Read Monsieur by Jean-Philippe Toussaint Online


Meet Monsieur, your hero, a successful young executive in Paris whosedaily life you will follow in precise detail. He is nothing if notunremarkable. Meet his secretary, his nieces, his fiancée and herparents, his neighbor whose scientific reports Monsieur unwittinglytypes out. What will happen? This and that. Monsieur will attend aparty. He will babysit. But most of all, MMeet Monsieur, your hero, a successful young executive in Paris whosedaily life you will follow in precise detail. He is nothing if notunremarkable. Meet his secretary, his nieces, his fiancée and herparents, his neighbor whose scientific reports Monsieur unwittinglytypes out. What will happen? This and that. Monsieur will attend aparty. He will babysit. But most of all, Monsieur will muse, and so willyou muse, on everything from the night sky to a Rotring pen. And itwill be very funny. Here Toussaint turns the ordinary into theextraordinary, an unremarkable anti-hero into a deadpan wit....

Title : Monsieur
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781564785053
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 108 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Monsieur Reviews

  • Kelly
    2019-04-20 19:50

    A quiet little book, Monsieur is a series of vignettes that describes a brief time in the life of an introverted, quiet man. Monsieur is a man of set habits, mild speech, and socially awkward worries. Over the course of the story, several things occur that Monsieur seems to passively agree to let happen to him, with intermittently amusing results. Topics as diverse as the scientific properties of crystals, a lycee in Chartres before the war, physics and time and the soothing capacity of stars are addressed in spare, somewhat disconnected and isolated prose that shows a clear admiration forthe French existentialist masters of the 1950s.However, this book is far too slight to be compared to those works in anything other than it's clear stylistic heritage. Yet it does have its own virtues. There is an improbable flow to this book despite its disconnected, seemingly somewhat random nature. Toussaint has a way with syntax that allows him to create instantly vivid pictures in the reader's mind with a minimum amount of words. Finally, Monsieur's awkward innocence can be occasionally affecting:"At Saint-Sulpice Square they sat down on a bench and stayed there for a long moment one next to the other, in perfect silence. The mind's eye, said Monsieur after awhile, the mind's eye. I'm sorry, said Anna Bruckhardt, a bit surprised. No, nothing, said Monsieur. Yes, something, said Anna Bruckhardt. Sight, said Monsieur. The mind's eye, yes. In the opinion of science at least, he added for the sake of honesty, and included with a vague hand motion the Copenhagen interpretation, the Tutti Quanta theory and all that. According to Pirgogine, in fact, quantum theory destroys the notion that physical description can be accurate and that its language can represent the properties of a system independently of observational conditions. Well, well. Beside him on the bench, in perfect evidence, was Anna Bruckhardt's hand."Didn't that make you smile, just a little bit? This is a book that can and should be finished in one setting on a lazy Sunday afternoon just before the time comes to get up to start dinner. While I don't think that I will, ultimately, find the work itself very memorable, I will remember the mood of still introspection that it induced and may revisit it just to find that again, with Monsieur.

  • knig
    2019-04-24 22:09

    The eponymous Monsieur wends his way down the Lazy River of life: unencumbered by Qualities, unconsummated by ambition, but concocted of Common and convivial of trite.Toussaint glorifies a life most banal, a man so unassuming he isn’t assigned a name, a man who perambulates the torrents of the quotidian by bending ‘with the remover to remove’. Have I come across this trope before? A Nonesuch as Monsieur? An ode to the Sublime of Ordinary? No, no, and no: and thus, 5 stars for the novelty value.I actually hate Monsieur. He works around the corner from me. Uninspired, uninterested, uninteresting, yet affable somehow in a space filler kind of way, He casually promenades upwards whilst the rest of us huff and puff upstream, against the tide, like so much salmon put to race.Matters proceed at a stately, leisurely pace as Monsieur perambulates about, and Tossaint enchants with the driest, subtlest of humour:‘There reigned, in Monsieur’s room, an odor of wax mixed with dry semen. Its my mothers room, said Monsieur Leguen in a hushed voice.Yes, I see, whispered Monsieur.’ Mother being an 80 year old scarf wearing pious Catholic. Obviously I honed in on the one semen-tical reference in the whole book: (well, I would), all other amuse bouche punnery is strictly PG. A pleasure and a gem of abook(let).

  • Nathanimal
    2019-04-13 01:20

    There's something strange going on in Toussaint. I haven't quite put my finger on it yet, but I love it. Is it the accumulative effect of reading three of his books now, or is it this particular book — I find myself not just a happy reader anymore; I've become infected by Toussaint's peculiar turn of mind, and I need to get a little closer to understanding the main crisis at work in his stories. (Is there a main crisis?) My theory is that this book is a reaction to the mundane rituals and language and objects that eat up so much of our lives, that leave us feeling, somehow, vaguely compromised. Monsieur is not going to take it lying down, though, not him. There's a cheeky aloofness to him that may or may not be a well-veiled contempt for modern living. . . . But then again I don't know. Probably the take-home lesson here is not to make to big a deal of it.

