lunedì 19 novembre 2018


An examination of the text behind the title 

Un esame del contesto dietro il testo
Un examen du contexte derrière le titre

Maigret’s Anger, the title of Penguin’s newly released Simenon translation, led me to reread La Colère de Maigret to see exactly what it is that makes him mad.
The novel opens with the Chief Inspector at the office where the heat forces him to work “windows wide open, in his shirtsleeves” while most others are off “on vacation.” He labors in “the tedious drudgery” of writing reports for his superior, a hated task for him we know about from previous Maigrets. Then, the desire for a drink overwhelms him “despite the counsel of his friend and doctor Pardon” to “spare his liver, which had forced onto the wagon for several weeks. Thus, across the street at La Brasserie Dauphine, he “grumbles ‘The usual’ between his teeth, and ends up having several drinks. When Lucas perturbs him with a new case, the disappearance of a reputedly honest nightclub owner, he treats his associate gruffly, annoyed because he has not had to “set foot in a nightclub” on a case for “at least two years.” Simenon has nicely set the stage for Maigret to really get angry! 
The missing man turns up soon enoughstrangled to death—plunging Maigret into the nightclub and bar world where lacking an established plan […] he is a little like a hunting dog, who comes and goes, sniffing around.” Back at home for a break, because “he still does not know which direction to take in the case,” he gets more annoyed when interrupted at dinner, so, “brow furrowed, he is very “grumpy.” Yet, he resumes plodding along, doggedly as usual, because “he detests not understanding.” In addition, because the case “is becoming a personal matter, we see an aggravated Maigret: besides being “grumpy,” he wears “his grumpy look” and speaks in a surly tone. Basically, “he is in such a bad mood,” because “he feels confused by his own fault.”  
Continuing to dig, Maigret remains irritable, “grumbling” six more times until, at last, his reliable intuition brings him a prime suspect, a lawyer with a reputation for getting criminals off the hook. The detective soon uncovers a character witness who reveals this suspect runs a scheme of buying acquittals for his clients and, lo and behold, he has fingered Maigret as being on the take. 
“He made you pay a 100,000 francs to defend to you?” 
“Not to defend me… It was separate…” 
 “To hand them over to someone else?” 
“To you…” 
Given this supreme insult, a truly irate Maigret collars the culprit hastily, confronts him with his source, and explodes: “fuming, calm on the outside but very irritated inside,” Maigret “struggles not smack him in the chops.” Instead he “pounds the table with his fist making everything on it jump. ‘Shut up!’ he shouts. I forbid you, until I ask you, to open your mouth.” After laying out the evidence and his deductions “with a contempt he had never expressed to a human being before, the Chief Inspector jails the guilty man. It is only later that night, after he learns his slanderer “has hung himself in his cell,” that angry Maigret “relaxes.” 

David P. Simmons 

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