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Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – July 31, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Attention should be paid to the New York Review of Books' continuing reissues of Georges Simenon. Simenon was legendary both for his literary skill–four or five books every year for 40 years–and his sexual capacity, at least to hear him tell it. What we can speak of with some certainty are the novels, which are tough, rigorously unsentimental and full of rage, duplicity and, occasionally, justice. Simenon's tone and dispassionate examination of humanity was echoed by Patricia Highsmith, who dispensed with the justice. So far, the Review has published Tropic Moon, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, Red Lights, Dirty Snow and Three Bedrooms in Manhattan; The Strangers in the House comes out in November. Try one, and you'll want to read more.” –The Palm Beach Post

"A truly wonderful writer…marvellously readable, lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with that world he creates."
— Muriel Spark

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (July 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170960
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Georges Simenon is one of the most addictive and bestselling European authors of the 20th Century. His work consists of 391 titles, and he is best known as the creator of the fictional detective series consisting of 75 books featuring Inspector Maigret, translated into more than 50 languages and sold in more than 50 countries. There are over 800 million Simenon books sold worldwide and he is the most translated French speaking author of the 20th century and the second most translated author of all time in Italy after Shakespeare.

'A writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal' P.D. James

'My readings? I read Tout Simenon, and when I'm done, I start all over again' Claude Chabrol

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Norbert Monde, a fourth-generation bourgeois Parisian businessman, "comes to his senses" on the afternoon of his forty-eighth birthday, withdraws 300,000 francs from his bank account, and promptly vanishes, abandoning his second wife, gay son, and money-grubbing daughter to their own devices. He surfaces in Marseilles where he is quickly drawn into a domestic crisis at a hotel and winds up living a new life among gamblers, drunks and prostitutes in Nice. He's happy, for a while, in realizing his lifelong ambition to be nobody other than a man in the street. But when his work at a nightclub brings his first wife, Therese, into his orbit, Monsieur Monde finds himself drawn back into the world of moral responsibility. Beautifully understated and impressively human, Simenon's take on the familiar "walking out on your life" tale is one of the better examples. In its empathy for the desperation of middle-class life, and for a man whose childhood values have fed into a lifetime of limited scope, it reminded me of that slim European classic, Patrick Suskind's novella "The Pigeon".
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One of the values of Amazon's recommendation software is that you are directed to authors with whose work you may not be familiar and who are not carried on the shelves of most bookstores. This is how I found Monsieur Monde Vanishes. It is an economical and very visual book even though the visuals are of mostly unremarkable venues: cheap hotel rooms, the back office of a nightclub, train stations, etc. The narrative value, however, lies partly in bringing such sites to life.

The largely passive Monde exits his successful life in Paris to allow another life in Nice to happen to him. In the end, this change enables him to return to his prior existence possessed of enhanced stature with his business, his wife and his son. The breaking of his life pattern, even though he is compelled to return to it, seems to give Monde additional power over his environment.

Read this book and get swept up in the rhythm of an unspectacular life that is likely different than your own in detail but not in method.
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As author Larry McMurtry points out in his introduction to "Monsieur Monde Vanishes," Georges Simenon wrote this Maigretless short novel at about the same time Albert Camus had published "The Stranger." There are some parallels, certainly in the moods of the two books. That the French had recently experienced a traumatic military defeat at the hands of the Germans and were under Nazi occupation for more than four years could certainly have had something to do with the sense of alienation and detachment that are the central themes underlying both tales.

In "Monsieur Monde Vanishes," the story's protagonist, Norbert Monde, a man with a comfortable, upper-middle class life suddenly bolts from his marriage and professional responsibilities at the end of one ordinary workday and takes another identity and eventually begins to lead another life. Unfortunately for M. Monde, he is a magnet for others who are less fortunate or whose lives are less orderly. Through a series of encounters, his innate sense of responsibility (not shed with the old identity) pulls him back toward the accountabiity that he had hoped to be rid of forever. When he comes across the woman who was his first wife and his first great disappointment with life, in a state of crisis, the die is cast and Norbert Monde's vanishing act will soon be history.

The story speaks to virtually everyone's inevitable dissatisfactions with life, but makes no attempt to provide answers or comfort. Perhaps there are none to be had.

Interesting short novel. I have to admit that I prefer to have Inspector Maigret along for these crises de vie that are manifest in Simenon's writing.
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Format: Paperback
Monsieur Monde Vanishes was first published as La Fuite de Monsieur Monde in 1952. It was translated into English by Jean Stewart. The novel begins like a Maigret novel, with a depiction of a Paris police station. Ill-lit, grimy, a waiting room of working class people waiting to fill out identity forms, Simenon presents the bureaucratic side of police work here. Into this drab environment sweeps an arrogant, self-centered woman, Madame Monde, reporting the disappearance of her husband Norbert. In his delineation of Madame Monde Simenon adroitly both sets the atmosphere, and states the man's problem. Monsieur Monde is the owner and manager of a successful export business, the fourth generation of his family to hold this position. He, it becomes clear, is both very able and very conscientious, and feels responsible as well, for those, family and employees, in his care. He has let himself become over the years a prisoner of his responsibilities. Unlike his father, who led an irresponsible, self-indulgent life which almost bankrupted the family firm, Norbert is disciplined, hard working and successful. On his 48th birthday (Simenon was 48 when he wrote the book) he does a kind of summing up, propelled to do this by the fact that no-one has remembered his birthday but himself. He has divorced his first wife, shocked by her lack of a moral sense, and married again, primarily out of regard for his two young children. His second wife, he has discovered, is one of those persons entirely taken up with her own wants and needs, and arrogantly dismissive of everyone who cannot share this obsession with her. Monsieur Monde considerately accedes to her wishes, defers to her demands, and yet earns her contempt.Read more ›
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