Monsieur Monde Vanishes
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Monsieur Monde Vanishes

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  305 ratings  ·  50 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...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 31st 2004 by NYRB Classics (first published 1944)
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Oct 17, 2011 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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...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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
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...more
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...more
Nov 28, 2008 Yulia rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
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.
Phillip Kay
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
Jim Coughenour
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
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
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
I can't really add much more besides what other members have written here. But I can say that the ending of this book brought me to tears.
Douglas P
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
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
Rachel Livsey
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...more
Aug 16, 2011 J. rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
!...era ormai come una cariatide finalmente libera del suo fardello."

Il sig. Monde fa quello che forse ognuno di noi ha sognato di fare almeno una volta nella vita. Lui desiderava farlo da quando aveva diciotto anni, ma ha sempre rimandato, quasi non fosse il momento giusto. Ora invece, il giorno del suo quarantottesimo compleanno, non può più fingere di non sentire quel richiamo, deve sparire, dileguarsi, fuggire dalla quotidianità. Vivere una vita diversa, anonima, con un'altra identità. Perde...more
Georges Simenon's name has become synonymous with the cinema for me. I particularly loved Marcel Carne's adaptation of Port of Shadows (the book may go by a different title). This edition of Monsieur Monde Vanishes itself has a still from Jacques Tati's Playtime, which is also a personal favorite. That in mind, I couldn't resist checking out Simenon. I only mention all of this because, in all honesty I've never read any fiction that could even be loosely categorized as a mystery novel, which thi...more
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...more
Jul 29, 2011 Kim added it
Shelves: 2011
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'...more
Douglas Dalrymple
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
Vincent Odhiambo
The third book by Georges Simenon I've read this year, not as developed as The Grandmother - the best of his works I have come across so far- but enjoyable all the same. Stumbled upon this short NYRB synopsis of the novel immediately after reading Maigret and the Spinster,

" Georges Simenon knew how obsession, buried for years, can come to life, and about the wreckage it leaves behind. He had a remarkable understanding of how bizarrely unaccountable people can be. And he had an almost uncanny a...more
By page 5, when the narrator declares that sometimes nothing can be less true than the truth, you know you're pretty firmly in a French world of attitudes, suppositions, shifting ideas, thoughtfulness for its own sake. This is kind of a mystery novel, in that a man chooses to disappear from his life and the reader has to figure out why--and there are no answers. Or there are many answers, each shifting in a mental landscape that's less about what happens and more about one's attitude towards wha...more
Fuggire per capire che fuggire non si può. Possono non piacerti le ‘carte’ che ti sono capitate in sorte nella ‘smazzata’ della vita, ma con quelle devi giocare. Basta saperlo. O meglio, averne la consapevolezza.

Poi non è che ti sentirai meglio, a dire il vero, ma almeno non vivrai di rimpianti “come un cardellino accecato”. E, forse, qualcosa di buono ci potrai ancora cavare da questa esistenza. Ma magari anche no. Chissà. Il simbolo del punto interrogativo è quel che meglio descrive l’essenza...more
I picked this book up because of a review that compared it to Sartre and Camus but " less self conscious". I can see some similarities...there is a sort of existential flavor, but was left a bit disappointed. Perhaps if I had read it in the 50s I would have found its expose of the seedy dark side of mid century urban France, the drug taking and prostitution more breathtaking ...
Another jolly tale of squalor, ennui, and unmade beds from Simenon. He has an uncanny way of conveying so much detail, or maybe of knowing which details are essential, in such a simple style, the smell of food, the sound of footsteps outside a room, precise colours of a sky, and then throwing in some really unexpected bits that add a whole 'nother level...gosh, he's good.
Jul 25, 2012 toni rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: béret
I'm not going to lie about it - this is my first Simenon - at 25. (Sucks, I know.) The brief introduction written by Larry McMurtry turns out to be quite helpful, in which he compares it with Camus' The Stranger and that is something I find really interesting. (but in another sense it might have been just too 'helpful', because now I'm spoiler contaminated.)
Monsieur Monde walks away from his life where no one realizes it is his 48th birthday, no one really cares about him and life is boring. He walks into a new life, but it's not really all that much different. He still reacts to life situations in much the same way. And it all leads back to his old life. Quick read, believable characters, life in Paris...
John A
Psychological novel by Georges Simenon, who is more well-known for his Maigret mysteries. Monsieur Monde abandons his prosperous but conventional life in Paris for the seedy side of Nice in order to rediscover what living is all about.
This the poignant story of one man’s attempt to escape from his life in Paris, and his realisation that while he can escape a situation, he can’t escape from himself. Some beautiful passages throughout, and the descriptions of his world-weariness will resonate with any overworked modern reader.
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NYRB Classics: Monsieur Monde Vanishes, by Georges Simenon 1 3 Oct 29, 2013 08:54AM  
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Proud Beggars
  • My Fantoms
  • Mouchette
  • Alien Hearts
  • No Tomorrow
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • Irretrievable
  • Fatale
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • Great Granny Webster
  • Sunflower
  • The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky by Her Daughter
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • Unforgiving Years
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • We Always Treat Women Too Well
  • The Outward Room
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
More about Georges Simenon...
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By Dirty Snow The Yellow Dog The Strangers in the House Three Bedrooms in Manhattan

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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 form 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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