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The tenant [Hardcover]

Roland Topor
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: H. Allen; First Edition. Hardback. Dust Jacket. edition (1966)
  • ASIN: B0000CMY3X
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,069,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This is the tale of Monsieur Trelkovsky, an ordinary man, against whom apparently ordinary circumstances conspire until he is enmeshed in an extraordinary and terrifying situation. It portrays a nightmare world which is only separated from everyday life by a sliver of sanity. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neighbours From Hell 16 Sep 2003
This haunting tale is all the more chilling for conveying the uneasy fact that the veil which conceals the macabre can be very thin and easy to fall through.
An unassuming man, Monsier Trelkovsky, a bit down at heel goes in search of an apartment. The seemingly ordinary events that ensue conspire against him and fuel his overly self-conscious and paranoiac personality. As the story develops, Trelkovsky descends into a scary and solipsistic world; a gruesome phantasmogoria where reality and imagination entwine...
Even in translation this 1960s French novel's existential tone (a characteristic commonly found in continental literature and films) shows through and underpins this eerie fable. This type of writing invites the reader to put himself in the place of the protagonist and to try and comprehend the world through their eyes - which in this tale provides a disturbing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chimera in the apartment? 10 Aug 2013
By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The French title for this strange novel translates approximately as "The Chimerical Tenant", that is, a tenant who is two creatures or persons in one. And that pretty much indicates the puzzle that unfolds in the story. A lonely young man moves into an apartment and starts behaving obsessively. Is the building genuinely weird? Is he being psychologically possessed by the former tenant, a girl who committed suicide? Or is there some other explanation? Is he as normal as he seems?

Cleverly written and very carefully paced, the story just draws you in. There are touches of Gogol in this tale, also Meyrink's The Golem, and it clearly is influenced by Barbusse's novel of a similar drab Parisian building, Hell. But it fits firmly with certain French mid 20th century novelists - it strongly brings to mind Alain Robbe-Grillet's The Erasers, In the Labyrinth and Repetition, books which likewise trick readers who assume that the protagonist is an ordinary person with a stable identity, and the world is alarmingly out of kilter. The truth is more complex.

Definitely worth reading. And you won't believe the final twist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted little tale. 10 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A deeply delicious descent into paranoia and insanity, with some hauntingly dark imagery along the way. Highly recommended to anyone look for something a little bit different.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neighbours meets Kafka 25 Oct 2010
By H. Tee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a short novel written in 1966 and I presume set in that time in Paris. This is a paranoid drama based on a relatively simple premise of the insecurities of moving into a new tenancy.

I'm reluctant to give too much detail of the story because it would be too easy to say too much but here goes: Trelkovsky needs a new flat and finds one; his occupancy depends on the condition of the previous inhabitant, Simone, who lies ill in hospital having attempted suicide. He visits her and makes a mental connection with this bandaged victim and meets her friend Stella (whom he finds very attractive) at the bedside. Simone dies and Trelkovsky takes up residence, but all too quickly feels the paranoid pressures that may have driven Simone's actions (or was she murdered). How much is he paranoid, and just because he is doesn't mean the neighbours aren't out to get him? (that's the story to chapter 4 of 18). Problems start by the universal issue of noise through walls.

This is a strangely engrossing story; you do experience that certain `where's this going?' feeling. It's sinister but not horrific - there's no violence or gratuitous sex. The surreal `get a grip Trelkovsky' sensation haunts your thoughts as you read. There is one scene about cross dressing which I found too comical (I don't think this was intentional) and let down the dark, degenerate feel of the narrative.

This story is in many ways remarkably similar to `The Golem' (see my other reviews) reflecting a recursive nature of paranoia. This being a shorter and less detailed tale just isn't quite as good. It is a compact précis and worth a read but invest a little and read `The Golem' instead. I can't imagine it's worth paying too much for this book, don't think that high price x short novella = the bestest book. It's 3 stars overall.
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