Which Maigret to Read First?

A gentle reader of my blog, in a comment to The Carter of “La Providence”, has asked me: If this is not a good place to start with Simenon what would you recommend as a beginning? In my answer I told her: It’s hard to say. Maybe you can start with Pietr the Latvian following the book order of the New Pengun series, or even better read some of the best known among which, just from the top of my head, I can suggest: The Cellars of the Majestic, Signed: Picpus or Maigret at Picratt’s, would be among my personal preferences to enter Maigret world.

But I recognise I’m not qualified at all and I have preferred to search in the Internet to find an answer. And I’ve come across an article by Murielle Wenger, Which Maigret to Read First?

Among the various options that she presents us, the six Maigret novels of the Gallimard period are among her favourites. Namely Cécile is Dead (Gallimard, 1942); The Cellars of the Majestic (Gallimard, 1942); The Judgeʻs House (Gallimard, 1942); Signed, Picpus (Gallimard, 1944); Inspector Cadaver (Gallimard, 1944), and Félicie (Gallimard, 1944).

She also puts forward a series of alternatives:

  • begin Maigret with the first novel of the Presses de la Cité vintage, “Maigret se fâche” (Maigret in Retirement)
  • a variation which I can propose is to consider the short story “La pipe de Maigret” (Maigret’s Pipe), written just before “Maigret se fâche“, and which gives its title to the first volume from Presses de la Cité; this story permits us to enter in small steps into the world of Maigret.
  • another way of proceeding could be to discover the Chief Inspector in his debut with the police, to start with “La première enquête de Maigret“, where we can find the germ of what will become later the “methods” of Maigret.
  • along the same lines you could begin with “Les Mémoires de Maigret“, so that you could later enjoy finding in other novels the multiples allusions and reminiscences.
  • another suggestion, which I would perhaps take myself, is to start with “Maigret et son mort“, which shows, it could be said, a “case-type” of the Chief Inspector: a little world of Paris, Maigret’s intuitions, the “installation” of Maigret into the life of the victim, life with Madame Maigret, the relationship with Judge Coméliau, the work of the Criminal Records Office, the Chief Inspector’s flu, etc…
  • finally, if I can be permitted a personal note, the first Maigret that I read (I was around 12!) was “Maigret et l’indicateur” (Maigret and the Informer, and it also introduced me to a new world characteristic of Maigret, that of a Chief Inspector awakened in the middle of the night by the ringing of a telephone, who would be leaning over a corpse extended on a rain-drenched sidewalk in Butte-Montmartre, and would investigate in the life of a microcosm of Paris, among “the boys and girls of the underworld”….

In conclusion, we have before us numerous possibilities for the choice of a “first Maigret”, and the list doesn’t end there… We might also begin with “L’Ombre chinoise” and its plunge into the heart of an apartment in the Place des Vosges, or “L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre” and a return to the sources of Maigret’s childhood, or yet “Maigret et la jeune morte” and the extraordinary empathy of the Chief Inspector for a young girl, victim of her fate, or “Maigret et le corps sans tête” and the strange links woven between the Chief Inspector an a suspect, or even…. But let’s stop there… In fact, I think their are many ways to enter into Maigret’s world… and finally, whatever Maigret you start with, you will be seduced, and you risk but one thing… to catch the “virus” of the Maigretphile… and the desire to read them all!

I certainly have been infected by  the “virus” of the Maigretphile. Stay tuned. 

The Yellow Dog, 1931 (Inspector Maigret #5) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Linda Asher – Revisited

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2013. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Le Chien Jaune by Fayard, 1931. This translation by Linda Asher was first published in the USA as Maigret and the Yellow Dog by Harcourt Brace Javanovich, 1987. First published in Great Britain under the present title, with minor revisions, in Penguin Classics, 2003. This edition, with further minor revisions, published in Penguin Classics, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-141-39347-6. 138 pages.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707The back cover blurb reads: In the windswept seaside town of Concarneau, a local wine merchant is shot. In fact, someone is out to kill all the influential men and the entire town is soon sent into a state of panic. For Maigret, the answers lie with the pale, downtrodden waitress Emma, and a strange yellow dog lurking in the shadows…

