|Lesson number One: Georges Simenon teaches Jean Gabin, cigarette smoker, how to light his pipe
giovedì 27 giugno 2019
SIMENON SIMENON. MAIGRET'S PIPE, AN "OBJECT LESSON"
How the description of Maigret's way of smoking is very realistic and evocative for a pipe smoker
SIMENON SIMENON. LA PIPA DI MAIGRET, UNA "LEZIONE DI COSE"
Come la descrizione del modo di fumare di Maigret è molto realistica ed evocativa per un fumatore di pipa
SIMENON SIMENON. LA PIPE DE MAIGRET, « LEÇON DE CHOSES »
En quoi la description de la façon de fumer de Maigret est très réaliste et évocatrice pour un fumeur de pipe
The pipe is an icon for Maigret. It integrates completely into the character. Yet in a very different way from another famous pipe smoker detective, that is to say Sherlock Holmes: this one smokes only in certain moments, when he's absorbed in his ruminations, following obscure paths in his mind that allow him to find things that others won't never find… Well, of course Maigret uses also his pipe in this way, but it goes further because the Chief Inspector is a serial smoker: he lights his pipe after meals, on evening when he goes to bed, before falling asleep, and early in the morning, when just awaken, relighting the pipe he had begun to smoke the night before, and that is waiting for him the bedside table…
The Chief Inspector smokes even when he's ill, trying, in vain, not to be discovered by Mme Maigret, who often pretends not having noticed it…
He smokes his pipe when he's interrogating suspects and when he's around to get an idea on the ongoing case. He smokes when he's drinking a fresh beer to quench his thirst or a vigorous calvados to warm up. Even when his pipe is empty, Maigret keeps it in his mouth, in his hand, or on the desk under his gaze, he clenches it with his fist when it is in his pocket.
The pipe is a companion for Maigret also during stalking, spinning and hideout, waiting in a bistro, or a little suburban café… The pipe is like a warm presence that warms up his hands, but also that gives him strength in difficult moments and accompanies him when he's in unknown places and among foreign people.
Is the pipe perhaps Maigret's gun? In some American action films the hero has always a gun in his hand or in the holster under his armpit. Maigret has always his pipe by him. The pipe is a catalyst, which makes him get a click, when he's in the middle of an unsolvable case; the pipe gives him strength to carry on long interrogations that exhaust the suspect. On the other hand the pipe relaxes him when he's walking along the quays of the Seine, following his thoughts and looking at the swirls of smoke in the air. And while he's turning and turning around a case he doesn't succeed in understanding it, emptying the pipe, lighting it, tamping down the tobacco (well, it's not cute, yet Maigret obviously does it with his finger instead of using a pipe cleaner), all these pre-smoking actions are essential to someone who has something in his mind that escapes him. While concentrating on these actions, a whole series of mechanisms are setting in motion, which on one hand require concentration and on the other hand are functional catalysts for right ideas on which to route reasoning so to resolve a case or take inspiration.
Lighting his pipe is not a mechanical gesture like lighting a cigarette. Filling a pipe means having first chosen one, according to the circumstances. For example, Maigret prefers thick and massive pipes, because they fit well to his big hands. When the Chief Inspector has to conduct an interrogation that would last long, maybe he'll choose a pipe with a particularly large capacity bowl and he'll tamp down the tobacco more than usually, not only to have more of it to smoke, but also because when tobacco is well tamped down, it burns slower. Simenon doesn't explain that in the novels, yet the way Maigret lights his pipe, the kind of puffs he makes, the numerous times the pipe goes out and he has to light it again, from all this a pipe smoker understands many things.
In the novels, Simenon shows often the hasty way in which the Chief Inspector empties his pipe: he taps the bowl against his shoe heel. Simenon, who was a less rough and more refine pipe smoker than his character, wouldn't have done so. Yet when he tells this gesture of Maigret, a pipe smoker perceives a kind of unspoken disapproval, but also of resignation… This very little inelegant way of emptying the pipe is perfectly in line with Maigret's style.
Pubblicato da Maurizio Testa alle 09:21