Author: Jose Ignacio

OT: Homage to Catalonia

El canto de los pájaros o El cant dels Ocells, (The song of the birds) is a traditional Catalan Christmas song and lullaby. It tells of nature’s joy at learning of the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem. The song was made famous outside Catalonia by Pau Casals’ instrumental version on the cello. After his exile in 1939, he would begin each of his concerts by playing this song. For this reason, it is often considered a symbol of Catalonia.

Review: Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters, 1952 (Inspector Maigret #39) by Georges Simenon (Trans: William Hobson)

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

Penguin Classics, 2017. Format: Paperback edition. First published simultaneously by Presses de la Cité, 1952  and in the Revue des deux Mondes, under the title Maigret et les Gangsters, between 15 March and 15 May. 1952. This translation by William Hobson first published in 2017. ISBN: 978-0-241-25066-2. 192 pages. First published translated by Louise Varèse as Inspector Maigret and the Killers, 1954 in the United States in hardback format by Doubleday. The first British edition appeared in 1974 by Hamish Hamilton.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (1)Book description: In book thirty-nine of the new Penguin Maigret, the Inspector learns that his hapless colleague Lognon is being menaced by some notorious American mobsters, and he makes it his mission to bring them to justice – despite threatening warnings that he is out of his depth.

My take: Between 1945 and 1955 Simenon self-exiled in America, first in Canada and shortly afterwards in the United States. According to Wikipedia, during his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers. At that time Presses de la Cité became his exclusive publisher. Of the fifty Maigrets comprising the Presses de la Cité cycle, twenty were written in America, two unfold in the States, Maigret in New York and Maigret at the Coroner’s, and this one,is closely related with his American experience. The story begins when Madame Lognon phones Commissaire Maigret. She is much worried by her husband’s whereabouts. In the last two days he has not return back home from work, and this is something he had never done before. Besides, today she has received the visit of two, shady characters that looked like a couple of  American mobsters. This was the second unannounced visit she has received lately, another American visited her the day before yesterday.

Despite his fervent ambition to become part of Quai de Orfèvres, Inspector Lognon is in fact assigned to the ninth arrondissement. Lognon is a hard character to handle. He always blames the others for everything that happens to him. He doesn’t get along well with none of his colleagues. He hates the older officers for being older than him and, to the younger, for their youth. When Maigret is, at last, able to get in touch with him, Lognon tells Maigret that while he was after the trail of a drug transaction, he became witness to a strange incident. He saw how the body of a man was thrown onto the sidewalk, from a car in motion. The people in the car did not take notice of his presence. Lognon, upon realising the man was still alive, rushed to find a telephone booth to ask for help. At the same time, a second car emerged suddenly at full speed. Lognon could not see the number plate, but then he realised that man dumped on the sidewalk was no longer there. With few tracks to follow Lognon chooses to keep under surveillance a bar often visited by American citizens.

In this book, Simenon takes the opportunity to describe the differences between the American police and their French counterparts. In fact Maigret feels the challenge in front of the insistent opinion that he should abandon this case and leave it to the FBI. The gangsters of the story are real professionals who will stop at nothing, in contrast with the French criminals who are only amateurs and behave in a more gentlemanly way. Obviously Maigret will turn a deaf ear to these warnings to disentangle the mystery, feeling upset by the American interference on French soil.

Maigret Lognon and the Gangsters is a highly entertaining read. In a certain sense is quite different to the rest of the series and has, in my view, a much more funny tone. It is much closer to a police procedural than to a standard Maigret investigation, and it does contain some criticism regarding the behaviour of civil servants.

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: Will Hobson is a writer and translator and a former contributing editor to Granta magazine. His translations from French and German include the Goncourt Prize winner The Battle by Patrick Rambaud, The Collector of Worlds by Iliya Troyanov, and Being Arab by Samir Kassir, which won the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award.

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters has been reviewed at Crime Review, Simenon Simenon,

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters 

Maigret of the Month: April, 2007

Tout Maigret

audible

Maigret, Lognon y los gángsteres, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: En la entrega número treinta y nueve de los misterios de Maigret, nuestro inspector se entera de que su desgraciado colega Lognon está siendo amenazado por unos conocidos mafiosos norteamericanos, y convierte en su misión el llevarlos ante la justicia, a pesar de las amenzantes advertencias de su falta de experiencia.

Mi opinión: Entre 1945 y 1955, Simenon se autoexilió en América, primero en Canadá y poco después en Estados Unidos. Según Wikipedia, durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó el zenit de su capacidad creadora. En ese momento Presses de la Cité se convirtió en su editor exclusivo. De los cincuenta Maigrets que componen el ciclo de Presses de la Cité, veinte fueron escritos en América, dos se desarrollan en Estados Unidos, Maigret en Nueva York y Maigret en los dominios del “córoner”, y éste, está estrechamente relacionado con su experiencia americana. La historia comienza cuando Madame Lognon llama al Comisario Maigret. Está muy preocupada por el paradero de su marido. En los últimos dos días no ha regresado a casa del trabajo, y esto es algo que nunca había hecho antes. Además, hoy ha recibido la visita de dos personajes malencarados que parecían un par de mafiosos norteamericanos. Esta fue la segunda visita sin previo aviso que recibió últimamente, otro estadounidense la visitó antes de ayer.

