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lunedì 6 giugno 2016
SIMENON SIMENON. “MAIGRET AT THE CORONER’S”
How this book stands out as an exception in the Maigret series.
SIMENON SIMENON. “MAIGRET CHEZ LE CORONER” Comment ce livre constitue comme une exception dans la série des Maigret. SIMENON SIMENON. "MAIGRET CHEZ LE CORONER" Come questo titolo costituisca un'eccezione tra la serie delle inchieste di Maigret
book is atypical of the 103 works, but to my view it is one of the
best. Unfortunately, it’s a poor choice for readers who are not
relatively familiar with Maigret. No less than seven features make it
1) Maigret leaves France. He rarely ever leaves his
home country, but for this adventure, he goes to the USA, specifically
to Tuscon, Arizona. Moreover, this is the first (and maybe) the only
time he travels anywhere for an official study, which in this case is to
“get up to date on American methods.” If you like these ‘American’
elements, consider reading Maigret in New York as well. That book came
out earlier although it deals with an investigation he pursued after his
2) Maigret only observes. He attends a coroner’s
inquest in front of a jury regarding a dead woman and five implicated
men. The question is whether her death was an accident, a suicide, or a
homicide, and the testimony includes multiple conflicting stories.
Maigret develops his own opinions, but he leaves before the inquest is
finished, and Simenon tells us “he never did know the verdict.”
Maigret understands English. Both books with Maigret in the USA make
reference to some schoolboy education in English. Yet, to understand
legal courtroom parlance and colloquial witness testimony as well as he
seems to, he would need more than that. I submit that Maigret honed his
Anglophone understanding through his study of medicine—he subscribed to
The Lancet, a weekly British medical journal, throughout his career as a
4) Maigret is all alone. None of his customary
associates accompany or support him. No Lucas, Janvier, Lapointe, etc.
Madame Maigret is not involved, either. In fact, he doesn’t even send
her the postcards he promised her and he only writes one letter—in the
airplane while is flying him out of Arizona.
5) Maigret is a
veteran. We read this twice. First, while wondering why something is
provoking Maigret, Simenon asks, “Was it because he was remembering his
military service…?” Second, repeated interrogating about the timing of
events during the testimony “reminded him of his military service…” The
idea of Maigret in the military was brand new to me when I came across
it in this book. My 2015 inquiry in the Trussel forum uncovered a
similar reference in Maigret and the Hotel Majestic. What, if anything
at all, have others run into regarding Maigret in the military?
American-French comparisons abound. Simenon comments extensively on the
country “where they had everything” using the thoughts and words of
Maigret. He reports on the people, houses, stores, bars, and “movie
theaters on every street corner,” to cite just a few. One can readily
envision Maigret the way he described himself: “like a little boy during
his first recess at a new school” assessing all this novel and
dissimilar material in “astonishment.”
7) There are actual maps.
Four reproductions of blackboard drawings employed during the course of
the inquest appear on separate whole pages. If Simenon uses such graphic
techniques in other Maigret stories, it will be news to me. I
understand these maps do not appear in every English edition, so I hope
Penguin includes them, for they are very helpful.