I noted in an earlier blog that Georges Simenon's Maigret novels are being reissued by Penguin on a monthly basis. Six of these new editions of the Maigret novels have been issued to date.
Julian Barnes has an interesting article in the Times Literary Supplement on Simenon and the Maigret novels. Barnes points out that Simenon's work was admired by such writers as Andre Gide and T.S. Eliot, among others. He suggests that Simenon's books were popular with "literary" writers both because of the positives of his writing--things he was able to do very well--and the "enviable" negatives-- things he got away with doing that other writers could not.
For the positives of Simenon's writing, Barnes cites his "swiftness
of creation; swiftness of effect; clearly demarcated personal territory;
intense atmosphere and resonant detail; knowledge of, and sympathy with, les
petites gens; moral ambiguity; [and] a usually baffling plot with a usually
satisfactory denouement." Among his enviable negatives were his simple prose (Simenon had a vocabulary of 2000 words), his brevity, his lack of rhetorical devices, and the lack of subtext in the novels. Simenon designed the Maigret books to be read in one sitting and made the vocabulary accessible to the general reader.
The article also contains some interesting anecdotes about Simenon and his work. For example, when the BBC re-created the Maigret stories on television, a local temperance group and Anglican bishop implored the producers to be less faithful to detail in portraying Maigret's daily alcohol consumption.
For the full text of the article, please see http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1407798.ece.