A pesar de su ferviente ambición por formar parte del equipo de Quai de Orfèvres, el Inspector Lognon está de hecho adscrito al noveno distrito. Lognon es un personaje difícil de manejar. Siempre culpa a los demás por todo lo que le sucede. No se lleva bien con ninguno de sus colegas. Odia a los oficiales mayores por ser mayores que él y, a los más jóvenes, por su juventud. Cuando Maigret, por fin, puede ponerse en contacto con él, Lognon le dice a Maigret que mientras estaba tras el rastro de un intercambio de drogas, fue testigo de un extraño incidente. Vio cómo el cuerpo de un hombre fue arrojado a la acera, desde un automóvil en marcha. La gente del coche no se dio cuenta de su presencia. Lognon, al darse cuenta de que el hombre aún estaba vivo, se apresuró a buscar una cabina telefónica para pedir ayuda. Al mismo tiempo, un segundo coche surgió repentinamente a toda velocidad. Lognon no pudo ver la matrícula, pero luego se dio cuenta de que el hombre abandonado en la acera ya no estaba allí. Con pocas pistas para poder seguir Lognon elige mantener bajo vigilancia un bar que a menudo es visitado por ciudadanos estadounidenses.

En este libro, Simenon aprovecha la oportunidad para describir las diferencias entre la policía estadounidense y sus homólogos franceses. De hecho, Maigret siente el desafío frente a la insistente opinión de que debe abandonar este caso y dejarlo al FBI. Los mafiosos de la historia son auténticos profesionales que no se detendrán ante nada, en contraste con los criminales franceses que son sólo aficionados y se comportan de una manera más caballeresca. Obviamente, Maigret hará oídos sordos a estas advertencias para desentrañar el misterio, sintiéndose molesto por la interferencia estadounidense en suelo francés.

Maigret Lognon y los gangsteres es una lectura muy entretenida. En cierto sentido es muy diferente al resto de la serie y tiene, en mi opinión, un tono mucho más divertido. Está mucho más cerca de una investigación policial que de una investigación estándar de Maigret, y contiene algunas críticas sobre el comportamiento de los funcionarios públicos.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) comenzó a trabajar como reportero  en un periódico local a la edad de dieciséis años, y a los diecinueve años se trasladó a París para emprender su carrera como novelista. A continuación escribió setenta y cinco novelas y veintiocho relatos protagonizados por Maigret.

Es de lamentar que la editorial Acantilado, tras el prematuro fallecimiento de su editor Jaume Vallcorba, no ha continuado con su proyecto de ofrecer al lector español la serie completa de novelas de Maigret. Al margen de unos pocos títulos, el resto de libros sólo están disponibles en libros de saldo o de segunda mano. Libros de saldo: Georges Simenon por Ricardo Bosque. Lo dicho una lástima.

In Praise of …. The Cellars of the Majestic

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (3)Sometimes we wonder what would be the best book to get to know an author, before we decide on reading some other books. Eventually the question can be if you can only read one of his/her books, which one would you pick? To answer both questions I was glad to discover the following article by David P Simmons on Simenon Simenon, Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog The best novel to sample the author? I fully concur.

But please note I’m not saying The Cellars of the Majestic is the best Maigret. I simply don’t know the answer to that question, and to be honest, I don’t care. I rather talk about my favourites, …etc. 

My review is available here.

Three Covers for …. Maigret Sets a Trap

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From left to right the TV tie-in cover for the paperback edition published in the UK on March 2016, the UK e-book cover published on March 2016, and the UK and US paperback covers to be publish on Oct 2017 and May 2018 respectively.

The Media tie-in or TV tie-in cover refers to newly published editions of a novel on which a film was based, sometimes renamed to match the film’s title and using promotional art created for the film.

Now the question is whether there’s any difference between both texts. And, as far as I know the only difference lies in the cover. The “TV tie-in” will have pictures of the actors from the TV series on the cover.  While other covers would not.

The "Gallimard Cycle"

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The “Gallimard Cycle” comprises the six Maigret books published  between 1942 and 1944, 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). They marked the return of Simenon to his character ‘in spite of himself’ and they evoke marvelously the world of the Chief Inspector (source: Which Maigret to Read First? by Murielle Wenger).  Eight years had passed since the publication of his last Maigret book, Maigret, aka Maigret Returns. George Simenon was willing to end his series with that book. In fact, when the story begins, Maigret is already retired and lives with his wife in Meung-sur-Loire. Fortunately, that was not the case. I’ve read so far The Cellars of the Majestic and Signed, Picpus. Which in my view are among his best. My plan is to read the other four in due time. Stay tuned.