venerdì 6 dicembre 2019


Gabriel Garcia Marquez alla caccia di un Maigret perduto

Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the hunt for a lost Maigret
Gabriel Garcia Marquez à la recherche d'un Maigret perdu

Appena una settantina di pagine. Un piccolo formato (11,5x18), un editore importante, Tusquets di Barcellona, edito nel 1994. Il libro è di Gabriel Garcia Marquez e presenta un racconto che introduce un altro racconto. La vicenda, narrata in prima persona, riguarda una lettura fatta molti dall'autore anni addietro, nel 1949, un racconto poliziesco di cui non ricorda nè l'autore, nè il titolo. Dopo molti anni a Parigi incontra in bar un uomo che gli ricorda qualcosa di quel racconto e allora gli torna la fantasia di rileggerlo. Ma purtroppo non ricordando titolo e autore è costretto ad una sorta di indagine a ritroso nella memoria e nel tempo, facendosi addirittura aiutare, nella finzione del racconto, da Jorge Luis Borges e da Julio Cortázar. Pian piano si fa luce e, tra le nebbie del passato, si intravedono due nomi, prima quello di Maigret e quindi naturalmente quello di Simenon. Il racconto, svela Cortázar " chiama 'L'homme dans la rue' e fà parte di una raccolta intitolata 'Maigret e le petit Cochons sans queue'...". E infatti in questo piccolo libro segue poi il racconto di Simenon che in realtà ha un titolo e una genesi un po' diversa da quella che "Gabo" fa rivelare a Cortázar. Infatti il racconto cui fà riferimento é parte di una raccolta di novelle poliziesche intitolata per la precisione Les Petits Cochons sans queue, un'antologia di racconti polizieschi apparsi in diversi giornali tra il '39 e il '50. Furono poi raccolte in un libro edito nel' 50 da Presses de La Cité, ma il titolo originale del racconto simenoniano (scritto a Nieul-sur- Mer nel 1939) era Le Prisonnier de la rue con protagonista Maigret, divenuto L'homme dans la rue solo nell'antologia del '50.

A questo punto possiamo svelare il titolo del libro, o meglio i titoli, che sono poi quelli dei due racconti: El mismo cuento distinto di Marquez e El hombre en la calle di Simenon. Il racconto di Gabo" è particolarmente gustoso e costituisce un'introduzione di lusso all'inchiesta del commissario Maigret. Inoltre il libro presenta (quanta roba in così poche pagine!.... il pensiero non può non correre a certi tomi attuali che per dire poche cose impiegano centinaia di pagine...) due appendici. La prima Georges Simenon Habla del comisario Maigret, tratta da una breve presentazione che Simenon aveva scritto nel '53 per un produttore cinematografico. La seconda, Maigret habla de Georges Simenon (alias Georges Sim) è invece tratta da Le memories de Maigret (1950). Insomma un piccolo gioellino, oggi molto raro da trovare, edito ovviamente in spagnolo, ma è abbastanza comprensibile anche a chi ha solo qualche rudimento della lingua iberica.

giovedì 5 dicembre 2019


Translators who are working on current Penguin Maigret novels answer some questions about their job 

I traduttori che stanno lavorando ai romanzi di Maigret pubblicati dalla Penguin rispondono ad alcune domande sul loro lavoro 
Les traducteurs qui travaillent sur les romans Maigret actuellement publiés par Penguin, répondent à quelques questions sur leur tâche 

Simenon's novels have been published in so many languages that you could think his writing must be easy to translate. Yet this translating job may not be so obvious, and we thought it would be interesting for our readers to learn how translators deal with this workThus we posed four questions to the translators who are working on current Penguin Maigret novels. We thank them all for their answers. On Penguin site (, you can see which Maigret novels have been translated by every of these translators.

Murielle Wenger -  What is the most difficult thing to deal with in the translation of a Maigret novel? 

