films and the statue. Vladimir said (10/07/15), that "none of the actors who played Maigret after the statue was made looks like the guy of the statue". But did any of the actors who played Maigret before the statue was made, look like the guy of the statue?
The Maigret statue was unveiled in 1966, but certainly it will show us the basic image that Simenon had in mind when he created Maigret in 1929 and in the early thirties. The first Maigret novels instantly had success, so much so that already in 1932 there came up a Ciné film version of the seventh book of the series: "La Nuit du carrefour" (director: Jean Renoir), English book title: "The Night at the Crossroads".
(quotations below are translations based on the German Wikipedia article referring to the films)
The director was Julien Duvivier; Maigret was played by Harry Baur. "After the disappointment of not having created his own film, Simenon withdrew totally from the film business and didn't offer any more rights to make films from his works for the next seven years."
Now, let's have a thought and a look at Pierre Renoir. Does he look like our Chief Inspector Maigret? Does he bear a resemblance to the Maigret statue?
My own opinion is: yes, referring to his face, there is a certain resemblence. His body, though, does lack a lot of heaviness. Harry Baur seems to me more perfect to "look like the guy of the statue" ... But I knew I had to go back to the roots to find something.
re: Maigret's aspects |
10/12/15 Berthold, to answer your question, "Does he bear a resemblance to the Maigret statue?", I'd need to see Pierre Renoir in a bowler hat :-)
Maigret's face... and its interpretations|
A pipe, a hat, an overcoat... There, in three strokes, the character Maigret as drawn by his creator. A summary sketch, as Simenon intended. This simplification provides the strength of the character, into which each reader can project his own imaginary vision. And it allows any actor who tries to portray him to live within his own skin, in his own style, with his own mannerisms. But it's also what makes interpretation difficult, for the character must be credible to the viewer, and the actor has to find a "niche", a channel by which he can capture the spectator's attention and create the feeling, "that's really Maigret!" Some emphasize the physical aspect (the heaviness of the silhouette), others the psychological, the "internal", (empathy, understanding), with the best of them managing to combine both.
That being said, in response to the recent interest on the Forum regarding Maigret's physical aspect, particularly his first cinematic interpreters, it may prove enlightening to consider Simenon's own comments. We can note first what the novelist wrote about adaptations of his novels... "In writing a novel, I see my characters and I know them down to the minutest details, including much more than I describe. How can a director or an actor portray this image which only exists in my mind? Not by my descriptions, which are always brief and summary, since I want to allow the reader free play with his or her own imagination." (in Mémoires intimes). This is exactly the problem for any transposition of a work to the screen, and I think most writers must consider this transposition as more or less a "betrayal" of their work. The question is to what extent they can accept this "betrayal", which is part of the game... And this is particularly the case for the character Maigret, with whom his creator had lived long enough to have a fairly precise image, perhaps indescribable in the novels. Especially, as we've said above, since Simenon intended for Maigret to remain physically a sketch. And that's perhaps also why the author could find certain interpreters more in harmony with his vision of his character, although the actors in question were physically quite different from each other...
When Roger Stéphane interviewed Simenon in 1963 for the television production Portrait Souvenir, he asked him how an actor should go about playing Maigret. Simenon's response is pertinent, but sufficiently vague to leave latitude for the actor's interpretation... "Maigret doesn't seem intelligent. He's not an intelligent man he's an intuitive. Not at all someone with sharp eyes who immediately sees the smallest detail. I'd even say, in the earliest novels, he seems almost bovine. He's a really big guy, almost elephantine, who walks around, sniffs around, feels his way... In other words, he's an intuitive, with nothing obviously clever about him. That's what, I believe, impresses the criminals most... When you have someone in front of you who doesn't react, someone who looks at you heavily as if he's bored, who smokes his pipe and looks at you like you're an insect, it's very hard to respond. That's a first impression of Maigret. In other words, a man of very ordinary appearance, with an ordinary intelligence too, with an average education, but who knows how to sense people, to sniff out what's inside them... When Maigret arrives at the scene of a crime, what does he do? Generally, you see him going from one room to another, opening up drawers or looking in the trash can, walking around, but not as if he's saying, 'Aha! here's a clue!'... Not at all. He seems to be thinking about something else."
