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Monsieur Pain

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  3,021 ratings  ·  403 reviews
A un discípulo de Mesmer le encargan que cure el hipo que sufre un sudamericano pobre abandonado en un hospital de París en la primavera de 1938. En apariencia, nada puede pasar. Sin embargo el mesmerista Pierre Pain se verá envuelto en una intriga en donde se planea un asesinato ritual de proporciones planetarias. ¿Quién es el sudamericano que agoniza en el hospital Arago ...more
Paperback, Narrativas hispánicas #275, 176 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Anagrama
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Average rating 3.34  · 
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 ·  3,021 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really like Bolano. Every time I think about how I really like Bolano though I hear Ben Gibbard in my head un-ironically defending Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" as being a good song. "Because it's good. It's really really good." And then there are all the cool goodreaders and Karen (who is a cool goodreader, but also exists in real life), giggling uncontrollably and laughing at my enjoyment of Bolano, just like those hipsters are doing in the Ben Gibbard bootleg I downloaded somewhere a bunch ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Uffff... Uh, what to say about this one? That it's as accessible as his best novella "Amulet"; that, like his other smaller efforts (not, obviously, the behemoths "Savage Detectives" or "2666") there's just not that much there, that you as a reader must work with as little as possible to tie up strands & place together symbols and plots with other works of his; that at the crossroads between cinematography, the sciences, and literature (prose AND poetry) we set our scene with as much tragedy eat ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
La senda de los elefantes = The Path of the Elephants = Monsieur Pain, Roberto Bolaño
Monsieur Pain is a short novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003). Written in 1981-1982, it was originally published in 1994. The novel is set in Paris and narrated by the Mesmerist (Animal magnetism, also known as mesmerism, was the name given by German doctor Franz Mesmer in the 18th century to what he believed to be an invisible natural force possessed by all living things, including humans, animals
Steven Godin
Monsieur Pain is among Bolaño’s earliest efforts, written at a time when he was attempting to earn a living by pursuing prize money offered by regional writing contests throughout Spain. It's very much like an apprentice at work, but there are hints as to the writer he would become. It doesn't surprise me to see a poet in there, and a bit of a conspiracy too. Set in Paris in 1938, Pierre Pain, is a mesmerist called to the bedside of the famed Peruvian César Vallejo, who can't stop hiccupping. Th ...more
Another plotless enigma from Bolaño. It's set in Paris in 1938 when Pierre Pain, the eponymous narrator, a devotee of Mesmerism, is called in by his friend Madame Reynaud to see what he can do to halt the rapid decline of Cesar Vallejo. The Peruvian poet is apparently dying of hiccups. Reynaud recently lost her husband in a case in which Pain's intervention was ineffective, but now says she has "faith" in his ability to help Vallejo. Pain moves about a Paris beset by surrealist distortions: the ...more
Ecem Yücel
*This review may contain tiny spoilers*

This was my first Bolaño, and judging from the other reviews, I see that I should've read 2666 and/or The Savage Detectives before this one to be able to understand the references in this book. To be honest, maybe because I'm not accustomed to this writer's style or didn't know the references, I didn't like this one much. Everything happened so fast, while nothing was happening. It abruptly ended, in an aimless manner, making me think, "Well, what exactly h
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bolano
>Wherever the sun doesn't go I don't go either. Except to pubs. -- Bohumil Hrabal

Monsignor Pain is a delightful construction. It is a blurred exposure. It is an appropriate paranoiac period piece; the Paris of 1938 teemed with suspicions and throttled aspirations. Bolano's titular protagonist is a haunted sort, gassed during the Great War and living on a pension, he's an Occultist and a confident. His bleery hopes are all unrequited. He stumbles and yet clings. A downpour of madness and paranoia
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
"I do also recall, however, that for Terzeff every death had a ritual function; death, indeed, was the only genuine rite left in the world."
-- Roberto Bolaño, Monsieur Pain


"Geometry, everything was geometry and shit."
-- Roberto Bolaño, Monsieur Pain


A weird little Bolaño. A novella (Bolaño second written, first published) set in Paris in the 30s and narrated by the most unreliable mesmerist Pierre Pain. In some ways it reminded me of one of Nabokov's early, funky Russian novellas. It is all da
Tanuj Solanki
Politics, and the fascination for labyrinths

In the worldly sense, Monsieur Pain is a failure, simply because it pretends - or rather it has to pretend - to be a novel. First time Bolano readers may even be expected to hurl it toward the nearby wall.

