domingo, 1 de enero de 2017
Quote / Paradise
Jorge Luis Borges
(1989 - 1996)
Argentine poet, essayist, and short-story writer, whose tales of fantasy and dreamworlds are classics of the 20th-century world literature. Borges was profoundly influenced by European culture, English literature, and such thinkers as Berkeley, who argued that there is no material substance; the sensible world consists only of ideas, which exists for so long as they are perceived. Most of Borges's tales embrace universal themes – the often recurring circular labyrinth can be seen as a metaphor of life or a riddle which theme is time. Although Borges's name was mentioned in speculations about Nobel Prize, Borges never became a Nobel Laureate.
Toward dawn, he dreamed that he was in hiding, in one of the naves of the Clementine Library. What are you looking for? a librarian wearing dark glasses asked him. I'm looking for God, Hladik replied. God, the librarian said, is in one of the letters on one of the pages of one of the four hundred thousand volumes in the Clementine. My parents and my parents' parents searched for that letter; I myself have gone blind searching for it. (in 'The Secret Miracle', tr. Andrew Hurley, Collected Fictions, 1998)
Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires. His family included British ancestry and he learned English before Spanish. Jorge Guillermo Borges, his father, was a lawyer and a psychology teacher, who demonstrated the paradoxes of Zeno on a chessboard for his son. In the large house was also a library and garden which enchanted Borges's imagination. Borges's mother, Leonor Acevedo Haedo, was a translator; she lived far into her 90's. In 1914 the family moved to Geneva, where Borges learned French and German and received his B.A. from the Collège of Geneva. According to a story, Borges's father, worried about his son's sexual initation, sent him to a prostitute in the red-light district area, the Place Dubourg de Four. There Borges started to think that his father was her "client". Borges's visit failed miserably and perhaps contributed to his lifelong difficulties with women.
After World War I the Borges family lived in Spain, where he was a member of avant-garde Ultraist literary group. His first poem, 'Hymn to the Sea,' written in the style of Walt Whitman, was published in the magazine Grecia. In 1921 Borges settled in Buenos Aires. There he started his career as a writer by publishing poems and essays in literary journals. Among his friends was the philosopher Macedonio Fernandez, whose dedication linguistic problems influenced his thought. Borges's first collection of poetry was FERVOR DE BUENOS AIRES (1923). He contributed to the avant-garde review Martin Fierro, and co-founded the journal Proa (1924-26). For decades Borges was the chief contributor of Sur, Argentina's most important literary journal, which was founded in 1931 by Victoria Ocampo. He also served as literary adviser for the publishing house Emecé Editores, worked as a literary editor of the Saturday Color Magazine of the tabloid newspaper Crítica, and wrote weekly columns for El Hogar from 1936 to 1939. As a critic Borges gained fame with interpretations of the Argentine classics. His writings displayed a deep knowledge of European and American literature, in particular for such writers as Poe, Stevenson, Kipling, Shaw, Chesterton, Whitman, Emerson, and Twain. He also translated Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Henri Michaux's A Barbarian in Asia, Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, and William Faulkner's The Wild Palms.
Borges's father died in 1938, a great blow because the two had been unusually close. Borges also suffered a severe head wound. He developed a blood poisoning and nearly died. The experience freed in him deep forces of creativity, and at the hospital, where he spent several weeks, he wrote several of his most important stories. His first collection, EL JARDÍN DE SENDEROS QUE SE BIFURCAN (1941) was nominated for the National Literary Prize, but a lesser book was awarded, in spite of a special issue by Sur, in which a number of his friends and acquaintances expressed their support. Later collections include FICCIÓNES (1944), EL ALEPH (1949), and EL EL HACEDOR (1960). Borges's interest in fantasy was shared by another well-known Argentine writer of fiction, Adolfo Bioy Casares, with whom Borges coauthored under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq several collections of tales.
From 1937 Borges worked as a cataloguer at the Miguel Cane branch of the Buenos Aires Municipal Library. The job did not interest him and he usually disappeared into the basement to read (especially Kafka), write, and translate. The never-ending process of cataloguing inspired one of Borges's most famous short stories, 'The Library of Babel' (1941), in which the faithful catalog of the Library is supplemented with "thousands and thousands of false catalogs, the proof of the falsity of those false catalogs, a proof of the falsity of the true catalog". Borges spent nine years at the suburban library. He was fired in 1946 from his post by the Péron regime, and appointed poultry inspector for Buenos Aires Municipal Market, a position he declined.
Borges's political opinions were not considered inoffensive. As a sign of negative attention, an attempt was made to bomb the house where Borges lived with his mother. His sister was imprisoned and his mother was placed under house arrest. With he help Miguel Cohen-Miller, a psychotherapist, Borges managed to overcome his shyness and he could accept lecture offers. Dr Cohen-Miller also noted that Borges was exaggerated sensitive, had guilt feeling and fear of sex. Later Estela Canto, whom Borges met in 1944, wrote in Borges a contraluz (1989), that Borges's attitude toward sex was one of "panic and terror".
In 1946 Borges took over the editorship of Los Annales de Buenos Aires, an academic magazine. His first story in English, 'The Garden of Forking Paths', was published in 1948 in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. After Peron's deposition in 1955 Borges became Director of the National Library. "I speak of God's splendid irony in granting me at once 800 000 book and darkness," Borges noted alluding to his now almost complete blindness. Borges also was professor of English literature at the University of Buenos Aires, and taught there from 1955 to 1970.
Borges shared the Prix Formentor with Samuel Beckett in 1961. After the death of his mother, his constant companion, Borges started his series of visits to countries all over the world, continuing traveling until his death. In 1967 Borges began a five-year period of collaboration with Norman Thomas di Giovanni, and gained new fame in the English-speaking world. When Juan Perón was again elected president in 1973, Borges resigned as director of the National Library. Despite his opposition to Perón and later to the junta, his support to liberal causes were considered too ambiguous. "If he thinks like a dinosaur, that has nothing to do with my thinking," said once the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. "He doesn't understand a thing about what's happening in the modern world, and he thinks I don't either." In 1980 Borges signed protests against the political repression and the "disappeared". In 1982 he condemned the Falkland Islands War – "Two bald men fighting over a comb" was his cited comment in the international media.
Borges, who had long suffered from eye problems, was totally blind in his last decades, but never taught himself Braille. He had a congenital defect that had afflicted several generations on his father's side of the family. However, he continued to publish several books, among them EL LIBRO DE LOS SERES IMAGINARIOS (1967), EL INFORME DE BRODIE (1970), and EL LIBRO DE ARENA (1975). "I need books," he once said. "They mean everything to me." In New Orleas he developed a passion to jazz.
Borges was married twice. In 1967 he married his old friend, the recently widowed Elsa Asteta Millán, whom he had met decades ago when she was just seventeen. Elsa shared none of his literary interests and the marriage lasted three years. One night at Harvard, Borges was found outside the residence, in his pajamas, because she had locked him out. Since divorce did not exist in Argentina, they entered into a legal separation agreement, and Borges moved back in with his mother. His last years Borges lived with María Kodama, his assistant; they married on 22 April in 1986, though his marriage to Elsa had never been annulled. However, the relationship brought much happiness in the authors life. Kodoma had earlier participated in Borges's Old English study group and earned doctorate in English from the University of Buenos Aires. In 1984 they produced an account of their journeys in different places of the world, with text by Borges and photographs by Kodoma. Borges moved in 1985 permanently to Geneva, Switzerland. Far from Buenos Aires he died there of liver cancer on June 14, 1986, and was buried at the old Plainpalais Cemetery.
Borges's fictional universe was born from his vast and esoteric readings in literature, philosophy, and theology. He sees man's search for meaning in an infinite universe as a fruitless effort. In the universe of energy, mass, and speed of light, Borges considers the central riddle time, not space. "He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time." The theological speculations of Gnosticism and the Cabala gave ideas for many of his plots. Borges has told in an interview that when he was a boy, he found an engraving of the seven wonders of the world, one of which portrayed a circular labyrinth. It frightened him and the maze has been one of his recurrent nightmares. "Almost instantly, I understood: 'The garden of forking paths' was the chaotic novel; the phrase 'the various futures (not to all)' suggested to me the forking in time, not in space. A broad rereading of the work confirmed the theory. In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Ts'ui Pên, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them. He creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse time which themselves also proliferate and fork." (from 'The Garden of Forking Paths')
Another recurrent image is the mirror, which reflects different identities. The idea for the short story 'Borges y yo' was came from the double, who was looking at him – the alter ego, the other I. There is a well-known man, who writes his stories, a name in some biographical dictionary, and the real person. "So my life is a point-counterpoint, a kind of fugue, and a falling away - and everything winds up being lost to me, and everything falls into oblivion, or into the hands of the other man."
