lunedì 5 settembre 2016


On Simenon stacking up the building blocks for his Maigret 

À propos de Simenon empilant les cubes de construction pour son Maigret 
A proposito di Simenon che aggiunge tasselli per la costruzione del suo Maigret

Fayard accepted the first full-fledged Maigret novel, Pietr-le-Letton, in May 1930 and proposed changing the author’s signature to Georges Simenon at the same timeGiven the new character and its new author, Simenon went right to work fleshing out Maigret extensively. In fact, he provided Fayard a whopping total of ten Maigret novels for the first year of publication (1931). Simenon recognized he needed a “playmaker” for the forthcoming series. What is more, he conceived of Maigret as a “safeguard” while he, the creator, matured as an author. Thus, he began to develop a rather diffuse identity format” for his primary character, the result being the iconic figure so easily visualized by readers. Here are some interesting, contributory facts gleaned from the biography Simenonsupplemented at times with some finds by my good friend, Monsieur Google: 
1. Simenon invented Maigret’s birthplace, but he had a model. Assouline indicates Maigret “came into the world in Saint-Fiacre adjacent to Chevagnes, 15 miles from Moulins (Allier). In other words, in Paray-le-Frésil. Indeed, according to Maigret’s Little Joke (Maigret S’amuse), “As a kid, in Paray-le Frésilhe had felt sorry for some rabbits….” Notably, Simenon worked for the Marquis of Tracy in his chateau in Paray-le-Frésil. Conveniently, Jules Maigret was born almost smack dab in the middle of France. (There is debate about where the geographic center of France lies exactly. I’m going with Sauzais-le-Potier, which is only 45 miles from Paray-le-Frésil and close enough to make the point.) “Jules Maigret was always a man from deep within France and as such he can represent all Frenchmen symbolically. 
2. Multiple features from Simenon’s own life crop up frequently in his portrait of Jules Maigret. For example, Maigret’s father dies when he is 44 years old and Jules is 19. Simenon’s father died when he was 44 years old and Georges was 18. 
3. Maigret is primarily a beer drinker because “Simenon’s exceptional sensory memory reproduced the smell of cold beer from the Belgium of his youth, a country of cafés and bars.” 
4. Maigret is “rather devoted to the bottle,” but Assouline goes on to state he never gets drunk.” YetI recall a drunk Maigret more than once. Here, taken directly from his memoirs, is my best example: “I finally made it into the Special Brigade. …I ordered I don’t know how many Mandarin aperitifs …I felt completely drunk and was dumbfounded by it. The stairway was spinning around me. My wife’s silhouette lacked sharpness. I was seeing her with at least two mouths and three or four eyes.” 
5. Simenon “always had trouble recognizing the bridges he unconsciously built between himself and his hero.” To quote him: “I don’t identify myself with Maigret, I never envisioned that I resembled Maigret. 
6. In any case, for Simenon, “Maigret was living inside me, I saw him as a flesh and blood character, I was familiar with the sound of his voice, the smell of his old sweater, [everything right down] to the tips of his shoes. While I was slaving away, he was there, smoking his pipe, waitingWe had faith in each other.” 

David P Simmons

1 commento:

Murielle Wenger ha detto...

There is at least a second time when Maigret got drunk. In La première enquête de Maigret, at the end of the novel, young Maigret is promoted in the squad of chief inspector Barodet, so he enters to the Quai des Orfèvres... He goes to the Brasserie Dauphine, and drinks sparkling wine, and it is said in the text: "When he got home, that evening, he was drunk."...