But Bolano's work relies, not just for its comprehensiveness, but also for its comprehension, on the entire body of the work, and also on Bolano's life itself. Bolano is not the kind of writer you can read one book of and form an opinion. In fact, to
MJ Nicholls
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Bolaño truly is the most productive of dead writers. Almost a decade in the sod and still churning out work hither and thither. The Insufferable Gaucho is due for UK release this year, and The Third Reich is slated for release next year in the US. The man’s unstoppable!

Monsieur Pain is his attempt at a novel in the genteel English vein: a work of straightforward historical fiction written in a hurried first-person with a tacked-on epilogue. It’s an atypical book in the Roberto canon, a “surr
Read By RodKelly
Monsieur Pain is lyrical prose-poetry delivered as a free-associative sensorial tapestry, with swathes of dream-like passages of horripilating rhythm and sentiment, mining the murk of ordinary dread disguised as menace & madness. Narrative action is totally beyond the point of this mesmeric gambol through the psyche of his Parisian intellectual, whose descent into blissful insanity represents the prototypical quintessence of the Bolañoverse. ⁣

Bolaño is my literary muse in reverse. Mind blown, h
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, translation
I've been meaning to read some Bolano for the past two years but the books I bought are massive tomes. When this slight and intriguing number appeared in my bookshop I found myself compelled to read it. If I had more free time this would most certainly have been a one sitting read and I think it almost requires that level of attention to get the most out of it. The set up is strong with a protagonist you'll be more than happy to take a slightly surreal journey with whilst the descriptive passage ...more
Barry Pierce
There are some instances where great geniuses can go awry. When they are so invested in writing like themselves that they form a loose parody of lucid prose which in the end only leaves a bad taste. While I did enjoy Monsieur Pain for the first third or so, I must admit that the entire novel does fall apart. It doesn’t even read like Bolaño. It’s a pity. I don’t hate it however. I… just don’t love it.
Diane S ☔
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it
It is 1938, Paris and Monsieur Pain, a noted mesmerizer is called by a friend, to the bedside of Vallejo, who is dying from the hiccups. Yes, I said hiccups. This is a mystery, why does Vallejo die or was he murdered?
He will become known in the future as the most famous of Latin America's poets. The Spanish civil war has ended, the Nazis soon to become very important and paranoia is a facet of life. This is one very veiled book, it is strange and I one time it reminded me of the TV show Fringe,
Apr 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novella is set in 1938 Paris, as the famed mesmerist Pierre Pain is urgently summoned by his friend and love interest, the young widow Marcelle Reynaud. The Peruvian poet César Vallejo, whose wife is a close friend to Reynaud, is dying in the hospital with a severe and unremitting case of hiccups, and the two women believe that Pain is the only clinician who can save his life. Pain comes to the hospital, but encounters two mysterious Spanish men, who offer him a substantial bribe to not tre ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I finally got around to finish reading it. I am still not sure whether I like Bolano. I very much enjoyed his short stories in "Last Evenings on Earth". They didn't feel like stories, but biographical sketches of writers at the margins of society. Here he creates a character sketch from the inside; we get Monsieur Pain's narration from his anxious psyche and though his narration is wrapped around a thinly plotted thriller about mesmerism and political intrigue, I cared less and less for everyone ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins in Paris in the spring of 1938. The narrator Pierre Pain a practitioner in acupuncture and mesmerism is requested by his friend, a young widow Madame Reynaud, with whom he is hopelessly in love, to attend at the hospital bedside of her friend Madame Vallejo’s husband César Vallejo. It is Madame Reynaud’s hope that using the occult sciences Pierre Pain may cure the patient’s chronic hiccups as his current doctors have been unable to do so.

