SIMENON SIMENON. LA COMPASSION DE MAIGRET S'EXERCE DANS DEUX DIRECTIONS
Non seulement pour le coupable, mais aussi pour la victime.
SIMENON SIMENON. LA COMPRENSIONE DI MAIGRET PRENDE DUE DIREZIONI
Non solo per il colpevole, ma ovviamente anche per la vittima
That Maigret’s compassion often led him to let criminals go free stood out more and more as I worked my way through his hundred plus cases. I wish I had kept count of it. Now, a different manifestation of his compassion has caught my eye.
Hugh Eames published a series of essays in SLEUTHS, INC. As its subtitle, Studies of Problem Solvers, Doyle, Simenon, Hamett, Ambler, Chandler tends to suggest (Eric Ambler doesn’t feature a representative sleuth), the work is a rambling, disjointed compilation of ideas and observations. Despite this, the 50-page chapter entitled JULES MAIGRET—Georges Simenon does contain some valuable tidbits. In particular, Eames points out that Maigret’s compassion for the victims, frequently above and beyond that for the criminals, aids him in solving many crimes. Although some novel rereading is necessary to validate this concept, his premise is summarized below.
Eames offers Jules Maigret as “the most original” of the problem solvers in criminal fiction. A “rationale [that] is centered in compassion” gives Maigret the fundamental ability “to see himself in the situation of others.” Eames exemplifies the way this unique “ability to identify himself… …with the victim is responsible for many of his solutions” by means of one novel: Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl, later Maigret and the Young Girl, both translations by the same person, Daphne Woodward.
Eames outlines how Inspector Maigret first learns as much as he can about the murder victim, Louise Leboine, in a method Simenon likens to the step-by-step process of photography. Once he has a good image of unfortunate, innocent Louise in mind, Maigret then tracks her last few steps to a bar where he extracts some final details from its bartender, Albert Falconi. We hear that the young girl sat alone on a stool at the bar, drank a martini, conversed with a male stranger, and left the bar with this man. That said, aware Louise would never, ever have behaved that way, Maigret arrests the liar on the spot. The criminal wonders: “How did you guess?” and the detective replies: “I did not guess. I knew right away.” He goes on to explain that the story was “perfect, almost too perfect, and I’d have believed it if I hadn’t known the girl.” The surprised Falconi asks, “You knew her?” and the informed Maigret responds, “I ended up knowing her quite well.”
Although one swallow doesn’t make a summer, the case cited by Eames does, at least, support his point.
David P Simmons