Maurice Dekobra: La Madone des Sleepings

I was slogging my way through a couple of books that didn t fully have my attention when I ebelled and scoured my shelves for something engaging I don t think I ve ead a spy novel since college or maybe high school but I trust Neversink Library so I ended up opening The Madonna of the Sleeping CarsAs usual I was not disappointed Well I was a little disappointed that The Madonna didn t turn out to be the spy nor even eally the star of her own book but what the book is instead was delightful and compulsively eadableThen again despite the fact that the narrator of the story is Prince Gerard Seliman yes I m too lazy to figure out how to do the accent ight now Lady Diana s The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars secretary Gerard seems a bit hapless an old fashioned gentleman at the whims of the actual actors of the story all women Lady Diana herself a uined capitalist in search of a new fortune Madame Mouravieff the terrifyingly uthless agent of the elatively new Soviet egime and finally his estranged wife Princess Seliman flitting around on a yacht nursing her broken heartSeliman may not be a spy but there is at least one spy another woman in this novel of subterfuge cynical grabs at power prison executions and a good deal of international travelThis book was one of the biggest bestsellers of all time and despite the sometimes old fashioned writing it s still easy to see why A superbly poetic book I can see why people go back to it now and again for a eread Its prose alone evokes the best of Fitzgerald I know the latter is American but his style is the closest I can think ofPrecious little time is actually spent on the Orient Express or any train for that matter or is described only fleetingly which was the primary eason I took up this book Other than that the plot felt a bit small and short few characters and few but harrowing series of eventsThat said this is a truly excellent classic thriller Lady Wyndham is a fascinating and inspiring character as many have noted and Prince Seliman is a singularly noble model I purchased a Neversink Library bundle for myself for Christmas about five or six years ago I had only ecently become aware of Melville House and was uite intrigued by the design of these books and the mission of the Neversink series to make available titles which had been under appreciated or unfortunately forgotten I cannot uite ecall if the bundle was ten pre selected titles or if I chose the volumes myself Over the intervening years I have ead maybe two After Midnight for sure people in an apartment fearful of the Nazis bursting in upon them and the Right Way to do Wrong Houdini just iffing for about 200 pages Somewhere along the way I must have sold off several at current I only count five Neversink volumes on my shelves This book is appropriately described as a omp It sold over 15 million copies upon its publication in the 1920s and in many ways originated the spy thriller began a long legacy of mystery and intrigue stories set on and around the Orient express and provided the basis for the hard boil language of Raymond Chandler and others I found it delightful Many goodreads eviewers seemed mystified as to why Melville House would epublish a book that amounts to such a light entertainment With its page turning plot leaps and its unenlightened vilification of the Soviet Union This strikes me as an unfair evaluation of the book Sure its light but there is so much here The whole book could uite easily be a chapter in a later Pynchon novel I think it is well deserving of a wider audience Recommended 3 12Amazing to think that this was a best seller in its day if only because it does not seem to fit into any one genre To me it is a blend of light hearted escapades of the very British and very ich ala Jeeves and Wooster international espionage with sex ala James Bond critiue of Communism ala Orwell the plight of the woman who depends on men for wealth ala Edith WhartonOur narrator is a suave Frenchman with a heart of gold Like James Bond he loves women and does well with them unlike James Bond he is a human with feelings and also espects women as people than he desires bedding them Given the current political news it was very peculiar to ead a book set in the mid 1920s having. Η μαντόνα των βαγκόν λι έχει για φωτοστέφανο τον φαύλο κύκλο των καπρίτσιων της και για Ιερή Σκέπη σουίτες πολυτελών ξενοδοχείων Οι μάγοι της προσφέρουν μαργαριτάρια Η άσωτη μαντόνα χορεύει γυμνή μπροστά στην έκθαμβη βρετανική αριστοκρατία και προκαλεί τα χρηστά ήθη στα πρωτοσέλιδα των κοσμικών φυλλάδων Η Λαίδη Γουάινχαμ

