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The Postman Always Rings Twice (Anglais) Broché – 24 mars 2005

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They threw me off the hay truck about noon. I had swung on the night before, down at the border, and as soon as I got up there under the canvas, I went to sleep. I needed plenty of that, after three weeks in Tia Juana, and I was still getting it when they pulled off to one side to let the engine cool. Then they saw a foot sticking out and threw me off. I tried some comical stuff, but all I got was a dead pan, so that gag was out. They gave me a cigarette, though, and I hiked down the road to find something to eat.

That was when I hit this Twin Oaks Tavern. It was nothing but a roadside sandwich joint, like a million others in California. There was a lunchroom part, and over that a house part, where they lived, and off to one side a filling station, and out back a half dozen shacks that they called an auto court. I blew in there in a hurry and began looking down the road. When the Greek showed, I asked if a guy had been by in a Cadillac. He was to pick me up here, I said, and we were to have lunch. Not today, said the Greek. He layed a place at one of the tables and asked me what I was going to have. I said orange juice, corn flakes, fried eggs and bacon, enchilada, flapjacks, and coffee. Pretty soon he came out with the orange juice and the corn flakes.

"Hold on, now. One thing I got to tell you. If this guy don't show up, you'll have to trust me for it. This was to be on him, and I'm kind of short, myself."

"Hokay, fill'm up."

I saw he was on, and quit talking about the guy in the Cadillac. Pretty soon I saw he wanted something.

"What you do, what kind of work, hey?"

"Oh, one thing and another, one thing and another. Why?"

"How old you?"


"Young fellow, hey? I could use young fellow right now. In my business."

"Nice place you got here."

"Air. Is a nice. No fog, like in a Los Angeles. No fog at all. Nice, a clear, all a time nice a clear."

"Must be swell at night. I can smell it now."

"Sleep fine. You understand automobile? Fix'm up?"

"Sure. I'm a born mechanic."

He gave me some more about the air, and how healthy he's been since he bought this place, and how he can't figure it out, why his help won't stay with him. I can figure it out, but I stay with the grub.

"Hey? You think you like it here?"

By that time I had put down the rest of the coffee, and lit the cigar he gave me. "I tell you how it is. I got a couple of other propositions, that's my trouble. But I'll think about it. I sure will do that all right."

Then I saw her. She had been out back, in the kitchen, but she came in to gather up my dishes. Except for the shape, she really wasn't any raving beauty, but she had a sulky look to her, and her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her.

"Meet my wife."

She didn't look at me. I nodded at the Greek, gave my cigar a kind of wave, and that was all. She went out with the dishes, and so far as he and I were concerned, she hadn't even been there. I left, then, but in five minutes I was back, to leave a message for the guy in the Cadillac. It took me a half hour to get sold on the job, but at the end of it I was in the filling station, fixing flats.

"What's your name, hey?"

"Frank Chambers."

"Nick Papadakis, mine."

We shook hands, and he went. In a minute I heard him singing. He had a swell voice. From the filling station I could just get a good view of the kitchen.

About three o'clock a guy came along that was all burned up because somebody had pasted a sticker on his wind wing. I had to go in the kitchen to steam it off for him.

"Enchiladas? Well, you people sure know how to make them."

"What do you mean, you people?"

"Why, you and Mr. Papadakis. You and Nick. That one I had for lunch, it was a peach."


"You got a cloth? That I can hold on to this thing with?"

''That's not what you meant."

"Sure it is."

"You think I'm Mex."

"Nothing like it."

"Yes, you do. You're not the first one. Well, get this. I'm just as white as you are, see? I may have dark hair and look a little that way, but I'm just as white as you are. You want to get along good around here, you won't forget that."

"Why, you don't look Mex."

"I'm telling you. I'm just as white as you are.

