giovedì 21 febbraio 2019


How Maigret met Simenon at the Anthropometric Ball 

Come Maigret incontrò Simenon al ballo antropometrico 
Comment Maigret rencontra Simenon au Bal anthropométrique 

During the night of February 20 to 21, 1931 Simenon celebrated the release of his first two Maigret novels by Fayard. Today we propose to you this little short story, which was published in Italian on this blog six years ago. We slightly rearranged it, and we hope you'll enjoy it… 

When Maigret had received the card, he first had shrugged, then he had been about to throw it away. But he had felt a kind of curiosity, so he had slipped it under a pile of files. He had pretended he had forgotten it, and it was only on Friday afternoon that the small piece of cardboard had resurfaced. 
The Chief Inspector signed the last report of the pile, and when he removed it, the card fell on the carpet. Maigret picked it up and reread the note: "Georges Simenon has the honour to invite you to the Anthropometric Ball, which will take place at the Boule Blanche, 32 rue Vavin, on Friday, February 20 at midnight." 
He almost threw the card into the wastebasket, but he didn't do it, and he furiously sent the card in a drawer, where there was a pipe with its stem broken. This put him in a bad mood. For the rest of the afternoon he sat grumpily at his desk, and Lapointe, who had come to talk with him about the latest case, retreated without insisting.  
At six Maigret left the Quai des Orfèvres, walked along the embankment before taking the bus that stopped a few meters from his apartment. The door opened before he had time to take his key out of his pocket, and he kissed his wife on the cheek. There was a good smell of fricandeau that was pervading the kitchen and the dining-room, but this didn't soothe him much. Mme Maigret well saw that he looked upset, but she took care not to say anything, and said they could sit down to eat.  
Maigret ate absentmindedly, without realizing he was swallowing a tasty lemon cream, and his wife just sighed when clearing the table, while the Chief Inspector was sitting down in his armchair and filling his pipe. He hadn't spoken a word during the whole meal.  
When she had finished washing the dishes, Mme Maigret sat near the stove and began to knit; from to time to time she glanced at her husband, who was turning the pages of the newspaper without seeming to understand what he was reading. Mme Maigret dared to ask him:  
- Do you want me to switch on the TV? There's a western movie on the second channel.  
Maigret didn’t answer immediately. He stood up, planted himself in front of the window, through which he could see the garland of streetlights, then, after a while, he turned around and grumbled:  
- I'm going out tonight. Don’t wait for me; no doubt I'll be out for much of the night.  
- A new case? she asked. 
- No.  
The answer had been categorical, and somewhat exasperated. Mme Maigret didn't insist and she only said: 
- Do you want me to prepare your grey suit? 
- No. I'll go as I am. No need to do too much for this stupid story… 
He opened the sideboard, swallowed a small glass of raspberry from Alsace, put on his hat and overcoat, and went out, slamming the door. Mme Maigret sighed, and went on with her knitting. The sweet pink onesie was lengthening in her lap… 
It was really bitter cold. Maigret pulled up the collar of his overcoat. To go to the Left Bank, he had taken the metro, which had kept him in his bad mood. Number 32 on Rue Vavin was just a stone's throw from the metro station. It was barely nine o'clock, and at the entrance of the cabaret, there was nobody, except a delivery boy who was bringing petits fours and cases of champagne.  
Maigret headed towards Boulevard Montparnasse, entered the Coupole, where he settled in the American bar. For an hour and a half, the Chief Inspector sipped his beer, ordered a second one, and stayed still, watching the customers in the mirror.  
Finally, around ten thirty he stood up as if it required a great effort, threw change on the counter and went out. In front of 32 Rue Vavin, taxis were dropping ladies with pearl necklaces and gentlemen with big handlebar moustaches. People were shouting out gaily, and the queue was lengthening on the sidewalk. You could hear the first chords of a muted trumpet.  
Standing in the middle of the street, Maigret waited for a long time. Finally around midnight he decided to enter the Boule Blanche, and he had to jostle to make his way through the crowd that was dancing, drinking and laughing. He reached the back of the room, climbed up to the gallery, and got closer to a table where a young man with a striped jacket, slicked back hair, pipe in his mouth, was casually signing a pile of books. On the black and white covers Maigret could read some words: "Pholien" and "Gallet". He was about to turn back when a voice stopped him: 
- Hello, Chief Inspector. Well, what do you think about all this? Big success, isn't 'it? 
Maigret grumbled vague sounds. The young man went on: 
- So, come on, have a drink to celebrate. 
Maigret followed him, and they went down the stairs. Simenon headed towards the bar, patting the buttocks of some dancing girls, who were laughing and showing their white teeth sparkling on their cinnamon-coloured face 
- Chief Inspector, what would you say about a little "special Boule Blanche" cocktail? 
Maigret didn't even try to refuse, and without knowing how he soon found himself dragged into the crazy pace of this night. At five o'clock in the morning, both men were confiding: 
- So, you see, old Jules… Do you mind if I call you Jules? ... 
- Little Georges boy, you still have many things to learn about… As for me…  
At seven o'clock, when the last revellers left Rue Vavin, Maigret decided to go directly to his office without going back home. His wife never asked where he had spent the night, and she didn't talk either about the small torn pieces of cardboard she had found in the bottom of his overcoat pocket…  

