Introduced by Julian Barnes
Illustrated by Harry Brockway
Georges Simenon’s celebrated French detective Maigret appears in his first illustrated editions, featuring woodcuts by Harry Brockway and an introduction by Julian Barnes.
‘A hundred fictional policemen are more authentic than Maigret. But, thanks to the genius of his creator, not one is more real.’
Georges Simenon was an extraordinarily prolific writer, producing over four hundred novels and short story collections during his lifetime, earning him praise from figures across the literary spectrum. Muriel Spark called him ‘a truly wonderful writer’, and T. S. Eliot declared his the only contemporary fiction he would read. It was for his crime novels, starring Chief Detective Inspector Maigret, that he would earn his greatest acclaim. Astute, witty and psychologically complex, these novels and the introspective, gruff figure at the heart of them are an enduring hit – and an essential addition to the Folio crime collection.
With more than seventy novels to choose from, we have selected three that contain in abundance everything that Maigret is especially celebrated for: cases that explore the darker side of the human psyche, complex webs of societal intrigue, and an atmospheric mid-20th century Paris. In Maigret and the Calame Report, the detective is reluctantly drawn into the seedy world of political manoeuvring and corruption when 128 children are killed in a collapsing building. The second volume, Maigret and the Saturday Caller, sees the detective stumped when a man arrives at his home tearfully declaring, ‘I want to kill my wife’; and in volume three, Maigret and the Wine Merchant, one of the richest men in Paris is shot dead in front of a house frequently used for illicit liaisons.
‘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’
For this special boxed set, the great Harry Brockway has returned to provide a series of woodcut illustrations and a set of stylish binding designs that feature Maigret and his familiar pipe, hat and heavy overcoat. In his introduction, novelist Julian Barnes explores the idea of ‘Maigretland’, the irresistible romanticised vision of France captured in Simenon’s novels.
Georges Simenon was born in Liège in 1903. In 1919 he started working at the Gazette de Liège, where he first learnt about the world of crime which was so strongly to influence his writing. In his late teens Simenon moved to Paris where he began writing his hugely successful books on Maigret, the French police detective. The series started with Pietr le Letton (1931) and continued until Maigret et Monsieur Charles (1972), over forty years and seventy-four novels later. Simenon became known as one of the most prolific and best-selling crime writers of his time. At seventy years old Simenon retired from writing fiction, although he continued his non-fiction work until his death in Lausanne in 1989.
Julian Barnes is the author of several books of stories, essays, a translation of Alphonse Daudet’s In the Land of Pain (2002), and thirteen novels, including the 2011 Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Sense of an Ending and the acclaimed The Noise of Time (2016). His other recent publications include Levels of Life (2013) and Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art (2015). Barnes has received several awards and honours for his writing, including the David Cohen Prize for Literature in 2011. In 2017, the French President appointed Julian Barnes to the rank of Officier in the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.
Harry Brockway was born in Newport, South Wales, in 1958. He studied sculpture at Kingston upon Thames Art School and at The Royal Academy Schools in London, before training to become a stonemason. Since 1989 he has worked as a stone-carver and illustrator. He uses a range of sculpting materials to create his art, from limestone, sandstone, slate, marble and wood. He has been a member of the Society of Wood Engravers since 1984, and has produced a significant body of work for Folio Society publications, including for Frankenstein (2004; 2015), The Vision of Piers the Plowman (2014) and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (2010; 2017)
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