Category: Georges Simenon

Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989) Last Updated 6 March 2020

This blog entry was first intended as a private note, but I thought it may be of some interest to regular or occasional readers of this blog. Most of the information has been taken from the excellent blog site The Maigret Forum and from Maigret’s World: A Reader’s Companion to Simenon’s Famous Detective by Murielle Wenger and Stephen Trussel. In bold I have highlighted the books that are my favourites. Some believe that Maigret’s bests can be found in The Gallimard cycle but my personal preference tend towards the Fayard cycle and, more recently, among the ones written after his return to Europe, particularly those written on Swiss soil, in Noland, Echandens (Canton of Vaud). Please bear in mind that this is a work in progress, you may read my reviews of the books I’ve read so far clicking on the books’ titles. Comments are welcome.

simenon_georgesAbout the Author: Georges Simenon, in full Georges-Joseph-Christian Simenon, (born Feb. 13, 1903, Liège, Belg.—died Sept. 4, 1989, Lausanne, Switz.), was a French-speaking Belgian novelist whose prolific output surpassed that of any of his contemporaries, and who was perhaps the most widely published author of the 20th century. He began working on a local newspaper at age 16, and at 19 he went to Paris determined to be successful.

Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton [The Case of Peter the Lett], was serialized in 1930 and appeared in book form in 1931; the last one, Maigret et Monsieur Charles [Maigret and Monsieur Charles], was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Three television series (1960–63, 1992–93 and 2016-), have been made in Great Britain (the first with Rupert Davies in the title role, the second with Michael Gambon and the third with Rowan Atkinson), one in Italy in four different seasons for a total of 36 episodes (1964–72) starring Gino Cervi and two in France: (1967–1990) starring Jean Richard and (1991–2005) starring Bruno Cremer. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels” (what the French refer to as “romans durs”), such as Coup de Lune (1933) [Tropic Moon], L’homme qui regardait passer les trains (1938) [The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By], Les Inconnus dans la maison (1940), [The Strangers in the House], La Veuve Couderc (1942) [The Widow], La Fuite de Monsieur Monde (1945) [Monsieur Monde Vanishes], Trois Chambres à Manhattan (1945)[Three Bedrooms in Manhattan], La Neige était sale (1948) [Dirty Snow], Feux Rouges, (1953) [Red Lights], as well as several autobiographical works, in particular Je me souviens (1945), Pedigree (1948), Mémoires intimes (1981).

Despite these other works, Simenon remains inextricably linked with Inspector Maigret, who is one of the best-known characters in detective fiction. Unlike those fictional detectives who rely on their immense deductive powers or on police procedure, Maigret solves murders using mainly his psychological intuition and a patiently sought, compassionate understanding of the perpetrator’s motives and emotional composition. Simenon’s central theme is the essential humanity of even the isolated, abnormal individual and the sorrow at the root of the human condition. Employing a style of rigorous simplicity, he evokes a prevailing atmosphere of neurotic tensions with sharp economy.

In 1966, Simenon was given the MWA’s highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Simenon, who travelled to more than 30 countries, lived in the United States for more than a decade, starting in 1945; he later lived in France and Switzerland. At the age of 70 he stopped writing novels, though he continued to write nonfiction. He died on 4th September 1989, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The ‘proto-Maigrets’. Although Simenon himself proclaimed that “Pietr-le-letton” was “the first Maigret”, the character Maigret had appeared before in four novels written under pseudonyms, and which are referred to as the ‘proto-Maigrtes’. ‘Train de Nuit’, ‘La figurante’ aka ‘La jeune fille aux perles’, ‘La femme rousse’ and ‘La maison de l’inquiétude’. Particularly one can wonder why La maison de l’inquiétude [The House of Anxiety], considered by Simenon scholars as the best of the ‘proto-Maigrets,’ is not included among the official novels of the saga. The answer can be found on Maigret’s World: ‘A Reader’s Companion to Simenon’s Famous Detective’ by Murielle Wenger and Stephen Trussel, ‘… above al, what makes it different from the novels of the saga, is that while Maigret is at the front of the stage, it’s still describe by a narrator –and therefore seen by the reader–“from outside.” Simenon “tells” how the Chief Inspector feels things, how he imagines them, how he tries to understand. That’s the difference in the novels which follow, where Maigret’s impressions are described “from inside”, as if the world of the story were seen through the eyes of its main character. In the official saga, the reader “sees and thinks” through Maigret, he experiences things as Maigret experiences them, and its Simenon’s talent that he succeeds at moving from a neutral and “objective” narration of a detective story, into a “subjective” view of an investigation, where the reader finds himself taking the part of the hero.’

The Early Maigrets, (The 19 novels of the Fayard cycle): Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret #1), The Late Monsieur Gallet (Inspector Maigret #2), The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Inspector Maigret #3), The Carter of ‘La Providence’ (Inspector Maigret #4), The Yellow Dog (Inspector Maigret #5), Night at the Crossroads (Inspector Maigret #6), A Crime in Holland (Inspector Maigret #7), The Grand Banks Café (Inspector Maigret #8), A Man’s Head (Inspector Maigret #9), The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin (Inspector Maigret #10), The Two-Penny Bar, (Inspector Maigret #11), The Shadow Puppet (Inspector Maigret #12), The Saint-Fiacre Affair (Inspector Maigret #13), The Flemish House (Inspector Maigret #14), The Madman of Bergerac (Inspector Maigret #15), The Misty Harbour (Inspector Maigret #16), Liberty Bar (Inspector Maigret #17), Lock Nº 1 (Inspector Maigret #18), and Maigret (Inspector Maigret #19)

“In April 1933, Simenon wrote L’écluse nº1, with the intent that it be the last in the series. In this novel Maigret is getting ready to retire professionally, as his author was getting ready to retire him literarily. And as Simenon has decided to leave Fayard, too dedicated to “popular novels and detective stories,” in October 1934 he signs a contract with a new publisher, Gallimard. But Simenon received numerous appeals … from readers …, and from the editor of the daily Le Jour, asking him for one more Maigret. And so he agreed to revive his hero.”

The Gallimard cycle (6 novels): “At the insistence of Gallimard, contemplating the substantial revenues the Maigret texts could generate, Simenon yielded in October 1936, and wrote a first series of nine stories featuring the Chief Inspector. And he will turn him back again in 1938, writing another series of ten stories in which Maigret is the hero. Eight of these ten stories will from, along with the nine of 1936, the collection published in 1944 by Gallimard under the title Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret. Between 1939 and 1943 Simenon wrote first two stories with Maigret again on active duty, then six novels published in two collections by Gallimard –Maigret revient in 1942, containing the novels: Cécile is Dead (Inspector Maigret #20); The Cellars of the Majestic (Inspector Maigret #21); and  The Judge’s House (Inspector Maigret #22); and the collection Signed Picpus, published in 1944, containing the novels: Signed, Picpus (Inspector Maigret #23); Inspector Cadaver Inspector Maigret #24), and Félicie (Inspector Maigret #25).”