Influenced by the English philosopher George Berkeley (1685-1753), Borges played with the idea that concrete reality may consist only of mental perceptions. The "real world" is only one possible in the infinite series of realities. These themes were examined among others in the classical short stories 'The Garden of Forking Paths' and 'Death and the Compass', in which Borges showed his fondness of detective formula. In the story the calm, rational detective and adventurer Erik Lönnrot (referring to the philologist/poet Elias Lörnrot, 1802-1884, the collector of Kalevala poems) finds himself trapped in cryptographic labyrinths in a fantastical city, while attempting to solve a series of crimes. However, Borges's Lönnrot has more in common with C. Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown and their amazing powers of deduction than with the Finnish namesake, who traveled in the northwest Russia to collected ancient poems. The Kalevala was created by Lönnrot, edited from poems of his own and a number of separate poems and poem-fragments he had received from rune-singers. In similar way, Erik Lönnrot creates a coherent story from a series of crimes by interpreting cryptic messages and filling the holes with his own insights. Detective stories bring order into chaos. "In this chaotic era of ours," said Borges, "one thing is has humbly maintained the classic virtues: the detective story. For a detective story cannot be understood without a beginning, middle, and end... I would say in defense of the detective novel that it needs no defense; though now read with a certain disdain, it is safeguarding order in an era of disorder." ('The Detective Story', 1978)
In 'The Library of Babel' the symmetrically structured library represents the universe as it is conceived by rational man, and the library's illegible books refers to man's ignorance. In 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' Borges invented a whole other universe based on an imaginary encyclopedia. The narrator states, that 'Tlön is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men."
As an essayist Borges drew on his European education and brought attention to ancient philosophers and mystics, Jewish cabbalist and gnostics, French poets, Cervantes, Dante, Schopenhauer, and above all such English writers as Shakespeare, John Milton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, H.G. Wells, and G.K. Chesterton. His key books were DISCUSIÓN (1932), HISTORIA DE LA ETERNIDAD (1936), and OTRAS INQUISICIONES (1952). When many Latin American writers dealt with political or social subjects, Borges focused on eternal questions and the literary heritage of the world. However, Borges has criticized his friend Pablo Neruda, a politically highly visible author, for denouncing all the South American dictators except Juan Perón, Borges's own arch-enemy. "Perón was then in power. It seems that Neruda had a lawsuit pending with his publisher in Buenos Aires. That publisher, as you probably know, has always been his principal source of income." (Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations, ed. Richard Burgin, 1998)
For further reading
Paper Tigers: the Ideal Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges by J. Sturrock (1977); Jorge Luis Borges by G.R. McMurray (1980); Jorge Luis Borges by Donald Yates (1985); The Aleph Weaver by Edna Aizenberg (1984); Jorge Luis Borges, ed. Harold Bloom (1986); The Poetry and Poetics of Jorge Luis Borges by Paul Cheselka (1986); Borges a contraluz by Estela Canto (1989); A Concordance to the Works of Jorge Luis Borges 1899-1986 by Rob Isbister and Peter Standish (1992); Jorge Luis Borges by Beatriz Sarle (1993); A Dictionary of Borges by Evelyn Fishburn and Psiche Hughes (1990); Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations, ed. by Richard Burgin (1998); Borges and His Fiction by Gene H. Bell-Villada (1999)
- FERVOR DE BUENOS AIRES, 1923
- LUNA DE ENFRENTE, 1923
- INQUISICIONES, 1925
- EL TAMAÑO DE MI ESPERANZA, 1926
- EL IDIOMA DE LOS ARGENTINOS, 1928
- CUADERNOS SAN MARTÍN, 1929
- EVARISTO CARRIEGO, 1930 - Evaristo Carriego: A Book about Old-Time Buenos Aires (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1984)
- DISCUSIÓN, 1932
- LAS KENNIGAR, 1933
- HISTORIA UNIVERSAL DE LA INFAMIA, 1935 - A Universal History of Infamy (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1972) / A Universal History of Iniquity (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999; translated with an introduction by Andrew Hurley, 2004)
- HISTORIA DE LA ETERNIDAD, 1936 - A History of Etenity (in Selected Non-Fictions, ed. Eliot Weinberger, 1999)
- VIRGINIA WOOLF: UN CUARTO PROPIO, 1936 (translator)
- VIRGINIA WOOLF: ORLANDO, 1937 (translator)
- FRANZ KAFKA: LA METAMORFOSIS, 1938 (ed.)
- WILLIAM FAULKNER: LAS PALMERAS SALVAJES, 1940 (translator)
- EL JARDÍN DE SENDEROS QUE SE BIFURCAN, 1941 - The Garden of Forking Paths (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999)
- SEIS PROBLEMAS PARA DON ISIDRO PARODI, 1942 (under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq, with Adolfo Bioy Cesares) - Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1981)
- EL JARDIN DE SENDEROS QUE SE BIFURCAN, 1942
- POEMAS (1922-1943), 1943
- HERMAN MELVILLE: BARTLEBY, 1943 (translator)
- FICCIONES (1935-1944), 1944 - Ficciones (edited and witrh an introd. by Anthony Kerrigan, 1962) / Ficciones (edited and introduced by Gordon Brotherston and Peter Hulme, 1976) / Fictions (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) / The Library of Babel (engravings by Erik Desmazières, translated by Andrew Hurley, 2000)
- DOS FANTASÍAS MEMORABLES, 1946 (under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq, with Adolfo Bioy Casares)
- UN MODELO PARA LA MUERTE, 1946 (under the pseudonym B. Suárez Lynch, with Adolfo Bioy Cesares)
- NUEVA REFUTACÍON DEL TIEMPO, 1947
- EL ALEPH, 1949 - The Aleph and Other Stories (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1970) / The Aleps (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) / The Aleph (including the prose fictions from The Maker, translated with an introduction by Andrew Hurley, 2004)
- ASPECTOS DE LA LITERARA GAUCHESCA, 1950
- LA MUERTE Y LA BRÚJULA, 1951
- ANTIGUAS LITERATURAS GERMÁNICAS, 1951 (with Delia Ingenieros)
- OTRAS INQUISICIONES 1937-1952, 1952 - Other Inquisitions 1937-1952 (tr. Ruth L.C. Simms, 1964)
- EL "MARTIN FIERRO", 1953 (with Margarita Guerrero)
- DÍAS DE ODIO, 1954 (screenplay, dir. Leopoldo Torre Nilsson)
- LOS ORILLEROS, 1955
- LEOPOLDO LUGONES, 1955 (with Betina Edelberg)
- MANUAL DE ZOOLOGIA FANTASTICA, 1957 (rev. ed. EL LIBRO DE LOS SERES IMAGINARIOS, 1967) - The Book of Imaginary Beings (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1969) / The Imaginary Zoo (tr. Tim Reynolds, 1969) / The Book of Imaginary Beings (translated by Andrew Hurley, 2005) - Kuvitteellisten olentojen kirja (suom. Sari Selander, 2009)
- OBRAS COMPLETAS, VIII 1954-60
- LIBRO DEL CIELO Y DEL INFIERNO, 1960
- EL HACEDOR, 1960 - The Dreamtigers (tr. Mildred Boyer and Harold Morland, 1964) / The Maker (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) / Everything and nothing (tr. Donald A. Yates et al., 1999)
- ANTOLOGÍA PERSONAL, 1961 - A Personal Anthology (tr. Anthony Kerrigan, 1967)
- Labyrinths; Selected Stories & Other Writings, 1962 (edited by Donald A. Yates & James E. Irby)