"No, you don't look even a little bit Mex. Those Mexican women, they all got big hips and bum legs and breasts up under their chin and yellow skin and hair that looks like it had bacon fat on it. You don't look like that. You're small, and got nice white skin, and your hair is soft and curly, even if it is black. Only thing you've got that's Mex is your teeth. They all got white teeth, you've got to hand that to them."

"My name was Smith before I was married. That don't sound much like a Mex, does it?"

"Not much."

"What's more, I don't even come from around here. I come from Iowa."

"Smith, hey. What's your first name?"

"Cora. You can call me that, if you want to."

I knew for certain, then, what I had just taken a chance on when I went in there. It wasn't those enchiladas that she had to cook, and it wasn't having black hair. It was being married to that Greek that made her feel she wasn't white, and she was even afraid I would begin calling her Mrs. Papadakis.

"Cora. Sure. And how about calling me Frank?"

She came over and began helping me with the wind wing. She was so close I could smell her. I shot it right close to her ear, almost in a whisper. "How come you married this Greek, anyway?"

She jumped like I had cut her with a whip. "Is that any of your business?"

"Yeah. Plenty."

"Here's your wind wing."


I went out. I had what I wanted. I had socked one in under her guard, and socked it in deep, so it hurt. From now on, it would be business between her and me. She might not say yes, but she woudn't stall me. She knew what I meant, and she knew I had her number.

That night at supper, the Greek got sore at her for not giving me more fried potatoes. He wanted me to like it there, and not walk out on him like the others had.

"Give a man something to eat."

"They're right on the stove. Can't he help himself?"

"It's all right. I'm not ready yet."

He kept at it. If he had bad any brains, he would have known there was something back of it, because she wasn't one to let a guy help himself, I'll say that for her. But he was dumb, and kept crabbing. It was just the kitchen table, he at one end, she at the other, and me in the middle. I didn't look at her. But I could see her dress. It was one of these white nurse uniforms, like they all wear, whether they work in a dentist's office or a bakeshop. It had been clean in the morning, but it was a little bit rumpled now, and mussy. I could smell her.

"Well for heaven's sake."

She got up to get the potatoes. Her dress fell open for a second, so I could see her leg. When she gave me the potatoes, I couldn't eat. "Well there now. After all that, and now he doesn't want them."

"Hokay. But he have'm, if he want 'm."

"I'm not hungry. I ate a big lunch."

He acted like he had won a great victory, and now he would forgive her, like the big guy he was. "She is a all right. She is my little white bird. She is my little white dove."

He winked and went upstairs. She and I sat there, and didn't say a word. When he came down he had a big bottle and a guitar. He poured some out of the bottle, but it was sweet Creek wine, and made me sick to my stomach. He started to sing. He had a tenor voice, not one of these little tenors like you hear on the radio, but a big tenor, and on the high notes he would put in a sob like on a Caruso record. But I couldn't listen to him now. I was feeling worse by the minute.

He saw my face and took me outside. "Out in a air, you feel better."

'S all right. I'll be all right."

"Sit down. Keep quiet."

"Go ahead in. I just, ate too much lunch. I'll be all right."

He went in, and I let everything come up. It was like hell the lunch, or the potatoes, or the wine. I wanted that woman so bad I couldn't even keep anything on my stomach.

Next morning the sign was blown down. About the middle of the night it had started to blow, and by morning it was a wind-storm that took the sign with it.

"It's awful. Look at that."

"Was a very big wind. I could no sleep. No sleep all night."

"Big wind all right. But look at the sign."

"Is busted."'

I kept tinkering with the sign, and he would come out and watch me. "How did you get this sign anyway?"

"Was here when I buy the place. Why?"

"It's lousy all right. I wonder you do any business at all."

I went to gas up a car, and left him to think that over. When I got back he was still blinking at it, where it was leaning against the front of the lunchroom. Three of the lights were busted. I plugged in the wire, and half of the others didn't light.

"Put in new lights, hang'm up, will be all right."

"You're the boss."

"What's a matter with it?"

