giovedì 16 aprile 2020


Let’s calculate a “productivity index” for the Maigret novels 

Calcoliamo un "indice di produttività" per i romanzi di Maigret
Calculons un “indice de productivité” pour les romans Maigret 

Maigret’s literary life had roughly three geographical areas of reference, that is to say that Simenon wrote the novels about the Chief Inspector in three distinct places: France, America and Switzerland. Would this have an influence on Simenon’s way of writing and introducing his characters? At first sight, these various geographical areas would not seem to have had a major influence, unlike for example the influence of the novelist’s maturation (Simenon began to write the Maigret novels at 26 and ended the saga at almost 70), biographical events and changes in the social conditions that occurred during forty years. 
So we’ll try to count how many Maigret novels Simenon wrote in France, America and Switzerland, and see whether there is a relationship between Simenon’s country of residence and his productivity. But consider that this is only a kind of game, which nevertheless can be interesting. 
29 Maigret novels were written in France (19 for Fayard, 6 for Gallimard, then 1 just before leaving for America, and then just after Simenon’s returning from the US). 21 Maigret novels were written during the “American period” and 25 Maigret novels were written in Switzerland. Thus most of the novels were written in France, then in Switzerland and last in America. Yet the difference is rather minimal, and we could say that the production of the Maigret novels is almost equal whatever the country where they were written. 
We could go further in the analysis, considering a kind of “productivity index” by counting several elements. First let’s take a look at the number of pages within a novel (we took as a reference the Tout Maigret edition of Omnibus, which offers a typographically identical graphic-editorial layout for all texts), so that we can make an estimation about the length of the novels and see whether it is different according to the place of writing. Here the results: for the novels written in France, we have an average of 107 pages per novel; for the ones written in America, the average is 120 pages par novel, and for Switzerland 109 pages per novel. Then in the same way we can consider the numbers of chapters within a novel: for the novels written in France we have an average of 10 (12 for the Fayard novels, 10 for Gallimard and 8 for the others); an average of 9 for the novels written in America and of 8 for the novels written in Switzerland. 
So from all this we can conclude that this “productivity index” is relatively stable, whatever the country in which the novelist was living. In fact, there is a slightly higher number for the novels written in France and in Switzerland, but the novels written in America are a little longer. 
Would you like to go on further? We could also count the number of years spent in a country, correlating them with the number of novels written (another way of calculating the “productivity index”). From the moment when Simenon wrote novels signed in his real name, until his departure for America, there are 16 years during which he wrote 26 Maigret novels, that is to say almost 2 Maigret per year. During the 10 years he was in America he wrote (as we said before…) 21 Maigret novels, so 2 per year; then he wrote 25 Maigret during 16 years in Switzerland, so almost 2 per year. This shows a stable annual productivity. 
After the first years during which Simenon had to “produce” the Maigret novels to honour the contract signed with Fayard, then he went on with a sustained rhythm for the novels written for Gallimard. A certain "cruising speed" had thus stabilized, and later on the novelist wrote in alternation Maigret novels and “romans durs”, from 5-6 novels per year in the American period up to 3-4 per year in Switzerland. 
We can conclude by reminding that Simenon was always writing, when he was in his room at home, or travelling, in the most foreign and exotic places, or aboard the Ostrogoth on canals. Whatever the place, he wrote Maigret novels and “romans durs”. So we can underline that his creative thrust was stronger than other elements that could have some influence, but not be determinant. 

by Simenon-Simenon 

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