Ros Schwartz - The biggest challenge is Simenon’s deceptively simple economy of language and to replicate his seamless style. Period detail too. In one novel, a female character goes to sleep with «épingles» in her hair. I couldn’t visualize these, so I needed to find out what women wore in their hair at night in the 1930s to make it curly. I eventually found the answer on eBay where someone was advertising a set of 1930s bobby pins. In another book he refers to a street with wooden paving, and I had to study old photographs of that street to see that it really was paved with wooden blocks. I really enjoy the research aspect of the work. The first dictionary I ever bought was a 1932 bilingual Harraps, when I was fifteen. It’s been gathering dust for the past few decades, but now it’s proving invaluable because it has all sorts of obsolete words in it. Like the name of the room in a railway station where they stored the gas lamps (lamp room or lamp cabin if you want to know). 

Howard Curtis - Paradoxically, the very simplicity, precision and concision of Simenon's style. The more flowery an author's style, the easier it is to paraphrase or to gloss over nuances of meaning. But Simenon doesn't give a translator anywhere to hide: he or she has to match the author with sentences as clear and precise as his are. 

Sian Reynolds - As with any text which dates from an earlier period, whether Madame Bovary or a Simenon novel, translators have to take decisions from the first sentence on how they are going to deal with the time lapse - dated expressions in conversation, obsolete technology, available vocabulary and so on. Even the later Maigret novels now seem to us to be set in a remote period. Should you update, stick to older language, or try and pitch it between the two? That's one set of problems.
But I'd argue that the most difficult thing about translating Simenon is really his deceptive simplicity. You have to pick up what is going on under the surface. The temptation is to interpret, whereas the French text, which uses simple sentences and a fairly restricted vocabulary, only hints at what is happening or being expressed, leaving much unsaid. I think my fellow translators in the Penguin collection would probably agree. 

MW - Among the Maigret novels you've translated so far, which one did you enjoy translating the most? 

Ros Schwartz - I’ve enjoyed them all in different ways, but my favourites are the ones with killer grannies. I can’t tell you the titles because that would be a spoiler. I love Simenon’s descriptions of place, the way he can capture the atmosphere of a provincial French town or Paris neighbourhood in a few broad brushstrokes.  

Howard Curtis  - I've really enjoyed all of them. And I've been very lucky, in that Penguin have allowed me to translate several of my personal favourites, in particular, Maigret's Mistake, which may be my favourite of them all. 

Sian Reynolds - I liked Maigret's Revolver (first published as Le Revolver de Maigret in 1952). As it happens I have a very battered 1950s copy of the French edition with a photo of a revolver on the cover. Inside, we are told that the gun was lent to the photographer by 'Antoine, arquebusier à Paris'. Then another plus is that the novel is partly set in London. Maigret spends a lot of time sitting in the Savoy hotel and failing to get a drink, because of the licensing laws. His take on the English is caricatural, but quite funny. Alas, as in many Maigret novels, the real villain (whoever commits the crime) turns out to be a scheming woman... 

MW - Which Maigret novel (besides the ones you translated) do you prefer, and why so? 

Ros Schwartz  - I really don’t have a favourite. They’re all so different. What’s amazing about Simenon is the diversity of storylines, locations, character

Howard Curtis - That's hard to say, as I like so many of them. My Friend Maigret is one that stands out in my memory for its wonderful sundrenched atmosphere. And I have a sentimental attachment to Maigret's Revolver because it was the first Maigret - and first Simenon - I ever read, when I was about thirteen.  

Sian Reynolds - I like one that's just called Maigret, published back in 1934 in French. The Maigret novels are chronologically confusing and in this early one, Maigret is grumpily being called back from his country retreat, after retiring, by his useless nephew who is a rookie policeman. Back he goes into the world of cafés and night clubs to help sort things out. Of course, many later novels have him in mid-career, though sometimes recalled from a provincial holiday. The new Penguin version is engagingly translated by Ros Schwartz 

MW -  What do you particularly like in the character of Maigret? 

Ros Schwartz - His profound humanity. Maigret is not so much interested in who but in why they dunnit. Maigret’s role is like that of a priest – a healer of souls. Simenon was endlessly fascinated by human nature and what drives people to murder or steal, so the dénouement is usually about Maigret getting the offender to explain why they committed their crime. Often, they do not end up being arrested. Generally, Simenon’s murderers are not ‘bad’ people, but ordinary people pushed beyond breaking point. And that’s what interested Simenon. You get a strong sense of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. What is the trigger that can cause a person to commit a terrible crime? Often the answer is to be found in their childhood or their background – a long-festering grievance that pushes them over the edge. Another aspect I like is that Simenon/Maigret is always on the side of the ‘little people’, the ordinary working people. He’s very scathing about corrupt politicians and the wealthy. 