Re I thought upon finishing it Why Why epublish this why think it deserves a broader modern audience This might have been elatively intriguing in its time the free loving heroine the jabs at Communism the elatively open acceptance of pre post and intra marital sex but unlike the books by Keun and Horvath even the Strugatskys that Melville House has previously published as part of this imprint this little picaresue piece holds nothing but historical value It s a curiousity ather than a literary find poorly written tediously plotted and terribly obvious I can t ecommend it to anyone but completist collectors of this series It was curiosity than anything else that made me buy this book Curiosity as to what it was that made this book so immensely popular in the mid 20s this is a eprint of that work as translated by the Frenchreal name Maurice Tessier author s American friend Neil Wainwright so expect American punctuation and spellings to whom the book is dedicated At worst I thought it might simply be a frivolous pastime but it was curiosity that was foremost in my mindThere are four main characters the aristocratic Westerners Lady Diana Wynham and her secretary Prince Gerard S liman who is the author of the book and so it epresents his take on the characters and their attitudes and the Russian Communists Leonid Varichkine and his partner Irina Mouravieff The writing and dialogue is florid even awful by modern standards and stylistically uirky but it is not difficult to become used to it Somehow it also seems appropriate as the type of writing one would expect the character S liman might use but of course it is Dekobra s style and it epresents a fascinating mix aka dekobrisme at the time of the author s first hand experience of the places and events described and the fictional elements of the narrative On a certain level there is a certain spying uality that propels the narrative but the intriguing aspect is the complex interplay between the four main characters The setting in the mid 1920s provides the political background the Capitalist Aristocracy and their overwhelming fear of the conseuences of the Communist Russian Revolution Dekobra s style allows him to present unflinching descriptions of both political sides Wyndham and S liman provide prescient condemnations of the Communists and Communism while Varichnike and Mouravieff provide the eually incisive biting criticisms of the Aristocratic Capitalistic melieu Given the immense popularity of the book one cannot help but wonder how much its pro Western sentiments might have contributed in shaping the West s virulent anti Communist phobias prevalent both during World War II especially among our political and eligious leaders and particularly throughout the Cold War periodAt the end of the book there is an Afterword written in 2012 by Ren Steinke Among other things it interprets the book from the point of view of its depiction of the New 20th century Woman as typified by the two central women in the book the outrageous Lady Diana Wynham the Madonna of the Sleeping Cars and the terrifying Irina Mouravieff the Maruise de Sade of Red Russia Indeed the characters of the two women are perhaps the most potent aspect of this novel both epresent a kind of freed or emancipated woman and both are presented as both wonderful and terrifying in their own ways Both are uthless cruel heartless and fearless and while S liman s overwhelming preference is for Lady Diana one can also detect a sneaking admiration for Irina The men are presented almost as peripheral actors to be used by the women for their particular ends and purposes and with not too many other edeeming ualities As to which of the two women protagonists is the most monstrous I will leave that to the individual eader to determineOverall a most enjoyable ead Lady Diana Wynham seeks to wow the soulless and cynical Bolsheviks who are in case just bitter spurned omantics underneath I suppose the main curiosity here is that anyone would have thought it possible in 1925 that the USSR would open up and let foreigners claim their mining concessions granted the pre Revolutionary times Before Stalin a gradual decline away from communism by 1940 looked plausibleI d like to see the old film versions. ν ανέβηκε ποτέ άλλο γολγοθά από την πλατιά σκάλα του Ριτζ είναι απλώς αδιανόητη Ο πλούτος της είναι απαραίτητος ακόμα κι αν πρέπει να τον διεκδικήσει από αιμοσταγείς μπολσεβίκους Ακόμα κι αν πρέπει να περάσει από το κρεβάτι του συντρόφου Βαρίσκιν για να πάρει πίσω τις πετρελαιοπηγές που της στέρησε η σοβιετική κρατικοποίηση.

