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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Disappearing
I am glad to see that I am not the first person to review this book. Like the previous review I am shocked that hardly anyone has heard of Simenon's roman durs. They are, without question, a genre of their own and superb additions to the mid-20th century European literature focused on existentialism, isloation and loneliness. It is not a stretch, in my mind, to compare...
Published on 5 July 2010 by DTK Molise

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea - but loses its way
We like to think of angst as a modern condition, and whereas modern writers will take hundreds of pages to explore the human condition, Simenon was doing it in just over 100 pages at a time - and saying more with less - in the first half of the 20th century.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes tells the story of a 48 year old successful business man who, on his birthday,...
Published on 19 April 2011 by Jl Adcock


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Disappearing, 5 July 2010
This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
I am glad to see that I am not the first person to review this book. Like the previous review I am shocked that hardly anyone has heard of Simenon's roman durs. They are, without question, a genre of their own and superb additions to the mid-20th century European literature focused on existentialism, isloation and loneliness. It is not a stretch, in my mind, to compare these works to Camus and Sartre. Congratulations to the NYRB Classics editors for reprinting all of these elegant masterpieces.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes is set in the dark realms of French literature. Lots of smoke, dingy bars, and fadingly elegant restaurants litter the landscape. Simenon is a master of mood and creation of a sense of place. As the title suggests a man disappears and attempts to recalibrate his life into something more exciting and interesting. Things do not really go to plan as Monsier Monde comes into contact with blasts from the past and other unsightly characters.

The is my second of Simenon's roman durs and whilst, in my opinion, not as strong or interestingly dark as "The Engagement" it is still a wonderful addition to any collection of mid-20th century European writing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the king of glissando, 4 April 2010
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This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
there is something wrong in the world when this book has gone this long without a review. georges simenon - world famous for his Maigret novels - wrote a collection of slim and elegant romans durs, quiet, sparse works full of ennui and weary resignation, each one perfectly pitched and beautifully written.

monsieur monde vanishes is ostensibly about very little, a rich man who is disallusioned with his comfortable but dull life takes off in an attempt to find some greater sense of meaning. in the hands of a lesser writer it would be instantly forgettable, but simenon creates such a pervasive sense of place and character that this book stayed with me for weeks after i read it and spurred me on to buy the complete set.

as a sidebar i just want to add that NYRB are doing an amazing job at trumpetting unjustly overlooked works and deserve all the support discerning readers can give them. so yes you can buy the latest brick of schlock for the same price but you will read it once and bin it, a book like this will be a definate reread.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simenon's masterpiece, 17 April 2010
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This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
It is surprising that this book is unknown. It is a masterpiece. Monde has a comfortable, but joyless and pointless, life married to a formidable dominatrix, so he runs away. His friendship with a young dancer leads to a more interesting series of adventures, eventually finding his first wife, in distressed circumstances and addicted to morphine. He notices how much she resembles their son, who is gay and with whom he has an unsatisfactory relationship. He decides to return home, taking his former wife with him, not to cure her addiction, but to ensure she is safely looked after. He is more confident and assertive and sets out to get to know his son better. A glorious message of hope- not found in much modern fiction.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea - but loses its way, 19 April 2011
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Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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We like to think of angst as a modern condition, and whereas modern writers will take hundreds of pages to explore the human condition, Simenon was doing it in just over 100 pages at a time - and saying more with less - in the first half of the 20th century.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes tells the story of a 48 year old successful business man who, on his birthday, decides he's had enough of things and vanishes. He seeks out escape from the confines of his moneyed but sterile existence in Paris, and travels south to engage in a life with more down at heel characters and settings. Needless to say the experience isn't particularly happy, but it does afford Simenon the opportunity to explore a range of issues about what it is to be human, and the price we pay for the choices we make.

With typical precise, clean writing, Simenon offers insights that other writers would lay on with a trowel. It's well-written, and the familiar themes of identity, despair, escape and redemption are present, but without the central character of Inspector Maigret to keep the plot together. After a promising start, I thought the book fell away quite badly, although the pace and writing kept up my interest throughout.

As a picture of life in France at this time (the book was first published in 1945), it's brilliant - capturing the social fabric of a world long gone - and yet not so very different from our own.

I completely agree with other reviewers and Simenon enthusiasts commenting on this book that his works have been overlooked for too long. Coming late to them myself, I'm making up for lost time, but finding them compelling reading, even if occasionally they don't come up to the mark - which I felt this one didn't. Nevertheless, still much better than so much of the stuff that gets churned out today that seeks to explore similar landscapes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Man Alone, 8 Nov 2013
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Mr. D. James "nonsuch" (london, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
Georges Simenon, Monsieur Monde Vanishes

Norbert Monde walks out on his bourgeois existence, leaving behind his second wife, his career and what the average person would call common sense and takes a train to Marseilles. His motives are not clear to the reader or himself; he simply knows he has to do it. He picks up a prostitute, moves on to Nice and by chance meets up with his first wife, now an opium addict. Chance is in control and that's what he seems to have been missing in his 40+ years. He helps her because she is at the end of her tether, not because he has rediscovered love or anything silly like that. He seems drawn to the life of the streets, the shabby parts of cities, unrespectable people. He has no plan and no ambition; he is an obsessive mental traveller, seemingly making up for the unadventurous, unthinking life he has led. When his money is stolen by a chambermaid, he shows no anger, no surprise. The usual motives of the routine thriller or police procedural narrative are missing.

The writing is simple and factual, without any lingering on the marvels of nature or human beings. The third person narrative underlines the impersonal nature of the central character, a man who is seeking something, a truth about himself and the nature of existence. Monde needs to be detached and meticulous in his examination of people and his own feelings. He must not get involved, must constantly, as far as possible, remain on the alert. He is not and doesn't wish to be seen as `sympathetic,' yet strangely he is. He is essentially like us all - a man alone. He has hardly a Romantic bone in his body. Here he is at what in another novel would be called `a crisis of consciousness: `He was close to a truth, a discovery, he had begun to dive down again, then something brought him back to the surface.'

This book will not appeal to those who need action and answers. In spite of the movement through three cities and several poor hotels there is a kind of sameness about the environment - smoky, noisy, bustling, restless, but with the haunting stillness one gets from being in the mind of the detached hero,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lassgard for Monde? Ideal movie?, 3 Aug 2013
This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
I adore this book, a life-affirming account of how a middle-aged man deals, in a rather unusual way, with his mid-life crisis and manages to turn the manacles that hold him down into wheels to drive him forward by taking a break to discover who he really is and what he's any good at. I just want to see a film or tv version of this and I want to see Rolf Lassgard (the original Wallander) play the role of the big, taciturn, complicated Monsieur Monde.
That would be perfect.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Existential crisis for an haut bourgeois, 14 April 2012
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Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) (Paperback)
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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Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics)
Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics) by Georges Simenon (Paperback - Jun 2004)
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