The Presses de la Cité cycle (50 novels). “In June 1945 Simenon wrote a short story entitled La pipe de Maigret. Then in August he wrote another short novel to appear in France-Soir, Maigret se fâche, where his hero is, once more retired. Simenon was probably thinking of relieving himself of his character, at the same time as he left “old Europe” to discover the New World. But most likely his new editor, Les Presses de la Cité, was also counting on Simenon to bring his renown, and a few novels on the investigations of Maigret. And so Simenon wrote a new Maigret in which the Chief Inspector is once more retired, Maigret à New York. But this will be the last time he portrayed him as retired. Henceforth, and until the last novel of the saga, Maigret will be on active duty at the Quai des Orfèvres. First Simenon will put his Chief Inspector back into service in the four short stories which appeared in the collection Maigret et l’inspector Malgracieux, then, in November 1947 will have him lead an investigation while the Chief Inspector is on holiday, Les vacances de Maigret. It is of interest to note that his novella, Un Noël de Maigret and his novel Les mémories de Maigret are situated exactly in the centre of his chronology (May and September 1950), as if he wanted to do an update of his hero, before launching him on a series of new investigations. In 1953, with Maigret a peur, there appears a first hint of what will become a constact in the rest of the saga, Maigret’s reflections on aging and the approach of retirement. Maigret se trompe, Maigret à l’école (both in 1953), Maigret et la jeune morte, Maigret chez le ministre (both in 1954), and Maigret et le corps sans tête (1955) are the last Maigret novels written in American soil.

Chronologically I’m going to divide this cycle in three groups:

a) The United States and Canada Period, 1945 – 1955: Maigret Gets Angry (Inspector Maigret #26), Maigret in New York (Inspector Maigret #27), Maigret’s Holiday (Inspector Maigret #28), Maigret and His Dead Man (Inspector Maigret #29), Maigret’s First Case (Inspector Maigret #30), My Friend Maigret (Inspector Maigret #31), Maigret at the Coroner’s (Inspector Maigret #32), Maigret and the Old Lady (Inspector Maigret #33), Madame Maigret’s Friend (Inspector Maigret #34), Maigret’s Memoirs (Inspector Maigret #35), Maigret at Picratt’s (Inspector Maigret #36), Maigret Takes a Room (Inspector Maigret #37), Maigret and the Tall Woman (Inspector Maigret #38), Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters (Inspector Maigret #39), Maigret’s Revolver (Inspector Maigret #40), Maigret and the Man on the Bench (Inspector Maigret #41), Maigret is Afraid (Inspector Maigret #42), Maigret’s Mistake (Inspector Maigret #43), Maigret Goes to School (Inspector Maigret #44), Maigret and the Dead Girl (Inspector Maigret #45), Maigret and the Minister (Inspector Maigret #46), Maigret and the Headless Corpse (Inspector Maigret #47).

“Maigret tend un piège (1955) is the first written by Simenon after his definitive return to Europe, and it inaugurates in a way a “turning point” in his character’s career, in the sense that the Chief Inspector’s investigations will tend more an more to approach the author’s questions with regard to Man, his responsibility and fate, and the legitimacy of the judiciary and the police machine. The titles of the upcoming novels reflect well this evolution: Un échec de Maigret (1956), Les Scrupules de Maigret (1958) and Maigret hésite (1968). After two novels with a little “lighter” (a lightness also felt in the titles Maigret s’amuse (1956) and then Maigret voyage (1958), the first written on Swiss soil, at Echandes, and in which the author “amuses himself” by leading his character from one corner of France to another, and to Switzerland, as he himself has just done) Les Scrupules de Maigret(1957) is not only a novel where the Chief Inspector ask himself questions about the responsibility of criminals, and of Man in general, but it’s also atypical in the sense that the investigation the Chief Inspector leads is made before the crime rather than after. The following novels will reflect anew all these questions: the effects of aging (Maigret et les témoins récalcitrant 1958), the position of Man in the face of the judiciary Une confidence de Maigret and Maigret aux assises, both 1959). Themes we will see taken up again, supplemented by others, in the novels of the last part of the saga, like the deepening relationship between Maigret and his wife, the refined culinary tastes of the Chief Inspector, and the reminiscence of his childhood. And sometimes Simenon, wanting to treat a theme in a “psychological novel,” doesn’t do so, and uses his Chief Inspector to accomplish his project (as is the case of Maigret et les vieillards, written in 1960).”

b) The Return to Europe, 1955 – 1963: Maigret Sets a Trap (Inspector Maigret #48), Maigret’s Failure (Inspector Maigret #49), Maigret Enjoys Himself (Inspector Maigret #50), Maigret Travels (Inspector Maigret #51), Maigret`s Doubts (Inspector Maigret #52), Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses (Inspector Maigret #53), Maigret’s Secret (Inspector Maigret #54), Maigret in Court (Inspector Maigret #55), Maigret and the Old People (Inspector Maigret #56), Maigret and the Lazy Burglar (Inspector Maigret #57), Maigret and the Good People of Montparnasse (Inspector Maigret #58), Maigret and the Saturday Caller (Inspector Maigret #59), Maigret and the Tramp (Inspector Maigret #60), Maigret’s Anger (Inspector Maigret #61), and Maigret And The Ghost (Inspector Maigret #62).

c) The Last Part of the Saga, 1964 – 1972: Maigret Defends Himself (Inspector Maigret #63), Maigret’s Patience (Inspector Maigret #64), Maigret and the Nahour Case (Inspector Maigret #65), Maigret’s Pickpocket (Inspector Maigret #66), Maigret Hesitates (Inspector Maigret #67), Maigret in Vichy (Inspector Maigret #68), Maigret’s Childhood Friend (Inspector Maigret #69), Maigret and the Killer (Inspector Maigret #70), Maigret and the Wine Merchant (Inspector Maigret #71), Maigret’s Madwoman (Inspector Maigret #72), Maigret and the Loner (Inspector Maigret #73), Maigret and the Informer (Inspector Maigret #74) and Maigret and Monsieur Charles (Inspector Maigret #75).