Let's consider the first screen Maigret, the adaptation of La nuit du carrefour [NUI]. At the time of the making of this film (1932), what was known about the character of the Chief Inspector, physically speaking, from the novels that had been published up to that point? The essentials were laid out in the first one, Pietr le Letton [LET]... Maigret appears as a placid mass, broad and heavy, with a heavy step, a dark silhouette drawn by the outline of a heavy black overcoat. In the following novels, the novelist is satisfied to emphasize his character's corpulence, but a corpulence which must be regarded as muscular, not fat, the author making it clear that Maigret is agile, in spite of his weight. Simenon sometimes compares him to an animal, a huge beast, elephantine, who can have a monstrous side, nightmarish for the suspects he pursues. Subsequently, however, the portrait will be refined, and the heaviness will become more psychological than physical, which will not prevent the Chief Inspector from continuing to impress with his stature...
Penguin Maigret - A Man's Head|
Any writer – not just the author of detective fictions – must lure the reader in with some pressing question, then replace that mystery, again and again, as long as the structure will bear it, with newer and deeper mysteries.
As in The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, the narrative of A Man’s Head starts in medias res, and once again Maigret acts as a kind of prime mover – arranging a jailbreak, letting a dimwitted convict escape in the hopes that he will somehow lead the police to the real murderer of a rich American widow and her maid. When Coméliau, the examining magistrate, disapproves of the plan, the Inspector sharply rebukes him: “And is a man’s head not worth a touch of scandal?”
The central figure in the novel is a mysterious redheaded Slav, bedraggled and a bit mischievous, who appears in the Coupole bar and, despite having no apparent connection to the case, begins to taunt Maigret:
“If you understand nothing, and I mean zero, it’s because from the very start you’ve been working with facts which had been falsified. And once that is conceded, everything that has flowed from them is false too, no? And everything you will discover will also be false, and so on all down the line.”
Logic is not enough, in other words. Even the most airtight syllogism will lead to falsehood if you do not start from the right premises. And the “facts” themselves are always elusive and unstable, as A Man’s Head makes clear. We eventually learn that the Slav, whose name is Radek, has orchestrated everything: “’He took satisfaction in pulling the wool over my eyes . . . He made up things to confuse me . . . He proceeded to multiply the false leads . . . He had constructed an image for himself as all-powerful, a demi-god.” Radek is to the Inspector as Georges Simenon is to both his hero and the reader. The author (and by implication the deity) becomes a counterweight to logic, a way to inject uncertainty into a case to prevent the solution from becoming inevitable.
In the end, it is hard to say whether this artist of murder defeats or is defeated by the Inspector. On the one hand, Maigret does outwit his adversary and, through some clever stagecraft of his own, lure him into a decidedly inartistic act of violence. On the other hand, Radek’s insistence on grand gestures and ambitious plans does ultimately seem to judge the stolid Inspector. When he mocks Maigret, it sounds like Simenon – who was not even thirty when the first Maigrets appeared – taunting the bourgeois he might become. Fortunately, the young writer had much more than the “mild attack of genius” that Radek sees in Maigret, and this brilliant novel is one of the more enjoyable symptoms.
Simenon, Georges. A Man’s Head. trans. David Coward. London: Penguin, 2014.
|Latest Penguin Maigret novels selection|
10/18/15 What logic did Penguin editors use in selecting which Maigret novels to include in recent publication? Does anyone have an idea?
The Penguin plan is to reissue all 75 Maigret novels in (mostly) new translations, in (approximately) the order in which they were first published in French.
|New Penguin Maigret covers|
"Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert
For its release of a new translation of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series, Penguin Books turned to Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert to provide covers for all 75 books. We talk to Penguin picture editor Samantha Johnson about how she has worked with Gruyaert to choose the covers…"
|Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
10/26/15 Interesting question by Paul (10/25/15). This topic has been, of course, discussed in-depth on this forum. [see, for example, Murielle's 2007 visit, Joe Richards's "In Maigret's Footsteps in Montmartre", ...] There is a memorial plaque on one of the buildings dedicated to Maigret. Otherwise, the answer is not very encouraging. While most, if not virtually all, locations in Maigret novels seem amazingly real - this is the talent of Simenon as a writer - they are impossible to point out with any accuracy. Nothing surprising about this - Maigret novels are works of fiction.
