giovedì 13 dicembre 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. PARIS FOR EVER...

Did socio-historical evolution in the city influence the Maigret novels? 

SIMENON SIMENON. PARIGI PER SEMPRE... 
L'evoluzione socio-storica della città ha influenzato i romanzi di Maigret? 
SIMENON SIMENON. PARIS POUR TOUJOURS... 
L'évolution socio-historique de la ville a-t-elle influencé les romans Maigret ? 


Paris in the 30's. No doubt it's in the city of those times that we imagine Maigret moving around, even if for example the English TV series with Rupert Davies and the Italian one with Gino Cervi presented a setting in a time contemporaneous to that of the filming. The series with Davies and Cervi had begun in the 60's, when Simenon was still in full literary activity.  
Yet the novelist wrote his last Maigret novel in 1972, thus the Parisian setting in which Maigret was living began in the 30's, with the platform buses (where the Chief Inspector could luckily smoke his pipe…) and went up to the 70's, where TV entered Maigret's apartment and his car was parked in boulevard Richard-Lenoir (well, Mme Maigret was to drive the car, of course…). So Simenon, during these forty years of writing, adopted a number of changes, maybe the same he and his readers were experiencing. He couldn’t and wouldn’t stay fixed in an era… The sole thing that somewhat irritated him was that the Chief Inspector was aging, but much more slowly than the novelist himself was.  
In 1930 the first traffic lights were installed in Paris. The metro had already been in function for thirty yearsBy then Paris was a metropolis with about five millions inhabitants, and in the 70's there were eight millions. It was the city in which a tennis stadium, Roland-Garros, has just been built in the 30's, and in the 70's they demolished the famous market of Les Halles. In fact life has much changed and moreover meanwhile there had been Second World War, with Nazism horrors, then immigration from colonies…  
On the contrary Maigret and his stories all in all didn’t so much change, or maybe they did, yet you couldn’t really notice it.  
During these forty years the world had revolutionized, scientific techniques of investigation had refined and means to fight against underworld and to solve cases were much more sophisticated. Yet Maigret kept on with his methods, even at the risk of looking old-fashioned, outdated, and now just good for retirement. And the fact that Paris and Parisian people had very much changed didn’t weigh on his investigations.  
Maybe it was the reason why Japanese people, whereas light years away for culture and mentality from Simenon, appreciated the Maigret novels and even produced a TV series with the Chief Inspector. Of course it was a character that went straight to men's heart, beyond time and space. And it was the same for Paris as Simenon described it.  
Also French people got used, with the two TV series, first that with Jean Richard from 1967 to 1990, and then the series with Bruno Crémer from 1991 to 2005, to see on screen a contemporaneous Paris, with traffic jams, modern phones, and Maigret without neither bowler hat nor heavy velvet collar overcoat. Yet some things remained immutable: his pipe, the Quai des Orfèvres, the Seine flowing under his windows, and Eiffel Tower…  

by Simenon-Simenon 

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