“In December 1963 Simenon relocated to Epalinges, and it wasn’t until July of 1964 that the author once more took up his pen and began with Maigret se defend. In 1965, he wrote La patience de Maigret, which forms, in a way, a diptych with the preceding novel….. In February 1972 Simenon wrote Maigret et Monsieur Charles, He didn’t know it, but that was the final novel in the Maigret saga, and his last novel of all..… Chance or irony of fate –or perhaps a premonition?–in Maigret et Monsieur Charles, he tells how Maigret, in the evening of a fine career, was offered the position of Director of the PJ, and how the Chief Inspector refused, because he wanted to remain a man of the earth, to continue his infinite quest in search of the human.

The 28 Maigret short stories: The majority of Maigret short stories translated into English are available in two books: Maigret’s Pipe: Seventeen Stories by Georges Simenon and Maigret’s Christmas: Nine Stories. Three of this stories, previously untranslated into English, are now available at the excellent website Maigret Forum: The Group at the Grand Café (1938); The Unlikely Monsieur Owen (1938) and Death Threats (1942). The maths doesn’t work, there’re actually eighteen stories in the first book and in the second there’s a non-Maigret story and another listed now among Maigret novels.”

Following the order suggested at Maigret Forum, the 28 short stories are: Two Bodies on a Barge (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Mysterious Affair in the Boulevard Beaumarchais (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Open Window (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Mr. Monday (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Jeumont, 51 Minutes’ Stop! (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Death Penalty (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Death of a Woodlander (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; In the Rue Pigalle (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Maigret’s Mistake (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Madame Maigret’s Admirer (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Old Lady of Bayeux (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Drowned Men’s Inn (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Stan the Killer (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; At the Étoile du Nord (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Storm in the Channel (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Mademoiselle Berthe and her Lover (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Three Daughters of the Lawyer (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; The Unlikely M. Owen (tr. Stephen Trussel); The Group at the Grand Café (tr. Stephen Trussel); The Man in the Street (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories; Sale by Auction (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories; Death Threats (tr. Stephen Trussel); Maigret’s Pipe (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Pipe: Seventeen Stories; Death of a Nobody (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories; The Evidence of the Altar-Boy (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories; The Most Obstinate Customer in the World (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories; Maigret and the Surly Inspector (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories, and Maigret’s Christmas (tr. Jean Stewart) in Maigretʻs Christmas: Nine Stories.

As a footnote, I would like to add that “the length of the novels varies between 78 and 121 pages, while the short stories size is much more varied. It ranges from the 47 pages of Maigret’s Christmas to the 8 pages of stories such as Mr. Monday, Death Penalty, Death of a Woodlander, In the Rue Pigalle and Maigret’s Mistake. In fact, very few novels may be considered novels strictly speaking, that is to say with an extension of more than 40.000 words. The majority are novellas in size (between 17.000 and 40.000 words). Sixteen of the so-called short stories are novelettes (between 7.500 and 17.000 words) and the rest are short stories (between 3.500 and 7.500 words).” 

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(Source: Facsimile Dustjacket The Crime of Inspector Maigret, by Georges Simenon. Covici-Friede Publishers (USA), 1932)

The Crime of Inspector Maigret is a novel by the Belgian writer Georges Simenon. The original French-language version Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien appeared in 1931: it is one of the earliest novels by Simenon featuring the detective Jules Maigret. The first English translation, by Anthony Abbot, entitled The Crime of Inspector Maigret, appeared in 1932, published by Covici, Friede in New York. In 1963 a translation by Tony White, Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets, was published by Penguin Books. A translation by Linda Coverdale, The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, appeared in 2014, published by Penguin Classics. (Source: Wikipedia)

Read more at: Mike Grost on Georges Simenon; The Maigret Forum

My Book Notes: Maigret’s Childhood Friend, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #69) by Georges Simenon (tr. Shaun Whiteside)

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

Penguin Classics, 2019. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 4928 KB. Print Length: 177 pages. ASIN: B07MBRGYDR. ISBN: 978-0-241-30424-2. A pre-original version was published in the daily Le Figaro between 3 and 31 December (25 episodes).  First published in French as L’Ami d’enfance de Maigret by Presses de la Cité in 1968. The story was written between 18 and 24 June 1968 in Épalinges (Canton of Vaud), Switzerland. The first English translation came out as Maigret’s Boyhood Friend in 1970. Six subsequent editions followed through 2003, all with the same title. The translator for all was Eileen Ellenbogen. This translation by Shaun Whiteside was first published in 2019.

imageOpening sentence:The fly buzzed around his head three times before settling on the top left-hand corner of the page of the report he was annotating.’ Original version: “La mouche tourna trois fois autour de sa tête et vint se poser sur la page du rapport qu’il était en train d’annoter, tou en haut, dans le coin gauche.”)

Book description: A visit from a long-lost schoolmate who has fallen on hard times forces Maigret to unpick a seedy tangle of love affairs in Montmartre, and to confront the tragedy of a wasted life. This novel has been published in a previous translation as Maigret’s Boyhood Friend.

My take: Maigret’s Childhood Friend takes place during the month of June in Paris. The story unfolds within the course of approximately one week. It begins when Maigret receives the unexpected visit of a fellow pupil of his at the Lycée Banville in Moulins, Léon Florentin, who finds himself in an awkward situation that afternoon. That’s why he came to see him. It has occurred to him that Maigret would be the only person to understand him. He was sitting quietly in the living room after having had lunch with his girlfriend for four years, Joséphine Papet, but she prefers Josée, at her place in Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, when the doorbell rang. They weren’t expecting anybody and he hurried to hide himself in a wardrobe, something he had already done in other occasions. Though he is her lover, her friend and her confident, Josée has other lovers who come and see her regularly, without getting to know each other among them. In fact, neither of them, except Florentin, is aware of the existence of the others, and each one believes to be the only one to maintain her. Barely a quarter of an hour has passed when he heard a sound like a gunshot, but he didn’t get out of his hiding place until realising that the door to the apartment had opened and closed again. Coming out of the wardrobe he found Josée’s body, lying on the floor. There was no doubt she has been murdered. Florentin swears Maigret it was not him who murdered Josée. Maigret would like to believe him, but the circumstances suggest the opposite.  Besides, Florentin happens to be a pathological liar and cannot offer a coherent account why he waited so long to notify the murder, nor even of what he did in the mean time.

During the course of the investigation Maigret realises that neither Florentin, nor Madame Blanc, the concierge at Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, are telling the truth and that they hide something. Eventually, Maigret finds out who are Josée Papet’s other four lovers, though neither seem to have any motive for having murder her. Madame Blanc denies having seen anyone entering or leaving the house at the time the crime was committed. Despite the circumstances suggesting the opposite, Maigret wants to believe in Florentin innocence. After all, he was a former classmate, but he wonders whether this is not the reason why he has not yet proceed to formally charged him.