- MACEDONIO FERNÁDEZ, 1963
- EL OTRO, EL MISMO, 1964
- OBRAS COMPLETAS III, 1964
- PARA LAS SEIS CUERDAS, 1965
- INTRODUCCIÓN A LA LITERATURA INGLESA, 1965 (with María Esther Vázquez) - An Introduction to English Literature (tr. L. Clark Keating and Robert O. Evans, 1974)
- LITERATURAS GERMÁNICAS MEDIAVALES, 1966 (with María Esther Vásquez)
- CRÓNICAS DE BUSTOS DOMECQ, 1967 (with Adolfo Bioy Casares) - Chronicles of Bustos Domecq (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1976)
- LA NOCHE QUE EN EL SUR LO VELARON, 1967 - Deathwatch on the Southside (tr. Robert Fitzgerald, 1968)
- INTRODUCCIÓN A LA LITERATURA NORTEAMERICANA, 1967 (with Esther Zemborain de Torres) - An Introduction to American Literature (tr. Clark Keating and Robert O. Evans, 1971)
- MUEVA ANTOLOGÍA PERSONAL, 1968
- ELOGIO DE LA SOMBRA, 1969 - In Praise of Darkness (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1974) / In Praise of Darkness (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) / Brodie's Report: Including the Prose Fiction from In Praise of Darkness (translated with an introduction by Andrew Hurley, 2005)
- EL OTRO, EL MISMO, 1969
- INVASIÓN, 1969 (screenplay, with Adolfo Bioy Casares, Hugo Santiago, dir. Hugo Santiago)
- EL INFORME DE BRODIE, 1970 - Dr. Brodie's Report (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1972) / Brodie's Report (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) / Brodie's Report: Including the Prose Fiction from In Praise of Darkness (translated with an introduction by Andrew Hurley, 2005) - Hiekkakirja (suomentanut Pentti Saaritsa, 2003)
- IL CONGRESSO DEL MONDO, 1972 - The Congress (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1974) / The Congress of the World (tr. Alberto Manguel, 1981)
- EL ORO DE LOS TIGRES, 1972 - The Gold of Tigers (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, in The Book of Sand, 1975) / The Gold of the Tigers: Selected Later Poems: A Bilingual Edition (translated by Alastair Reid, 1977)
- Borges on Writing, 1973 (edited by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Daniel Halpern, and Frank MacShane)
- SIETE CONVERSACIONES CON JORGE LUIS BORGES, 1973 (with Fernand0 Sorrentino) - Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges (tr. Clark M. Zlotchew, 1982)
- OBRAS COMPLETAS, 1974 (ed. Carlos V. Frías)
- EL LIBRO DE ARENA, 1975 - The Book of Sand (tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, 1977) / The Book of Sand (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999) - Hiekkakirja (suomentanut Pentti Saaritsa, 2003)
- LA ROSA PROFUNDA, 1975
- PRÓLOGOS CON UN PRÓLOGO DE PRÓLOGOS, 1975
- LA MONEDA DE HIERRO, 1976
- LIBRO DE SUEÑOS, 1976
- ANDROGUÉ, 1977
- ASESINOS DE PAPEL, 1977
- HISTORIA DE LA NOCHE, 1977
- LA ROSA DE PARACELSO, 1977
- NUEVOS CUENTOS DE BUSTOS DOMECQ, 1977 (with Adolfo Bioy Casares)
- TIGRES AZULES, 1977
- NORAH, 1977 (with Norah Borges)
- OBRA POÉTICA, 1964-1978 (6 vols.)
- OBRAS COMPLETAS EN COLABORARACIÓN, 1979
- NARRACIONES, 1980 (ed. Marcos Ricardo Barnatán)
- PROSA COMPLETA, 1980 (2 vols.)
- SIETE NOCHES, 1980 - Seven Nights (tr. Eliot Weinberger, 1984)
- LA CIFRA, 1981
- NUEVE ENSAYOS DANTESCOS, 1982
- VEINTICINCO AGOSTO DE 1983 Y OTROS CUENTOS, 1983 - Shakespeare's Memory (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999)
- OBRA POETICA, 1923-1977, 1983
- Y OTROS CUENTOS, 1983
- ALTAS, 1984 (with María Kodoma) - Atlas (tr. Anthony Kerrigan, 1985)
- LOS CONJURADOS, 1985
- TEXTOS CAUTIVOS, 1986 (ed. Enrique Socerio-Gari and Emir Rodríguez Monegal)
- EL ALEPH BORGIANO, 1987
- BORGES, EL JUDAISMO E ISRAEL, 1988
- PÁGINAS ESCOGIDAS, 1988 (ed. Roberto Fernández Retamar)
- BIBLIOTECA PERSONAL: PRÓLOGOS, 1988
- OBRAS COMPLETAS 1975-1985, 1989 - Shakespeare's Memory (tr. Andrew Hurley, in Collected Fictions, 1999)
- Selected Poems, 1998 (edited by Alexander Coleman)
- Collected Fictions, 1998 (tr. Andrew Hurley)
- Selected Non-Fictions, 1999 (ed. Eliot Weinberger, tr. Esther Allen, Suzanne Jill Levine, Eliot Weinberger)
- BORGES POR ÉL MISMO: POEMAS, 1999
- CORRESPONDENCIA, 1922-1939, 2000 (ed. Carlos García)
- This Craft Verse, 2000 (ed. Calin-Andrei Mihailescu)
- TEXTOS RECOBRADOS, 2002
- OBRAS COMPLETAS: EDICIÓN CRÍTICA. 1. 1923-1949, 2009 (ed. Rolando Costa Picazo)
- OBRAS COMPLETAS: EDICIÓN CRÍTICA. 2. 1952-1972, 2010 (ed. Rolando Costa Picazo)
martes, 1 de noviembre de 2016
Gabriel García Márquez / Georges Simenon
THE CREATOR OF MAIGRET
(1903 - 1989)
(1903 - 1989)
Belgian-born French novelist, one of the most skilled and literate writers of detective fiction. Simenon is best known as the creator of Paris police detective Inspector Maigret. He turned out 84 Maigret mysteries and 136 other novels, but he never wrote the 'big' novel that many critics demanded of him. Over 500 million copies of Simenon's books have been printed and translated into 50 languages.
"'Truth never seems true. I don't mean only in literature or in painting. I won't remind you either of those Doric columns whose lines seem to us strictly perpendicular and which only give that impression because they are slightly curved. If they were straight, they'd look as if they were swelling, don't you see?'" (from Maigret's Memoirs, 1950)
Georges Simenon was born in Liège on 13 February 1903, the first son of Désiré Simenon and Henriette Brüll. Because his birthday was Friday the 13th, his superstitious aunt changed the date to February 12. Simenon's father was an accountant for an insurance company. He died in 1921. At the age of sixteen Simenon was forced by his father's ill health to abandon his studies. He worked as a baker and a bookseller and began his career as a writer at a local newspaper, Gazette de Liège. This experience provided the young Simenon with the perfect apprenticeship. At the age of seventeen he published his first novel. He joined a group of painters, writers, and dilettantes who called themselves La Caque (The Cask) and spent time drinking, trying drugs, and discussing philosophy and art. Later he returned to the group and several of its members in the novel LE PENDU DE SAINT PHOLIEN (1931). In 1923 he married Règine Renchon, a young artist, whom he had met in Liège. The marriage ended in divorce.
In 1922 Simenon went to Paris, publishing short stories and popular novels under almost two dozen different pen names. He worked as an office clerk for a right-wing writer, and was a secretary to a wealthy aristocrat, the Marquis de Tracy. Simenon lived in France from 1923 to 1939, during which time his writing turned into an industry of novels. Between 1923 and 1933 Simenon produced more than 200 books of pulp fiction under several pseudonyms. From 1931 to 1934 Simenon wrote 19 Maigret novels. After a pause of 8 years, Maigret returned again in 1942 with three new stories.
The social life of Paris provided for the successful author innumerable sources of delight. In 1925 Simenon saw the legendary Josephine Baker dance in the famous show, La revue Nègre, and they became close friends. In 1928 and 1929 he sailed the rivers and canals of France, Holland, and Northern Europe, writing all the while. These journeys supplied material for several of his novels, among them LE CHARRETIER DE LA 'PROVIDENCE' (1931). Throughout the 1930s Simenon lived in many houses, he cruised the Mediterranean, and travelled in Lapland, Africa, and eastern Europe.
