lunedì 22 ottobre 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. THE “GREAT NOSTALGIA”

 Some insights into the childlessness of the Maigret couple, Jules and Louise 


SIMENON SIMENON. LA “GRANDE NOSTALGIE”
Quelques aperçus sur l’état sans enfants du couple Maigret, Jules et Louise 
SIMENON SIMENON. "LA GRANDE NOSTALGIA"
Qualche osservazione sullo stato senza figli della coppia Maigret... Jules e Louise




The Colette subplot in Maigret’s Christmas, the plight of the little girl bedridden with a casted broken leg in an apartment across the street from the Maigrets on Christmas Day, is at once heartwarming and heartrending. It focuses on the couple being childless. Indeed, shortly after Simenon wrote Maigret’s Christmas (5/17/1950 to 5/20/1950), he had Maigret write a snippet about the ‘parenting’ matter in Maigret’s Memoirs (9/19/1950 to 9/27/1950). He describes the way things evolved for Colette after her adoptive aunt went to jail for her crimes and her father seemed to be on his way to recovery from his alcoholism and homelessness. Maigret’s statement about his wife presents a brief sequel that injects more happiness and sadness into the childlessness story. Here is my translation: 
She takes a particular interest, for reasons I do not have to highlight, in those who have children, and it would be a mistake to think that the unlawful, wrongdoers, or criminals do not have them. 
We had one in our home, a little girl whose mother I sent to prison for the rest of her days, but we were aware the father would take her back as soon he became a normal man again. 
She continues to come to see us. She is a young woman now, and my wife is quite proud to make the rounds of shops with her in the afternoon.” 
To be precise, the “mother” referred to in this passage is the child’s aunt—her actual mother is dead. Her father is a homeless drunkard who may reform. 
25 years after these two works, in an interview with Francis Lacassin reported in the December 1975 Magazine littéraire, Simenon provided an interesting, explicit explanation of why he made the Maigrets childless. Here is my translation: 
Look, people often wondered why Maigret did not have a child when he wanted one so much. That was his great longing. Well, it is because, when I began the Maigrets—I must have written at least 30 before having a child myself—my first wife did not want a child. Before marrying me, she made me swear, I would not make her have one. For which I have suffered very much because I adore children… like Maigret. 
Well, I was incapable of showing Maigret going home and finding one or two kids. What was he going to say to them, how was he going to react to their cries, how would he give them their bottle at night if Madame Maigret was not feeling well? I did not know. Consequently, I had to create a couple that could not have a child. That’s the reason.” 
To be precise once more, two Maigret novels indicate the couple did have a child who died at childbirth or soon thereafter. Two ‘inaccuracies’ in 103 works? Not bad at all! 

David P Simmons

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