by Simenon-Simenon 

mercoledì 20 febbraio 2019


In un' intervista a France Inter a San Valentino il critico tratta gli stessi argomenti che abbiamo trattato in un nostro post

Dans une interview pour France Inter, lors de la Saint-Valentin, le critique a traité des mêmes arguments dont nous avons parlé dans l'un de nos billets
In an interview for France Inter, on Saint Valentine’s Day, the critic dealt with the same arguments we talked about in one of our posts 

Ci torniamo sopra. Un po’ per la coincidenza che noi abbiamo scritto martedì 12 di sera tardi (per il post dei mercoledì 13), alcune delle cose avrebbe detto due giorni dopo (il giovedì 14) ad una radio francese il grande Pierre Assouline (cosa che ci fa un po’ gongolare, scusate ma…), anche perché gli argomenti sono di quelli interessanti e che vale la pena approfondire. 
Non a caso l’ intervista inizia proprio con la domanda sulla longevità di Simenon. Il critico sintetizza da par suo “… Maigret è l‘archetipo del personaggio universale e senza tempo, pur rimanendo molto locale. Jules Maigret ha qualcosa di indelebilmente francese. Eppure è conosciuto, amato, apprezzato in Giappone, Australia, Spagna, Italia, dappertutto e da parecchio tempo…”. 
E’ un po’ quello che scrivevamo noi sulla capacità di sintesi di Simenon, nel nostro caso nell’unire la cultura alta e quella popolare. Maigret è universale e locale allo stesso tempo, ed è piaciuto molto sia al suo debutto e piace ancora molto al giorno d’oggi. 
E infatti “… quello che amiamo in lui – continua Assouline – è che è restato un uomo, una persona, un essere reale…”.
Parole sante. Ma poi pone l’accento sulla complessità del rapporto dello scrittore con il personaggio. “… Simenon, […] diceva spesso che scriveva i “Maigret” per rilassarsi tra due “romans durs”, due “romanzi del destino”. Certo ce l’aveva un un po’ con Maigret perché per molte persone Simenon era soprattutto l’autore del commissario Maigret. Trovava insomma che la sua creatura avesse preso un po’ troppo spazio, a scapito del creatore, cioè di lui stesso. Riteneva che l’importante della propria opera fosse altrove. Su 200 romanzi apparsi con la firma di Georges Simenon, solo 75 sono inchieste del commissario Maigret…”.
Come non dare ragione ad Assouline e a Simenon? 
Anche noi, nel nostro piccolo, scrivevamo che questa ricerca “dell’uomo nudo”, dei caratteri generali dell’uomo, rendeva i suoi personaggi universali, ma allo stesso tempo molto reali e interessanti aldilà dell’epoca in cui sono stati scritti.
Un altro tema sui la pensiamo come Assouline è il fatto che a prescindere del valore del singolo romanzo, di quello venuto meglio, di quello più popolare o quello più raffinatamente psicologico, la narrativa di Simenon va gusta e valutata nella sua interezza. Lo scrittore stesso, rispondendo a Gide che lo spingeva a scrivere un’opera di grande respiro e quindi di molte pagine, affermava che non avrebbe mai scritto un romanzo di seicento pagine. I suoi entravano in libri da 250, 200 pagine a volte addirittura meno. “… ma il mio grande romanzo – spiegava Simenon - è l’insieme di tutti i miei romanzi…”.
E infatti Pierre Assouline ha dichiarato a France Inter che “…per me oggi, quello che ha scritto Simenon è un tutto. Occorre considerare i 200 romanzi, cioè sia i “romans durs” che “le inchieste di Maigret” e riunirli sotto una stessa bandiera che rappresenta “La condizione umana”…”. 
“La condizione umana” è anche quella che si perpetra nel corso degli anni e dei decenni ed il concetto che avevamo anticipato noi quando l’altro giorno scrivevamo in conclusione: “…Noi lettori del 2019 siamo radicalmente diversi dai lettori del 1930, ma le storie di Simenon ci fanno sentire vicini, e non per un nostro malinteso senso di nostalgia, ma perché ritroviamo nelle sue opere un comune denominatore con che consiste proprio in quelle caratteristiche universali dell’uomo, cui accennavamo prima e che ci fanno sentire i suoi personaggi e le loro vicende, come fossero le nostre, anche a quasi cento anni di distanza…”. (m.t.)