Paris has a quite interesting police museum, recently visited and described by Murielle. All material is in French, as I understand it. Every once in a while, there are literary events dedicated to Simenon and featuring Maigret.
When I am in Paris, I would not mind having a beer and sandwich at that bistro [Brasserie Dauphine] near the police department where Maigret so often sent Lapointe for a take-out or ordered delivery when he had to work late.
Have a nice trip.
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
10/27/15 Thank you Vladimir. I will check the references you mention in your reply. It may be possible to do our own walk around some of the landmarks.
|re: Maigret tour of Paris for the visitor?|
|Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
10/31/15 I saw a TV program recently, maybe not a Maigret, that had a small carousel in a Paris square, no trees or park around, maybe a seasonal carousel, that a woman and a small boy walked by at least once, maybe from their apartment nearby. For some reason, the scene stuck in my mind and I’m trying to remember (memory going) where I saw it. I think the program was set in earlier times (20s to 70s). I thought someone might know if a scene like that is in one of the Bruno Crémer Maigret programs.
|New Maigret in Polish|
|re: Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
11/1/15 In response to Linda's question about the carousel scene, if it's really from the Crémer series, here's what I've come up with. The images don't exactly fit her description, but they're the closest I've found. The first is from the episode "Maigret et l’inspecteur Cadavre" [CAD], and it's not in Paris, but in Belgium (found near the end of the episode). The second is in "Maigret et les caves du Majestic" [MAJ], and it's from the opening credits, and is supposed to take place in Paris. If neither of these is the one Linda remembers, I can keep trying, but I may not find anything better...
|re: Carousel scene in Crémer Maigret?|
11/1/15 I have been re-reading Maigret as the new Penguin paperbacks have been published. Murielle has probably nailed it with the reference to Les Caves du Majestic. In the Howard Curtis translation ( "The Cellars of the Majestic"), on page 40, it states.. "then they asked where they could find a carousel... They couldn't explain themselves very well ... In the end they were sent to the fair near Place de la Nation..." That particular story is followed very closely by the Crémer version, except for the broken pipe at the beginning!
|German Davies Maigret DVD Vol. 3|
|La Foire du Trône|
11/5/15 The carousel mentioned in Les Caves du Majestic [11/1/15] is from early in Chapter 3, "Charlotte au « Pélican »"...
— Écoutez plutôt... D’abord la demoiselle et lui ont dîné dans un petit restaurant à douze francs de la rue Lepic... Vous voyez ça d’ici ?... Le patron les a remarqués, car ce n’est pas souvent qu’on lui réclame du vrai champagne... Ensuite, ils ont demandé où il y avait des chevaux de bois... Ils s’expliquaient très mal... On a fini par les envoyer à la Foire du Trône...
“Listen... First he and the girl ate at a cheap little restaurant on Rue Lepic... You know the kind I mean? The patron noticed them, for it’s not often that someone orders real champagne... Then, they wanted to know where there were wooden horses... They couldn’t explain themselves very clearly... And he wound up sending them to the Trône [Throne] Fairgrounds...”Foire du Trône.
|Different Maigret Titles?|
11/5/15 Thank you very much for your excellent website on Maigret. I enjoy the historical covers and I deeply appreciate the fact that you're keeping it well up-to-date with the new Penguin editions of 2013-present.
I'm not a collector; just a faithful reader since the late 1970s. I own about 80 Maigrets in various English-language paperbacks. As far as I can tell, the new Penguin USA editions will publish very few books that were truly unavailable in English. These"new" Maigrets are mostly from the early 1930s, it seems to me, and they have already come out in the new Penguin series.
My question is, Penguin USA has announced two titles -- "Felicie" and "Signed, Picpus" -- without noting on their website whether they came out earlier in English under different titles. Can you help?
Thank you again for your help to Maigret readers everywhere.
All the Maigret novels and all but three of the stories have been published in English translations, although a number of them were never published in Penguin editions.
|re: Different Maigret Titles?|
Maigret in exile / Georges Simenon.
| Simenon in 1988!|
11/8/15 Have you ever seen this? It’s not that easy to find online:
Lausanne, le 28 novembre, 1988. Agé de 85 ans, Georges Simenon accepte un interview de la TSR.
