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Pietr el letó (1931)
de Georges Simenon
Books Read in 2016 (4,026)
Books Read in 2022 (3,798)
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Pietr-le-Letton est intéressant à un titre essentiellement, c’est le premier Maigret !
Une aventure qui sert à présenter les personnages, le commissaire, son épouse, le Quai des Orfèvres et ses sandwichs, ou le poêle que (le pas encore prénommé) Jules prend du plaisir à tisonner.
A noter qu’il s’agit d’un livre des années 30, et que les notions de races sont encore présentes et les stéréotypes bien gênants
That didn't impress me much.
Maigret is on the job, and he doesn't want no stinkin' champagne:
"Most people here were in formal attire, but there were also a few foreigners in lounge suits. Maigret waved away a hostess who tried to sit at his table. A bottle of champagne was put in front of him, automatically. There were streamers all about. Puffer balls flew through the air. One landed on maigret's nose, and he glowered at the old lady who'd aimed it at him."
Maigret gets shot at outside the theater/Cafe, but he can't stop now. He gets in a cab and returns to the hotel where pietr and the mortimers are, And where his partner has a stakeout:
"at last he caught sight of the Mortimers' Suiye and beside it, the door of the room where Torrance was to be found. He got to the door, walking slightly crabwise, pushed it open....
He had to try three times over. As soon as he took his hand off his wound, blood spurted out of it at an alarming rate. Finally he took the towel that was lying on the table and wedged it under his waistcoat, which he fastened as tight as he could. The smell in the room made him nauseous.
He lifted one end of the settee with weak arms and swung it around on two of its legs. It was what he expected: Torrance, all crumpled up with his shoulder twisted round as if he had his bones broken to make him fit into a small space...
Torrance with dead! Magrette twisted his lips and clenched his fists. His eyes clouded over and he uttered a terrible oath in the shut and silent room."
Maigret tries to understand how the Latvian can look like two different people:
"maigret was two heads taller than Pietr. They were both facing the mirror, and gazed at each other in that pewter-tinted screen.
The latvian's face began to decompose, starting with his eyes. He snapped his white dry-skinned fingers, then wiped his forehead with his hand. A struggle then slowly began on his face. In the mirror maigret saw now the guest of the majestic, now the face of anna gorskin's tormented lover.
But the second visage didn't emerge in full. It kept getting pushed back by immense muscular effort. Only the eyes of pietr's Russian self stayed stable. He was hanging onto the edge of the counter with his left hand. His body was swaying."
"The Two Pietrs:
Maigret had never seen a man get drunk at such lightning speed. It's true he had also never seen anyone fill a tumbler to the brim with whiskey, knock it back, refill it, knock the second glass back, then do the same a third time before shaking the bottle over his mouth to get the last few drops of 104° proof Spirit down his throat.
The effect was impressive. Pietr went crimson and the next minute he was as white as a sheet, with blotches of red on his cheeks. His lips lost their color. He steadied himself on the low table, staggered about, then said with the detachment of a true drunk:
'this is what you wanted, isn't it?...'
He laughed uncertainly, expressing a whole range of things: fear, irony, bitterness and maybe despair. He tried to hold onto a chair but knocked it over, then wiped his damp brow....
what he was watching was the same transformation he'd seen that morning, but on a scale 10 times, a hundred times greater."
This, the first of 75 Maigret novels, is a strangely unsympathetic introduction to the character that emphasizes his flaws more than his skills as a detective.
It’s written in a minimalist staccato style that gives the prose a constant underlying sense of urgency, even in scenes where not much is happening. Unfortunately that same constant rhythm robs some of the more dramatic elements of their impact.
The plot itself sort of meanders through its twists and turns, and has a somewhat anticlimactic ending.
Not an auspicious start, but I will probably still dip into a couple more Maigrets from later in the run to see how they progress. A insert in the book highlights six titles as Simeon’s “great novels” so I’ll try one of those next.
Interesting to revisit Inspector Maigret. Read some of these mysteries in college long ago in a mystery literature class. Some of the stereotypes stick out more clearly now. The mystery was a bit hard to follow at times but was quite adequately explained at the end and was all good. The writing style was slightly odd. I don’t know if that was because it’s an 88 year old book or because it’s translated.
All in all I like Maigret.
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Maigret en acción (16)
Penguin Books (2023)
— 3 més
Tout Maigret, Tome 1 : Pietr le Letton ; Le charretier de la Providence ; Monsieur Gallet, décédé ; Le pendu de Saint-Pholien ; La tête d'un homme ; Le ... du carrefour ; Un crime en Hollande de Georges Simenon
El ahorcado de Saint Pholien. Mi amigo Maigret. Pietr-le-Letton. Las vacaciones de Maigret de Georges Simenon
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
The first novel which appeared in Georges Simenon's famous Maigret series, in a gripping new translation by David Bellos. Inevitably Maigret was a hostile presence in the Majestic. He constituted a kind of foreign body that the hotel's atmosphere could not assimilate. Not that he looked like a cartoon policeman. He didn't have a moustache and he didn't wear heavy boots. His clothes were well cut and made of fairly light worsted. He shaved every day and looked after his hands. But his frame was proletarian. He was a big, bony man. His firm muscles filled out his jacket and quickly pulled all his trousers out of shape. He had a way of imposing himself just by standing there. His assertive presence had often irked many of his own colleagues. In Simenon's first novel featuring Maigret, the laconic detective is taken from grimy bars to luxury hotels as he traces the true identity of Pietr the Latvian. Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in previous translations as The Case of Peter the Lettand Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett. 'Compelling, remorseless, brilliant' John Gray 'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories' Guardian 'A supreme writer . . . unforgettable vividness' Independent
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)843.912 — Literature French French fiction Modern Period 20th Century 1900-1945
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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