martedì 19 febbraio 2019


Quelques parallèles culinaires et gastronomiques entre Simenon et Maigret 

Alcuni paralleli culinari e gastronomici tra Simenon e Maigret 
Some culinary and gastronomic parallels between Simenon and Maigret

En 1974, Robert Courtine, célèbre critique gastronomique, publiait Le Cahier de recettes de Madame Maigret, dans lequel il listait les menus mangés par le commissaire lors de ses enquêtes. Courtine imaginait que Louise Maigret avait collé dans un cahier les recettes héritées de sa famille alsacienne, mais aussi celles que lui avait données son amie Mme Pardon.  
Dans sa Dictée Un banc au soleil, Simenon parlait de la parution de cet ouvrage, et cela lui donnait l'occasion d'évoquer les souvenirs culinaires de son enfance, qui se répartissaient entre la cuisine côté paternel (biftecks, petits pois et frites) et la cuisine côté maternel (potées au lard et légumes, ragoûts mijotés). «J'appréciais ces expériences culinaires et, si je n'étais pas gourmet, j'étais déjà gourmand»écrit le mémorialiste.  
Les expériences culinaires du jeune Georges trouvèrent un développement lors de son arrivée à Parissa découverte des bistrots de quartiers, sa faim devant les étalages, il les transmit à Maigret lui-même, et les romans de la saga furent parsemés de ces réminiscences gastronomiques. Toujours dans la même dictée, Simenon se souvenait: «Lorsque je suis arrivé à Paris, je n'ai pas tardé à découvrir de petits restaurants […] qui s'appelaient des restaurants de cochers. […] N'y allaient guère que les habitués […] gens comme moi qui aimaient une nourriture simple et non sophistiquée, préparée par la patronne. Le comptoir était en véritable étain, où l'on servait le vin qui provenait de chez le frère, le cousin, ou le beau-frère du tenancier […]. Le menu, qui ne comportait qu'un seul plat principal […] était écrit sur une ardoise, à la craie. […] C'est probablement de cette période-là que j'ai gardé le goût des andouillettes grillées, celui des ragoûts et du bœuf en daube, du fricandeau à l'oseille, de presque tous les plats, je l'avoue, que j'ai imposés par la suite à mon brave Maigret.» 
Le commissaire est, sans aucun doute, un amateur de plats simples et roboratifs. Néanmoins, il faudra un certain temps à Maigret pour devenir réellement un gastronome. Dans les romans de la période Fayard, à quelques exceptions près, il se contente le plus souvent d'avaler un sandwich, et quand, rarement, on le voit s'attabler, ce qu'il mange n'est qu'anecdotique, et la scène de repas n'a d'autre fonction que de présenter le commissaire en train de se sustenter. 
On peut dire qu'un premier tournant a lieu avec les romans écrits pour Gallimard, un tournant inauguré par la fameuse scène du dîner à La Coupole dans Les Caves du Majestic. Petit à petit, on va voir le commissaire prendre le temps de savourer un repas, comme cette choucroute dans une brasserie, dégustée avec une «jouissance grassement épicurienne» dans Signé Picpus. 
Grâce au succès de ses romans, Simenon put commencer à fréquenter les restaurants huppés de la capitale, et passer du régime pain-camembert à des nourritures plus raffinées. Il goûta à toutes les cuisines de France et d'ailleurs, puis, à son installation en Suisse, il put engager un chef cuisinier. Parallèlement, il dota son commissaire d'un appétit plus raffiné. Maigret se mit à faire des haltes plus fréquentes dans les restaurants et à apprécier ces menus favoris qu'on lui connaît 
Mais ce qu'il faut noter, c'est le rôle essentiel qu'a joué Mme Maigret dans ce rapport du commissaire à la nourriture. Dès le moment où le romancier s'est mis à accorder davantage d'importance, dans les romans, à Mme Maigret, les scènes de repas pris au domicile du boulevard Richard-Lenoir sont devenues plus fréquentes, et les menus préparés par Louise ont pris une place essentielle. Maigret s'est mis à manger non seulement pour sustenter son gros corps, mais il a appris à partager la tendresse d'un bon repas mitonné avec amour par sa femme, à savourer ces moments d'échange et de complicité, comme autant d'instants de trêve dans ses enquêtes, de haltes nécessaires au repos du corps et de l'esprit, comme un indispensable ressourcement… 

Murielle Wenger