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The psychology of Georges Simenon and Jules Maigret
Maigret and his puppet-master

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Psychological profiles:
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Did Hitler know about the holocaust? A psychological assessment
Henry Ford, mechanical man
The psychology of Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin
The psychology of Georges Simenon and Jules Maigret

    psycho-logic

    sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems

    psycho-babble

My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I've always conformed to it. It's the one I've given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points ...
'understand and judge not.'
Georges Simenon
[Quotes from Jules Maigret]

abelard's commentary on Simenon and Maigret
on canals and rivers
the novels
maigret on screen - selected dvds
bibliography

abelard's commentary on Simenon and Maigret

Maigret and his puppet-master

I study individuals, groups and their cultures, not their languages, their geography, or their history. I have spent a large amount of that time living in England, and now twenty years living in France. What has most impressed me is how different are the cultures.

Georges Simenon is a psychologist of considerable ability. He has written seventy-nine novels with Jules Maigret as his foil, and a great deal of other material. To think of Maigret as detective stories would be to confuse Simenon's real purpose, the study of people - so a fellow traveller.

I have read all seventy-nine of the Maigret œuvre, many several times, including extracts. A simple summary would be to say that Simenon is a miserable fellow, but nonetheless highly perceptive and interesting. Here, I am compiling a list of Maigret books with relevant comments.

Simenon is a very odd cove, as you will see from his writing, if you care to dig into his life. He tends to be miserable, but very bright. His interest is in human psychology, not detective stories. He has a depressive view of humanity, and remains attached to the pre-scientific, just-so psychology of Freud, Jung and so on, but his writing is very complex. It often has much more complexity than is apparent on the surface. (Maigret Hesitates, Maigret and the Dosser)

You will find all manner of descriptions of weather in its seasons, and the response of people to it, which Simenon seems to observe and experience with intrerest.

Simenon's Maigret books were written between 1930 and 1972. he took pride in the fact that he churned them out on a production line, writing the average Maigret in two to three weeks, one chapter each morning. Simenon proudly called himself the Henry Ford of novel writing. Simenon may have written up to four hundred novels, or more. He wrote under at least twenty different pseudonyms, quite apart from an endless journalistic output, film scripts and short stories. He wrote so prodigeously, or should that be profligately, that counting a simple matter.

Simenon was heavily attached to money, a good proportion of what he earned seemed to have been spent on prostitutes.

I started reading Simenon's books in order to have a grasp of French culture, as his facile writing had many descriptions of French society and the culture. I became interested in his psychological world view. Every person has their individual world view, and he is intelligent enough to be able to express it. Therefore, I read every Maigret book and some of his other work besides, several read more than once.

Simenon's reasonable view was that almost anyone who killed had to have a screw loose, and one of his constant themes is the examination of how much responsibility such people really have. The participants often appear to be caught up in circumstances, as if what happens is a matter of fate beyond their control.

Simenon's writing does improve over the years, although the writing can be sloppy and slapdash.

"How do you explain that?"
"I don't explain it."
p.105, Maigret and the killer

"You don't agree with them?"
"I don't know enough to contradict them. The only difference between them and me is I don't divide people into categories."
"But it's necessary."
"Necessary why?"
"To judge them, for example."
"It's not my role to judge."
p.159, Maigret and the killer

[See also the quote from George Simenon himself.]

on canals and rivers

Readers may well wonder why so many Maigret stories set on canals and rivers. Here are somesuggestions why.

Simenon likes canals.
These waterside settings provide a limited environment for the story. Thus, there usually is no reason for complicating matters still further with, for instance, more characters appearing.

Such settings provide an enclosed environment for illustrating and observing behaviours, characteristics, personalities.

Simenon can bring in 'foreground' with good reason, such as circumstances for several strangers or semi-strangers to encounter each other, or to be together.


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the novels

Proto-Maigrets

Proto-Maigret novels (in mauve in the list below) were probably written during the autumn of 1929.

Full-length novels
79 Maigret et Monsieur Charles (1972) Maigret and Monsieur Charles
78 Maigret et l'indicateur (1971) Maigret and the Flea
Maigret and the Informer
77 Maigret et l'homme tout seul (1971) Maigret and the Loner
76 La Folle de Maigret (May 1970) Maigret and the Madwoman
75 Maigret et le marchand de vin (Sept 1969)

Maigret and the Wine Merchant

Nasty capitalist gets his come-uppance.
(See Maigret's failure.)

74 Maigret et le tueur (Apr 1969)

Maigret and the Killer

The rain was coming down in sheets, frozen, lashing preople's hands and faces, making their wet clothes stick to their bodies.
p.3, Maigret and the killer

"How do you explain that?"
"I don't explain it."
p.105

"You don't agree with them?"
"I don't know enough to contradict them. The only difference between them and me is I don't divide people into categories."
"But it's necessary."
"Necessary why?"
"To judge them, for example."
"It's not my role to judge."
p.159, Maigret and the killer

He went around recording the voices of Paris.