Maigret’s Childhood Friend is the 97th Simenon’s book in order of publication, and this novel makes the 69th in Penguin’s modern series of translations. Despite the amount of time gone by since the publication of the first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton in 1931, it is comforting to discover that Simenon has not lost a whit of his storytelling mastery. For my taste, Maigret’s Childhood Friend can easily be included among his best Maigrets, perhaps by its apparent simplicity. I have really enjoyed it very much. An excellent example of a late Maigret that I thoroughly recommend, though it might no be the best Maigret to begin reading if you are not yet familiar with the series. The story is nicely crafted and the resolution of the mystery turns out spotless, at the purest Maigret style.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

Maigret’s Childhood Friend at Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog, The Budapest Times,

About the Author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Shaun Whiteside (born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 1959) is a Northern Irish translator of French, Dutch, German, and Italian literature. He has translated many novels, including Manituana and Altai by Wu Ming, The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink, and Magdalene the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger, which won him the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation in 1997. He graduated with a First in Modern Languages at King’s College, Cambridge. After he finished his studies, he worked as a business journalist and television producer before translating full-time. As he said in a brief interview, “Did I always want to be a translator? I certainly wanted to do something that involved travel and languages, but even when my work in television took me to far-off places, I kept coming back to translation, first for fun, and eventually as a way of earning a living.” Whiteside is the former Chair of the Translators Association of the Society of Authors. He currently lives in London with his wife and son, where he sits on the PEN Writers in Translation committee, the editorial board of New Books in German, and the Advisory Panel of the British Centre for Literary Translation, where he regularly teaches at the summer school.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Maigret’s Childhood Friend 

Maigret of the Month: October, 2009

Tout Maigret

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret, de Georges Simenon

Primera frase: “La mosca giró tres veces alrededor de su cabeza y se detuvo en la página del informe que estaba anotando, hacia arriba, en la esquina izquierda”. (Versión original: “La mouche tourna trois fois autour de sa tête et vint se poser sur la page du rapport qu’il était en train d’annoter, tou en haut, dans le coin gauche.”)

Descripción del libro: Un antiguo condiscípulo de Maigret del instituto Banville, en Moulins, León Florentin, se presenta en la Policía Judicial para contarle al comisario que Josée, su amante, ha sido asesinada de un disparo ese mismo día, en su apartamento. Le cuenta que Josée mantenía relaciones con cuatro hombres que recibía regularmente en su casa, sin que ninguno de ellos sospechara la existencia de los otros, creyéndose los únicos amantes de Josée.

Mi opinión: El amigo de la infancia de Maigret tiene lugar durante el mes de junio en París. La historia se desarrolla en el transcurso de aproximadamente una semana. Comienza cuando Maigret recibe la inesperada visita de un compañero suyo en el Lycée Banville en Moulins, Léon Florentin, quien se encuentra en una situación incómoda esa tarde. Por eso vino a verlo. Se le ha ocurrido que Maigret sería la única persona que lo entendería. Estaba sentado en silencio en la sala de estar después de haber almorzado con su novia, Joséphine Papet, pero ella prefiere a Josée, en su casa en la Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, cuando sonó el timbre. No esperaban a nadie y él se apresuró a esconderse en un armario, algo que ya había hecho en otras ocasiones. Aunque él es su amante, su amigo y su confidente, Josée tiene otros amantes que vienen a verla regularmente, sin conocerse entre ellos. De hecho, ninguno de ellos, excepto Florentin, es consciente de la existencia de los demás, y cada uno cree que es el único que la mantiene. Apenas pasó un cuarto de hora cuando escuchó un sonido como un disparo, pero no salió de su escondite hasta que se dio cuenta de que la puerta del departamento se había abierto y cerrado nuevamente. Al salir del armario encontró el cuerpo de Josée, tendido en el suelo. No había duda de que había sido asesinada. Florentin le jura a Maigret que no fue él quien asesinó a Josée. A Maigret le gustaría creerle, pero las circunstancias sugieren lo contrario. Además, Florentin resulta ser un mentiroso patológico y no puede ofrecer una explicación coherente de por qué esperó tanto tiempo para notificar el asesinato, ni siquiera de lo que hizo mientras tanto.

Durante el curso de la investigación, Maigret se da cuenta de que ni Florentin, ni Madame Blanc, la conserje de la Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, están diciendo la verdad y que ocultan algo. Finalmente, Maigret descubre quiénes son los otros cuatro amantes de Josée Papet, aunque ninguno parece tener ningún motivo para haberla asesinado. Madame Blanc niega haber visto a alguien entrar o salir de la casa en el momento en que se cometió el crimen. A pesar de las circunstancias que sugieren lo contrario, Maigret quiere creer en la inocencia de Florentin. Después de todo, él era un ex compañero de clase, pero se pregunta si esta no es la razón por la que aún no ha procedido a acusarlo formalmente.

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret es el libro número 97 de Simenon en orden de publicación, y esta novela ocupa el puesto 69 en la serie moderna de traducciones de Penguin. A pesar del tiempo transcurrido desde la publicación de la primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton en 1931, es reconfortante descubrir que Simenon no ha perdido ni una pizca de su dominio de la narración. Para mi gusto, El amigo de la infancia de Maigret se puede incluir fácilmente entre sus mejores Maigrets, quizá por su sencillez aparente. Realmente lo he disfrutado mucho. Un excelente ejemplo de un Maigret tardío que recomiendo encarecidamente, aunque podría no ser el mejor Maigret para comenzar a leer si aún no está familiarizado con la serie. La historia está muy bien elaborada y la resolución del misterio resulta impecable, al más puro estilo Maigret.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Su obra incluye casi 200 novelas, más de 150 relatos, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas baratas escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han realizado unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos protagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en el 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. En Gran Bretaña se hicieron dos series para la televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93). Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su capacidad creativa, y varias novelas de esos años se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varios relatos autobiográficos.

