Georges Simenon's Realistic Twist and the Meaning of Renato Olivieri's Tribute to Maigret (or of the Change from Detective Story to Social Thriller)


  • Luca Martignani University of Bologna



detective fiction, thriller, mystery novel, noir, realism, Simenon.


This essay is composed of two parts. The first identifies two key moments in the development of a very popular genre: detective fiction. Permeated by the relevance of social phenomena (order and conflict, law and crime) this genre takes on a properly realistic dimension when it combines the formal rigour of the investigative method (whose archetype is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes) with the acknowledgement of aspects beyond the detective’s deductions, to consider society and its complexity as the true protagonists of the storytelling. This has paramount consequences on both narrative structure and plot, but also on the social philosophy of detective fiction, inaugurating a reflection on realism in social thrillers (masterfully represented by Georges Simenon’s Jules Maigret). In the second, shorter part, the analysis focuses on a fragment of Renato Olivier’s work, allowing for a comparison of the two key moments in the genre related to the investigative method and to understand its development following literary realism.

Author Biography

Luca Martignani, University of Bologna

Associate Professor of SociologyDepartment of Political and Social Sciences


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