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The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel…

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006)

by Muriel Barbery

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Rue de Grenelle (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,759557346 (3.79)2 / 859
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    labfs39: Both have incredibly well-drawn, quirky characters that are lovable in their unique humaness. Both have highly intelligent characters that are vulnerable because of their very gift. In both books I learned things in fields not particularly close to me: math in Housekeeper and philosophy in Elegance.… (more)
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English (456)  Spanish (28)  Italian (25)  French (24)  German (10)  Finnish (7)  Dutch (5)  Swedish (5)  Catalan (4)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (566)
Showing 1-5 of 456 (next | show all)
A simply perfect book for me except for the ending. I felt the ending was not necessary at all for the author to make her point. Several sections of the book were so beautiful to read I had to go back and read them again, congrats to the translator and the author. ( )
  jmg12 | Jul 3, 2017 |
Where do I begin? Do I start by saying that this was the most frustrating thing I've ever read since Interview with the Vampire? Do I admit that I missed Louis de Pointe du Lac and his inane babbling about life and salvation? I sure did. Here the two protagonists are incredibly unlikeable. Arrogant, snobbish, and carrying themselves as superiors in a world they vaguely try to understand but nonetheless condemn. There was a lot of psychobabble and not enough action. The plot appears on page 140-something and it's so vapid I nearly weeped. The characters I loved the most were Kakuro and Manuela. The rest could've burned in hell fire for all I cared. I don't know what was worse: the musings on philosophy were overwhelming and not in the good way or the incredibly boring narration. Read only if you desire to experience a self-centered blog in book format. ( )
  lapiccolina | Jun 23, 2017 |
A beautiful book - but one that I found hard to understand in parts - some of the theories of Art just flew over my non-literati head. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
The Elegance of the Hedgehog (by Muriel Barbery. Translated by Alison Anderson). A lovely French–English translated work that takes the reader on a journey, through the perspectives of two individuals at opposite extremes of society and life, to discover the many hard-to-find coup-de-sacs of life that give it meaning. Various subjects are briefly explored—death and life; science vs. art; and literature and philosophy. A few weeks with Paloma, Renée and Kakuro at 7, Rue de Grenelle, Paris, could change a lifetime. "An always within never." #TheEleganceOfTheHedgehog #MurielBarbery #FrenchToEnglishTranslation #AlisonAnderson #OnDeathAndLife #Book #Review #AFYReviews ( )
  l_affinity | Apr 18, 2017 |
This is probably more 3.75 stars for me, as I really enjoyed reading it and found it wonderfully refreshing. I'd been feeling bogged down because of [b:Love in the Time of Cholera|9712|Love in the Time of Cholera|Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327124987s/9712.jpg|3285349], which is just tar, and I've got some Eco books to read but feel like I ought to give him and me some more breathing room, and I wasn't in love enough with the other books I had on the go to really want to delve into and finish them. So I found this at a nearby bookshop and found it a really wonderful respite. Quick to read, intelligent, following two characters who were so unlike other protagonists, it was the antidote to these other books and might just give me the gusto to finish them.

I should say that I became interested in this book because a very handsome and tall Frenchman with a beautiful accent came into the bookstore looking for it. We didn't have it, but I committed the author's name to memory because, well, he was beautiful and the description sounded very appealing. I would've liked a broader array of references and allusions--Tolstoy was the backbone--but that might just be the effect of all the Eco I've been reading. Packing something too full of allusions just for the sake of it can really tear a work apart, so I think Barbery was being controlled in keeping things narrowed.

This is a very book club sort of book. I like those, in a way, because it makes it very easy to recommend to another person because it's likely to be enjoyed. It makes it more likely that someone will have read it and feel able to talk about it. There are a lot of minor incidents or aspects of the novel that can be used for an array of broad or intricate commentary. How fucking weird that my enjoyment of a book I read for fun can lie in my ability to relate to imagined strangers at varied levels of discussion and critique. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 456 (next | show all)
Barbery’s sly wit, which bestows lightness on the most ponderous cogitations, keeps her tale aloft.
added by Nickelini | editthe New Yorker (Oct 20, 2008)
Le Figaro has described this book as 'the publishing phenomenon of the decade'. Elsewhere, there were comparisons to Proust. It sold more than a million copies in France last year and has won numerous awards. Does it match up to the hype? Almost. It is a profound but accessible book (not quite Proust, then), which elegantly treads the line between literary and commercial fiction.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Vicky Groskop (Sep 14, 2008)
Even when the novel is most essayistic, the narrators’ kinetic minds and engaging voices... propel us ahead.
Efter en något trög första del, förvandlades Igelkottens elegans till en liten pärla, till en bok som berörde mig. Och jag som sällan läser om böcker, funderar skarpt på att läsa om.
Därefter blir ”Igelkottens elegans” en fråga om ett ganska enkelt demaskerande och en ännu enklare trivialpsykologisk analys. Men fram till dess skrockar man förnöjt när Renée och Paloma var och en på sitt håll övertrumfar varandra i knivskarpa beskrivningar av den korkade och obildade parisiska överklassen och dess själsliv – tunt som en kålsoppa utan kål.

» Add other authors (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Muriel Barberyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Öjerskog, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, AlisonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enqvist, HelénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Stephane, with whom I wrote this book
First words
"Marx has completely changed the way I view the world," declared the Pallieres boy this morning, although ordinarily he says nary a word to me.
Thus, the television in the front room, guardian of my clandestine activities, could bleat away and I was no longer forced to listen to inane nonsense fit for the brain of a clam - I was in the back room, perfectly euphoric, my eyes filling with tears, in the miraculous presence of Art.
In the heat of the cinema, on the verge of tears, happier than I had ever been, I was holding the faint warmth of his hand for the first time in months. I knew that an unexpected surge of energy had roused him from his bed, given him the strength to get dressed and the urge to go out, the desire for us to share a conjugal pleasure one more time - and I knew, too, that this was the sign that there was not much time left, a state of grace before the end. But that did not matter to me, I just wanted to make the most of it, of these moments stolen from the burden of illness, moments with his warm hand in mine and a shudder of pleasure going through both of us...'
I flinched when she said bring and at that very moment Monsieur Something also flinched, and our eyes met. And since that infinitesimal nanosecond when - of this I am sure - we were joined in linguistic solidarity by the shared pain that made our bodies shudder, Monsieur Something has been observing me with a very different gaze.
A watchful gaze.
And now he is speaking to me.
What is the purpose of Art? To give us the brief, dazzling illusion of the camellia; to carve from time an emotional aperture that cannot be reduced to animal logic. How is Art born? It is begotten in the mind's ability to sculpt the sensorial domain. What does Art do for us? It gives shape to our emotions, makes them visible and, in so doing, places a seal of eternity upon them, a seal representing all those works that, by means of a particular form, have incarnated the universal nature of human emotions.
... αναλογίζομαι τελικά ότι ίσως αυτό να είναι η ζωή: πολλή απελπισία, αλλά και μερικές στιγμές ομορφιάς, στις οποίες ο χρόνος δεν είναι πια ο ίδιος. Λες και οι νότες της μουσικής έβαλαν μια παρένθεση στον χρόνο, μια αναστολή, ένα αλλού ακόμη και εδώ, ένα πάντα μέσα στο ποτέ.
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Original title: L'élégance du hérisson
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society s expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this façade lies the real Renée: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.
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The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.

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