Jules and Louise, according to Louise, and not according to Jules or Simenon
SIMENON SIMENON. UN REGARD IMAGINATIF SUR LES MAIGRET/1
Jules et Louise, selon Louise, et pas selon Jules ou Simenon
SIMENON SIMENON. UNO SGUARDO FANTASIOSO SUI MAIGRET/1
Jules e Louise secondo Louise e non secondo Jules o Simenon
While considering the relationship between the Maigrets recently, I revisited the clever and witty creation by Marie-Claire Desmette* that exposes the pair so imaginatively. It appeared as Louise Maigret’s journal in which she reacts to her husband’s published memoirs and clarifies their unique partnership, correcting both him and Simenon on some things they wrote regarding the couple. Here, in the first of two parts, are a few short extracts I have translated for the pleasure of non-Francophone Anglophones:
Louise starts out by indicating she would like to “clear up” some things, offering the example that “Jules does not always call me Madame Maigret, and I do not always call him Maigret.” She goes on to explain how “my need for the truth is stronger than my (good) resolutions.” After claiming, “I don’t often hide something from him,” she then admits, “I want to jump on the path to confession.”
And so, Louise’s truths come out one after another. The first is: “I’m not courageous,” and she goes on to provide some examples. One is: “Nor is it because of stoicism that I forbade Dr. Pardon to tell Jules about my little circulatory problems. It’s out of fear. The fear of becoming a sort of Madame Lognon and Jules doesn’t tolerate Madame Lognon. Somehow, I’m afraid my husband might no longer tolerate me.” After detailing this anecdote, she proceeds: “Another time, I outdid my Chief Inspector, but I don’t know if I’ll talk about it because I did it on purpose that time and I have remorse about it still.”
The next truth: “Our accord is not without clouds. Yesterday, we almost argued. I was reproaching Jules… Knowing my man as I do, my reproaches were prudent and veiled. Perhaps my words got away from me a bit. They happened to say more than I would have liked. I was cautiously suggesting maybe it would have been better to rectify ‘in order to say goodbye to me, Maigret would pat me on my bottom’ as one more detail in his memoirs.” She quotes the argument in detail and finishes by citing the work that proves she is correct.
More truths: “I’m called Louise. I don’t particularly like my first name, but I don’t hate it as much as Jules loathes his. Sim once tried to replace Jules with Joseph to please him. ‘That’s worse,’ said the interested party. After this, Sim stuck with Maigret. […] Sometimes, we do call each other Maigret and Madame Maigret. Especially in moments of teasing.” A colorful paragraph goes on with the tale and concludes: “I won’t write down the names we gave each other during intimacy.”
Another truth and a sad one: “I’m a woman without a child. I was without hope of motherhood for a long time. The two of us suffered, both for the other and for ourselves. After several years, at last! There was so much hope for the arrival of a little girl never meant to live. I came home from the maternity hospital with empty arms. Jules’ love and affection at that time, his tenderness and gentleness, and his own grief… We said nothing to each other; it wasn’t necessary. We never brought it up again. Save for some looks, sometimes.” (To be continued.)
David P Simmons
*Desmette’s Les aveux de Madame Maigret first appeared in TRACES 4, 1992. The entire piece in a different translation by Steve Trussel appeared as The Confessions of Madame Maigret in 2006. It is still available online, along with helpful notes and links to pertinent Maigret texts, here: http://www.trussel.com/maig/madame.htm
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