  • Adam
    2019-04-24 17:50

    Toussaint's unassuming hero--known only as Monsieur--embodies what Taoism terms the "uncarved block." Apparently simple-minded and utterly passive, he nevertheless keeps his head above water without effort and comes out of even the worst situations displaying a mystifying sense of contentment. He's a little bit Winnie-the-Pooh, a little bit silent film comedian, and all enigma.

  • Greg
    2019-04-20 23:05

    Very French. Cold and impersonal for most of the book, but interesting it it's strangely disinterested manner of delving deeply into the life of a person only known in the book as Monsieur. Like Beckett in someways, but with science thrown in, which I think is supposed to be important, but I just didn't spend enough time thinking about the ramifications of quantum theory on the narrative structure of the book. My loss I'm sure.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-04-14 22:52

    A charming story evoking The Stranger, with more whimsy and less existential meat.

  • Sean
    2019-04-21 17:50

    For some reason this sent me into an unforeseen spiral of despair over the futility of the star rating system. So no stars for you, Monsieur. (But I did like you.)

  • Jim
    2019-04-14 20:00

    (This review originally appeared on the literay weblog The Elegant Variation on June 16, 2008 aka Bloomsday, which is why it repeatedly references James Joyce's Ulysses.)Although June 16 is called Bloomsday after the chief protagonist of James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece, you could be forgiven for forgetting about poor old Leopold.After all, Ulysses’ first hundred pages or so are dominated by Stephen Dedalus, a stretch so stylistically baroque many readers skip ahead to Molly Bloom’s saucy monologue at the end of the book, which most regard as the novel’s most accessible chapter. Then there are those who will tell you that the true central figure of Ulysses is none other than Dublin herself.Joyce’s chief objective in Ulysses was to create the most complete character in all of literature. Part of the reason why there are so many parallels with Homer’s The Odyssey is because Joyce viewed Odysseus as the man Bloom must surpass if he was to stand the test of time—an Everyman for the ages. In Monsieur, which was published in France in 1986 and has been brought back into print in English by Dalkey Archive Press, Belgian author Jean-Philippe Toussaint has created an Everyman who is every bit as quirky and compelling as Leopold Bloom—only we know a considerably less about Monsieur than we do about Bloom. Indeed, we don’t even know his name.Monsieur, we are told, is one of the top Commercial Directors for Fiat France. What that means is irrelevant for what Monsieur does best is escape notice, avoid attention, and work as little as humanly possible. “Monsieur displayed in all things a listless drive.” Ergo Everyman—at least from nine to five.If Monsieur is invisible at work, he has a knack for getting into trouble once he leaves the office. Scrupulously polite and honest to a fault, Monsieur gets pulled into scenarios he’d rather avoid. He detests confrontations but is blind to the ways he provokes them and Toussaint is remarkably adroit at mining this territory for its comic possibilities.For instance, when Monsieur moves into a new apartment, he is shanghaied by his neighbor into taking dictation for a treatise on, of all things, mineralology. Initially, Monsieur throws himself into the work so as to be done with it as quickly as possible and the narrative is peppered with the occasional, if not inscrutable, paragraph about geological specimens; but as the project drags on and on, Monsieur’s dictation becomes both stilted and literal:The interpretation of Greek terms employed to identify the exterior forms of crystals—yoo-hoo are you listening—is in point of fact easy, if not immediate, and presents no difficulty, even for the layman.No, no difficulty at all for Monsieur but, like Bartleby before him, he’d prefer not to. For Monsieur the only thing worse than working on the book is the prospect of telling his collaborator that he doesn’t want to do it anymore. So he does the only logical thing: he moves.Like Monsieur, Toussaint’s prose is confounded with contradictions. The writing is stark but dense, elegant yet strangely choppy. It's almost as if Toussaint doesn't want to provide the reader with an unobstructed view of his subject. Even though Monsieur comes off as hapless, he’s imbued with a weirdly magnetic charm the reader is powerless to resist. We never know what Monsieur wants, but we hope he gets it.One reason for this is Toussaint’s predilection for quandaries of the quotidian. In the afterward to Television, a book that explores the implications of a writer’s decision to stop watching television, originally published in 1997 and re-released in English (again by Dalkey) in 2004, Warren Mott writes:The fictional worlds that Jean-Philippe Toussaint creates are pleasantly quirky ones, worlds where hopelessly benighted humans struggle with the small vexations of everyday life and where those struggles, described in lavish (and indeed obsessive) detail, gradually assume the proportions of an epic. As for the accusation that Toussaint traffics in slow motion slapstick and literary situational comedy, he stands guilty as charged; however, he pulls it off with an economy of language one wouldn’t think possible given the unrelenting banality of his subjects and his stories never fail to surprise. Indeed, after Toussaint the work of other so-called stylists seems predictable, labored, and bare.Joyce would have bristled at such a comparison, but Bloom would have found in Monsieur a fellow practitioner of the art of avoiding conflict.

