Maigret discussion

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the best Maigret story

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message 1: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments I've read a lot of Maigret stories in French and want to introduce the series to my English-reading friends. However, the few translations I've read have disappointed me. I'm hoping this group will advance some choices and perhaps agree on a great Maigret for beginners to read.
David


message 2: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments David, why don't you start by listing a Top Ten among the 85 Maigrets you've read so far...I've read only eight Maigrets, chosen mainly from lists other people have posted...


message 3: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments Well, Archie, the fact of the matter is that I had trouble identifying any single Maigret as great. It's the series that gripped me. That's why I was hoping to find a consensus among other readers, so I could suggest one or two in particular to individuals who want to sample Maigret. The Latvian one I liked very much, but I wonder if that was mostly because it was a recent read. You're in a great position to rate them as you go.


message 4: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments David, so far I have read the following Maigret stories: Maigret Goes Home, Maigret and the Spinster, Maigret in Retirement, Maigret in New York, Maigret Rents a Room, Maigret's Revolver, The Man on the Boulevard, Maigret Goes to School, Maigret's Mistake and The Lazy Burglar. I liked The Spinster the best, closely followed by Retirement and Rents a Room....


message 5: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments I've read 7 of those 10 and watched the movie of another. You've given me an excellent project: I'll check my notes and memory to see if there's anything of potential interest to you therein. Thanks!


message 6: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments Some thoughts on Maigret Goes Home. I enjoyed visiting Maigret’s birthplace and learning more about some of his ghosts. Gathering all the suspects together for the dénouement was a nice Simenonien trick.

Is your list in chronological order?


message 7: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments No, I don't read the Maigret stories in chronological order...I ask myself "in what setting I want to spend my next 10 days or so", and then I choose among the available Maigret stories in my library...for Xmas I went ahead and bought from Amazon and Abebooks 20 more books...now I'm reading his Xmas stories...


message 8: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments I was asking about the list of the ones you've already read because I was going to work down the list from top to bottom with a few comments.

There are some good stories in that Christmas collection. Note that the call box story, which I particularly like, is not a Maigret!

Incidentally, even though Penguin is publishing all the Maigret novels in chronological order, the stories jump forward and back in time, so there's really no reason to read them in the order of publishing. (Unless you're a student looking for development/changes in Simenon's style.)


message 9: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments David, the list of stories I wrote two postings before, are the stories I've read so far...as you can fathom, they don't follow a specific chronological order...


message 10: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments Which is the story you call "the call box story"? The Xmas collection I'm referring to has nine stories, starting with "Maigret's Christmas" and ending with (one of my favorites, not a Xmas story) "Maigret in Retirement".


message 11: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments You must be referring to the second story in the collection, namely "Seven Little Crosses in a Notebook"...it is quite odd indeed Maigret not appearing therein (I have not read this story yet)...


message 12: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments That's the one. Apologies for not giving you the title. Actually someone else coined the "call box" term; the story is based on signal lights that illuminate on a board in a police observation center when someone sends an alert from a call box somewhere in Paris. We have (or had) them in the neighborhood where I grew up here in the USA to let the fire department know there was a fire....


message 13: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments Some thoughts on Maigret in New York:
This is one of the stories that set me to studying what made Maigret tick. He took the case on after he retired and was willing to travel all the way to New York for it. Also, since Simenon lived in the USA for a few years, I looked forward to getting his take on the Big Apple.


message 14: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments I have the book "Maigret in New York" in Greek but have not read it yet...

Btw, where are the other members of the group? Are we the only active ones?


message 15: by Mikee (last edited Dec 16, 2013 09:01PM) (new)

Mikee | 11 comments Mod
Okay, so far I have read 33 of the Maigret books (in chronological order). Here are my favorites so far: The Sailor's Rendezvous (1931), Maigret Mystified (1932), Maigret Goes Home (1932), The Flemish Shop (1932), The Lock at Charenton (1933: probably intended to be the last Maigret), Maigret's Rival (1943), Maigret in Retirement (1945: another attempt to end the series), Maigret in New York (1947), No Vacation for Maigret (1948).

All the Maigrets are wonderful and amazingly consistent thru the years. They're as comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers (or an old pipe).