With the appearance of LE COUP DE LUNE (1933), about corruption and colonial rule in Gabon, Simenon was banned from entering the French Equatorial Africa. In Odessa Simenon saw starving people and was followed by the secret police. LES GENS D'EN FACE (1933), an anti-communist novel, was considered by André Gide an accurate description of the Russian atmosphere. Between the years 1934 and 1935 Simenon made an around-the-world cruise. "I have never been able to write a novel about a country which I have known only as a tourist, and I have never traveled around the world with a notebook in hand, jotting down impressions." (preface in Simenon: An American Omnibus, 1967)
The first novel, which Simenon published under his own name, was PIETR-LE-LETTON (1930, The Strange Case of Peter the Lett), where he introduced to the public Inspector Maigret. The character was apparently modelled on the author's great-grandfather. In this and the following books Simenon combined his moral objectivity and psychological insight to create characters that are wholly credible. Another series character, Jean Dollent, "the Little Doctor", appeared in short stories, which have been collected in The Little Doctor (1943). In the early 1930s Simenon produced eighteen Maigret books, but abandoned the character for eight years. By the end of the 1930s he was the favorite of such writers as André Gide, Ford Madox Ford (who mentions him in Vive Le Roy), and Robert Graves.
In 1939 Simenon was appointed commissioner for Belgian refugees at La Rochelle. When the German army invaded France, Simenon settled in Fontenay. During the years of occupation he continued writing and enjoyed success in the film business – under Nazi bureaucracy nine films based on his text were produced.
After the war Simenon found himself in the lists of collaborators. In 1945 he moved to Canada and from there to Tucson, Arizona. He spent the late 1940s and early 1950s in the United States. In New York Simenon met the bilingual young French-Canadian woman, Denyse Ouimet, with whom he had one of the great love affairs of his life. The relationship inspired the novel TROIS CHAMBRES Á MANHATTAN (1946). He married Denise in 1949 and moved with his new family to Connecticut, where he lived for the next five years. During this period he wrote several novels with an American background. Belle (1954) was a story of murder in a small Connecticut community. The Hitchhiker (1955) explored a battle of wills between husband and wife, and The Brothers Rico (1954) was a Mafia story. Simenon's unusually hard-boiled style echoes the work of Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain.
"Call me Mike."
But there was no mistake about it. This was no license to get chummy with him. It applied to the respectful familiarity which in certain groups, in certain small towns, surrounds those of importance.
He looked like a politician, a state senator, or a mayor, or like someone who bosses the political machine and makes judges and sheriffs alike. He could have played any role of these parts in the movies, especially in a Western, he knew, and it was obvious that it pleased him, that he kept polishing up the resemblance.
"How about a highball?" he proposed, pointing at the bottle.
"I never drink."
(from The Brothers Rico)
by Ronald Searle
Simenon's semi-autobiographic, naturalistic PEDIGREE (1948) was exceptionally long compared to most novels, over five hundred pages. Originally meant to be a memoir, it was turned into a novel after the suggestion of André Gide. Simenon began writing because a doctor misread an x-ray and told him that he had less than two years to live. He planned to give the book to his young son so that he would be able to know about his father when he grew up. However, Simenon still had 41 years ahead.
In 1955 Simenon returned to Europe and settled eventually in Lausanne, Switzerland. Beneath the illusion of a happy household, Simenon's marriage was deteriorating and his family disintegrating. He had started a sexual relationship with Teresa Sburelin, a new servant, who became his devoted companion. In 1964 Denise entered a psychiatric clinic, never returning to Epalinges, their home. Her bitter memoir of the marriage, Un Oiseau pour le chat, was published in 1978. Simenon's daughter Marie-Jo began the first of several psychiatric treatments in 1966, but ultimately in 1978 she committed suicide. In MÉMOIRES INTIMES I-II (1981) Simenon blamed Denise for her death.
The critic and awarded mystery writer H.R.F. Keating selected My Friend Maigret (1949) and Maigret in Court (1960) in 1987 for his list of the one hundred best crime novels. Maigret's method of investigation doesn't rely on vast amounts of police work. He operates more on the basis of intuition. His method also has many similarities with hermeneutics – the theory of interpretation, of understanding the significance of human actions, utterances, products, and institutions. In My Friend Maigret a small-time crook is murdered on the island of Porquerolles off the Mediterranean coast. Maigret is sent to investigate. He collects impressions, and tries to see behind the facts that the local inspector offers him. Thoughts start to rise up from his subconscious. "He sensed a whole heap of things, as he always did at the start of a case, but he couldn't have said in what form this mist of ideas would sooner or later resolve itself." And in the end he finds the answer.
A number of actors have impersonated Maigret in films and television series. Simenon's favorite was Jean Renoir's brother Pierre, who appeared in La Nuit du carrefour (1932). The director had happy memories of the film. His nephew Claude made his debut as a cameraman, Jacques Becker was producer, and the famous film critic and historian Jean Mitry was part of the crew. The film has been praised for its poetic atmosphere full of fog, rain, and car-lights. Jean Gabin played the inspector in Maigret tend un piège (1957), Maigret et l'affaire Saint-Fiacre (1959), and Maigret voit rouge (1963), carrying off the role with appropriate world-weariness. Simenon's stories have also inspired a number of other films, including L'ainé des Ferchaux (1963), directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Charles Vanel, Stéfania Sandrelli, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The story was remade in 2000 as a television series, directed by Bernard Stora. Belmondo played the old millionaire, Dieudonné Ferchaux.
The Bibliothèque Simenon opened in Liège in 1961, and in 1966 a statue of Commissaire Maigret was unveiled in Delfzijl, Holland. The last Maigret, MAIGRET ET MONSIEUR CHARLES, was published in 1972, and the next year Simenon announced his retirement. In the following years he published only non-fiction of an autobiographical sort. In his autobiography QUAND J'ÉTAIS VIEUX (1971, When I Was Old) Simenon claimed to have had sex with more than twenty thousand different women. LETTRE À MA MÈRE (1974) examined his relationship to his mother. Simenon died in Lausanne, on September 4, 1989. He left instructions at his death that his body be cremated without any ceremony and that his ashes, mingled with his beloved daughter's, be scattered beneath a huge tree in the back garden of his last house in Lausanne.
The Maigret books focus on the circumstances and stresses that compel one person to murder another. They are written in a spare, undecorated style. Simenon described them as sketches, comparable to the sort of things a painter does for his pleasure or for preliminary studies. The production of 115 'Simenons', short, intense psychological analyses of modern man, started with LE RELAIS D'ALSACE (1931, The Man from Everywhere). Among these works is his most Dostoyevskyan tale L'HOMME QUI REGARDAIT PASSER LES TRAINS (1938, The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By), which centers on the theme of the sense of guilt – as do many of his stories. Simenon's more or less optimistic side and joy in life is seen in such novels as LE PETIT SAINT (1965, The Little Saint) and LE PRÉSIDENT (1958, The Premier). L'HORLOGER D'EVERTON (1954) was filmed by Bernard Tavernier in 1973. In the story a father, Dave Galloway, begins to review his own life, when he hears that his son Ben has murdered a man and eloped with an underage girl. Dave realizes that he, his father, and Ben "were of the same breed, all three of them. ... It seemed to him that, in the whole world, there were only two sorts of men, those who bow their heads and the others."
Maigret is the son of a farmer of the countryside near Moulins. He came to Paris as a young man originally to study medicine. Instead he joined the police, and rose from uniformed bicycle patrolman to superintendent. His wife Louise is a fine cook, who often prepares heavy, hearty peasant fare – cassoulet, calves' liver, and his favorite, choucroute. They live in an apartment on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. Maigret's office is at the Quai des Orfévres, where sandwiches and beer are delivered during his interrogations. During his investigations Maigret consumes quantities of wine, endless glasses of beer, and Calvados. Heavy drinking is combined with pipe smoking. – Other police detectives in Maigret novels: Lucas, Janvier, Lapointe, Torrence. – Best Maigret film: Maigret tend un piége, 1957 (dir. by Jean Delannoy, with Jean Gabin as Maigret and Annie Girandot) – see more information later below. – Television Maigrets: Rupert Davies (1970) and Richard Harris (1988), Michael Gambon (1992) in Britain, Heinz Rühmann in Germany, Jan Teuling in Holland, Gino Cervi in Italy, Boris Tenin in Russia, Kinya Aikawa in Japan, Jean Richard and Bruno Cremer in France. See also: Lawrence Treat and modern police procedural novel.
"Writing is not a profession
but a vocation of unhappiness."
Would you believe it?Mark Lawson
Saturday 23 November 2002
As Georges Simenon's centenary approaches, Mark Lawson unravels clues to the life of the Belgian thriller-writer and discovers a mysterious character who could write a book in 11 days and claimed to have had 10,000 lovers
As Georges Simenon's centenary approaches, Mark Lawson unravels clues to the life of the Belgian thriller-writer and discovers a mysterious character who could write a book in 11 days and claimed to have had 10,000 lovers
he life of Georges Simenon began with a lie. He was born, during a rainstorm in Liège, 10 minutes into Friday February 13, 1903, but his superstitious mother insisted the birth was registered for the more auspicious Thursday. So, for 86 years until his death in Switzerland, he lit candles annually to a fiction and, in three months' time, his centenary will be celebrated one day early.
But the possession of a duplicitous birth certificate is appropriate because the man who became one of the essential writers of mysteries (rivalled in popularity only by Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe) was fundamentally a mysterious writer.
The first question Simenon raises is the explanation for his literary and sexual excess. What drove an imagination so prolific that he was able to write a novel in 11 days? (Starting a new book, he would mark off on a calendar eight days for composition and three for correction.) In the 1930s, when a French publisher took out advertisements announcing that a writer called Kessel was publishing "his first novel for three years", the creator of Maigret responded with cheeky flyers boasting "the first Simenon for eight days".
A remarkably prolific novelist, Simenon was also an astonishingly gushing lover. In old age, he claimed to have had sex with 10,000 women and, while all claims of erotic prowess are subject to a certain rounding-up, it's clear he used prostitutes at the rate Parisians get through Gitanes.
Beyond these enigmas involving his imagination and his penis, there are other mysteries to be considered by any writer investigating him, as I have for a Radio 4 play marking his centenary. Part of the reason this Belgian, whose most famous character was French, spent the last 40 years of his life in America and Switzerland was the accusation that he had collaborated with the Vichy regime during the second world war. There is also the question of why his daughter killed herself.
The main biographers - Pierre Assouline (1997), Patrick Marnham (1992), Stanley Eskins (1987) and Fenton Bresler (1983) - frequently disagree on details of the author's life but they are more often contradicted by the more than 20 volumes of autobiography which Simenon himself published. That torrent of autobiography is not even internally consistent. For example, he gives several different accounts of the genesis of his signature character, Superintendent Maigret.
A man who had published at least 400 novels under his own name and a variety of others would frequently lament to interviewers that he had always been incapable of making anything up. Certainly, he transferred a number of people, names and places wholesale from his research to the novels and, in consequence, suffered a number of libel suits. More gravely, when his 25-year-old daughter, Marie-Jo, decided to shoot herself in 1978, she was able to get the name and address of a reputable Parisian gunsmith from one of the Maigret stories.
eluctant to admit fiction to his novels, Simenon was unusually inventive in real life. It is still, for instance, widely claimed in literary histories that the young Simenon once wrote a novel in public in 24 hours, while sitting in a glass cage in Paris, accepting character and plot suggestions from a gawping audience. The author did not discourage this legend and it became a perfect metaphor for both his exhibitionism and his profligacy. However, his biographers have proved that Simenon never in fact became a literary sea-lion in this way. He signed a contract for the transparent composition but cancelled the happening after being warned by friends that it would wreck his artistic reputation. As with his birth certificate, the misunderstanding seems appropriate.
Apart from the personal memories that went through more drafts than a Hollywood screenplay, he had what might be taken as a novelist's habit of renaming key players in his life, so that his first wife, Regine, was rechristened "Tigy", while her maid Henriette, with whom the libidinous Simenon had an inevitable affair, was asked to answer to "Boule". The second wife, Denise, seems to have held on to what she got at the font although, in an intriguing psychological sideswipe, she began to spell herself Denyse after their marriage ended.
During the 1950s, when Simenon was living in magnificence by Lake Geneva, one of his neighbours was Carl Jung. The crime writer was keen for a meeting and an appointment was made but was cancelled by the psychologist's death. Yet a session with Sigmund Freud would probably have been more appropriate. The more you learn about the author, the more you conclude that his childhood damaged him profoundly.
In the classic no-win of parenting, his father loved Georges too much, his mother too little. His father, Desire, died at only 44 from a heart ailment he had concealed from his wife, who had come to the alternative diagnosis of laziness. Shortly before dying, Simenon Sr gave his son a pocket-watch, which he later used as payment in a brothel. These events gave Georges three obsessions - with early death, timepieces and his mother's cruelty - which became driving forces in his writing.
Henriette - the target of a bitter, late non-fiction book, Letter To My Mother - distanced herself from Simenon not only by her alleged part in hounding his sainted father to an early grave. Most shockingly, when Georges's brother was killed, she complained to her surviving son: "Why did it have to be him? Why couldn't it have been you?"
There's a popular psychological theory that men who are rejected by their mothers often become obsessive copulators, seeking vaginal acceptance, the compensating embrace. There are about 10,000 reasons to believe that Simenon fits that groove but there's also a more exotic and enjoyable theory that, in his many forays into bedrooms and brothels, he was following his nose.
As first a child and then a writer, he had an exceptional sense of smell, which was inconvenient for the many secret drinkers in his family. Because sexual attraction is, underneath what we call love and romance, a positive response to someone else's odour, there's some medical suggestion that those with unusually responsive nostrils may also be more sexually aware.
The wound of being unloved by his mother may explain as well why Simenon, in at least one case, became too close a father. The daughter to whom he gave his own name - Marie-Georges, later shortened to Marie-Jo - became so devoted to him that she once fainted when he drove past her without stopping and, as a young child, insisted he buy her her a gold wedding band, which she had stretched as she grew older. Before shooting herself with the gun to which Simenon's fiction had directed her, she is reported to have spoken of her father's "crushing genius".
Even so, he was a tragically unintended accessory to his daughter's death. The possibility of more direct culpability comes with his behaviour during the occupation of France. Simenon worked for the German film company Continental, whose owner kept a bust of Hitler on his desk - this period is also covered in the latest Bertrand Tavernier film, Laissez-Passer - and lived in a castle in the Vendée where Nazis had been billeted. To receive his royalties, he signed a declaration that he was Aryan, although he crossed out the lying claim that he was French rather than Belgian.
Simenon later claimed protection under a popular post-war formula in France - that he worked "under" the Nazis rather than for them - and the liberation government, despite investigation, found insufficient evidence to deport or execute him. Yet guilt and fear about his war-time record made him a voluntary exile from France. He had written anti-semitic articles as a young reporter in Belgium but my conclusion was that he was more pro-Simenon than pro-Nazi. With the egotism and political naivety of many artists, he simply could not accept that something as trivial as a world war could interrupt his career.
He was an unstoppable novelist. In the mature phase, which followed apprentice texts under numerous noms de plume - including Gom Gut, Christian Brulls and Jean du Perry - Simenon published three kinds of novels. Those he took most seriously he defined as "hard" books, which sub-divided again between crime stories (usually psychological puzzles) and more general domestic and sexual narratives. These were the works that he hoped would bring him the Nobel. On the other side of the divide were the dozens of Maigrets that he would have regarded, to borrow Graham Greene's distinction, as "entertainments" rather than serious novels. To his distress, his reputation came to rest on these: first for readers and then viewers. After they began to be widely translated in the 1940s, there were two British television series that became international hits, with Rupert Davies as the detective in the 1960s and then Michael Gambon in the 1980s.
Patrick Marnham called his Simenon biography The Man Who Wasn't Maigre, acknowledging the irritation both authors felt with lazy identification. Yet the creations of most novelists contain at least some shards of mirrored glass, even if of the distorting kind.
In one crucial way, the Parisian detective is very different from Simenon: he is uxorious, if sometimes a little grumpily so. There are, though, strong mental connections between the two men. Maigret is a bit of a plodder, under-estimated by his peers but then surprising them with his results, a possible reflection of the inferiorities Simenon felt as a son pushed away by his mother and then a Belgian living in France. Maigret's age when he first appeared in the fiction - in the late 1920s - is also significant. Jules Maigret was born aged 45, the birthday Simenon's father had failed to reach.
Simenon's hero differs from iconic fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Poirot in that he insists he "has no method" and rarely relies on brilliant deduction or theatrical interrogation. His trick is to think his way into the head of either victim or suspect. The English crime writer and critic HRF Keating has suggested that, in giving his creation such investigative procedures, Simenon was the first author in the genre to present the detective as a writer-surrogate. Like a novelist, Keating argues, Maigret begins each investigation by entering a new place or profession about which he has to learn - a version of authorial research - before coming to an intuitive understanding of the characters who inhabit it. It's a measure of Simenon's reputation in the genre that Keating, in his 1987 survey of the 100 best crime and mystery books, awarded three places to Simenon with two novels from the detective series - My Friend Maigret (1949) and Maigret In Court (1960) - and one "hard" book: The Stain On The Snow (1948), the story of a young man who becomes a killer and rapist during the Nazi occupation of France.
Keating's book is arranged chronologically but he says that, were the titles ranked by merit, Simenon would take first place, probably for My Friend Maigret . The late Julian Symons, another crime sage, also selected that title as Simenon's best.
Shortly after finishing the play, I met someone whose parents had once had a professional connection with Simenon. They were invited to stay at his Swiss mansion and, about to go to sleep in one of the master bedrooms, flicked the switch they assumed to control the lights. The room remained illuminated but they suddenly heard conversation from another room. Trying another switch, they overheard private chat from elsewhere. They concluded that the author had the place wired.
This might be regarded as the action of a pervert but can also be interpreted as evidence of the novelist's desperation to know and tell the stories of everyone. And, with Georges Simenon, the dividing line between sleazeball and creative artist is often hard to draw. Though he never wrote a novel in a glass cage, he built around himself, in both his fiction and his memoirs, a tower that seems to consist of windows until you gaze into them and find they are either mirrored or opaque.
It became a critical and journalistic commonplace that Simenon secretly longed to be a detective and, in 1934, he humiliated himself by announcing that he would solve the Stavisky case, a financial scandal that brought down the French government. He failed even to find a new lead and, like many crime writers, was forced to accept that it's easier to work backwards from your own facts than forward from existing ones.
More plausible is to see Simenon as a criminal manqué. Certainly some aspects of his biography - principally the brutal rejection by the mother - are familiar from profiles of murderers and we should perhaps be thankful that he was a balanced enough man to respond to his psychological problems by picking up a pen rather than a gun.
He also clearly enjoyed the idea that his life and writings were leaving a trail of clues, some true but many false, of which others would have to make sense. Both literary biographers and murder detectives will tell you that it's generally a good idea to talk to anyone with whom the subject had a sexual relationship. Among his many other precautions against being understood, Georges Simenon ensured that such an approach would be impractical in his case.
For further reading
The Art of Simenon by T. Narjerac (1952); Simenon in Court by R. Raymond (1963); Simenon by B. de Fallois (1971, rev. ed.); Simenon by F. Lacassin and G. Sigaux (1973); Georges Simenon by T. Young (1976); Georges Simenon by F.F. Becker (1977); Simenon's Paris by F. Frank (1983); Georges Simenon, a Critical Biography by S. Erskin (1987); The Man Who Wasn't Maigret by P. Marnham (1992); Simenon: A Biography by Pierre Assouline (1997); 'Georges Simenon' by George Grella, in Mystery and Suspense Writers, vol. 2, ed. by Robin W. Winks (1998).
- First published book: AU PONT DES ARCHES, 1920
- First Maigret: PIETR-LE-LETTON, 1930 - The Strange Case of Peter the Lett (tr. by Anthony Abbott) / Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett (tr. by Daphne Woodward) AU RENDEZ-VOUS DES TERRE-NEUVAS, 1931 - The Sailors Rendezvous / Maigret Keeps a Rendezvous (tr. by Margaret Ludwig)
- LE CHARRETIER DE LA "PROVIDENCE", 1931 - The Crime at Lock 14 / The Triumph of Inspector Maigret / Maigret Meets a Milord
- LE CHIEN JAUNE, 1931 - A Face for a Clue (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / The Patience of Maigret / Maigret and the Yellow Dog (tr. by Linda Asher
- UN CRIME EN HOLLANDE, 1931 - A Crime in Holland (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / Maigret Abroad (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / Maigret in Holland (translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LE DANSEUSE DU GAI-MOULIN, 1931 - At the "Gai-Moulin" (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / Maigret at the Gai-Moulin (tr. by by Geoffrey Sainsbury
- M. GALLET, DÉCÉDÉ, 1931 - The Death of M. Gallet (tr. by Anthony Abbott) / Introducing Inspector Maigret / Maigret Stonewalled (tr. by Margaret Marshall)
- LA NUIT DU CARREFOUR, 1931 - The Crossroad Murders (tr. by Anthony Abbott) / Inspector Maigret Investigates / Maigret at the Crossroads
- LE PENDU DE SAINT PHOLIEN, 1931 - The Crime of Inspector Maigret (tr. by Anthony Abbott) / Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets (tr. by Tony White)
- LE RELAIS D'ALSACE, 1931 - The Man from Everywhere (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- LA TÊTE D'UN HOMME, 1931 - A Battle of Nerves (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / Maigret’s War of Nerves (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) - Maigret ja mies Seinen rannalta (suom. Osmo Mäkeläinen)
- L'AFFAIRE SAINT FIACRE, 1932 - The Saint-Fiacre Affair (tr. by Margaret Ludwig) / Maigret Goes Home (tr. by Robert Baldick)
- CHEZ LES FLAMANDS, 1932 - The Flemish Shop / Maigret and the Flemish Shop (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LE FOU DE BERGERAC, 1932 - The Madman of Bergerac (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LA GUINGUETTE À DEUX SOUS, 1932 - Guinguette by the Seine / Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / The Bar on the Seine (translated by David Watson
- "LIBERTY-BAR", 1932 - Liberty Bar / Maigret on the Riviera (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- L'OMBRE CHINOISE, 1932 - The Shadow on the Courtyard / Maigret Mystified
- LE PORT DES BRUMES, 1932 - Death of a Harbor Master (tr. by Stuart Gilbert) / Maigret and the Death of a Harbor-Master (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- LES GENS D'EN FACE, 1933 - The Window over the Bay (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- L'ÂNE ROUGE, 1933 - The Night Club (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- LES FIANÇAILLES DE M. HIRE, 1933 - Mr. Hire's Engagement (tr. by Daphne Woodward)
- L'ÉCLUSE NO. 1, 1933 - The Lock at Charenton (tr. by Margaret Ludwig)
- LES GENS D'EN FACE, 1933 - The Window over the Way (by Robert Baldick)
- LA MAISON DU CANAL, 1933 - The House by the Canal (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LE COUP DE LUNE, 1933 - Tropic Moon (tr. by Stuart Gilbert; Marc Romano)
- MAIGRET, 1934 - Maigret Returns (tr. by Margaret Ludwig)
- L'HOMME DE LONDRES, 1934 - Newhaven-Dieppe (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- LE TESTAMENT DONADIEU, 1937 - The Shadow Falls (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- L'ASSASSIN, 1937 - The Murderer (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LE CHEVAL-BLANC, 1938 - The White Horse Inn (translated by Norman Denny)
- LE SUSPECT, 1938 - The Suspect (translated by Stuart Gilbert)
- LES RESCAPÉS DU TÉLÉMAQUE', 1938 - The Survivors (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- L'HOMME QUI REGARDAIT PASSER LES TRAINS, 1938 - The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By (tr. by Stuart Gilbert)
- MONSIEUR LA SOURIS, 1938 - The Mouse (tr. by Robert Baldick)
- LES INCONNUS DANS LA MAISON, 1939 - The Strangers in the House (translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- CHEZ KRULL, 1939 - Chez Krull (translated by Daphne Woodward)
- LE COUP DE VAGUE, 1939
- LES INCONNUS DANS LA MAISON, 1940 - Strangers in the House (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- MALEMPIN, 1940 - The Family Lie (tr. by Isabel Quigly)
- BERGELON, 1941 - The Delivery (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- COUR D'ASSISES, 1941 - Justice (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- IL PLEUT BERGERE, 1941 - Black Rain (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- LA MAISON DES SEPT JEUNES FILLES, 1941
- L'OUTLAW, 1941 - The Outlaw (tr. by Howard Curtis)
- LE FILS CARDINAUD, 1942 - Young Cardinal (tr. by Richard Brain)
- ONCLE CHARLES S'EST ENFERME, 1942 - Uncle Charles Has Locked Himself In (tr. 1987)
- LA VEUVE COUDERC, 1942 - Ticket of Leave (tr. by John Petrie) / The Widow (tr. by John Petrie)
- CÉCILE EST MORTE, 1942 - Maigret and the Spinster (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen
- LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC, 1942 - Maigret and the Hotel Majestic (tr. by Caroline Hillier)
- LA MAISON DU JUGE, 1942 - Maigret in Exile (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LA VÉRITÉ SUR BÉBE DONGE, 1942 - The Trial of Bébé (tr. by Louise Varèse)
- SIGNÉ PICPUS, 1944 - To Any Lengths (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) / Maigret and the Fortuneteller (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury)
- L'INSPECTEUR CADAVRE, 1944 - Maigret's Rival (tr. by Helen Thomson)
- FÉLICIE EST LÀ, 1944 - Maigret and the Toy Village (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LES NOUVELLES ENQUÊTES DE MAIGRET, 1944
- JE ME SOUVIENS...., 1945
- LA FRUITE DE M. MONDE, 1945 - Monsieur Monde Vanishes (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- TROIS CHAMBRES À MANHATTAN, 1945 - Three Beds in Manhattan (tr. by Lawrence G. Blochman)
- MAIGRET À NEW YORK, 1947 - Maigret in New York's Underworld (tr. by Adrienne Foulke)
- MAIGRET SE FÂCHE, 1947 - Maigret in Retirement (tr. by Jean Steward)
- LA PIPE DE MAIGRET, 1947 - Maigret's Pipe (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- MAIGRET ET L'INSPECTEUR MALCHANCEUX, 1947 - The Short Cases of Inspector Maigret (tr. 1959)
- LETTRE À MON JUGE, 1965 - Act of Passion (tr. by Louise Varèse)
- LE PASSAGER CLANDESTIN, 1947 - The Stowaway (tr. by Nigel Ryan)
- LE BILAN MALÉTRAS, 1948 - The Reckoning (tr. by Emily Read)
- LA NEIGE ÉTAIT SALE, 1948 - The Snow Was Black (tr. by Louise Varèse) / The Stain on the Snow / Dirty Snow (translated by Marc Romano) - Lumi oli likaista (suom. Sinikka Kallio)
- MAIGRET ET SON MORT, 1948 - Maigret's Special Murder (tr. by Jean Stewart) / Maigret's Dead Man (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- LES VACANCES DE MAIGRET, 1948 - Maigret on Holiday (tr. by Geoffrey Sainsbury ) / No Vacation for Maigret
- PEDIGREE, 1948 - Pedigree (tr. by Robert Baldick)
- LA PREMIÈRE ENQUÊTE DE MAIGRET, 1949 - Maigret's First Case (tr. by Robert Brain)
- MON AMI MAIGRET, 1949 - My Friend Maigret (tr. by Nigel Ryan) / The Methods of Maigret
- LE FOND DE LA BOUTEILLE, 1949 - The Bottom of the Bottle (tr. by Cornelia Schaeffer)
- MAIGRET CHEZ LE CORONER, 1949 - Maigret at the Coroner's (translated by Frances Keene) / Maigret and the Coroner (tr. by Frances Keene)
- MAIGRET ET LA VIEILLE DAME, 1950 - Maigret and the Old Lady (tr. by Robert Brain)
- L'AMIE DE MADAME MAIGRET, 1950 - Madame Maigret's Friend (tr. by Helen Sebba) / Madame Maigret's Own Case / The Friend of Madame Maigret (translated by Helen Sebba)
- LES PETITS COCHOMS SANS QUEUS, 1950
- MAIGRET AU "PICRATT'S", 1951 - Maigret in Montmartre (tr. by Daphne Woodward) / Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper (tr. by Cornelia Schaeffer)
- UNE VIE COMME NEUVE, 1951 - A New Lease of Life (tr. by by Joanna Richardson)
- MAIGRET EN MEUBLÉ, 1951 - Maigret Takes a Room (tr. by Robert Brain) / Maigret Rents a Room (tr. by Richard Brain)
- MAIGRET ET LA GRANDE PERCHE, 1951 - Maigret and the Burglar's Wife (tr. by J. Maclaren-Ross) / Inspector Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
- LES MÉMOIRES DE MAIGRET, 1951 - Maigret's Memoirs (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- UN NOËL DE MAIGRET, 1951 - Maigret's Christmas (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- LES FRÈRES RICO, 1952 - The Brothers Rico (tr. by Ernst Pawel)
- LA MORT DE BELLE, 1952 - Belle (tr. by Louise Varèse) / Tidal Waves
- MAIGRET, LOGNON ET LES GANGSTERS, 1952 - Inspector Maigret and the Killers (tr. by Louise Varèse) / Maigret and the Gangsters (tr. by Louise Varèse)
- LE REVOLVER DE MAIGRET, 1952 - Maigret's Revolver (tr. by Nigel Ryan) - Maigret'n revolveri (suom. Aili Palmén)
- MAIGRET ET L'HOMME DU BANC, 1953 - Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen) / Maigret and the Man on the Bench (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- MAIGRET A PEUR, 1953 - Maigret Afraid (tr. by Margaret Duff)
- MAIGRET SE TROMPE, 1953 - Maigret's Mistake (tr. by Alan Hodge)
- FEUX ROUGES, 1953 - Red Lights (translated by Norman Denny)
- LE GRAND BOB, 1954 - Big Bob (translated by Eileen M. Lowe)
- MAIGRET À L'ÉCOLE, 1954 - Maigret Goes to School (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- L'HORLOGER D'EVERTON, 1954 - The Clockmaker (translated by Norman Denny) / The Watchmaker of Everton (tr. by Norman Denny) - film: The Clockmaker of Saint Paul (1973), dir. by Bernard Tavernier, starring Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Jean Denis, Julien Bertheau, Yves Afonso
- MAIGRET ET LA JEUNE MORTE, 1954 - Maigret and the Young Girl (tr. by Daphne Woodward) / Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl - Maigret kilpasilla
- MAIGRET CHEZ LE MINISTRE, 1955 - Maigret and the Minister (tr. by Moura Budberg) / Maigret and the Calame Report (tr. by Moura Budberg)
- LES COMPLICES, 1955 - Accomplices (tr. by Bernard Frechtman) - Rikostoverit (suom. Aili Palmén)
- MAIGRET ET LE CORPS SANS TÊTE, 1955 - Maigret and the Headless Corpse (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- MAIGRET TEND UN PIÈGE, 1955 - Maigret Sets a Trap (tr. by Daphne Woodward)
- EN CAS DE MALHEUR, 1956 - A Case of Emergency (translated by Helen Sebba) / In Case of Emergency (translated by Helen Sebba) –
- UNÉCHEC DE MAIGRET, 1956 - Maigret's Failure (tr. by Daphne Woodward)
- LE PETIT HOMME D'ARKHANGELSK, 1957 - The Little Man from Archangel (tr. by Nogel Ryan)
- LE NÈGRE, 1957 - The Negro (tr. by Helen Sebba)
- MAIGRET S'AMUSE, 1957 - Maigret's Little Joke (tr. by Richard Brain) / None of Maigret's Business LE FILS, 1957 - The Son (tr. by Daphne Woodward)
- STRIP-TEASE, 1958 - Striptease (translated by Robert Brain)
- MAIGRET VOYAGE, 1958 - Maigret and the Millionaires (tr. by Jean Stewart) LES SCRUPULES DE MAIGRET, 1958 - Maigret has Scrupules (tr. by Robert Eglesfield) - Maigret psykiatrina (suom. Inkeri Sallamo)
- LE PRÉSIDENT, 1958 - The Premier (tr. by Daphne Woodward) - Pääministeri (suom. Osmo Mäkeläinen)
- MAIGRET ET LES TÉMOINS RÉCALCITRANTS, 1959 - Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses (tr. by Daphne Woodward)
- UNE CONFIDENCE DE MAIGRET, 1959 - Maigret Has Doubts (tr. by Lyn Moir) DIMANCHE, 1959 - Sunday (translated by Nigel Ryan)
- LE VEUF, 1959 - The Widower ( translated by Robert Baldick)
- MAIGRET AUX ASSISES, 1960 - Maigret in Court (tr. by Robert Brain)
- L'HOURS EN PELUCHE, 1960 - Teddy Bear (tr. by Henry Clay)
- MAIGRET ET LES VIEILLARDS, 1960 - Maigret in Society (tr. by Robert Eglesfield)
- MAIGRET ET LE VOLEUR PARESSEUX, 1961 - Maigret and the Lazy Burglar (tr. by Daphne Woodward) - Maigret ja valikoiva varas (suom. Inkeri Sallamo)
- MAIGRET ET LES BRAVES GENS, 1962 - Maigret and the Black Sheep (tr. by Helen Thomson)
- MAIGRET ET LE CLIENT DU SAMEDI, 1962 - Maigret and the Saturday Caller (tr. by Tony White)
- LA CHAMBRE BLEU, 1963 - The Blue Room ( translated by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LA COLÈRE DE MAIGRET, 1963 - Maigret Loses His Temper (tr. by Robert Eglesfield)
- MAIGRET ET LE CLOCHARD, 1963 - Maigret and the Dosser (tr. by by Jean Stewart) / Maigret and the Bum (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- LES ANNEAUX DE BICÊTRE, 1963 - The Patient (tr. by Jean Stewart) –
- MAIGRET ET LE FANTÔME, 1964 - Maigret and the Ghost (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen) / Maigret and the Apparation (translated by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- MAIGRET SE DÉFEND, 1964 - Maigret on the Defensive (tr. by Alastair Hamilton)
- LE CHAMBRE BLEU, 1964 - The Blue Room (translated by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LE PETIT SAINT, 1965 - The Little Saint (tr. by Bernard Frechtman)
- LE TRAIN DE VENICE, 1965 - The Venice Train (tr. by Alastair Hamilton)
- LA PATIENCE DE MAIGRET, 1965 - The Patience of Maigret (translated by Alastair Hamilton) / Maigret Bides His Time (translated by Alastair Hamilton)
- MAIGRET ET L'AFFAIRE NAHOUR, 1966 - Maigret and the Nahour Case (tr. by Alastair Hamilton)
- LE VOLEUR DE MAIGRET, 1967 - Maigret's Pickpocket (tr. by Nigel Ryan) / Maigret and the Pickpocket (by Nigel Ryan)
- Simenon: An American Omnibus, 1967
- LE DÉMÉNAGEMENT, 1967 - The Neighbours (tr. by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson) / The Move (tr. by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson)
- LE CHAT, 1967 - The Cat (tr. by Bernard Frechtman)
- LA PRISON, 1968 - The Prison (tr. by Lyn Moir)
- L'AMI D'ENFANCE DE MAIGRET, 1968 - Maigret's Boyhood Friend (tr. by by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- MAIGRET Á VICHY, 1968 - Maigret Takes the Waters (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen) / Maigret in Vichy (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen
- MAIGRET HÈSITE, 1968 - Maigret Hesitates (tr. by Lyn Moir)
- NOVEMBRE, 1969 - November (tr. by Jean Stewart)
- MAIGRET ET LE TUEUR, 1969 - Maigret and the Killer (tr. by Lyn Moir)
- LA FOLLE DE MAIGRET, 1970 - Maigret and the Madwoman (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- QUAND J'ÉTAIS VIEUX, 1970 - When I Was Old (tr. by Helen Eustis)
- MAIGRET ET LE MARCHAND DE VIN, 1970 - Maigret and the Wine Merchant (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LE RICHE HOMME, 1970 - The Rich Man (by Jean Stewart)
- MAIGRET ET L'HOMME TOUT SEUL, 1971 - Maigret and the Loner (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LA DISPARATION D'ODILE, 1971 - The Disappearance of Odile tr. by Lyn Moir)
- MAIGRET ET L'INDICATEUR, 1971 - Maigret and the Flea (tr. by Lyn Moir) / Maigret and the Informer (tr. by Lyn Moir)
- Last Maigret: MAIGRET ET MONSIEUR CHARLES, 1972 - Maigret and Monsieur Charles (tr. by Marianne Alexandre Sinclair)
- LES INNOCENTS, 1972 - The Innocents (tr. by Eileen Ellenbogen)
- LETTRE À MA MÈRE, 1974 - Letter to My Mother (translated by Ralph Manheim)
- MÉMOIRES INTIMES I-II in 1981 - Intimate Memoirs (translated by Harold J. Salemson)
Selected Maigret films
- LA NUIT DU CARREFOUR, 1932 - MAIGRET AT THE CROSSROADS/THE CROSSROADS MURDER, dir. by Jean Renoir - adapted from the novel of the same title (1931)
- LA CHIEN JAUNE, 1932 - A FACE FOR A CLUE, dir. by Jean Tarride - adapted from the novel of the same title (1931)
- LA TÊTE D'UN HOMME, 1933 - A BATTLE OF NERVES, dir. by Julien Duvivier - adapted from the novel of the same title (1931)
- PICPUS, 1943 - TO ANY LENGHTS, dir. by Richard Pottier - adapted from the collection Signé Picpus (1944)
- CÉCILE EST MORTE, 1944 - MAIGRET AND THE SPINSTER, dir. by Maurice Tourneur - adapted from the story of the same title (1942)
- LES CAVES DU MAJESTIC, 1945 - MAIGRET AND THE HOTEL MAJESTIC, dir. by Richard Potter - adapted from the story of the same title (1942)
- MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER, dir. by Burgess Meredith - based on La Tète d'un homme (1931)
- BRELAN D'AS, 1952, dir. by Henri Verneuil - partly based on Le Témoignage de l'enfant de choeur in the collection Maigret et l'inspecteur malchanceux - puis malgracieux (1947)
- MAIGRET MÈNE L'ENQUÊTE, 1955 - MAIGRET AND THE SPINSTER, dir. by Stany Cordier - partly based on Cécile est morte in the collection Maigret revient (1942)
- MAIGRET TEND UN PIÈGE, 1958 - MAIGRET SETS A TRAP - dir. by Jean Delannoy - adapted from the novel of the same title (1955)
- MAIGRET DIRIGE L'ENQUÊTE (tv), 1955, dir. by Stanley Cordier
- MAIGRET ET L'AFFAIRE SAINT-FIACRE, 1959 - THE SAINT-FIACRE AFFAIR / MAIGRET GOES HOME, dir. by Jean Delannoy - adapted from L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre (1932)
- MAIGRET VOIT ROUGE, 1963 - MAIGRET AND THE GANGSTERS/INSPECTOR MAIGRET AND THE KILLERS, dir. by Gilles Grangier - adapted from Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters (1952)
- MAIGRET À PIGALLE, 1966, dir. by Mario Landi, starring Gino Cervi
- MAIGRET UND SEIN GRÖSSTER FALL, 1966 dir. by Alfred Weidenmann, starring Heinz Rühmann
- LA CHIEN JAUNE (tv), 1968, dir. by Claude Barma, starring Henry Czarniak
- MAIGRET ET L'HOMME DU BANC (tv), 1973, dir. by René Lucot, starring Jean Richard
- MAIGRET EN MEUBLÉ (tv), 1972
- MAIGRET HÉSITE (tv), 1975
- MAIGRETET LES GANGSTERS (tv), 1977
- LIBERTY BAR (tv), 1979
- MAIGRET Á VICHY (tv), 1984
- MAIGRET ET LE MARCHAND (tv)
- MAIGRET (tv), 1988, dir. by Paul Lynch, starring Richard Harris
- television film 1991, starring Bruno Cremer
- Granada television series 1992-93, starring Michael Gambon
Simenon in the Encyclopædia Britannica
Simenon, Georges (Joseph Christian) (b. Feb. 13, 1903, Liège, Belg. – d. Sept. 4, 1989, Lausanne, Switz.), Belgian-French novelist whose prolific output surpassed that of any of his contemporaries, and who was perhaps the most widely published author of the 20th century.
Simenon's central theme is the isolated existence of the neurotic, abnormal individual. Employing a style of rigorous simplicity, he evokes a prevailing atmosphere of neurotic tensions with sharp economy. Simenon lived in the United States for more than a decade from 1945, and later in France and Switzerland.
Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993