giovedì 8 novembre 2018


Does Maigret act as an auxiliary to the judicial system, or as an avenger? 

Maigret agisce come ausiliario del sistema giudiziario o come vendicatore? 
Maigret agit-il en auxiliaire du système judiciaire, ou en justicier ?

Maigret's role, as a policeman, is first of all an investigator's role, seeking for the truth. Yet his job has to lead to the arrest of a culprit and his condemnation by the justice of men. This last part of the Chief Inspector's task is for him the most unpleasant side, and that's why we can often find cases in the saga where he tries to divert the situation so that this last act of condemnation doesn't take place. And when he can't avoid it, he's often very uncomfortable with this obligation to deliver a culprit to justice. 
There are several novels in which Maigret – and Simenon too… – finds a way to avoid the culprit's condemnation; for example, the novels in which the culprit does justice himself by committing suicide: Any in A Crime in HollandJean-Charles Gaillard in Maigret Loses his Temper, or Ernest Grandmaison in The Misty HarbourThere are also culprits who find a kind of redemption in death, such as Darchambaux in The Carter of La Providence, whose death avoids Maigret to bring before the court a man for whom he felt much compassion. 
Sometimes Maigret goes even further: after having obtained a confession, and thus discovered the truth in search of which he has persevered, he lets the culprits continue their life without delivering them to justice we can think of the " compagnons de l'Apocalypse" in The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, Anna Peeters in The Flemish House or Jaja in Liberty Bar. 
In most of the novels, however, Maigret will have to lead his investigation to the end, and deliver the culprit into the judges' hands. The Chief Inspector cannot escape this part of his work, and he has to perform, even reluctantly, his duty as a policeman, and complete the work for which he was commissioned as a performer of the law. All along his investigation, Maigret suffered the same torments as the suspect did, he identified with him, and when he convinced him to confess, it was in a way to set him free from himself, and not to deliver him to a justice to which the Chief Inspector can hardly believe himself... We can note that the more we advance in the saga, the more Maigret is reluctant in front of justice, of courts, and thus he's his creator's spokesman… 
We can however find some cases where Maigret doesn't seem to feel reluctant to condemnation: it's when he has to do with "crooks" or hired killers, "last minute culprits" in the novel, such as Guido Ferrari in The Night at the Crossroads or Justin from Toulon in Signed, Picpus. Sometimes Maigret delivers a culprit to justice while feeling a sense of achievement: these are cases where the culprit committed a sordid crime, often by financial interest, and in those cases the Chief Inspector felt empathy not for the culprit, but for the victim or a presumed guilty who turned out to be innocent; we can cite Ramuel in The Cellars of the Majestic, Dandurand in Cecile is DeadValentine Besson in Maigret and the Old Lady, Mme Serre in Maigret and the Tall Woman 
But in a large part of the cases for which Maigret went to the end of his duty, he made it with much hesitation and scruples, and sometimes with the hope that the culprit would not be condemned. We can think of James in The Two-Penny Bar, where the Chief Inspector, after heaving heard the culprit's pathetic confession, literally fled to join the consoling Mme Maigret in Alsace; of Julien Foucrier in Maigret Takes a Room, whom Maigret arrested because "he had to", as he said; or of Louis Pélardeau in Maigret in Vichy, for whose acquittal Maigret hoped 
Constrained by necessity to carry out his investigation to a term which, to be contrary to his moral principles, is nonetheless rendered indispensable by his judicial function, Maigret is sometimes forced to pose as an avenger, and his professional conscience doesn't prevent him to feel scruples, which makes him much more humane to us than many other paper heroes ... 

by Simenon-Simenon 

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