Review: Cécile is Dead, 1942 (Inspector Maigret #20) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Anthea Bell

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

Penguin Classics, 2015. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Cécile est mort by Gallimard, 1942. ISBN: 978-0-141-39705- 4. 192 pages. The English translation of Cécile est morte by Eileen Ellenbogen was first published under the title of  Maigret and the Spinster in 1977 by Hamish Hamilton (UK) and by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (USA).

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (1)Book description: In the dreary suburbs of Paris, the merciless greed of a seemingly respectable woman is unearthed by her long suffering niece, and Maigret discovers the far-reaching consequences of their actions.

My take: With certain regularity mademoiselle Cécile Pardon has taken into the habit of visiting  inspector Maigret on grounds that, at nights, someone gest into the house where she lives together with her disabled aunt, and moves the furniture from its site. Maigret doesn’t take her seriously and, often, makes her wait for some time. Besides, Maigret has to put up with the jokes of his colleagues calling her Maigret’s lovebird. One day Maigret completely forgets Cécile was waiting for him but, when he realises it, Cécile is no longer there. ‘This wasn’t like Cécile, who had once spent seven hours in the waiting room without moving’. On top of it, Cécile had written that same day on her application : ‘You simply must see me. A terrible thing happened last night.’  Maigret, feeling himself guilty, decides to go an see her at her home in. But Cécile is not there either. Maigret finds instead the lifeless body of Cécile’s aunt, Madame Juliette Boynet, who has been strangled. Shortly afterwards, Maigret calls Quai des Orfèvres  asking if Cécile has come back, but it’s only after five in the afternoon when he learns that Cécile was found dead, also strangled, inside a large cupboard used for keeping buckets, brooms and other cleaning supplies. A cupboard located in a passage connecting the Police Judiciaire premises straight to the courtrooms of the Palais de Justice.

Cécile is Dead belongs to the six novels which make up the so-called Gallimard cycle. Possibly the set that brings together the best Maigret novels according to some views highly widespread. I certainly believe you can’t go wrong if you decide to read any of them. You can also read more about the circumstances that surrounded Simenon when he wrote this book in the links enclosed further below. In any case Curtis Evans at The Passing Trump sums it up very well when he wrote:

People may say they don’t read Maigrets for the mystery plots, but anyone who, like me, does read Maigret and the Spinster at least partly for its mystery plot should not be at all disappointed.  Nor should they forget the characters and the setting any time soon–a splendid bonus!

Frankly, I don’t think one can expect much more than a well-crafted plot, a brilliant characterisation, and a stunning denouement. Ultimately, a brilliant novel, highly recommended, that will delight both the unconditional readers of Simenon as to the most devoted followers of Golden Age Detective fiction.

In 1944, Cécile est morte, was brought to the big screen in the film of the same title directed by Maurice Tourneur.

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

About the author: Simenon was a hugely prolific writer, able to pen a novel in a matter of days (which was fortunate, as he also had to fit in sleeping with 10,000 women, or so he claimed). He wrote over 400 books, which has undoubtedly affected his critical standing. While some of his work clearly suffers from haste, his reputation is currently undergoing something of a renaissance as critics rediscover not only the Maigret novels which made his name but also the books he regarded as his more serious works – taut psychological thrillers and sexual and domestic intrigues. Simenon’s books focus on the tensions that lead a person to an extraordinary act such as murder. Through Maigret, who works primarily from intuition rather than procedural techniques, Simenon explores the psychology of his protagonists. The focus on people and setting is emphasised by the extremely spare language which is a feature of all his work. English crime writer and critic HRF Keating awarded Simenon three places in his 1987 survey of the 100 best crime and mystery books. Two are from his Maigret series – My Friend Maigret(1949) and Maigret in Court (1960). The third is a ‘serious’ novel, The Stain on the Snow (1948). The recently reissued psychological thriller The Blue Room, about a couple whose torrid affair leads to double murder, is also considered one of his best. (Source: The Guardian)

About the translator: Anthea Bell’s career spans six decades and includes works by Stefan Zweig, W.G. Sebald, Freud and Kafka alongside a wide range of contemporary authors writing in German and French. An advocate of the art of ‘invisible translation’, she is nevertheless best known for her wonderfully creative English rendering of the Asterix series, and her work has attracted numerous translation awards as well as an OBE and the German Order of the Cross of Merit. Born in Suffolk and a graduate of Oxford University, Anthea Bell now lives in Cambridge. (Source: New Book in German)

Cécile is Dead has been reviewed at The Passing Tramp, and Crime Review, among others.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

Cécile est mort 

Maigret of the Month: October, 2005

Tout Maigret

audible 

Cecile ha muerto de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: En los tristes suburbios de París, la codicia despiadada de una mujer aparentemente respetable es desenterrada por su sobrina, y Maigret descubre las tremendas consecuencias de sus acciones.

Mi opinión: Con cierta regularidad, la señorita Cécile Pardon se ha acostumbrado a visitar al inspector Maigret con el argumento de que, por las noches, alguien entra en la casa donde vive junto con su tía discapacitada y mueve los muebles de su sitio. Maigret no la toma en serio y, a menudo, la hace esperar un tiempo. Además, Maigret tiene que aguantar los chistes de sus colegas llamándola la enamorada de Maigret. Un día, Maigret se olvida por completo de que Cécile lo estaba esperando pero, cuando se da cuenta, Cécile ya no está allí. “No era típico de Cécile, que una vez había pasado siete horas en la sala de espera sin moverse“. Además, Cécile había escrito ese mismo día en su solicitud: “Simplemente debe verme. Algo terrible sucedió anoche.” Maigret, sintiéndose culpable, decide ir a verla a su casa. Pero Cécile tampoco está allí. Maigret encuentra en cambio el cuerpo sin vida de la tía de Cécile, madame Juliette Boynet, que ha sido estrangulada. Poco después, Maigret llama a Quai des Orfèvres preguntando si Cécile ha regresado, pero es solo después de las cinco de la tarde cuando descubre que Cécile fue encontrada muerta, también estrangulada, dentro de un gran armario usado para guardar cubos, escobas y otros artículos de limpieza. Un armario ubicado en un pasillo que conecta las dependencias de la policía judicial directamente con las salas del Palacio de Justicia.