73 L'Ami d'enfance de Maigret (1968) Maigret's Boyhood Friend
72

Maigret hésite (1968) Maigret Hesitates
recommended to read

Widely discusses the agency or lack of agency of murder (crime).
71 Maigret à Vichy (1967) Maigret Takes the Waters
Maigret in Vichy
70 Le Voleur de Maigret (1966) Maigret's Pickpocket
Maigret and the Pickpocket
69 Maigret et l'affaire Nahour (1966) Maigret and the Nahour Case
68 La Patience de Maigret (1965) — Aline 2 The Patience of Maigret
Maigret Bides His Time
67 Maigret se défend (1964) — Aline 1 Maigret on the Defensive
Maigret defends himself
66 Maigret et le fantôme (1963) Maigret and the Ghost
Maigret and the Apparition
65 La Colère de Maigret (1962) Maigret Loses His Temper
Maigret's anger
64

Maigret et le clochard (1962)

Maigret and the Dosser
Maigret and the Bum
Maigret and the Tramp
recommended to read

The world from the point of view of a drop-out doctor.

63 Maigret et le client du samedi (1962) Maigret and the Saturday Caller
62 Maigret et les braves gens (1961) Maigret and the Black Sheep
Maigret and the good people of Montparnasse
61 Maigret et le voleur paresseux (1961)

Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
Maigret and the Idle Burglar

[…] " 'In point of fact our chief job is to protect the State in the first place—whatever government is in power, with its institutions; in the second place the currency, public property and private property; and then, last of all, the lives of the individual private citizens.

" 'Did you ever take a look into the Penal Code? You have to read as far as page 177 before you come to anything about cries against human beings. One day later on, when I retire, I'll work it out precisely. !but let's say that three-quarters of the Code, if not four-fifths, is concerned with goods and chattels, real estate, forged currency, forgeries of public and private documents, falsifications of wills, etc., etc. In short, with money in all its shapes and forms … To such an extent that Article 274, on mendicancy, comes before Article 295, on wilful homicide …' "
p.230, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

60 Maigret et les vieillards (1960) Maigret in Society
59 Maigret aux assises (1959) Maigret in Court
58 Une Confidence de Maigret 1959) Maigret Has Doubts
57 Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants (1958) Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses
56 Les Scrupules de Maigret 1957) Maigret Has Scruples
55 Maigret voyage (1957) Maigret and the Millionaires
54 Maigret s'amuse (1956) Maigret's Little Joke
None of Maigret's Business
53 Un échec de Maigret (1956)

Maigret's Failure

Nasty capitalist butcher gets his come-uppance.
(See Maigret and the wine merchant.)

52 Maigret tend un piège (1955) Maigret Sets a Trap
51 Maigret et le corps sans tête (1955) Maigret and the Headless Corpse
50 Maigret chez le ministre (1954) Maigret and the Minister
Maigret and the Calame Report
49 Maigret et la jeune morte 1954) Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl
Maigret and the Young Girl
48 Maigret l'école (1953) Maigret Goes to School
47 Maigret se trompe (1953) Maigret's Mistake
46 Maigret a peur (1953) Maigret Afraid
45 Maigret et l'homme du banc (1953) Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
Maigret and the Man on the Bench
The Man on the Boulevard
44 Le Revolver de Maigret (1952) Maigret's Revolver
43 Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters (1951) Inspector Maigret and the Killer
Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters
Maigret and the Gangsters
42 Maigret et la grande perche (1951) Inspector Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
The tall woman (Penguin, 2017)
41 Maigret en meublé (1951) Maigret Takes a Room
Maigret Rents a Room
40 Maigret au "Picratt's" (1950) Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
Maigret in Montmartre
Maigret and the Night Club Fancer
Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
39 Maigret et la vieille dame (1950) Maigret and the Old Lady
38 Les Mémoires de Maigret (1950) Maigret's Memoirs
37 L'Amie de Mme Maigret (1949) Madame Maigret's Own Case
Madame Maigret's Friend
The Friend of Madame Maigret
36 Maigret chez le coroner (1949) Maigret at the Coroner's
35 Mon ami Maigret (1949) My Friend Maigret
The Methods of Maigret
34 La Première enquête de Maigret, 1913 1948) Maigret's First Case
33 Maigret et son mort (1948) Maigret's Dead Man
Maigret's Special Murder
32 Les Vacances de Maigret (1947) A Summer Holiday
No Vacation for Maigret
Maigret on Holiday
31 Maigret à New York (1946) Maigret in New York
Inspector Maigret in New York's Underworld
Maigret in New York's Underworld
30 Maigret se fâche (1945) Maigret in Retirement
Maigret gets angry

29

L'Inspecteur Cadavre (1944) Maigret's Rival
Inspector Cadaver
28 Félicie est là (1944) Maigret and the Toy Village
27 Signé Picpus (1944) To Any Lengths
Maigret and the Fortuneteller
26 Cécile est morte (1942)