Pain tries to visit the dying man in the
Griffin Alexander
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Makes sense as Bolaño's first published book and acts as a prelude of things to come. Like jazzlogic (a la From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Bedouin Hornbook, Djbot Baghostus's Run, Atet A.D.) meeting the surreal imagistic turns of (appropriately) Vallejo's Trilce put through the ringer of a mystery thriller (spoiler: nothing is ever revealed, only further mystified). All I can really say is that I was unreasonably moved by a watchmaker subtly crying while seen from a drippin ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An odd little book. Nothing really happens. Or does it? A man is followed, maybe there is a plot against another man, maybe the guy just lives in his own head. Not sure. There is a bit of a sad romance and also an intriguing epilogue.
Mar 19, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chile
One of the most ridiculous plots I've ever heard: a Parisian acupuncturist thwarts a political conspiracy to save the life of the poet Vallejo, dying of the hiccups. Of course it's consistently enjoyable, and being a Bolaño novel, I feel the need to immediately read another half-dozen of his books. ...more
Nov 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
written in the early 1980's, monsieur pain is one of bolaño's earliest works. he had previously published the story under different titles (including the elephant path) while entering it into various provincial literary competitions throughout spain (a couple of which he won). in the preliminary note to monsieur pain, bolaño indicates that the "haphazard and erratic" fate of this short novel is "recounted in a story in last evenings on earth," presumably "sensini."

based on actual events, monsieu
Lee Foust
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tantalizing early novel of Bolano's, short, but full of information that appears, in some ways, to lead nowhere. Since the mystery novel has more or less bludgeoned every other possible narrative form to the sidelines these days, one is tempted to try to piece what information we are told into some sort of sense, looking, here, for both murder and murderer.

Behind the play with the mystery genre here, which is really only the production of the mystery as to whether Monsieur Pain is a my
Nov 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
It starts so simple. You meet Monsieur Pain, a mesmerist, in 1938 Paris, who gets called upon by an old acquaintance to help a husband of her friend's who is dying of hiccups. Then it gets weird. The novel very quickly is mired in a Kafkaesque miasma of doubt and suffocating dread, this veteran of WWI attempting to navigate class, romance, age, old friendships and self doubt and comes to be about the dread of the looming nazi menace, particularly as embodied in an old friend who aids Franco's fo ...more
Cymru Roberts
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: roberto-bolaño
You move toward the desired destination and the destination moves accordingly. At first it's no big deal, but before you know it you can't even open the door. The knob literally won't turn. Calm down. This is a joke right? But who is the joker if not God? There's nothing worse than the feeling that God is manipulating reality in a world tailor-made for your frustration. You could stop caring but something always draws you back in. A scent from the past or future. A wayward glance. It's there, fo ...more
Robert Ross
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodfiction
Some day I may look back and decide Roberto Bolaño wasn't really all that. But then again, I may just decide to never look back. There is a brevity and strength (dare I call it visceral realism) to Bolaño's work that I deeply appreciate, and feel is lost in so much modern literature. Each successive book I read only draws me in further.

The lack of resolution in his stories, which in other places might drive me to fits of rage, only strengthens my belief that he was one of the best writers of the
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting early novel by Bolano, this book is sort of like a David Lynch movie written by Herman Hesse or Camus by way of James Joyce and Dostoyevsky and some Bret Easton Ellis thrown in. Set in Paris in the late 30's, it follows a middle-aged acupuncturist/mesmerist who is a WWI veteran. He attempts to treat a dying South American poet on the eve of the German invasion of France, and after being denied entry to the hospital, wanders the streets, paranoid that he has become part of some kin ...more
I read the bulk of this book in a single sitting in a friend's dorm room. The wooden chair I was sitting in made it so I had to keep adjusting my position out of pain. My head was throbbing and my throat was parched. It was a feverish experience, I was skipping over words and reading at a pace faster than normal. At a certain point I realized this is what a nightmare feels like, and in a lot of ways Monsieur Pain is the perfect nightmare book. Pain wanders around, hallucinating in a dreamlike wo ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
so this is bolano huh?


not really impressed on any level. neither tight nor coherent; not even salvageable in parts. questions keep popping up so you keep turning the page; only to find you've been bamboozled. there's no reward in the process nor is there a payoff to be found. if you're going to submerse me in confusion as a gimmick then you better, at least, provide some badass prose along the way.

allow me a word of advice,

Amitava Das
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dripping with mood and atmosphere and intractable fatalism,every page of Bolano’s quixotic, surreal novella is right out of a fifties dark gloomy film-noir set. The opening pages literally read like a classic french noir. Unforgettable experience and oh - the book that introduced me to Cesar Vallejo.
michal k-c
RIP Bolaño you would have loved Dr Fauci
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For most of his early adulthood, Bolaño was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.

Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.


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