My take: When I first reviewed this book here, I did briefly summarise the plot as follows: The action takes place in Concarneau, a seaside village in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France. Concarneau is a summer resort very visited during the holiday season though thinly populated in the winter months. The story begins one November evening when a man leaves the Admiral Hotel after having spent a good time with some friends. His walk, slightly unsteady, implies that he’s been drinking more than necessary. After several attempts, he fails to light his cigar because of the wind, takes refuge by a doorway, loses his balance and falls backwards. A customs guard on duty has seen it all and is ready to help him when he realises that the man has been wounded by a shot fired from the other side of the doorway. The wounded man, Monsieur Mostaguen, turns out to be a distinguish citizen, ‘Concarneau’s biggest wine dealer, a good fellow, without an enemy in the world’. Shortly after, an awful dog, a strange yellow animal, is first seen roaming around the surrounding area. Chief Inspector Jules Maigret, assigned to Rennes to reorganise its mobile unit over the last month, is called by Concarneau’s mayor to investigate and comes to town with Leroy, a young inspector with whom he has not worked before. Maigret installs himself at the Admiral Hotel, the best in town. Maigret himself sums up as follows what happens next:

‘The following day, Saturday, I enter the café. After introductions, I am about to drink an aperitif with Messieurs Michoux, Le Pommeret, and Jean Servières, when the doctor suddenly becomes suspicious of something in his glass. Analysis shows the Pernod bottle to be poisoned.’

‘Sunday morning, Jean Servières disappears. His car is found, with bloodstains, not far from his home. Before this discovery, the Brest Beacon receives a report of the events nicely calculated to sow panic in Concarneau.’

‘Then Sevières is seen first in Brest, latter in Paris, where he seems to be hiding and to which he has apparently gone of his own free will.’

‘The same day, Sunday, Monsieur Le Pommerest has an aperitif with the doctor, returns to his home, has dinner there and dies afterwards, from the effects of strychnine poisoning.’

The mayor insists that Maigret makes an arrest, any arrest. Meanwhile the local police arrests a huge drifter that was seen loitering around the area, although the vagrant manages to escape. Maigret, under pressure, sends the Doctor to prison.  Dr Michoux assumes that Maigret has put on a show to protect him. Few, however, have paid attention to Emma, the mysterious waitress at the Admiral Hotel. Finally, Maigret concludes his account of the facts:

‘Bear with me now, we’re coming to the end. Tonight, Monday, a customs guard is shot in the leg as he walks down an empty street. The doctor is still in prison, under close watch. Le Pommeret is dead. Servières is in Paris in the hands of the Sûreté. Emma and the vagrant are at the very moment embracing and then devouring a chicken before my own eyes’.

In the plot of The Yellow Dog, insignificant in appearance, Simenon proves his great talent as a writer. This is a relatively short book, my edition has barely 134 pages, and it’s an excellent example of one of his first books in the series; those published between 1931 and 1934.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon (1903–1989) began work as a reporter for a local newspaper at the age of sixteen, and at nineteen he moved to Paris to embark on a career as a novelist. He went on to write seventy-five Maigret novels and twenty-eight Maigret short stories.

About the translator: Linda Asher has translated works by Milan Kundera, Georges Simenon, Victor Hugo, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Restif de la Bretonne, and many others. A former fiction editor at The New Yorker, she has and ASCAP Deems Taylor translation prizes and is a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. (Source: Goodreads)

The Yellow Dog has been reviewed at Confessions of a mystery novelist …, Tipping My Fedora and Reviewing the evidence,

Penguin Classics publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Geroges Simenon Website

Le Chien jaune

Maigret of the Month: January, 2004

Tout Maigret


Richard Vinen’s introduction to the new Penguin edition, “The Yellow Dog

Marcel Aymé’s preface to the French edition

El perro canelo de Georges Simenon

La propaganda de la contraportada dice: En Concarneau, una ciudad costera azotada por el viento, un comerciante local de vino recibe un disparo. De hecho, alguien está a punto de matar a todos los hombres influyentes y la ciudad entera pronto entra en estado de pánico. Para Maigret, las respuestas se encuentran en Emma, una pálida y desprotegida camarera, ​​y ​​en un extraño perro amarillo acechando en las sombras …