Howard Curtis - His humanity, his compassion, his insight into human problems, his wish to be a "mender of destinies". I was surprised recently to read Leonardo Sciascia's statement that there is no character in modern literature with a greater love of life and people than Maigret, but after thinking about it I can see exactly what he means. Maigret is never cynical about people's motives: the acts they perform may anger or even disgust him, but he is always able to understand what lies behind them. And of course he loves the everyday things of life: his wife's cooking, the taste of a glass of white wine in a neighbourhood bistro, the glimmer of light on the Seine, the changing Paris sky. Having read about him for years, and now translated so many of his adventures, I think of him almost as a friend. 

Sian Reynolds - I like his grumpiness, his love of Paris buses with an open platform on the back, (so that he can smoke his pipe), and am astonished by but do not recommend his capacity for drinking countless cognacs while on the job. 

mercoledì 4 dicembre 2019


Pour les 90 ans de sa naissance, le commissaire nous ouvre son livre de souvenirs. Nous vous proposons, à quinzaine, une rubrique pour commémorer cet événement phare de cette année 2019.

Per i 90 anni dalla sua nascita, il commissario ci apre il suo libro dei ricordi. Noi vi proporremo, ogni quindici giorni, una rubrica per commemorare questo avvenimento clou per l’anno 2019.

For the 90th anniversary of his birth, the Chief Inspector shows us his memory book. We propose a fortnight column to commemorate this milestone event of this year 2019

Pour refermer mon album, voici quelques images de moi telles qu’elles sont apparues dans des bandes dessinées. Eh oui, le neuvième art est aussi maigretien !

Per concludere questo album, ecco qualche mia immagine come è apparsa nei fumetti. Eh s', anche la nona arte è maigrettiana !

To close my album, here are some pictures from me such as they appeared in comics. Yes, the ninth art is also maigretian!

by Murielle Wenger

martedì 3 dicembre 2019


A propos des lieux d’action dans les romans

A proposito dei luoghi di azione nei romanzi
About the places of the plot in the novels