"Well, it's out of date. Nobody has bulb signs any more. They got Neon signs. They show up better, and they don't burn as much juice. Then, what does it say? Twin Oaks, that's all. The Tavern part, it's not in lights. Well, Twin Oaks don't make me hungry. It don't make me want to stop and get something to eat. It's costing you money, that sign, only you don't know it.''

"Fix'm up, will be hokay."

"Why don't you get a new sign?"

"I'm busy."

But pretty soon he was back, with a piece of paper. He had drew a new sign for himself, and colored it up with red, white, and blue crayon. It said Twin Oaks Tavern, and Eat, and Bar-B-Q, and Sanitary Rest Rooms, and N. Papadakis, Prop.

"Swell. That'll knock them for a loop."

I fixed up the words, so they were spelled right, and he put some more curlycues on the letters.

"Nick, why do we hang up the old sign at all? Why don't you go to the city today and get this new sign made? It's a beauty, believe me it is. And it's important. A place is no better than it's sign, is it?"

"I do it. By golly, I go."

Los Angeles wasn't but twenty miles away, but he shined him-self up like he was going to Paris, and right after lunch, he went. Soon as he was gone, I locked the front door. I picked up a plate that a guy had left, and went on back in the kitchen with it. She was there.

''Here's a plate that was out there.

"Oh, thanks."

I set it down. The fork was rattling like a tambourine.

"I was going to go, but I started some things cooking and I thought I better not."

"I got plenty to do, myself."

"You feeling better?"
"I'm all right."

"Sometimes just some little thing will do it. Like a change of water, something like that."

"Probably too much lunch."

"What's that?"

Somebody was out front, rattling the door. "Sounds like somebody trying to get in."

"Is the door locked, Frank?"

"I must have locked it."

She looked at me, and got pale. She went to the swinging door, and peeped through. Then she went into the lunchroom, but in a minute she was back.

"They went away.

"I don't know why I locked it."

"I forgot to unlock it."

She started for the lunchroom again, but I stopped her. "Let's--leave it locked."

"Nobody can get in if it's locked. I got some cooking to do. I'll wash up this plate."

I took her in my arms and mashed my mouth up against hers.... "Bite me! Bite me!"

I bit her. I sunk my teeth into her lips so deep I could feel the blood spurt into my mouth. It was running down her neck when I carried her upstairs. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"A good, swift, violent story." --Dashiell Hammett

"A poet of the tabloid murder." --Edmund Wilson --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 128 pages
  • Editeur : Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ); Édition : New Ed (24 mars 2005)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 075286436X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752864365
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,1 x 1 x 19,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Gwen COMMENTATEUR N° 11ER COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEUR le 16 août 2011
Format: Broché
Californie, années 30.

Frank Chambers, 24 ans, sans profession, s'arrête dans un restaurant pour y casser la croûte et s'y voit offrir un boulot par son propriétaire, le vieux Nick. Il accepte et s'éprend très vite de la jeune et ravissante épouse de ce dernier, Cora. Commence aussitôt entre eux une liaison brûlante, mais qui ne tarde pas à prendre un tour dangereux. Enflammés par leur passion, Frank et Cora échafaudent en effet un plan diabolique pour assassiner Nick et maquiller sa mort en accident...

Classique absolu du roman noir, ce bref chef-d'oeuvre de James Cain n'a pas pris une ride, comme on dit. Auréolé à sa parution, en 1934, d'un parfum de scandale, il brille encore aujourd'hui par la qualité de son style tendu comme une corde à piano. Cain s'inscrit ici dans la veine "béhavioriste" inventée par Dashiell Hammett quelques années plus tôt dans Red Harvest et surtout The Maltese Falcon. Narré à la première personne, son récit refuse toute psychologie, toute introspection. Les personnages se définissent uniquement par leurs actes, leur comportement.

