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Monsieur Monde Vanishes

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  521 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Monsieur Monde is a successful middle-aged businessman in Paris. One morning he walks out on his life, leaving his wife asleep in bed, leaving everything.

Not long after, he surfaces on the Riviera, keeping company with drunks, whores and pimps, with thieves and their marks. A whole new world, where he feels surprisingly at home—at least for a while.

Georges Simenon knew how
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 31st 2004 by NYRB Classics (first published 1945)
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New York Review Books - Classics
63rd out of 421 books — 523 voters
Dirty Snow by Georges SimenonThe Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges SimenonMonsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges SimenonRed Lights by Georges SimenonThe Strangers in the House by Georges Simenon
Best Books of Georges Simenon
3rd out of 81 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,289)
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Glenn Russell
Aug 22, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing

When Belgian novelist Georges Simenon (1903-1989) neared his 70th birthday, he unplugged his typewriter and abruptly stopped writing. But one thing is certain: nobody could ever accuse Simenon of being a slacker, for after all, he authored over 200 novels under his own name (including dozens of crime novels featuring a detective, one Inspector Jules Maigret) and 300 novels under various noms de plume. So, in terms of sheer numbers, this novel, the subject of my review, is simply one of many. How
Jan 30, 2015 AC rated it it was amazing

I am somewhat surprised that the ratings for this book are only positive, because in my view this is a real gem -- certainly the best of the four romans durs I read this week -- and utterly flawless. Not a chink or a blur in it. Nothing much happens. A man goes from Paris on a grim winter day to Nice - he vanishes... from his life.

It was early morning, when they returned from work... in the casino.

"They stopped on the landing to say good night to one another. Julie, wholly unembarrassed by her
Oct 17, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb
Okay, a quickie review: Monsieur Monde, as the title suggests, vanishes. Except he doesn't really. If he were to vanish, it would imply that we (the readers) stayed behind in the place he vanished from, feeling the effects of his vanishing. But we don't do that. Instead, we travel with him to his new life in Marseilles and then Nice. Why exactly does he leave his wife, children, and job in Paris behind? Simenon hints at some vague, existential responses to this question, but it's probably best t ...more
I am beginning to see why Anita Brookner and so many others--the introduction here is by Larry McMurtry--love Georges Simenon so much. He is an exemplar of the spare style. This comes across quite well in translation since much of what he writes about is concrete: acts and things, showing versus telling. Though Simenon does have his philosophical flights, they are usually brief. Sartre he isn't, thank goodness. The storyline is simple: a Parisian businessman, fed up with life, drops out of sight ...more
Aug 16, 2011 J. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everymen
Shelves: simenon
"I will go my way. For instance, all the critics for twenty years have said the same thing: “It is time for Simenon to give us a big novel, a novel with twenty or thirty characters.” They do not understand. I will never write a big novel. My big novel is the mosaic of all my small novels."
- Georges Simenon

Never Say Never

Simenon's vast output of Maigret detective titles never appealed to me, but the non-formula mysteries always have. There seems to be some kind of comfort zone, for authors, of
Jul 23, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
There are certain authors one returns to like old friends. In their novels one finds the landscape and terrain that feel like home. Graham Greene is one such author for me, as are Henning Mankell and Daphne Du Maurier. Georges Simenon with his romans durs feels like another of my most trusted friends and companions.
I read Monsieur Monde Vanishes after having started it a year or so ago and putting it aside--not in the right mood at the time--and felt immediately at home, deliciously so. The nove
Νίκος Μ
Feb 28, 2016 Νίκος Μ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Η ιστορία ενός ανθρώπου που τα παρατάει όλα οικογένεια,φίλους και δουλειά γιατί βαρέθηκε,κουράστηκε,επαναστάτησε και ήθελε λίγο να ζήσει κάτι διαφορετικό απ'τη ρουτίνα της ζωής του.Ο Σιμενόν όπως σε κάθε βιβλίο του είναι μοναδικός (τουλάχιστον για μένα)
May 09, 2014 Will rated it liked it
The editors for New York Review of Books are the worst. In the previous Simenon book I read ("The Widow"), Paul Theroux writes an unremarkable introduction that (1) ruins the plot and (2) compares the book to Camus' "The Stranger." Having learned my lesson, I skipped the introduction to "Monsieur Monde Vanishes," saving it for after I finished the book. I'm glad I did. Larry McMurtry, like Theroux, ruins a key part of the plot (although not nearly as much as Theroux does) and compares the book t ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Nov 28, 2012 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, france
I've found a new author. Well, he's not so "new", since he started publishing in the early 1930s and has been dead for a dozen years, but I've never read him before. For those of you who are mystery lovers, perhaps you know him as the author of the 75 novels that comprise the Commissaire Maigret series. There are also another 150 (or so) novels, of which Monsieur Monde is one.

I was lulled into a sense of ease from the beginning, thinking this was a light novel of not much consequence. Apparently
Nov 28, 2008 Yulia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Yulia by: Vsteshenko
A very satisfying read, somehow reminding me of Graham Greene's Tenth Man. Driven by obligations and by routine, not aware of any clear choices he's ever made of of his own desires and goals, with everything in his life set up by others, Monsieur Monde, without forethought, decides to escape his comfortable but confining life and try on a new existence. I ended up oddly inspired.