Interview in Lausanne with Pierre-Pascal Rossi for television programme Hôtel, Radio télévision suisse 1988 11 28 (date of filming), 1989 01 12 (date of broadcast)
It’s a rather heartening 13 minutes: one had assumed he was in far worse shape than this after a stroke, a brain operation and years of no more interviews. But he’s the old Simenon.
|Nov. 13, 2015
Vive la France !
| Maigret Blog... en español !|
El Comisario Maigret, sagacidad con la panza llena -
[Commissioner Maigret, sagacity with a full stomach]
| He Must Have Been Irresistable|
11/16/15 Thank you so very much for the information on 'Le vieil homme'. If he was so charming (that little smile) when he was 85 years, he must have been irresistable when he was younger. And I understand he certainly was that.
| re: Maigret Blog... en español !|
11/17/15 Gracias por esta nota, Ana. ¿Hay también algunas películas "Maigret" dobladas en español, excepto las con Michael Gambon?
Thank you for this note, Ana. Are there any Maigret films dubbed into Spanish, too, except those with Michael Gambon?
And I've got another question to the forum. I have heard the Davies Maigret exists in a French dubbed version, but I can hardly believe that! Does anybody know for sure?
| re: He Must Have Been Irresistable|
11/17/15 So that rumour about a thousand (or was it ten thousand) ladies ... could have been true ???
| A Penguin a week|
11/22/15 Karyn Reeves's blog, A Penguin a week, about her vintage (pre-1970) Penguin book collection, has been online since September, 2010. Here are the Maigrets and a few additional Simenons that she's done so far:
|Fahrenheit or Celsius?|
11/23/15 In my Presses de la Cite edition of Maigret et l'affaire Nahour [NAH], are the following passages [from Chapter 1]:
On était le 14 janvier, le vendredi 14 janvier, et la température à Paris avait été toute la journée de moins 12º. La neige, qui était tombée en abondance les jours précédents, s'était durcie à tel point qu'il avait été impossible de l'enlever et, malgré le sel répandu sur les trottoirs, il restait des plaques de glace vive sur lesquelles les passants glissaient.
It was 14 January, Friday, 14 January, and the temperature in Paris had been twelve degrees below zero all day. The snow, which had fallen abundantly on the previous days, had frozen so hard that it was impossible to sweep it away, and, in spite of the salt strewn on the pavements, there were still some patches of sheer ice on which the passers-by would slip. (tr. by Alistair Hamilton, 1967.)
C'est ce qui le chiffonait le plus. Si le couple habitait Paris, c'était presque sûrement dans les beaux quartiers et on trouve des médecins dans presque toutes les rues de la ville... Si le coup de feu avait été tiré dans un immeuble, pourquoi ne pas avoir appelé un docteur au lieu de trimballer la blessée dans les rues par 12º sous zero ?...
That was what vexed him most. If the couple lived in Paris it was almost certainly in a smart district and there are doctors in nearly every street in town... If the shot had been fired in a building, why not call a doctor instead of carting the wounded woman through the streets at twelve degrees below zero?... (tr. by Alistair Hamilton, 1967.)
This was written in 1966. February 1966. Obviously, the 12º must be Fahrenheit, but I thought the French used the Celsius scale.
Anyway, it is lovely to read that description while here in warm Tobago.
France uses Celsius. Britain officially switched to Celsius in 1962, and so Alistair Hamilton's 1967 translation (above) is in Celsius.
|re: Fahrenheit or Celsius?|
11/24/15 The Internet makes finding all kinds of trivia info so easy... Here is a graph of average temperatures in Paris: -12º C is very unusually cold there; -12º F, which is near -24º C , probably never happened.
11/25/15 Regarding temperature in Paris, you can get a full set of data (average, min and max) for January at www.meteo-paris.com.
-12° C is not unheard of* but the average is more like between 1° and 3° C.
*record low for January 14: -12.7° C (1985)
|Rupert Davies interview - 1961|
12/1/15 Here’s Rupert Davies on BBC radio’s Desert Island Discs, November 13 1961, with Roy Plomley. An extract only, but he does talk about Maigret from 5:35 in. “Desert Island Discs was created by Roy Plomley in 1942, and the format is simple: a guest is invited to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island.” Eight records and a book and a luxury.