Le plus curieux, c'est que ce roman qui passa longtemps pour immoral, au point d'être interdit dans certaines librairies, me paraît en réalité éminemment moral, ou du moins éminemment objectif dans sa description des travers humains. Prône-t-il l'adultère? Bien sûr que non! Le meurtre? Encore moins!
Lire la suite ›
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Format: Broché
Two famous Hollywood films were made with this title, in 1946 with Ava Gardner as Cora and another in 1981 with Jack Nicholson as Frank, neither of which this reader ever saw. After this literary debut in 1934 at the age of 42, James M. Cain produced some 20 less successful books whilst working on numerous Hollywood screenplays. This book, once banned in Boston for its mix of sex and violence, is today considered an American noir classic and his best. The meaning of the book’s title remains a mystery and adds to its aura of brilliance.
The novel is about penniless drifter Frank (24) meeting cook and waitress Cora (20?) in a roadside diner/gas station owned by her despised Greek husband Nick. They fall for each other instantly and soon decide to kill Nick. Much of author Cain’s brilliance is to write, from start to finish, purely from the perspective of his impulsive, somewhat dim-witted but passionate character Frank, and to gradually expose his past and character, strengths and weaknesses in his own words to us, readers to mull over and judge…
This Cain technique gave readers the chance to judge Frank’s choices for themselves by what at every twist and turn of the tale. Cain always refused to be categorized: hard-boiled crime stories were about catching criminals. His book explored the mind of one (or two) of them. In the 1930s, this was a novelty.
Full of deliberate grammar errors and quasi-clumsy writing, this book is authentic because of the powerful prose and wild passion and poorly defined hopes it exudes. It is written in a raw, fast and furious manner James M. Cain never managed to replicate. Great stylistic writing experiment. Captivating reading.
But what is the drink Frank called "coke and ammonia"?
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Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Lecture passionnante de la première à la dernière ligne. Livre à recommander pour les gens qui aiment comparer le film avec le livre.
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79 internautes sur 85 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Hemingway stream-lined and accelerated 9 juillet 2002
Par Dennis Littrell - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I spent some time trying to find out why this potboiler turned literature is called "The Postman Always Rings Twice" since at no place in the novel is a postman even mentioned. At first I thought it might be an echo of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, dreamt up by Knopf, Cain's publisher, to lend some literary pretension to a novel they weren't sure about; but that play wasn't written until some years after Postman was published in 1934. It was recently suggested to me (by Joseph Feinsinger, one of's best reviewers of literature) that it might be a rejoinder for the saying "opportunity knocks only once," which was the sort of pabulum given to out of work people during the depression. Cain's original title was "Bar-B-Que," which is entirely appropriate for a couple of reasons (the café, the burning car), but was perhaps a little too morbid for Knopf's sensibilities.

At any rate, the title finally chosen is somewhat magical as is the novel itself, the first of Cain's hard-boiled, loser tales that somehow caught the imagination and psyche of depression America. Re-reading the novel today one wonders why, but then again, I can see why.

First there's the raw sex with Frank forcing himself onto Cora, biting her lip, etc. and she loving it, that was somewhat shocking for its time. Ditto for the spontaneous sex they have in the dirt outside the car after Frank has beamed Nick. Then there is the fascination we have with stupid people doing vile deeds rather clumsily (with whom we might identify). But more than anything else it's the style. Cain raised the dime novel to something amazing with his no nonsense, no time to chat, no description beyond the absolutely necessary--a pared-down to raw flesh and bones writing style that made even some of the icons of literature sit up and take notice. Edmund Wilson, long the dean of American literary critics, was intrigued by the novel, as was Franklin P Adams who called it "the most engrossing, unlaydownable book that I have any memory of." (Quoted from Paul Skenazy's critical work, James M. Cain (1989), pp. 20-21). And Albert Camus said that his internationally famous masterpiece The Stranger was based in part on Postman. The alternate English title, "The Outsider," perhaps reveals its debt to Cain more clearly. Today the sex seems rather tame and the terse style seems almost a burlesque, having been so often imitated. I personally think that Cain, who was a one-time editor of The New Yorker and a relatively sophisticated literary man, was actually taking Hemingway's primer-prose style to its logical conclusion by simply cutting out all of Hemingway's poetic repetitions and anything else that didn't move the plot.