Maigret and the Spinster

25 Les Caves du Majestic (1942) Maigret and the Hotel Majestic
The Hotel Majestic
24 La Maison du juge (1940) Maigret in Exile
The Judge's House
23 Maigret (1934) Maigret Returns
22 La femme rousse (1933) The Redhead
21 L'écluse no. 1 (1933) The Lock at Charenton
Lock No. 1
20 La figurante (1932) The figurehead/the figurative
The Extras
19 Liberty Bar (1932) Liberty Bar
Maigret on the Riviera
18 Le Fou de Bergerac (1932) The Madman of Bergerac
17 Le Port des brumes (1932) Death of a Harbour Master
16 Chez les Flamands (1932) The Flemish Shop
Maigret and the Flemish Shop
15 L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (1932) Maigret and the Countess
The Saint-Fiacre Affair
Maigret Goes Home
Maigret on Home Ground
14 L'Ombre chinoise (1932) The Shadow in the Courtyard
Maigret Mystified
The Shadow Puppet
13 La Guinguette deux sous (1932) Guinguette by the Seine
Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
A Spot by the Seine
The Two-Penny Bar
The Bar on the Seine
12 La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin (1931) At the Gai Moulin
The Dancer at the Gai Moulin
11 Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuves (1931) The Sailor's Rendezvous
The Grand Banks Cafe
Maigret Answers a Plea
10 Un Crime en Hollande (1931) A Crime in Holland
Maigret in Holland
9 La Nuit du carrefour (1931) Maigret at the Crossroads
Night at the Crossroads
8 La Tête d'un homme
L'Homme de la Tour Eiffel (1931)
A Battle of Nerves
Maigret's War of Nerves
A Man's Head
7 Le Chien jaune (1931) A Face for a Clue
Maigret and the Concarneau Murders
Maigret and the Yellow Dog
The Yellow Dog
6 Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien (1931) The Crime of Inspector Maigret
Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien
5 M. Gallet décédé (1931) The Death of Monsieur Gallet
The Late Monsieur Gallet
Maigret Stonewalled
4 Le Charretier de la Providence (1931) The Crime at Lock 14
Maigret Meets a Milord
Lock 14
The Carter of 'La Providence'
3 Pietr-le-Letton (1931) The Strange Case of Peter the Lett
The Case of Peter the Lett
Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
Pietr the Latvian
2 La maison d'inquiétude (1930) The House of Unease
The House of Anxiety
The House of Concern
1 Train de nuit (1930) Night Train
Short stories
  English translations, published by Harvest Books, U.S.A., and badly bound so sections unglue and fall out :
    Maigret's Pipe, 1977,17 stories (stories from 1944 on)
    Maigret's Christmas, 1979, 9 stories (stories from 1948 on)
  only in French :  
    Little Pigs with no tails – Les Petits Cochons sans Queues, 1950, 9 stories
    also includes Mme Quatre/ Mrs Four

Maigret on screen - selected dvds

It is a vanity of script writers to believe that they can do better than the original writer. Consequently, the films are often hacked around, expanded, contracted, or even mixed into a soup.

By far the most useful series are the first four volumes of the 48 stories with French actor Bruno Cremer, which have English sub-titles. Most of volume 5 has no sub-titles. There are also twelve episodes in English acted by Michael Gambon, while many, many others have tackled Maigret.

Although Simenon was very exacting about his books, he did not give a damn about the adaptations beyond how much money he could make from them - more than from the books.

  to follow

Bibliography

Maigret novels are the version from which quotations are taken.

Simenon, a biography
by Pierre Assouline
Jon Rothchild (translator)

Everything, and more, that you ever wanted to know about Georges Simenon. A very efficient summary. 391 pages plus bibliography etc.

Simenon, a biography by Pierre Assouline

Chatto & Windus
1997, hbk

ISBN-10: 0701137274
ISBN-13:
 978-0701137274

amazon.com
amazon.co.uk

 

Maigret and the Killer
Shaun Whiteside (translator)
Maigret and the killer by Georges Simenon Penguin, 2019, pbk

ISBN-10: 0241304261
ISBN-13: 978-0241304266

£5.25 [amazon.co.uk]
amazon.com
Kindle edition
Penguin, 2019

ASIN: B07NBZTNHB
page no.s IBSN: 0241304261

£0 [amazon.co.uk]
$6.81
[amazon.com]

A Maigret Trio
Maigret's Failure, Maigret in Society, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book,
Harcourt Brace Javanovich Inc , 1973, hbk

ISBN-10: 0151551391
ISBN-13: 978-0151551392

amazon.com
amazon.co.uk

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end notes

1 Proto- Maigret novels
  • Night Train is Maigret's first novel, published in series form, when Arthème Fzyard agreed to publish it under the pseudonym of Christian Brulls in September 1930. Night Train is not clearly a crime novel, being published in the collection The masters of the popular novel.

  • The House of Concern was published under the pseudonym of Georges Sim in 1932, and by Tallandier in the Criminals and Police collection.

  • Fayard published La Figurante [The Extra] under the pseudonym of Georges Sim in 1932.

    La Femme rousse [The Redhead] by Georges Sim was published by Tallandier in 1933.

  • Chair de Beauté [The Beautiful Flesh] published in 1928 and La Femme qui Tue. [The Woman who Kills] published in 1929, were both signed Georges Sim.



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