One of his eight is one of Ron Grainer’s Maigret themes, Arlette, used in the first in the BBC series, Murder in Montmartre, broadcast October 31 1960, based on Maigret au Picratt’s. There's a sample here, another here, and at a number of sites where you have to sign in, like the BBC site.
(Favourite track: Elegie by Jules Massenet, Book: Candide by Voltaire, Luxury: Lump of jade)
Penguin Maigret - The Yellow Dog|
Meanings tend to accrete to both objects and words, with little concern for strict denotation or even logic. The phenomenon explains how art gets its power and how social hysteria gets out of hand.
Early in The Yellow Dog, the sixth novel in the Maigret series, Mostaugen the wine dealer is shot dead on the streets of Concarneau. The doctor, the police, the curious citizens gather around – and the eponymous yellow dog, unknown and somehow uncanny, “circles among the many legs.” The dog becomes a figure for the “pale shadow of fear” that spreads over the town, particularly after Inspector Maigret discovers grains of strychnine in the bottles of Pernod and calvados at a local café. The newspaper runs sensationalistic stories about how the animal “reappears with each new misfortune,” and Dr. Michoux, one of the targets of that poison, tells an implausible tale about how a fortune-teller warned him – like a seer alerting Caesar – to “Beware of yellow dogs!” One suspects that, if a butterfly or a chunk of dolomite had appeared at each crime scene, the same hysteria would have attached to a different object.
Thus, the yellow dog is a red herring – but not entirely. It belongs to Léon, a sailor sentenced to Sing Sing for his unwitting part in a plot to smuggle cocaine into the United States. When León finally returns to Concarneau, the dog – a puppy when he left port – accompanies him, a final sad connection to his old life. But for the men who betrayed him, the dog is something darker – more like one of the hellhounds of Supernatural, or that beast chasing the bus in Cesar Aira’s “The Dog.” It represents the terrifying possibility of retribution, the sudden appearance of the past where you least expect it.
A young inspector working his first case assists Maigret in the investigation. Leroy believes in fingerprints, the chemical analysis of cigarette ashes, a relentless attention to “evidence” – that is, to the details that obviously relate to the matter at hand. Yet Maigret would rather keep track of seemingly inconsequential details – Michoux’s mother is a “schemer . . . trading on [her] dead husband’s name,” Le Pommeret has “affairs with working girls” – and soak up atmosphere:
“[W]e’re immersing ourselves in small-town life. And it’s like it’s always been! Knowing whether Le Pommeret wore ready-made or custom-made shoes – that may not seem like much. But, believe it or not, that’s the key to the story right there . . .”
The most striking aspect of this unmethodical method is the Inspector’s immediate fixation on Emma, the barmaid at the cafe. Why? What is the criminological justification? Simply put, Maigret wants her – he sexually desires her. And so he finds excuses to grab her narrow shoulders and to watch from across the way as she embraces Léon, who had been her fiancé before his mysterious disappearance. While Leroy tries to puzzle out how the poisoner acquired the strychnine, Maigret has other things on his mind: “What do you think of Emma? . . . Would you, for instance, be interested in making love to her?” Gossip and lust become the paths to truth.
In the end, we learn that Madame Michoux was mixed up in her son’s scheme, and Emma did belong at the center of the case. Eros trumps logos and intuition beats rigor. Dr. Michoux gets shipped to Devil’s Island – a clever Dantean contrapasso – and Emma is reunited with the object of her desire. The conclusion of the book is unexpectedly cheerful: the yellow dog of fear is far away.
Simenon, Georges. The Yellow Dog. trans. Linda Asher. London: Penguin, 2013.
12/2/15 Here’s a summary. Corrections welcome!
12/2/15 For the curious or impatient, Flickr is showing cover previews of still-unannounced Penguins (currently Maigret and the Old Lady, Maigret at the Coroner’s…) among a large collection of Maigret covers in various languages, at flickr.com:
Two different covers?|
12/5/15 The new Penguin, The Shadow Puppet (L'ombre chinoise) [OMB], released in 2014 with the cover on the left, is now appearing with a new one...