Well, how well does this stand up after almost seventy years? It was made into two movies, a 1946 version starring John Garfield and Lana Turner and a 1981 version starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, which you might want to compare. You can read the novel faster than you can watch either movie. I read it in an hour and I'm no speed reader. There was also a play and, believe it or not, an opera. The atmosphere is suburban naturalistic, set in the environs of Glendale, California, just north of L.A. where there really are (or mostly were) oak trees. (The name of the café is the Twin Oaks.) The story is a little confused in parts, and a little unlikely elsewhere (Cora really would not be such an adept at gun toting, and the Frank would not be so quick to fall for the D.A.'s line of chatter and turn on Cora, nor could Nick be quite so blind to the hanky-panky going on behind his back). But what Cain got so, so very right was the underlying psychology. This is a classic triangle, the old guy with the resources who can't cut the mustard anymore with a young wife who longs for love, a little excitement and to be rid of "that greasy Greek." Even deeper (and this is characteristic of Cain) is the suggestion that Nick encouraged Frank and kept him around, using his presence to spice up his own libido. Furthermore, Frank is a kind of depression-era anti-hero, who beat up on the hated railway dicks, the kind of guy who has become a film noir staple, a man who acts out his basic desires in an amoral, animalistic way. I see woman. I take woman. I eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm dry, and sleep when I run out of gas, a kind of natural man on the run, the kind of guy we think we would like to be for a change (a brief change) in our daydreams around two p.m. on a blue Monday afternoon.

Cain followed this up with Double Indemnity (using some insurance fraud research he had left over). Double Indemnity appeared as a serial in Liberty magazine after being rejected by Redbook. It was also made into a classic Billy Wilder movie starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson in 1944 a year after it finally appeared in book form.

Cain, along with Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Nathanael West and later Ross MacDonald created a kind of southern California milieu that Hollywood has mined again and again with such postmodern films as, e.g., Chinatown (1974) and L.A. Confidential (1997). Read this (during lunch) for its historical value as a precursor of film noir and the hard-boiled detective novel.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Novels and other Fictions"
27 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Beyond Hardboiled 11 décembre 2001
Par Thomas F. Ogara - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Whenever the question of the origin of the "hardboiled" school of detective literature comes up in conversation, three names always get mentioned: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James Cain. Hammett was the master of the character, Chandler of the atmosphere.
And Cain was the master of the plot. Not in the sense of trying to tease us with the "whodunit" like the great British talespinners; Cain's books are not mysteries in the true sense of the word, because we usually know almost from the outset Who Done It. But Cain will keep you on the edge of your seat following the incredible turns of fate that his characters experience. And perhaps that's the key to Cain, not only in this book but in all of his others: the real major character is an unfriendly fate, which sooner or later destroys the protagonists. Cain's stories are ugly - his characters are all either ugly and stupid or ugly and clever - and perhaps this is the ugliest story he ever wrote.
Hollywood was always both fascinated and repulsed by Cain; Warner Brothers made "Double Indemnity" into a movie, but only after they turned it over to Rayond Chandler to do the screenplay and "sanitize" it (Billy Wilder got screenplay credits along with Chandler, but the book was Cain's; it's more than worth a read too). "Postman" has been made into a movie twice, and while both versions are admirable each in their own way, neither one of them manages to express the utter futility of life, and the sense of just how amoral the average man can be in the right situation, that are the hallmarks of Cain's work.
I think it's not the sex in his novels (of which there is some, but tame stuff by modern standards) that made Cain unsettling in his day, but rather this sense of futility, and that is why Hollywood, and society in general, had a hard time accepting Cain as a mainstream writer. Great? Yes. Give him a read - it's like watching a train wreck. It's horrible, but you can't take your eyes off it.
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fast-paced thriller you will never forget 18 mai 2001
Par ConstantConsumer - Publié sur
When I was 12 I climbed on board something called The Texas Cliffhanger at Six Flags Over Texas. It was a small four or five person bench with a cage around it that lifted us something like five stories into the air. Then it pushed us forward and dropped us. The entire ride lasted maybe a minute, but I never forgot it and I by God knew I’d had a thrill. The Postman Always Rings Twice is no different. It is wild and one of the shortest novels I’ve ever read. But believe me, I know I’ve read a novel.
Not only is the book short, its pace rarely relents. There is not an overabundance of description or other literary devices. It slams the door, straps you in and drives you to the end. And you get there fast with no detours and no fluff and nothing extra, just the point. You rip right through piles of mistrust and angst and murder and love and passion and lies and truths and you end in reality. And for Cain, reality is a cold floor and a long walk and a knotted rope swinging in the wind.
I believe this novel started a whole line of fiction and movies that continues to this day. First and most obvious, the noir genre has its roots here. The colloquial speech, the first person narrative, the looker dames who are in where they ought not be – it’s all here. Second, the love triangle involving a drifter and a young woman married or indentured to an older, wealthy man....
I’d recommend this one wholeheartedly. Not just for its place in literary history, but for the pure joy of a good read. Lie back and let it take you for a quick thrill.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
You've seen the movie; now read the book 13 octobre 2009
Par Newhart Fan - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
If you're a fan of the film "Mildred Pierce," you'll be surprised by the book. No one gets murdered, and with few exceptions only the names of the characters haven't been changed. The plot unfolds in an entirely different fashion.