This book raises many questions, but one that comes to mind is, when was the last time you weren't hiding from yoursel
Aug 07, 2015 Andy rated it did not like it
Shelves: kool-imports
Mister Humdrum's Holiday. MMV is about a company heir who bails on his job, family and straight life to venture down a backalley world of thugs, junkies, whores, etc. Of course he falls for a cheap, shallow slut half his age. Maybe I would have been more game for this kind of tale if I hadn't read Laughter In The Dark so recently, but no, that's not it.

Monde has no personality, the dark underworld never really bleeds across the page, even the horses don't get frightened much. Nothing stands out
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jul 10, 2011 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it it was amazing
I was a Maigret fan three years back; now, after my fifth of Simenon's 'romans durs', I'm a fully paid-up Simenon fan.

This is the story of a tightly-reined man who, in his 48th year, finally gives in to his urge to taste life on the wrong side of the tracks. What follows isn't a debauch but a strangely sombre descent into the abyss.

Monsieur Monde is the rare Maigret protagonist who returns from that descent. Read this slim, indelible novel to find out how and why.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Let me just say, if you don't want the whole book spoiled, do not read McMurtry's Introduction before reading the book. Like so many who write prefaces for works not their own, he thinks nothing of merrily telling you the whole plot, denouement and all. I hate that!!

This was a very short, fast read (110 pages), which I think could best be classified according to Simenon's own system as a "roman dur" (tough story). No police procedural here--no crime as such--just an evocation of a time, a place,
Mar 19, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing
I am writing this short review before I have really thought through all of my complex reactions to the work, but "Monsieur Monde Vanishes" seems at first blush to be a little masterpiece of existential angst, alienation, and ultimate resolution. Monsieur Monde, a man in his late forties who has passively let his life happen to him, decides one day to flee his wife, his children, and his business in Paris and simply disappear. I believe Simenon realizes that we all have felt this urge at one time ...more
Graham P
Mar 12, 2012 Graham P rated it it was ok
My first Simenon, and what a disappointment. It feels less like a novel of existential discourse, but more an exercise in existential padding. After a wonderful opening where the main character, M. Monde (a wealthy, ritualized man of mild tastes) breaks his everyday mode, goes to the barber and shaves off his mustache before embarking on an aimless journey to the south of France. He meets people along the way, but nothing Simenon does paints these figures as interesting - despite the odd observa ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
On his 48th birthday, Norbert Monde walks away from the life he's known in Paris: a successful business, a cold second wife, and two disappointing adult children. He does so without any plan; although the day began as any other, at some point during his workday he simply withdrew a large portion of his liquid funds from the bank and departed for the Riviera. He seeks out the seedier side of life, eventually landing in Nice where he works in a gambling club and more or less fits himself in among ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
This book is very much in the vein of post-war fiction such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James Cain but from a French perspective. It turns the mystery on its head because after the first chapter, we are made aware of Monsieur Monde's whereabouts and why he has decided to disappear. The mystery is whether he will appear again, and, by extension, find himself just as others are trying to find him.

Monsieur Monde seems to be suffering from an existential mid-life crisis. After becomin
Sasha Martinez
My first Georges Simenon [or, as the coolest kids refer to him, just Simenon (like Madonna?)], and I liked it immensely: Monsieur Monde Vanishes, about Monsieur Monde who walks out of his life seemingly the very moment he wakes up from his droning existence, and what he did while he disappeared.

What compels people to leave? I could count the ways. But for Monsieur Monde, “There was no inner conflict, no decision to be reached, indeed nothing was ever decided at all.” He simply leaves. He withdra
Phillip Kay
Dec 31, 2012 Phillip Kay rated it it was amazing
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. I ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Gwen rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-spinach
This was surprisingly good. I had assumed this was going to be a standard detective story, then it seemed to be going for that standard storyline about an upper-class businessman who decides that his life is unfulfilling, then goes off to recreate himself.

Which, yes, it is the latter, but the writing is surprisingly creative, and the characters are reasonably well-developed, and it was soon clear that I wasn't totally sure what was going to happen next. Which, IMO, predictability is the biggest
Sep 18, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it
Mijn derde New York Review Bookwas Monsieur Monde Vanishes, van Georges Simenon. Ik had eerlijk gezegd nog nooit van de man gehoord, maar toen ik op Goodreads wat rondkeek schenen veel mensen van 'Simenon' te houden. Iets in zijn schrijfstijl. Volgens een korte introductie helemaal voorin dit boek heeft deze man zo'n 200 boeken geschreven, ik kon me dan ook van te voren voorstellen dat iemand die zoveel heeft geschreven een volledig eigen manier van schrijven heeft.