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret / Georges Simenon: traducción de Carmen Soler Blanch. – Barcelona: Luis de Caralt, 1969. – 160 p.; 18 cm. – (Las novelas de Maigret; 72)

My Book Notes: Maigret in Vichy, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #68) by Georges Simenon (tr. Ros Schwartz)

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

Penguin Classics, 2019. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 5041 KB. Print Length: 174 pages. ASIN: B07NCZRG8J. ISBN: 978-0-241-30422-8. A pre-original version was published in the daily Le Figaro between 2 December 1967 and 3 January 1968 (26 episodes).  First published in French as Maigret à Vichy by Presses de la Cité in 1968. The story was written between 5 and 11 September 1967 in Épalinges (Canton of Vaud), Switzerland. The first English translation came out as Maigret in Vichy in 1969. Eleven subsequent editions followed through 1996, some being entitled Maigret Takes the Waters. The translator for all was Eileen Ellenbogen.  This translation by Ros Schwartz was first published in 2019.

imageOpening paragraph: ‘Do you know them?’ Madame Maigret asked in an undertone as her husband turned around to loos at a couple they had just passed.

Book description: Maigret and his wife take a much needed holiday to Vichy, where they quickly become used to the slower pace of life. When a woman, who they regularly pass by on their daily strolls, is murdered Maigret can’t help but offer his assistance to the local Inspector,  a former colleague of Maigret’s.

My take: Our Commissaire finds himself in Vichy taking the waters by suggestion of Dr Pardon in the company of his wife. Days pass at a leisurely pace, under a strict diet with nothing of alcohol, and frequent walks to the different thermal springs to drink water.

They had already created a schedule for themselves which they followed meticulously as if it were of the utmost importance, and their days measured out by various ritual which they adhered to religiously.

Sometimes they sit to listen the concert on the bandstand. Occasionally, Maigret stops to watch playing a game of boules. And quite often they amuse themselves making comments on those with whom they cross paths. A woman in particular call their attention. They could have nicknamed her the lady in mauve, or rather the lady in lilac, because she always wore something lilac-coloured.

She looked as if she had come straight out of a picture book. She wore a white hat, whereas most of the women here were bareheaded. The stole around her shoulders was white too, and her dress the lilac colour of which she seemed fond.
  The lady in lilac was among those who could have been called Maigret’s inner circle, the people he’d noticed from the start and who intrigued him.
……
  One could guess she was used to living in silence, as with nuns, accustomed to solitude. Perhaps she even preferred that solitude. Whether walking or sitting, as she was at present, she paid no attention to promenaders or to her neighbours, and she would probably have been most surprised to learn that outside of any professional obligation Detective Chief Inspector Maigret was trying to gauge her personality.

But one day the murder of Hélène Lange shakes the tranquillity of the thermal resort. Inspector Lecoeur, the Clermont-Ferrand police chief  takes over the investigation. Lecoeur had been a former Maigret colleague who had worked under his command at the Police Judiciaire in Paris. And Maigret cannot avoid to become interested in the investigation, even though, being outside his jurisdiction, all he can do is to offer his assistance to his former subordinate. Maigret himself becomes even more intrigued at finding out that the victim, Hélène Lange, is no other but the woman in lilac, who so powerfully had called his attention the previous days.

Maigret in Vichy turns out to be the story of a detection in which Maigret is forced to play a secondary role. It is probably not advisable to read this story, if one is still not familiar with our character. And it is quite likely that its slow and paused pace is not to the liking of all readers. It should be noted that this is one of the latest novels in the series and Maigret is approaching his retirement age. In a sense, I found it attractive to observe Maigret’s reaction to the way his former subordinate carries out an interrogation in a quite a different way to how he would have done it himself, though not less effective in any case. In a nutshell, Maigret in Vichy tells the fascinating story of a deception that manages to grab our attention until the last page.

My rating: B (I liked it)

Maigret in Vichy at Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog

About the Author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Ros Schwartz is an English literary translator, who translates Francophone literature into English. In 2009 she was awarded the Chevalier d’Honneur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French literature. Alongside literary translation, Schwartz has served on the boards and committees of various literary and translation organisations: Vice-Chair of the Translators Association; Chair of the European Council of Literary Translators Associations (CEATL) from 2000 to 2009; Chair of the Advisory Panel to the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) from 2005 to 2009; and Chair of English PEN’s Writers in Translation Programme from 2010 to 2014. She has worked to develop literary translation as a profession by supporting young translators, initiating mentoring schemes, summer schools (e.g. Translate in the City, first at Birkbeck College, then at City University London), workshops and masterclasses (e.g. at Goldsmiths College, the University of Middlesex, Universities of Westminster, East Anglia, Bath, Warwick, Leicester, Glasgow and Manchester). Schwartz has also written about literary translation: see, for example, “A Dialogue: On a Translator’s Interventions”, by Ros Schwartz and Nicholas de Lange, in Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush (eds), The Translator as Writer (Continuum, London and New York, 2006), and articles published in The Linguist, the ATA Bulletin, The ITI Bulletin, Context (nos 20, 21, 21 – Dalkey Archive Press), and the British Council literary translation website. She is a regular contributor to In Other Words, the journal of the Translators Association and the British Centre for Literary Translation. She was also a consultant on the revised Robert and Collins French-English/English-French Dictionary; a judge for the Larousse “Grand Prix de la Traduction”, Paris, 1995; and a judge for the Aurora Borealis Prize of the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs 1999. Schwartz has translated numerous French and Francophone authors including Catherine Clément, Georges Simenon, Régine Deforges, Dominique Eddé [fr], Dominique Manotti, Claudine Vegh, Emmanuel Raynaud, Aziz Chouaki, Fatou Diome, Yasmina Khadra, Julien Neel, Jacqueline Harpmann, Olivier Roy, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. She recently produced new translations of classic favourites, such as Le Petit Prince and has been part of the international team re-translating the novels of Georges Simenon into English. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Maigret à Vichy 

Maigret of the Month: August, 2009

Maigret’s Journeys in France

Tout Maigret

Maigret en Vichy, de Georges Simenon

Párrafo inicial: “¿Los conoces?”, Preguntó madame Maigret en voz baja cuando su esposo se dio la vuelta para ver a una pareja que acababan de pasar.

Descripción del libro: Maigret y su mujer se toman unas muy necesarias vacaciones en Vichy, donde rápidamente se acostumbran a un ritmo de vida más pausado. Cuando una mujer, con quien regularmente se cruzan durante sus paseos diarios, es asesinada, Maigret no puede evitar ofrecerle su ayuda al inspector local, un antiguo compañero de Maigret.

Mi opinión: Nuestro comisario se encuentra en Vichy tomando las aguas por sugerencia del Dr. Pardon en compañía de su mujer. Los días pasan a un ritmo pausado, bajo una dieta estricta sin nada de alcohol, y frecuentes caminatas a las diferentes fuentes termales para beber agua.

Se habían creado un programa para ellos mismos que seguían con meticulosidad como si fuera de la mayor importancia, y sus días se median mediante diversos rituales a los que se habian adherido religiosamente.

