Keywords: Law and Literature; Comparative Law; Simenon; Maigret.
Criminal stories are more often than not a telling mirror of the society and legal systems they deal with. They are also a depository of the spirit of time concerning the justification of scientific knowledge. Sherlock Holmes is a kind of positivist, Poirot rather an intuitionist, Philip Marlowe a pragmatist. One might study the history of philosophy of science and epistemology through the evolution of detective stories, indeed a faithful looking-glass. This article focuses on Jules Maigret, the French detective that is a creature of Georges Simenon fertile literary imagination. A few of Maigret's novels could be considered as small treaties about law and justice in the French and Continental tradition. The French detective is sometimes sent to the Unites States where he seems surprised by the common law legal procedure that he favorably compares to Continental practices. However, there remains a pessimistic attitude about trials and judges seen as incapable to fully understand and report about the intricate and intimate destinies that lead human beings to break the law. This is why indeed judging - Maigret's final statement - is impossible.