Cecile ha muerto pertenece a las seis novelas que componen el llamado ciclo Gallimard. Posiblemente el conjunto que reúne las mejores novelas de Maigret según algunas opiniones muy generalizadas. Ciertamente creo que usted no puede equivocarse si decide leer alguna de ellas. También puede usted leer más sobre las circunstancias que rodearon a Simenon cuando escribió este libro en los enlaces que se adjuntan más arriba. En cualquier caso, Curtis Evans en The Passing Trump lo resume muy bien cuando escribió:


La gente puede decir que no leen Maigrets por el misterio de sus argumentos, pero cualquiera que, como yo, lea Cecile ha muerto , al menos en parte por el misertio de su argumento, no debería sentirse decepcionado en absoluto. Tampoco nos olvidaremos de los personajes ni de la ambientación en todo momento., ¡un magnífico extra!

Francamente, no creo que uno pueda esperar mucho más que una trama bien elaborada, una brillante caracterización y un deslumbrante desenlace. En definitiva, una novela brillante, muy recomendable, que deleitará tanto a los lectores incondicionales de Simenon como a los seguidores más devotos de las novelas de detectives de la Edad de Oro.

En 1944, Cecile ha muerto , fue llevada a la gran pantalla en la película del mismo título dirigida por Maurice Tourneur.

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

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon nació en Lieja en 1903 en una familia de escasos medios. Pese a ser un alumno dotado, abandonó pronto la escuela y, muy joven, trabajó de reportero en Lieja. En 1922, ya en París, se introdujo en los ambientes de Montmartre y publicó con seudónimo numerosas novelas populares. En 1931 inició la célebre serie de novelas protagonizadas por el comisario Maigret. Tras una época de grandes viajes, inició una gran amistad con Gide y comenzó a publicar las llamadas “novelas duras”. Durante la segunda guerra mundial ocupó el cargo de alto comisario para los refugiados belgas, pero la necesidad de mantener a la familia le impidió dejar la escritura. Acabada la guerra, se instaló en Norteamérica, y en 1955 volvió definitivamente a Europa. En 1972 decidió abandonar la narrativa, si bien siguió escribiendo textos autobiográficos, y murió en Lausana en 1989.

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In Francoland

I would kindly suggest you to read this article by Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina translated by María Luisa Rodríguez Tapia and published yesterday in El Pais.

In Francoland: Both Europe and America love what they see as our quaint backwardness so much that they feel insulted if we explain to them how much we have changed. (In English)

En Francoland: En Europa o América, les gusta tanto el pintoresquismo de nuestro atraso que se ofenden si les explicamos todo lo que hemos cambiado. (En español)

What is happening in Catalonia?

During the last few weeks many friends of the The Hispanic Council from all over the are asking us about Catalonia. In this video we explain what is happening. It could not have been put any better.

The Bureau Season 3 – Official Trailer

To whet your appetite:

Plot summary: After a high-risk elimination mission, Malotru has been taken hostage by the “Islamic State”. Moved from camp to camp, tortured and weakened, he’s close to despair. In Paris, the DGSE faces a dilemma: should they use all their resources to save Malotru, who betrayed the service, his country and friends when he became a double agent working for the CIA? In order to plan an operation to free him, the service needs to establish a direct contact with the“Islamic State”. Nadia agrees to help by getting in touch with a former Syrian colleague, now a manipulative and dangerous man involved in art trafficking with the“Islamic State”. Agent Marina is back to Paris after her ordeal in Iran, unharmed– at least apparently. She can’t wait to go back in the field. She will find herself involved in a very complex mission in Azerbaijan, led by the Mossad– which doesn’t know that she works for the DGSE. As it launches operations to retrieve Malotru, the DGSE receives a mysterious coded message: an“Islamic State” commander wants to defect.

OT: The Power of the Past: 150 Years of Archaeology in Spain

el-poder-del pasado-c-11 octubre-1Madrid, Spain
Museo Arqueológico Nacional, MAN 10 Oct 2017 – 01 Apr 2018

The exhibition, organised by the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid and Acción Cultural Española, presents the history and development of Spanish archaeology through 150 pieces in order to show how Spain’s material past has been constructed. The works have been lent by 68 collaborating institutions and are all icons of the past which convey an overall, up-to-date and critical vision of archaeology in Spain. The show furthermore coincides with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional (MAN) and the network of Spanish archaeology museums.
The founding of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in 1867 was a moment of far-reaching significance in raising public awareness of the importance of the past in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Spain.
Archaeological museums have always had a twofold purpose. The first is to document, preserve and exhibit the objects and material remains of our past in order to trace the development of societies. The second is to disseminate this knowledge of the past, making it more understandable and accessible to all citizens.
In a way, the MAN and Spain’s other archaeological museums are the main database on this country’s material history and, at the same time, the biggest and most attractive showcase of its history.
The extensive collaboration of the museums involved in the project and the timespan of the discoveries of the objects on display provide a rich perspective on history and studying it.

Source: Acción Cultural Española, Spain’s Public Agency for Cultural Action.