Dit boek is maar 174 pagina'
Jim Coughenour
Jun 13, 2008 Jim Coughenour rated it liked it
Shelves: bleakfiction
Maybe not my favorite of Simenon's romans dur but still satisfying. In this short novel, Monsieur Monde simply walks away from his plump middle class life, finding relief in shabby hotels with shabby people. "There was a percolator in a dingy, crowded closet that served as pantry, but the clerk lit a tiny gas ring, with that calm, rather mournful air common to those who live by night, always alone, while others are asleep." Monseiur Monde realizes "This squalid drabness was all part of what he h ...more
Aug 14, 2014 Michelle rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

A short, concise story of a man hiding from his self / in search of himself / face his demons.. The author did not waste his words. Every word has meaning and adding more to the atmosphere and feeling of the story. I did not like it the story, but I did not dislike it either. I was however not at all impressed with the portrayal of women in this book. They were all helpless / selfish / weak ...
Douglas Dalrymple
May 22, 2013 Douglas Dalrymple rated it liked it
For reasons which he himself may not understand, a man walks out of his own life. He gives no notice to friends or family. In fact, they soon believe he is dead. The basic idea – treated here like a French New Wave film for the mental cinema, also occurs in my favorite H.G. Wells novel, The History of Mr Polly, and in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story titled ‘Wakefield.’ There’s a term paper for someone here, exploring the way the theme is treated differently by a French, a British, and an American au ...more
Jun 09, 2015 David rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written, filled with great observations.
This is my first by Simenon, who is known as a mystery writer. This isn't really much a of a mystery book though--unless you want to call it a "mystery of the soul," or something like that.
It's about a man who feels unsatisfied and unappreciated in his life, and who decides to run away without any particular reason. It's something we've all thought about doing once or twice, I'm sure.
There is an interesting element of class involved. When he
Jan 11, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing
Another sliver of a roman dur from the uncontested master. Simenon is in many ways the perfect novelist. As he was an absolute monster of prolificacy, it is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that I have only read approximately 1% of his books, considering the sense I have of having truly assimilated him as a force within myself. Pedigree remains my favorite nakedly autobigraphical novel of all time, though seems positively decadent in comparison to his streamline crime novels. His real ...more
Meryl Natchez
Aug 17, 2014 Meryl Natchez rated it it was amazing
Georges Simenon is best know for his Maigret mysteries. These genre pieces have a portly, married, civilized Parisian superintendent as their protagonist, and to me they are exquisite French pastries, undemanding and thoroughly enjoyable. But a new series of translations of Simenon’s work has come out from the New York Review of Books Classics series, each introduced by a contemporary author. Monsieur Monde Vanishes is a short, existential tale of a man who on his 48th birthday simply walks out ...more
Joe Davis
Jul 12, 2013 Joe Davis rated it really liked it
I found this book to be much more enjoyable by the end than I would have guessed at the beginning. There was a simple melancholy to the story that became strangely enjoyable as I progressed. Quick read that I would recommend.
Apr 02, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2011-reads
A variation on the theme of the Flitcraft story in The Maltese Falcon. Simenon is a superb plotter as well as developer of character. You never know where he's going to take you
Antonella Montesanti
Breve ma carico di significato, come tutti i libri di Simenon letti finora.
Si affronta la fuga, che può essere intesa in tanti modi, quella da se stessi, dalle persone intorno a noi, dalla vita sempre uguale che si conduce.
Chi tra noi non ha mai pensato di fuggire da tutto e da tutti?
Chi ci riesce alla fine, se torna, vede il mondo e le persone con occhi diversi.
Chi ci riesce finalmente trova la libertà tanto sognata e agognata...forse...
Il signor Monde, il protagonista, ne esce infine con una
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NYRB Classics: Monsieur Monde Vanishes, by Georges Simenon 1 5 Oct 29, 2013 08:54AM  
  • Proud Beggars
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Fatale
  • Sunflower
  • Unforgiving Years
  • My Fantoms
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • Irretrievable
  • The Expendable Man
  • No Tomorrow
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Peasants and Other Stories
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • Baby Doll
  • Alien Hearts
  • Count d'Orgel's Ball
  • Amsterdam Stories
Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75
More about Georges Simenon...

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“When he went out it was freezing, and a pale winter sun was rising over Paris.

No thought of escape had as yet crossed Monsieur Monde's mind.

'Morning, Joseph.'

'Morning, monsieur.'

As a matter of fact, it started like an attack of flu. In the car he felt a shiver. He was very susceptible to head colds. Some winters they would hang on for weeks, and his pockets would be stuffed with wet handkerchiefs, which mortified him. Moreover, that morning he ached all over, perhaps from having slept in an awkward position, or was it a touch of indigestion due to last night's supper?

'I'm getting flu,' he thought.

Then, just as they were crossing the Grands Boulevards, instead of automatically checking the time on the electric clock as he usually did, he raised his eyes and noticed the pink chimney pots outlined against a pale blue sky where a tiny white cloud was floating.

It reminded him of the sea. The harmony of blue and pink suddenly brought a breath of Mediterranean air to his mind, and he envied people who, at that time of year, lived in the South and wore white flannels.”
“And Boucard desisted, probably because like everyone else he was deeply impressed by this man who had laid all ghosts, who had lost all shadows, and who stared you in the eyes with cold serenity.” 2 likes
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