En ocasiones se sientan a escuchar el concierto en el quiosco de música. De vez en cuando, Maigret se detiene a mirar una partida de petanca. Y muy a menudo se divierten haciendo comentarios sobre aquellos con quienes se cruzan. Una mujer en particular llama su atención. Podrían haberla bautizado como la dama de malva o, mejor dicho, la dama de color lila, porque siempre llevaba algo de color lila.

Parecía haber salido directamente de un libro de dibujos. Llevaba un sombrero blanco, mientras que la mayoría de las mujeres aquí llevaban la cabeza descubierta. la estola que rodeaba sus hombros también era blanca, y vestía un color lila del que parecía sentirse orgullosa.
La dama de lila se encontraba entre aquellos que podrían llamarse el círculo íntimo de Maigret, personas que había observado desde el principio y que le intrigaban.
……
Se podría adivinar que estaba acostumbrada a vivir en silencio, como con las monjas, acostumbradas a la soledad. Tal vez incluso prefería esa soledad. Ya sea caminando o sentada, como estaba actualmente, no prestaba atención a los paseantes ni a sus vecinos, y probablemente se habría sorprendido mucho al saber que, sin ninguna obligación profesional, el inspector jefe Maigret intentaba evaluar su personalidad.

Pero un día el asesinato de Hélène Lange sacude la tranquilidad del balneario. El inspector Lecoeur, el jefe de policía de Clermont-Ferrand, se hace cargo de la investigación. Lecoeur había sido un antiguo colega de Maigret que había trabajado bajo su mando en la Policía Judicial de París. Y Maigret no puede evitar interesarse en la investigación, aunque, al estar fuera de su jurisdicción, todo lo que puede hacer es ofrecer su ayuda a su antiguo subordinado. El propio Maigret se siente aún más intrigado al descubrir que la víctima, Hélène Lange, no es otra que la mujer de lila, que tan poderosamente había llamado su atención los días anteriores.

Maigret en Vichy resulta ser la historia de una investigación en la que Maigret se ve obligado a desempeñar un papel secundario. Probablemente no sea recomendable leer esta historia, si uno todavía no está familiarizado con nuestro personaje. Y es muy probable que su ritmo lento y pausado no sea del agrado de todos los lectores. Cabe señalar que esta es una de las últimas novelas de la serie y Maigret se acerca a su edad de jubilación. En cierto sentido, me pareció atractivo observar la reacción de Maigret ante la forma en que su anterior subordinado lleva a cabo un interrogatorio de una manera bastante diferente a cómo lo habría hecho él mismo, aunque no menos eficaz en cualquier caso. En pocas palabras, Maigret en Vichy cuenta la fascinante historia de un engaño que logra captar nuestra atención hasta la última página.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Su obra incluye casi 200 novelas, más de 150 relatos, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas baratas escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han realizado unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos protagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en el 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. En Gran Bretaña se hicieron dos series para la televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93). Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su capacidad creativa, y varias novelas de esos años se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varios relatos autobiográficos.

My Book Notes: Maigret’s Pickpocket, 1967 (Inspector Maigret #66) by Georges Simenon (tr. Siân Reynolds)

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

Penguin Classics, 2019. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 2032 KB. Print Length: 186 pages. ASIN: B07GRHJ16G. ISBN: 978-0-241-30418-1. A pre-original version was published in the daily Télé 7 Jours n° 358-371 between 28 January and 6 May 1967 (15 episodes). First published in French as Le Voleur de Maigret by Presses de la Cité in 1967. The story was written between 5 and 11 November 1966 in Épalinges (Canton of Vaud), Switzerland. The first English translation came out as Maigret’s Pickpocket in 1968. Ten subsequent editions followed through 1996 aka Maigret and the Pickpocket. The translator for all was Nigel Ryan. This translation by Siân Reynolds was first published in 2019.

imageOpening paragraph: ‘Sorry, monsieur.’
      ‘Not at all.’
      It was at least the third time since the corner of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir that she had lost her balance, bumping into him with her bony shoulder and crushing her string bag full of groceries against his thigh.

Book description: A pickpocket steals Maigret’s wallet only to return it the following day, on the condition that he visit the thief’s apartment. When the thief leads Maigret to the body of his dead wife he becomes embroiled in an unusual murder case.

My take: One morning, while Maigret is travelling on the platform of a bus, someone robs his wallet. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that he gets his wallet back the next day on the mail, with nothing missing. What is even more strange is that he gets a call from the man who stole his wallet asking him for an appointment outside Quai des Orfèvres, to which Maigret accesses. The thief in question is some  François Ricain, an odd young man who thinks himself a genius while surviving writing cinema reviews hoping to become one day a celebrated film director. Nothing uncommon until Maigret accompanies him to his house to find out that Ricain’s wife, Sophie, has been murdered. Ricain, with all the evidence against him, fears to be charged of murdering and declares himself innocent. As usual, Maigret will have to dig deeper into their lives to uncover the truth.

‘This is a strange case. Strange people. I’m in the world of cinema and, just like at the cinema, it all started with a stunt, the theft of my wallet.’

It was a tough moment to get through. In almost all his investigations, Maigret experienced this more or less long period of uncertainty, in the course of which, his colleagues whispered, he seemed to be ruminating. During the first phase of a case, that is when he was suddenly faced with a new milieu, and people about whom he knew nothing, it was as if he was breathing in the life around him, absorbing it like a sponge.

He was sometimes met with disapproval, especially from the prosecutor’s office, for doing in person tasks which should be handled by his inspectors, leaving headquarters to interrogate witnesses on the spot in stead of having them summoned revisiting the crime scene for no good reason, even taking over surveillance duties, rain or shine.

Even at risk of repeating here the opinion of another reviewer at Goodreads here, with whom I find myself very much in accordance. I venture to say that nothing is seemingly outstanding in this book. The story turns out to be quite banal, the plot looks like as if we have already read it before, the characters do not seem to have anything that can make them interesting, and even the writing is by no means exceptional. Nevertheless, even when Simenon is clearly far from his best form, he manages to set up a novel that is not at all boring and that even manages to hook us from the beginning. Something reserved only to true geniuses. Recommended.

My rating: B (I liked it)

Maigret’s Pickpocket has been reviewed at The Budapest Times, and at Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog.