  • Laurent
    2019-04-02 21:55

    Knappe, minimalistische vertelling over een slome moderne man zonder wil of wilskracht. Er gebeurt weinig of niets in deze roman, maar Toussaint slaagt er op wonderlijke wijze toch in de aandacht van de lezer vast te houden. Ik zag ooit - met plezier - de film die Toussaint maakte van zijn eigen roman: dus toen ik een tijd terug tijdens het boekenjagen de roman in handen kreeg, graaide ik die meteen mee. Boek en film, dik in orde.

  • François
    2019-04-10 20:03

    Ik hou erg van de stijl van Toussaint, ook al gebeurt er weinig in zijn romans.

  • Peter Zuppardo
    2019-04-04 22:17

    Afuckingmazing. "At the office, when things weren't busy, Monsieur went downstairs to the cafeteria and read the paper. Across from him in the glass entrance hall, here and there, small flower pots boasted benjamina or papyrus, and two or three receptionists, quite another matter, talked on the telephone behind the circular counter. Often, before going back up to his office, Monsieur, going round the counter, good afternoon ladies, stood for a while in front of the aquarium and watched the fish with his hands in his pockets, never tiring of contemplating the inaccessible purity of the trajectories they traced with such languor."

  • Memed Koz
    2019-04-24 21:08

    Kötü.Bir iki durum komedisi an ve diyalog var, fena olmayan. Ama kitabın bütününü sevemedim, okurken pek keyif alamadım. Bu kitaptan 45 dk'lık absürt Fransız filmi çıkar, o kadar. Filmi seyredersin belki ama kitap benim açımdan iyi değil.Bugüne değin hep beğeneceğimi bildiğim kitaplar aldım, burada da yıldızlar verirken bonkör davrandım o yüzden. Bu kitabı Ayrıntı Yayınları'nın indirimli kitaplar kampanyası içinde 1.5 TL olarak (yazıyla birbuçuk) gördüğüm için almıştım.İsteyene kargo ile hediye edebilirim.

  • Tom
    2019-04-26 00:08

    A dead-pan comedy about an apparently affectless man, Monsieur, a cipher who seemingly is buffeted along the course of his life, often passively giving in to demands placed upon him by strangers, family members, and his employer. But Monsieur is intelligent, if befuddled by the need to speak and act. His work has been apparently compared to that of Beckett and Jarmusch, and rightfully so: all is absurdity. And yet, for Monsieur, in the end, once can still find melancholy joy.

  • Matthew Thompson
    2019-04-13 00:17

    The distinctly uneventful narrative of a nameless protagonist's day-to-day-to-day routine. Monsieur, who stumbles into situation after situation without control or ill-will is a kind of silent comedian here as he somersaults through the storyline, each tumble more absurd than the last. Major plot lines include a bruised arm, some serious ping-pong playing, and inadvertently co-authoring an unfinished book on mineralogy. For fans of Jim Jarmusch, Talking Heads lyrics and Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot

  • Adam Dalva
    2019-04-13 20:55

    Not my favorite of Toussaint's - it lacks the romance and wanderlust of his best novellas - but, as ever, his writing is hypnotic and his eye toward crafting scenes is excellent. There are some charming surprises in this lean narrative, which is a bit like The Mezzanine mixed with Bartelby the Scrivener, though not quite as thrilling as that combination sounds. For the completionists.

  • Pelin Okumuş
    2019-03-26 18:03

    Kendi küçük dünyasına sıkışmış bireyın yavaş ve yalnız ilerleyen yaşamından bir kesit anlatıyor kitap.Herşey olması gerektiği gibi ...İşi evi nişanlısı ...Dayatılan seylere pasif direniş ise sandalyeye oturup oylece durma süresinin atması ile oluyor.

  • Paul
    2019-04-01 00:10

    Gave up. What passes for Taoist acceptance is called boredom in my house. Dull. Not recommended. Read Raymond Carver instead.

  • Kali
    2019-04-16 18:17

    day to day observations of a regular guy. hmmmm...

  • Dina
    2019-04-06 23:55

    Objectively, it is well written and concise. But I guess I just didn't like that style and while I like concise---I felt that it was maybe too concise for me to get it.

  • Whodunnit
    2019-04-14 19:06

    quaint, secretly (touching?) quirky

  • Reynolds
    2019-03-29 21:57


  • Kobe Bryant
    2019-04-10 20:10

    I liked how all of the storylines just kind of ended

  • Natasha
    2019-03-25 23:02

    Monsieur just seems to drift through life doing what other people want him to, which leads to him moving apartment and also assisting to write a book about minerals.

  • Pete
    2019-04-11 19:08

    Very funny, especially if you don’t try to hard to find meaning in everything you read.

  • Jeff Bursey
    2019-03-30 23:17

    For my review of this and Camera, as well as The Customer is Always Wrong (by someone else), go here:

  • Pascale
    2019-04-05 21:12

    Another strange little book, like a snapshot into a small world of restraint and deliberate thought, the story of a man and of his evasive activities. In French.

  • John
    2019-04-08 22:51

    an elegant souffle.

  • Brian
    2019-04-18 00:10

    An unassuming fellow known only as Monsieur does nothing particularly remarkable, but Toussaint is able to make this anti-hero and fascinating and witty protagonist.

  • Dave Proff
    2019-04-04 16:57

    Loved it. I was caught up in the language.