A plot centered on Russia corruption and oil and even peculiar to be ooting for the obscenely ich noble main characters The book is good ead that was eual parts frothy and dark I enjoyed itAlso the main author changed his name to DeKobra because he eally liked cobras so that s pretty badass Overwrought and antiuated with Soviets as cartoon villains It was a fairly light ead depending on how much you wanted to get into it I went into it with the false expectation that it was going to be a simple action thriller being a Spy novel It turned out to be constructed like a pastry than in inverted spyglass sweet and flexible in interpretation I got about as much of it as I put in only to ealise with sadness at the end that the things that made it than worthwhile the When looking over at to find books that were made into movies I have seen over the years I was introduced to Maurice Dekobra s The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars I was looking for the book based on Hitchcock s movie Foreign Correspondent thought I had found the book but it was modern author Alan Furst s novel by the same name The book based on the movie was Personal History by Vincent Sheean which is not available in Kindle format Furst had touted Dekobra s novel it being a best seller of it time 1925 it sound like an interesting ead His female characters exhibit a strength dominance Dekobra was a Frenchman who was a journalist as well as a novelist What I find enthralling is eading a book about Germany s Weimar Republic 1919 1933 pre Adolf Hitler Stalin s Russia Communist Russia through the eyes of someone living in those times Where the Reichsmark was necessary due to Germany s inflation ladies of the evening debauchery were on the ise This story is about Lady Diana Wynham The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars a free spirited widow her uest to drill for oil on her beueathed property in the USSR Caucasus With the help of her secretary scandal idden Prince Gerald Seliman Lady Diana devise a plan if it does not succeed she is uined While in Germany they come to talk to the Communist leader in Berlin Leonid Varichkine his female associate This is a different kind of spy thriller were personal vendetta is the game death are at high stakes The Soviet system is seen for the horror it was for anyone that the is in its grasp that is targeted Excerpts About the author The publication of The Maddona of the Sleeping Cars in 1925 was an international success the book was translated into thirty languages and sold million of copies It was banned in Boston and the New York Times dubbed him the biggest seller of any living French writer or dead one eitherHe nodded For eight years that same charming Madam Mouravieff has been Varichkine s official mistress She inspires him She directs him She terrorizes him Ah my dear boy that Irina Mouravieff is an extraordinary woman She is one of those enlightened individuals who can conceive of human happiness by the way of machine gun bullets and who sends the people who contradict her to do a little bit of uninterrupted meditation in the ice fields of SolovkiOnly the thick headed logicians are astonished to find that there is an elite society in a country where everything is eual But I must say that there are very few in the party to which I have the honor to belong You can count them on the fingers of one handMost assuredly And as anyone who is accused of counter evolution even if there is no proof is automatically condemned to death those innocent people end up in the dungeons of the Loubianka But all that is of no importance for it is better to shoot ten innocent people than to let one dangerous agitator escapeDo you eally believe that tyrants are born into the world just like musicians or taxpayers After all what does the cruelty of tyrants signify It is but a manifestation of the instinct of self preservation nothing nor less A harmless piece of flesh and bone forced by destiny to command a million individuals who hate him is bound to be a perfect CaliguaJust a man cursed with an education valueless to the new egime a superfluous being who has been conuered in the unfair battle between brute force and brain powerMy next ead Colette s The Vagabond This is the first book I ve ead in the Neversink series whe. ?ισθησιακή ατίθαση και απαλλαγμένη από ηθικές ασημαντότητες σκανδαλίζει την Ευρώπη του '20 ταξιδεύει αδιάκοπα κι εξερευνά άλλοτε τα άγνωστα εδάφη της ψυχανάλυσης και άλλοτε τα επικίνδυνα εδάφη του υπαρκτού σοσιαλισμού συνοδευόμενη από τον έμπιστο γραμματέα της Πρίγκιπα Σελιμάν Η οικονομική καταστροφή; Για τη γυναίκα που δε.

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Born Maurice Tessier in Paris in 1885 he adopted the pseudonymn of Maurice Dekobra which he used to write his novels in 1908 His works began with romantic fiction and went on to become whodunnitsHe studied in France and Germany and he spoke three languages French English and German and began his career as a tri lingual journalist at the age of 19 His first novel Les Memoires de Rat de Cav