« [Simenon] se sent totalement étranger à la démarche d’un Zola photographiant les lieux de l’action, ou d’un Flaubert se livrant à des repérages. Il lui substituera toujours le lent travail de décantation de la mémoire » (Pierre Assouline, in Simenon).
Cette phrase du biographe résume bien cet aspect du travail du romancier, qui recrée, à plusieurs années d’intervalle, un décor qu’il a connu, pour le placer dans le cadre d’un roman. En effet, il est très rare que Simenon ait écrit sur les lieux mêmes où se déroule un roman, parce qu’il préférait s’abstraire de l’ambiance qu’il avait autour de lui pour se plonger dans l’atmosphère qu’il insufflait à son texte. D’où les rideaux tirés dans son bureau, pour ne pas voir le décor extérieur, le bureau devenant cette camera obscura où il allait peu à peu dérouler le film de son roman sur papier.
Il existe cependant quelques exceptions. Strip-tease, écrit à Cannes et dont l’action a lieu au même endroit ; de même que Le Port des brumes (Ouistreham), La Tête d’un homme (Paris), La Marie du port (Port-en-Bessin), La Jument-Perdue (Tucson), Maigret chez le coroner (Tucson), Le Fond de la bouteille (Tumacacori), ainsi que les nouvelles Monsieur Lundi (Neuilly), La Pipe de Maigret (Paris), Madame Quatre et ses enfants (Les Sables-d’Olonne).
Mais généralement, Simenon avait besoin d’une période de décantation pour faire revivre un lieu où il avait séjourné auparavant. Il écrivait sur un « principe de distanciation spatiale », comme le note Michel Carly. Le roman Les Rescapés du Télémaque, rédigé à Igls au Tyrol, se déroule à Fécamp. La préoriginale, dans le journal Le Petit Parisien, présentait un texte de Simenon, dans lequel il disait : « l’envie d’écrire un roman lourd de soleil ne m’est jamais venue qu’en Hollande, en Norvège, voire […] dans une petite île de l’océan Glacial, alors que j’avais faim de lumière chaude […]. De même, cet hiver, vivant au Tyrol […] ne voyant à perte de vue que des champs de neige éclatante, la nostalgie m’est venue d’autres hivers, inséparables pour moi de l’odeur du fil en six et du hareng grillé. J’aurais voulu débarquer à Fécamp, respirer […] la forte odeur du poisson salé […]. Il n’y eut qu’à fermer les persiennes et, près d’un gros poêle en faïence, à écrire Les Rescapés du « Télémaque ». […] Et tous les pins du Tyrol ne m’empêchaient pas de sentir la saumure. »
Les romans « rochelais » de Simenon ont été rédigés à Porquerolles (Le Testament Donadieu), Fontenay-le-Comte (Le Voyageur de la Toussaint), Saint Andrews au Canada (Le Clan des Ostendais), Tumacacori (Les Fantômes du chapelier)… Quant aux Sables-d’Olonne, on sent vivre la ville dans Le Fils Cardinaud (écrit à Fontenay) et dans Les Vacances de Maigret (écrit à Tucson). On pourrait multiplier les exemples à l’infini…
En dehors de Paris, le cadre le plus fréquent dans l’œuvre (une ville où pourtant Simenon n’a écrit presque aucun roman), certains lieux ont été privilégiés par le romancier. La Rochelle en particulier, mais aussi Fontenay-le-Comte, Liège, Bruxelles, Cannes, Caen, Fécamp, Concarneau, etc. Ce qui fait qu’on pourrait imaginer que des personnages, d’un roman à l’autre, auraient pu se rencontrer au même endroit dans la même ville… Ainsi, comme le remarquent Michel Carly et Christian Libens dans leur ouvrage La Belgique de Simenon, Elie Nagéar (Le Locataire), Michel Maudet (L’Aîné des Ferchaux) et Maigret (dans la nouvelle Peine de mort) sont tous les trois descendus au Palace à Bruxelles. Et plus d’une fois, les lieux d’action se répondent entre les romans de la saga de Maigret et les romans durs. Dans L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre, Maigret déambule dans les rues de Moulins, et il aurait pu y croiser le Loursat des Inconnus dans la maison.
Parfois, les liens peuvent sembler moins évidents, mais ils existent cependant. On se souviendra que Maigret a eu affaire à plusieurs reprises au Commodore, le fameux escroc international. Or, le protagoniste central du Relais d’Alsace est en réalité le Commodore, venu s’installer dans une auberge au col de la Schlucht ; aura-t-on remarqué que dans Maigret s’amuse, il est dit que le commissaire et sa femme ont souvent passé des vacances dans un chalet au col de la Schlucht ? Et si Maigret avait rencontré alors le Commodore ?...

Murielle Wenger

lunedì 2 dicembre 2019


Rai Radio 3 - 30/11/2019 - Lorenzo Pavolini -  Viaggio dentro la vita e l'opera di Georges Simenon conversando con suo figlio John Simenon, primogenito dei figli che Georges ebbe con la sua seconda moglie Denyse Ouimet. John Simenon, per anni produttore cinematografico, è oggi responsabile della gestione dei diritti dell'opera di suo padre.... Ecco l'audio dell'intervista...>>>

domenica 1 dicembre 2019


20. Maigret suit un autre suspect
« Maigret ne se résigne pas à quitter son inconnu. […] dans un bar où ils boivent pour ainsi dire côte à côte un café crème et mangent des croissants […] une curieuse intimité s’est établie entre suiveur et suivi, entre l’homme […] et Maigret qui ne lâche pas la piste un instant. » (L’Homme dans la rue)

20. Maigret segue un altro sospetto
« Maigret non si rassegna a lasciare il suo sconosciuto […] in un bar dove bevono, per così dire, spalla spalla un cappuccino e mangiano un cornetto […] tra inseguitore e inseguito si era stabilita una curiosa intimità, tra l’uomo […] e Maigret che non molla la pista per un istante. » (Il prigioniero della strada)

20. Maigret follows another suspect
“Maigret doesn’t resign himself to leave his unknown. […] in a bar where they drink, so to speak, side by side coffee and eat croissants […] a curious intimacy is established between follower and followed, between the man […] and Maigret who doesn’t let go of the track for a moment.” (The Man in the Street)