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“What Simenon serves up, in addition to thumping entertainment and a very Gallic blend of misanthropy and sensuality, is inspiration: The example of one of history’s heroic graphomaniacs, a great writer who evidently was never blocked, who churned out hundreds of novels at an Olympian pace. (He told interviewers that it took him 11 days to write a book.) Simenon managed this feat by devoting himself to simplicity and economy. He wrote clear-eyed, sturdy, beautiful sentences that sketched people and places in brisk strokes: “The city looked as if it had been washed in clean water, so bright were the colors”; “She walked ahead of Maigret with that aggressive dignity of those for whom mockery is the worst calamity”; “Big Louis’ features looked swollen; one cheek was bigger than the other, or simply seemed so because of the way he always tilted his head to one side. Puffy flesh, and big eyes that seemed to start from his head.” Simenon’s best lines chime like poetry. Here he is describing a chance meeting between Maigret and a harbormaster in a foggy seaport town: “They shake hands, like two phantoms in the mist. And life goes on in the fog, where one may suddenly bump into an invisible man.””

Jody Rosen interviews Gareth Armstrong – narrataor of the Maigret audiobooks – in the New York Times. Read on for an extract from a Maigret audio book.

Patrick Modiano gives a press conference in Paris, on Oct. 9, 2014, following the announcement earlier in the day of his Nobel Literature Prize. (Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images)

Patrick Modiano gives a press conference in Paris, on Oct. 9, 2014, following the announcement earlier in the day of his Nobel Literature Prize. (Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images)

Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien was recently shown at the Institut français in London.  The screenplay was co-written by 2014 Nobel Prize-recipient Patrick Modiano.

Simenon is known to have inspired Modiano.  In Lacombe Lucien Modiano revisits the past but in a very different manner than Proust’s reminiscing: he investigates it just like Simenon in his crime novels. . In fact, Modiano’s 2005 autobiography’s title A pedigree, comes from Simenon’s Pedigree.

In 1944, young Lucien Lacombe returns to his parent’s house in rural south-western France and asks his former teacher to join the Résistance. Turned down because of his age, he ends up joining the French Gestapo. He enjoys his new position and power until he falls in love with France Horn, a Jewish girl, and starts to question his allegiance to the Nazis. Written by Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano, Lacombe Lucien won the BAFTA Best Picture Award in 1975.


Further reading



Rowan - Maigret

We are thrilled that ITV has commenced filming Maigret Sets A Trap, one of two stand-alone dramatic films featuring the legendary French fictional detective Jules Maigret, who will be played by Rowan Atkinson.

Set in the 1950’s in Paris, the first of the two x 120’ films, Maigret Sets A Trap has started filming in Budapest and will be followed by Maigret’s Dead Man.

Maigret Sets A Trap also features Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood), Aiden McCardle (Mr Selfridge, The Mill), Shaun Dingwall (Silent Witness, Death In Paradise), Lucy Cohu (Broadchurch), Leo Starr (Call The Midwife, Lewis), Rufus Wright (Miranda, Doctors), Hugh Simon (The Mill, MI-5), David Dawson (Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders), Colin Mace (Doctors, Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) and Rebecca Night (Starlings).

Maigret is produced by Ealing Studios and Maigret Productions Ltd (a Peters Fraser Dunlop Group company) and commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama, Steve November, and Controller of Drama, Victoria Fea.

Maigret is written by Stewart Harcourt (Love & Marriage, Treasure Island, Marple) and produced by Jeremy Gwilt (Undeniable, Foyle’s War, Torn, Home Fires).  The Executive Producers are Barnaby Thompson (Easy Virtue, Dorian Gray, St. Trinians) and Ben Latham-Jones (Nina, D Train, Midsummer Nights Dream) for Ealing Studios, John Simenon and Paul Aggett for Maigret Productions, and Stewart Harcourt.

For press enquiries, please contact Julia Engleman, 020 7157 3040 /



‘I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov’

William Faulkner

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