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


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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: 8 x 4.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Steven Reynolds on March 26, 2005
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on March 17, 2007
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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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 22, 2010
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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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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on April 3, 2007
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Let's take a plane to Saint Paul.

Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack,

Let's get away from it all."

I have to admit that Frank Sinatra version of "Let's Get Away From it All" kept entering my consciousness as I read George Simenon's "Monsieur Monde Vanishes". The upbeat nature of the song is not remotely like the dark, reflective tone of Simenon's story but if you have ever sat in your office on a dreary day or sat in your home on a humdrum evening and just wondered what it would be like to just walk away from your life and start fresh somewhere else then you will have some understanding and, perhaps, sympathy for a man who wakes up one morning and decides to get away from it all.

Simenon was nothing if not prolific in both his literary and public life. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon turned out hundreds of novels. Simenon's obsession with writing caused him to break off an affair (he was prolific in this area of his life as well) with the celebrated Josephine Baker in Paris when he could only write twelve novels in the twelve month period in which they were involved. Although perhaps best known for his Inspector Maigret detective novels, Simenon also wrote over a hundred novels that he referred to as `romans durs' (literally "hard novels"). As with many of his contemporaries such as Chandler and Hammett, Simenon's books were marketed and sold as popular, almost pulp fiction. Also like Chandler and Hammett, Simenon's books have stood up well over time. The New York Review of Books publishing division has reissued much of Simenon's books. They are well worth reading and "Monsieur Monde Vanishes" is an excellent place to start.
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