About the Author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Siân Reynolds is Emeritus Professor in French at the University of Stirling. Born Cardiff 1940. BA Modern Languages, Oxford (St Anne’s College); MA, Sussex; Doctorate (History) Université de Paris-VII-Denis Diderot, supervised by Michelle Perrot. Taught at Sussex and Edinburgh, appointed to the Chair in French at Stirling in 1990. Since taking early retirement, she has continued research in French and Scottish history and translating fiction (Fred Vargas, Georges Simenon, Virginie Despentes et al.). Past translations include most works by the French historian, Fernand Braudel. Current editor of the English online edition of the journal Clio: Femmes, Genre, Histoire, and Chair of the Scottish Working People’s History Trust. Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques; Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales; Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Nottingham (2015-2018). Source: University of Stirling.

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Le Voleur de Maigret 

Maigret of the Month: July, 2009

Tout Maigret

El ladrón de Maigret, de Georges Simenon

Primer párrafo: “Lo siento, señor.”
       ‘En absoluto.’
       Era por lo menos la tercera vez desde la esquina del bulevar Richard-Lenoir que perdía el equilibrio, lo golpeaba con su hombro huesudo y aplastaba su malla llena de productos de la compra, contra su muslo.

Descripción del libro: El comisario Maigret viaja en la plataforma de un autobús observando a los viajeros que le rodean y, en concreto, a una mujer, que, a cada sacudida del vehículo, le golpea las piernas con su bolsa de la compra. Esto hace que no se dé cuenta de que alguien, en un descuido, le sustrae la cartera del bolsillo trasero del pantalón.
Al día siguiente, Maigret recibe, en su despacho de la Policía Judicial, un paquete que contiene la cartera con todo lo que llevaba, incluida su placa de bronce.
Poco después, recibe una llamada del ladrón, en la que éste le explica el porqué del robo y le pide una entrevista para contarle una historia, siempre y cuando Maigret no lo denuncie y acuda solo.
Así da comienzo un nuevo caso del comisario Maigret.

Mi opinión: Una mañana, mientras Maigret viaja en la plataforma de un autobús, alguien le roba la billetera. Nada fuera de lo común, excepto por el hecho de que recibe su billetera al día siguiente en el correo, sin que falte nada. Lo que es aún más extraño es que recibe una llamada del hombre que le robó la billetera y le pide una cita fuera de Quai des Orfèvres, a la que Maigret accede. El ladrón en cuestión es François Ricain, un joven extraño que se cree un genio mientras sobrevive escribiendo críticas de cine con la esperanza de convertirse algún día en un famoso director de cine. Nada raro hasta que Maigret lo acompañe a su casa para descubrir que la esposa de Ricain, Sophie, ha sido asesinada. Ricain, con toda la evidencia en su contra, teme ser acusado de asesinato y se declara inocente. Como de costumbre, Maigret tendrá que profundizar en sus vidas para descubrir la verdad.

“Se trata de un caso extraño, con gente extraña. Me encuentro en el mundo del cine y, al igual que en las películas, todo comienza con un ardid, el robo de mi billetera “.

Era un momento difícil de superar. En casi todas sus investigaciones, Maigret experimentaba este período de incertidumbre más o menos largo, en el curso del cual, sus colegas susurraban que parecía estar reflexionando. Durante la primera fase de un caso, esto es cuando de repente se enfrentaba a un nuevo entorno, y a personas de las que no sabía nada, era como si respirara la vida que lo rodeaba, absorbiéndolo como una esponja.

En ocasiones sus prácticas eran desaprobabadas, especialmente por la oficina del fiscal, por encargarse de tareas personalmente que debían asumir sus inspectores, abandonar la sede central para interrogar testigos de inmediato en lugar de citarlos regresando a la escena del crimen sin razón aparente, incluso haciéndose cargo de labores de vigilancia, lloviera o hiciera sol.

Incluso a riesgo de repetir aquí la opinión de otro en Goodreads aquí, con quien me encuentro muy de acuerdo. Me atrevo a decir que no hay nada aparentemente sobresaliente en este libro. La historia resulta ser bastante banal, la trama parece como si ya la hubiéramos leído antes, los personajes no parecen tener nada que los haga interesantes, e incluso la escritura no es excepcional. Sin embargo, incluso cuando Simenon está claramente lejos de su mejor forma, logra crear una novela que no es para nada aburrida y que incluso nos engancha desde el principio. Algo reservado solo a los verdaderos genios. Recomendado.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Su obra incluye casi 200 novelas, más de 150 relatos, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas baratas escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han realizado unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos protagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en el 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. En Gran Bretaña se hicieron dos series para la televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93). Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su capacidad creativa, y varias novelas de esos años se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varios relatos autobiográficos.

My Book Notes: Maigret Hesitates, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #67) by Georges Simenon (tr. Howard Curtis)

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

Penguin Classics, 2019. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 3823 KB. Print Length: 177 pages. ASIN: B07H7XVCM7. ISBN: 978-0-241-30420-4. First published in French as Maigret hésite by Presses de la Cité in 1968. The story was written between 24 and 30 January 1968 in Épalinges (Canton of Vaud), Switzerland. The first English translation came out as Maigret Hesitates in 1969. Nine subsequent editions followed through 1993. The translator for all was Lyn Moir. This translation by Howard Curtis was first published in 2019.

imageOpening paragraph: ‘Hello, Janvier.’
     ‘Morning, chief.’
     ‘Good morning. Lucas. Good morning, Lapointe.’
      When he got to Lapointe, Maigret couldn’t help smiling, and not only because the young inspector was sporting a tight-fitting new suit, pale-grey with thin red flecks. Everyone was smiling that morning, in the streets, on the buses, in the shops.

Book description: Inspector Maigret receives a series of letters warning of a murder that is going to take place. The letters do not reveal who will die, when it will happen or who will do it. Maigret must trace the letters back to their source before it is too late.

My take: The story begins one Monday 4 March and, even though the previous Sunday had been grey and windy, spring had suddenly woken today. Maigret had come to work just in a jacket and had walked most of the way. Upon opening an envelope addressed to him, Maigret discovers an anonymous letter announcing that a crime will be committed soon. Despite the preposterous of its content, he does not take it lightly and makes the appropriate investigations, which pay off. In view of the expensive stationary in which it was written, it can be determine that the letter was send, in all likelihood, from the household of Émile Parendon, a reputed lawyer, specialised in Maritime Law. Thus begins an investigation of a crime that hasn’t take place yet and whose victim is still unknown. Following a first visit to Paredon’s private mansion on Marigny Avenue, another anonymous letter arrives warning Maigret of the mistake he made by visiting prematurely the luxury apartment. This has only got them all stirred up and it may well bring things forward. The murder may be committed any time now, and it will be partly his fault.