Maigret and the Yellow Dog new edition|
12/6/15 I look forward to this novel in a new translation. I tried to read it in the last translation (1987, by L. Asher) but that translation just does not "click", so M. and the Yellow Dog remains one of few Maigret's I did not read. From the review [12/1/15], it seems a fascinating book.
Maigret cases while retired?|
12/8/15 Which novels and stories take place when Maigret is retired?
Most of the answer can be found in Murielle's Maigret of the Month for Le notaire de Châteauneuf... (only Maigret's Memoirs isn't mentioned.)
The mystery of the Chope du Pont-Neuf|
12/8/15 In the novel Maigret, in Chapter 2, Maigret settles in at the Chope du Pont-Neuf, "in his old place", according to the text. But we must note that in reality, the is the only novel in the entire saga where Maigret goes into this establishment! As we know, his favorite location is, in fact, the Brasserie Dauphine...
Michel Lemoine, in his book, Paris chez Simenon, locates the Chope du Pont-Neuf on the Quai des Grands-Augustins, so that Maigret could see, as we're told in the story, both the Pont-Neuf and the grand staircase of the Palais de Justice. An establishment with that name could be found, not long ago, at No. 10 Rue Dauphine, which leads to this quai (see here).
However, what's strange about this, is that the novelist adds that his hero can also see the door of the Dépôt, which is located on the other side of the island, on the Quai de l'Horloge. Simenon's mistake? Or pure invention on the part of the author, imagining the Chope on the other bank (and thus on the Quai de la Mégisserie), from which point he could also see at the same time the Pont-Neuf and the staircase of the Palais...? In further support of this hypothesis is that we're also told that from his seat he could see, "through the windows, the trucks of the Samaritaine passing outside".
So, fellow Maigretphiles, what do you think?
Jean Richard's La Pipe de Maigret?|
12/9/15 Xavier, a French language teacher in Belgium, is seeking to make contact with anyone who has a copy of Jean Richard's episode 74 (season 21, 1988), "La Pipe de Maigret", from the tv series "Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret". If you have one, please send a message to Murielle.
re: The mystery of the Chope du Pont-Neuf|
12/13/15 I am not sure what Murielle's hypothesis is... Was it an invention or a mistake? Couldn't it depend on where Simenon lived at that time, and whether he had in-depth knowledge of the area?
As we know, Simenon was writing very fast, completing a Maigret novel in a matter of days. So, I think Simenon did not give a second thought to this description at all. And why should he? He was not writing a travel book?! He was writing fiction, and he knew that 99.99 percent of his readers lived outside of the area and would not spot this discrepancy. But they would enjoy the book just the same. So it was not a "mistake".
However, there remains a possibility that Simenon, maybe on the advice of his publisher, confused this location... just to have fun with people like us, or more likely to avoid objections from property owners of the day. In this case, we can call it 'invention'.
re: The mystery of the Chope du Pont-Neuf|
12/16/15 I agree with Vladimir’s main point. Those who rate the 19 Fayard Maigrets as the classics put up with some unevenness and with things, not only geographical, that do not make sense. He was writing too fast.
Paris in the past...|
La Chope du Pont-Neuf: another hypothesis|
12/19/15 What if Simenon, in his novel Maigret [MAI], had actually given a different name to Maigret’s "favorite place"? And so, when he spoke of the Chief Inspector’s "old place", he was actually thinking of the Brasserie Dauphine? Two facts could support this hypothesis:
Unless Simenon had actually mixed up the two places, the Brasserie Dauphine and this Chope du Pont-Neuf, frequented, according to Michel Carly (in Maigret, traversées de Paris), by Chief Inspector Massu at No. 10, Rue Dauphine, who went there between two interrogations of Mestorino… The novelist could have then given us the location of one and the name of the other in Maigret - a novel written by the author when he had already decided to "turn the page". And so possibly he hadn’t worked so hard to adhere to a reality he no longer cared so much about... this detective series he'd intended to abandon.
You'd see it better from across the street...|
12/20/15 I don't think it's necessary to go back to Paris to check the view. I've played around a bit with Google Maps' Street View. If you position yourself at the street corner of the Brasserie Dauphine, you can turn around and look in all directions. The Street View all-around photos exist from different time periods (in this case in some variations from 2008 - 2015... you can find the option in the top left corner, where the little clock serves as a time symbol).