Mi opinión: Cuando reseñé este libro por primera vez aquí, resumí brevemente el argumento de la siguiente manera: La acción tiene lugar en Concarneau, un pueblo de la costa en el departamento de Finisterre en Bretaña, al noroeste de Francia. Concarneau es un lugar de veraneo muy concurrido durante la temporada de vacaciones, aunque poco poblado en los meses de invierno. La historia comienza una tarde-noche de noviembre, cuando un hombre deja el hotel Admiral después de haber pasado un buen rato con algunos amigos. Su caminar, un poco inestable, implica que ha estado bebiendo más de la cuenta. Tras varios intentos, no logra encender su cigarro a causa del viento, se refugia en un portal, pierde el equilibrio y cae hacia atrás. Un guardia de aduanas de servicio lo ha visto todo y se dispone a ayudarlo cuando cae en la cuenta de que el hombre ha sido herido por un disparo efectuado desde el otro lado del portal. El herido resulta ser el señor Mostaguen, un ciudadano distinguido, el mayor comerciante de vinos de Concarneau, un buen hombre, sin enemigo alguno en el mundo. Poco después, un perro horrible, un animal extraño de color amarillo, es visto por primera vez deambulando por los alrededores. El inspector jefe Jules Maigret, asignado a Rennes para reorganizar su unidad móvil en el último mes, es llamado por el alcalde de Concarneau para investigar y llega a la ciudad con Leroy, un joven inspector con el que no ha trabajado antes. Maigret se instala en el hotel Admiral. El propio Maigret resume de esta manera lo que sucede a continuación:

“Al día siguiente, sábado, entro en el café. Después de las presentaciones, estoy a punto de tomar un aperitivo con los señores Michoux, Le Pommeret, y Jean Servières, cuando el médico de pronto comienza a sospechar de algo que hay en su vaso. El análisis muestra que la botella de Pernod está envenenada.”

“Domingo por la mañana, Jean Servières desaparece. Su coche aparece, con manchas de sangre, cerca de su casa. Antes de este descubrimiento, el Faro de Brest recibe una relación de los sucesos bien elaborada para sembrar el pánico en Concarneau.”

“Entonces Sevières es visto primero en Brest, después en París, donde parece que se esconde y a donde al parecer ha ido por su propia voluntad.”

“Ese mismo día, domingo, Monsieur Le Pommerest toma el aperitivo con el doctor, regresa a su casa, cena en ella y muere poco después, como consecuencia de una intoxicación por estricnina.”

El alcalde insiste en que Maigret haga una detención inmediata, cualquier detención. Mientras tanto la policía local detiene a un vagabundo enorme que fue visto merodeando por la zona, aunque el vagabundo logra escapar. Maigret, bajo presión, envía al doctor a la cárcel. El Dr. Michoux asume que Maigret ha montado un espectáculo para protegerlo. Pocos, sin embargo,  han prestado atención a Emma, la misteriosa camarera del hotel Admiral. Por último, Maigret concluye su relato de los hechos:

“Le ruego me disculpe ahora, estamos llegando al final. Esta noche, lunes, un guardia de aduanas es alcanzado por un disparo en la pierna mientras camina por una calle vacía. El doctor está todavía encarcelado, bajo estrecha vigilancia. Le Pommeret ha muerto. Servières está en París a disposición de la Sûreté. Emma y el vagabundo se encuentran en este mismo momento fundidos en un abrazo y a continuación devoran un pollo ante mis propios ojos.”

En la trama de El perro canelo, insignificante en apariencia, Simenon demuestra su gran talento como escritor. Este es un libro relativamente corto, mi edición tiene apenas 134 páginas, y es un excelente ejemplo de uno de sus primeros libros de la serie; los publicados entre 1931 y 1934.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (Lieja, Bélgica, 1903 – Lausana, Suiza, 1989) escribió ciento noventa y una novelas con su nombre, y un número impreciso de novelas y relatos publicados con pseudónimo, además de libros de memorias y textos dictados. El comisario Maigret es el protagonista de setenta y dos de estas novelas y treinta y un relatos, todos ellos publicados entre 1931 y 1972. Célebre en el mundo entero, reconocido ya como un maestro, hoy nadie duda de que sea uno de los mayores escritores del siglo XX. En esta editorial han aparecido El gato (Acantilado, 2012), Pietr, el Letón (Acantilado, 2012), El perro canelo (Acantilado, 2012), La casa del canal (Acantilado, 2012), Los vecinos de enfrente (Acantilado, 2013), Las hermanas Lacroix (Acantilado, 2013), Maigret en los dominios del córoner (Acantilado, 2013), La nieve estaba sucia (Acantilado, 2014), El círculo de los Mahé (2014), Pedigrí (2015), El arriero de «La Providence» (2015), Maigret tiende una trampa (2016), El muerto de Maigret (2016) y La noche de la encrucijada (2017).

Acantilado propaganda editorial

%d bloggers like this: