An exemplary sentence

sim2Georges Simenon is known better for his Inspector Maigret novels than his darker, more literary “romans durs.” The latter present a bleak, existential universe without much pleasure. But the short who-done-its are restful to read. The world is orderly, and Maigret is in charge. The best thing about them, aside from the brooding, intuitive Maigret, is the occasional paragraph like this. It is dawn in Paris after an all night investigation:

“All around them, workmen were eating their croissants, still sleepy-eyed, and the early morning mist spangled their overcoats with moisture. It was chilly. In the streets, each passer-by was preceded by a little cloud of steam. Windows were lighting up, one after the other, on the different floors of all the houses.”

simenonThere is an extra irony in the inspector’s name. Maigret is heavyset, lumbering. But maigre in French means skinny.

This paragraph is from Maigret’s Dead Man. But all his work has gems like this. It’s reassuring that there are so many Maigret mysteries.

Hats off to the translator too, Jean Stewart. Spangled with moisture is a good choice!


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