The important matter for us is that the various views were not all made from exactly the same position. That means that one all-around photo was made near the sidewalk, while another from quite in the middle of the Quai de l'Horloge. And there we have the answer: You'd have to walk up to at least the middle of the street to be able to see 3 Quai de l'Horloge, or, better still, go all the way across.
While it wasn't my intention to advertise Street Views, they're really quite useful for this, aren't they!
See for yourself:
re: Paris in the past...|
12/21/15 The Parisian photos of Roger Schall (1904-95) are especially Simenonesque. I don’t think he has been mentioned in the Forum before. He isn’t as famous as Brassaï, Doisneau, Atget, Cartier-Bresson or “Yvon” (Jean-Pierre Yves Petit, who created many postcards).
Parisian photos by Roger Schall
Extracts from German Davies Maigret|
12/26/15 There are wonderful new film extracts posted on the www, from DVD Volume 1 and 2 of the German Davies Maigret. Notice the impressive synchronization and the Parisian music composed by Ernst August Quelle. I don't exactly know why they substituted for the original English Maigret music by Ron Grainer, which actually managed to make it onto the British charts in those days (reached number 20), but in Germany the Quelle musette was published as gramophone record as well!
Czech Film Maigret|
12/28/15 Here's another film Maigret, spotted by Murielle on the web: The Czech actor, Jiří Schwarz played Maigret in the 1991 TV Film Maigretův první případ (details here). (Maigret's First Case).
(This is a photo of him in the title role in the Czech TV series Detective Martin Tomsa, three years later.)
12/29/15 Seasonal greetings! Here is the end of Simenon’s charming 1945 memoir Je me souviens…. There is no published English translation, but here is mine, with the original below it. Désiré, Georges’s father, works in an insurance office in Liège. M. Mayeur is his boss. I am guessing that it is around 1913, the year of Maigret’s first case...
On 31 December, at the stroke of six, in the rue des Guillemins, Désiré will signal to his colleagues. After adjusting their ties, they will follow my father into the office of M. Mayeur, who, as every year, will feign surprise.
Le 31 décembre, sur le coup de six heures, rue des Guillemins, Désiré fera signe à ses collègues. Apres avoir rajusté leur cravate, ceux-ci suivront mon père dans le bureau de M. Mayeur, qui, comme chaque année, feindra la surprise.
Parisian images and Davies Maigret theme music|
12/29/15 I have two comments regarding recent contributions to the Forum...
First, about the photographs posted by David: Thanks, David, for these magnificent Parisian photos! For those a little familiar with the Paris of today, it's really impressive to imagine how much the scene has changed. I don't know when the photo near the Gare de Lyon was taken, but there's a world of difference between this little cobbled street and the current surroundings of the station... striking!
Second, with regard to the opening theme music of the Rupert Davies series, here (freely translated) is what Hans Schaffner wrote about it in the booklet accompanying the coffret of the DVDs...
You can compare the two tunes by searching for videos on YouTube. Berthold provides a link to the German version, and there are numerous videos for the English version as well (this one, for example, at 1:20). What about the "French-sounding" character of the two pieces? It's always interesting to see how the image of Paris is seen through the eyes of other countries! And you, friend Maigretphiles, do you find that one of these two pieces seems more "French" or more "Parisian" than the other...?
re: Davies series theme music|
12/30/15 Both melodies are quite nice and sound equally 'French' to me. They could even be mixed into one, I think. The 'British' version sounds more dramatic and seems to promise a higher level of menacing action than 'German' version. Probably both melodies should have been used depending on episode plot (there are two theme melodies in the Gambon series).
Happy New Year!!!
re: Davies series theme music|
12/30/15 As for the Rupert Davies series, I find both Maigret themes equally thrilling, the English and the German one. They both represent to me: France, in particular the pulsative city of Paris! Perhaps a ZDF person in charge disliked the Ron Grainer theme, but I've heard of another reason for the necessity of developing a new version: The BBC tapes would not provide separate music and language tracks, and therefore the episodes for the German audience not only needed language synchronization but also new accompanying music. By the way, the Ernst August Quelle theme was used for French coloring of Gauloises cigarette commercials in German cinemas as well, after the Davies Maigret tv times were over.
Happy New Year,
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