‘It’s quite simple, inspector. Someone writes to tell you there’s going to be a murder. Only, they can’t tell you in advance who’s going to kill whom, or when, or how. Why contact yuo? Why warn you? 

The story unfolds over the course of three days, and it took Simenon about a week to write it. As in the case of Maigret Doubts (Les Scrupules de Maigret, 1958), Maigret finds himself in the position of having to investigate a murder before it has been committed and in which both the identity of the murderer as of the victim will remain unknown until the very last day. However, in this occasion, the plot takes place in a different milieu –the Paredons belong to an upper class family of society. It is well possible that for some Maigret Hesitates can’t be listed as detective fiction but, in my view, it has two of the main characteristics to qualify it as such. It clearly has two plots that converge, the course of the investigation and the story of the crime regardless of when this was committed. Another aspect to highlight in this novel is the magnificent portrait of its characters and I’ve also very much liked the contrast between a bright day of early spring and the dark atmosphere of the household in which the events happened. Ultimately, Maigret Hesitates is an example of what has been referred to as The Last Part of the Saga, the Maigret books written between  1964 – 1972, and of Simenon’s interest in psychology, fashionable at the time. In fact the Article 64 of the French Penal Code –There can be no crime, or delict, where the accused was in a state of madness at the time of the action; or when he has been constrained by a force which he had not the power to resist.– repeats itself like a mantra, along its pages. Proof of this are the following paragraphs:

He [Maigret] realized that time had passed, that this was a different world.

He [Maigret] had started by studying medicine. He has always regretted having to give up his studies because of circumstances. If he had been able to continue , wouldn’t he have chosen psychiatry? Then he would have been the one to answer the question:  … if the accused of the act, or if he was compelled by a force he was unable to  … Perhaps he didn’t regret the interruption of his studies so much. He wouldn’t have to decide.

Highly recommended.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

Maigret Hesitates has been reviewed at Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog

About the Author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Howard Curtis (born 1949) is one of the top translators working in the UK.  He translates from French, Spanish and Italian, and many of his translations have been awarded or shortlisted for translation prizes.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Maigret hésite 

Maigret of the Month: September, 2009

Tout Maigret

Maigret vacila, de Georges Simenon

Párrafo inicial: – Hola, Javier. – Buenos días, jefe. – Buenos días, Lucas. Buenos días, Lapointe … Al llegar a éste, Maigret no pudo evitar sonreír. No solo porque el joven Lapointe llevaba un traje nuevo, muy ajustado, de un color gris pálido con finas rayas rojas. Todos sonreían esa mañana en las calles, en el autobús, en las tiendas “.

Descripción del libro: El comisario Maigret recibe una serie de cartas que le advierten de un asesinato que tendrá lugar. Las cartas no revelan quién morirá, cuándo sucederá o quién lo cometerá. Maigret deberá seguir el rasto de las cartas hasta su origen antes de que sea demasiado tarde.

Mi opinión: La historia comienza un lunes 4 de marzo y, aunque el domingo anterior había sido gris y ventoso, la primavera se había despertado repentinamente hoy. Maigret había venido a trabajar solo con una chaqueta y había ido a pie casi todo el camino. Al abrir un sobre dirigido a él, Maigret descubre una carta anónima anunciando que pronto se cometerá un delito. A pesar de lo absurdo de su contenido, no lo toma a la ligera y realiza las investigaciones apropiadas, que dan resultado. En vista de la costosa papelería en que estaba escrita, se puede determinar que la carta fue enviada, con toda probabilidad, desde la casa de Émile Parendon, un abogado de renombre, especializado en Derecho Marítimo. Así comienza una investigación de un crimen que aún no ha ocurrido y cuya víctima aún se desconoce. Luego de una primera visita a la mansión privada de Paredon en Marigny Avenue, llega otra carta anónima que advierte a Maigret del error que cometió al visitar prematuramente el lujoso apartamento. Esto los ha despertado a todos y puede hacer avanzar las cosas. El asesinato puede ser cometido en cualquier momento, y será en parte culpa suya.

“Es muy sencillo, comisario. Alguien le escribe para decirle que se va a cometer un asesinato. Solo que no puede decirle de antemano quién va a matar a quién, cuándo o cómo. ¿Por qué contactarle? ¿Por qué avisarle?

La historia se desarrolla a lo largo de tres días y Simenon tardó aproximadamente una semana en escribirla. Como en el caso de Los escrúpulos de Maigret (Les Scrupules de Maigret, 1958), Maigret se encuentra en la posición de tener que investigar un asesinato antes de que éste se haya cometido y en el que tanto la identidad del asesino como la de la víctima permanecerán desconocidas hasta el ultimo dia. Sin embargo, en esta ocasión, la trama se desarrolla en un entorno diferente: los Paredon pertenecen a una familia de clase alta de la sociedad. Es muy posible que para algunos Maigret vacila no pueda catalogarse como novela policiaca pero, en mi opinión, tiene dos de las características principales para calificarla como tal. Claramente tiene dos argumentos que convergen, el curso de la investigación y la historia del crimen, independientemente de cuándo se cometió. Otro aspecto a destacar en esta novela es el magnífico retrato de sus personajes y también me gustó mucho el contraste entre un día brillante de principios de primavera y la atmósfera oscura de la casa en la que ocurrieron los hechos. Por último, Maigret vacila es un ejemplo de lo que se ha denominado La última parte de la saga, los libros de Maigret escritos entre 1964 y 1972, y del interés de Simenon en la psicología, de moda en ese momento. De hecho, el artículo 64 del Código Penal francés: No hay crimen ni delito, cuando el acusado se encontrara en estado de demencia al tiempo de la acción, ó cuando hubiera sido obligado por una fuerza a la que no hubiera podido resistirse. Se repite como un mantra a lo largo de sus páginas. Prueba de ello son los siguientes párrafos:


[Maigret]
se dio cuenta del paso del tiempo, que este era un mundo diferente.

[Maigret] había comenzado a estudiar medicina. Siempre ha lamentado haber tenido que abandonar sus estudios por las circunstancias. Si hubiera podido continuar, ¿acaso no habría elegido la psiquiatría? Entonces hubiera tenido que responder a la pregunta: … si el acusado de la acción, o si ha sido obligado por una fuerza que a la que no hubiera podido … Tal vez no lamentó la interrupción de sus estudios. No tendría que decidir.

Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Su obra incluye casi 200 novelas, más de 150 relatos, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas baratas escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han realizado unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos protagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en el 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. En Gran Bretaña se hicieron dos series para la televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93). Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su capacidad creativa, y varias novelas de esos años se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varios relatos autobiográficos.