We can straightforwardly say that 2019 is “the year Simenon”. It celebrates both the 30th anniversary of the death of the author of Maigret, but also the 90th anniversary of the birth of the famous commissioner of the pipe. To launch the festivities, the “Figaroscope” offers a conference exclusive to the “Figaro” from 19h, Monday, march 4, in the presence of John Simenon, the producer of Mr Hire , Patrice Leconte, and writer-director Jacques Santamaria. Man of the radio and television, the author of the police series Mongeville with Francis Perrin, shares his thoughts on the work that is timeless and always a rediscovery of “the writer to 400 pounds”.

” Book your tickets to the conference exclusive “The wonderful universe of Simenon”

LE FIGARO. – What is your first memory of reading of the novels of Georges Simenon?

Jacques SANTAMARIA. – I had to be 12 years old. I was compulsive reading. I don’t know why but one day my father took out a book from his library and I was tense, saying to me: “ here, read-it, you might like. ” It was Maigret and the witnesses . I was absolutely dazzled. At the time, I was an avid admirer of Alexander Dumas, Jack London and Balzac. Without even realizing it, I established a bridge between the novel of Simenon, and my authors fetishes. I chained the reading of Maigret, and what grabbed me is that I recognized that in him as in The human Comedy , which counts most in the end are the characters. The key to its genius is simple: in Simenon, the characters the action and not the reverse.

What do you mean by that?

In Simenon, the thickness psychological explains the action. See “Maigret”. In fact, Georges Simenon written as Maigret investigation. At the outset, the commissioner Maigret is not known. He is there to sniff. He walks slowly, he scans the faces. He smells, he sniffs, he looks at the facade of a house, the scent of the surrounding, the atmosphere of a street, the moisture content of a wall. These water drops, it reconnects them. It follows these trickles of water that run off, and that form a path going back to the source. The source is the novel. It is in this way that Simenon wrote, as Maigret investigation. What it is interested in, are the characters, their lives, their past, their flaws. This creates psychological profiles. The slow pace may prove to be an interesting factor in the novels of Simenon. In Patience de Maigret for example, the pace is slow. Maigret is aging. it is slow, but nothing escapes him!

“In the novels of Simenon, it is not outside of the human. All proceeds from the human and everything returns to it. At the bottom, the only pulp fiction of Simenon, it is human nature.”

Jacques Santamaria

This slow “simenonienne” is it dated to the time of the Internet, and while a sense of immediacy permanent pervades our societies?

today , we live under the terror of immediacy. The slow pace of the novels of Simenon, this is not even cheesy, it is… martian! But you forget only one thing: it is that Simenon wrote at the height of a man. This is not technological, it is not virtual. There is no artificial intelligence… In the novels of Simenon, it is not outside of the human. All proceeds from the human and everything returns to it. Simenon as Maigret have a great luxury: they can take their time. At the bottom, the only pulp fiction of Simenon, it is human nature. Those who deem his work old-fashioned have not understood anything.

And what do you think of the place of Paris in the work of Simenon?

In Simenon, the backgrounds are often treated as characters. But the city of Paris goes beyond this comparison…


Because this is a capital city that Simenon was discovered when he was only 19 years old. It is the city of which he dreamed. For him, who lived as a sort of Rastignac belgian, it was the city where we could. Simenon had the ambition. And we realize that neighbourhoods that appear more often in his novels are those in which it is installed, either the Montmartre, place de Clichy, or the place des Vosges. I also find it completely senseless that while the majority of the novels of Simenon take place in Paris, there is not even a place, an avenue, or even a dead end that it is dedicated. Simenon is expected to have a street with his name in Paris!

In your opinion, what is the reason of this forgetfulness?

I think that Georges Simenon has long felt the suffering. He was considered as a type of right. I believe that this absence is largely due to ideological issues.

How do you explain that Georges Simenon comes back periodically on the front of the stage?

Finally, we never do the tour of a great work. One could say, paraphrasing the famous maxim “What’s new? Molière!” … “What’s new? Simenon!” The work of Simenon is timeless. The creator of commissioner Maigret had found the key: work on the characters!

● AN EVENT, “FIGAROSCOPE” On Monday, march 4, from 19 h, conference, exclusive to the “Figaro” in the presence of John Simenon, Jacques Santamaria and Patrice Leconte. Limited number of places. Details and booking on www.lefigaro.fr/store