It is a good read and would make a good movie true to the book's plot. If some would-be movie writer or producer is reading this, get the book, read it, and make the real "Mildred Pierce." She's just as fascinating as the movie Mildred.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The dark underworld of American crime fiction 30 avril 2002
Par A.J. - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Unlike the detective fiction of Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Hammett's Sam Spade, James M. Cain's brand of noir in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" is concerned more with the drama behind the crime than with the investigation of it.
The novel begins with a flurry of premonitions: A dangerous young drifter named Frank Chambers stops for a bite to eat at a California roadside lunchroom owned by an affable but naive Greek named Nick Papadakis and his much younger, beautiful wife Cora. Frank accepts a job offer from Nick and almost immediately begins an affair with Cora, who confides to Frank that Nick disgusts her and she feels trapped in her marriage. She suggests that the only way out is to kill Nick, and Frank, who really doesn't have anything personal against his new boss, decides to go along with it.
After a false start, Frank and Cora finally manage to carry out their crime, although not without a significant amount of bodily sacrifice. Of course they tell the police that Nick's death was an accident, but the District Attorney is suspicious of the circumstances -- particularly when it is discovered that Nick had a considerable insurance policy on his life. From this point on, Cain uses the principle of poetic justice to ensure that Frank and Cora pay for their crime through their arrogance and foolishness.
Frank, Cora, and Nick make an interesting love triangle. Situations in their lives seem to have brought them together partially because of their relative stupidity -- for a guy who's spent his life on the road, Frank shows he even lacks street smarts when he gets suckered by an obvious pool shark; indeed, a story like this relies on fundamentally stupid characters. Nick, of course, never suspects his wife is having an affair; he's just a simple immigrant who's proud and grateful to be living the American dream of owning his own business. The smartest character turns out to be Cora's lawyer, Katz, who probably guesses the truth about Nick's "accident" right away but knows he'll make out like a bandit no matter what happens to his client.
The characterization, mood, and style of this novel reveal the source of noir fiction: When the corruption and violence of the '20s erupted into the squalor and desperation of the Depression of the '30s, noir must have emerged naturally as the time's most representative artistic expression. Here we have characters who are so poor and hopeless that they're desperate enough to do anything and violent enough to turn to crime.
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