Comments welcomed!


message 16: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments I read the Maigret stories....seasonally. So now in Winter I choose to read a story that takes place during a winter month; actually it's pretty easy to find out the season of the year that a story takes place simply by thumbing through the fist couple of pages...that really puts me in the right atmosphere...


message 17: by Mikee (new)

Mikee | 11 comments Mod
Archie wrote: "I read the Maigret stories....seasonally. So now in Winter I choose to read a story that takes place during a winter month; actually it's pretty easy to find out the season of the year that a story..."


message 18: by Mikee (new)

Mikee | 11 comments Mod
Archie, that's an interesting way to do it. Too late for me now. I'm obsessed.

mike


message 19: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments I have to admit I'm pretty hooked myself with Maigret...while I read a lot, since August I haven't read anything but Sinenon (mostly Maigret, but also a few of his "romans durs"). The mystery is secondary to me, what I like most is the whole atmosphere, the Maigret universe...


message 20: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments I've read some of Simenon's "romans durs" and never put any thought into what he intended with that term until now. The usual translations of "dur" are hard, tough, or difficult, but there are many more meanings. Right now, I like this one: necessitating a great intellectual effort. It fits his abandoning the detective genre for a more literary one. If I had to pick one adjective to describe the 22 I've read, it would be heavy.


message 21: by Mikee (new)

Mikee | 11 comments Mod
I couldn't agree more with Archie's comment. These are supposedly "whodunits", but the answer to that (the "who")is so very secondary to the reading experience. "The Maigret universe" is an excellent way to put it. I remember reading (and really enjoying) Maigret in New York. It wasn't until I was done, and reflecting on what I had read, that I realized how twisted the underlying story was and how little it mattered.


message 22: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments Some thoughts on Maigret in Retirement
This was another case taken up after Maigret left the Parisian police force but an early #49 in the series. I recall having trouble sorting out the cast of characters and being struck, in particular, by Maigret’s renewed dislike for his childhood acquaintance, Ernest Malik.


message 23: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments I'm reading "Maigret's Christmas" and I'm enjoying it; I especially enjoy Maigret stories with a domestic setting, showing him at his home with his wife.

With my very best wishes for the holiday season! Here's to a 2014 full of Maigret!


message 24: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments There are some little jewels among the short stories. The Maigret novels are relatively short, too. It's been said Simenon wanted readers to spend about as much time on them as they would watching a movie


message 25: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments Yes, I think it's rather important that a story does not tire you...the optimal length of a novel, IMHO, should be close to the typical Maigret story, that is ~130-150 pages. Long enough to be immersed in a plot and character development, short enough not to make you restless...


message 26: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments I just finished reading "Maigret's Christmas"...Simenon recycled a number of themes and this is not surprising given his prolific writing. In this story, the married woman with a (male) skeleton in her closet seems to be a recurring theme: I also encountered it in "Maigret Takes a Room", and it's probably used in other stories as well. It's also interesting to note that the above two stories were written around 1950...


message 27: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments My reading suggests that Simenon didn’t seem to respect « wives » much at all and Maigret, his not quite enough.


message 28: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments It seems to me that it's not a question of respect; Maigret's wife seems to take care of him mostly in the way a mother would (waiting for him at the door, preparing him his meals, etc). They are companions certainly (going to the movies, visiting friends for dinner, etc). What is missing, however, in a very obvious way is INTIMACY...


message 29: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments In Maigret's Revolver, which you've read, the husband disparages his wife's concern about the man who stole his gun. However, the story does eventually display Maigret's humanity.


message 30: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments "The Man on the Boulevard", which you've read, is one I liked a lot because it features a familiar Simenon type: a Sad Sack, an American comic strip character I hope you’re familiar with.


message 31: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments "Maigret's Mistake" records one of the times Maigret reveals a violent side. I couldn’t decide if he was meting out justice or was angry with himself.


message 32: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments Dave, I finished reading "Maigret's Mistake" about 2 weeks ago...I'm not sure I understand what "violent side" you are referring to...


message 33: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments DIdn't he punch somebody in the face?


message 34: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments Hello all...a brief quiz: Maigret's full name is Jules Amedee Francois Maigret...who knows what story this comes from?


message 35: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments I was aware of this strung-out name, but would have to google it to discover where it appears and that would be unfair.
Here's one for you: Maigret usually referred to his wife as Madame Maigret and less frequently Louise, but there's another first name for her buried in one book. What is it?

If you want to have some fun, read the letter Louise wrote to Simenon. It's full of delightful corrections. You'll find it here: http://www.trussel.com/maig/madame.htm


message 36: by Archie (new)

Archie | 20 comments The Louise Maigret piece is indeed delightful and fun to read...thanks much for the reference...

Answer to Maigret's full name quiz: his full name appears in the story "Maigret's First Case"...


message 37: by David (new)

David Simmons | 35 comments Mikee,
If you're still out there and still interested in all things Simenon and Maigret, I hope you will contact me by email: david.simmons6@comcast.net about a possible future project
Thanks,
David


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