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L'élégance du hérisson by Muriel Barbery

L'élégance du hérisson (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Muriel Barbery

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7,526481458 (3.81)2 / 795
Title:L'élégance du hérisson
Authors:Muriel Barbery
Info:Publication : [Paris] : Gallimard, 2006 Impression : 27-Mesnil-sur-l'Estrée : Impr. Firmin-Didot Description matérielle : 1 vol. (359 p.) ; 21 cm
Collections:Your library
Tags:B4, roman

Work details

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (2006)

  1. 141
    The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (labfs39, chrisharpe)
    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)
  2. 30
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (morsecode)
    morsecode: The English-language editions (published by Europa Editions) of both novels are translated by Alison Andersen. There isn't a lot of similarity between the two novels (beyond the fact that both are quite literary), but I do think that someone who enjoys one will enjoy the other.… (more)
  3. 53
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    Lovesong by Alex Miller (jll1976)
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English (384)  Spanish (25)  French (25)  Italian (23)  German (10)  Swedish (5)  Finnish (5)  Catalan (4)  Dutch (4)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (486)
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
The pacing of the book worked well, and I found the author's portrayal of cats charming.

However, for a supposed social critique, this book conformed too much and was frequently constructed on shoddy premises. A few things that annoyed me:

1. I could not buy into why it was so important that Mme Michel emulate “how a concierge must act” to the extent of cooking food she doesn't like.

2. If we are actually meant to believe that approximately 60% of the cast of characters have no real thoughts in their heads, the author might have done better to describe their actions more and focus less on what the viewpoint characters thought about them. Paloma especially does not feel like a trustworthy narrator.

3. No one in this book is as “deep” as they think they are. I spent half the story assuming this was deliberate, but if it is, something gets lost in translation (I read the English translation).

4. The ending is not just a cheap shortcut; it undermines a considerable amount of what was supposedly the author’s point.
( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
I found this book unspeakably pretentious and nasty. ( )
  lucypick | Sep 23, 2014 |
Lesson learned...the beauty of now.
The first few "chapters" irritated the hound out of me...too philosophical. But then Mr. Ozu was introduced. What a BEAUTIFUL character!
Of course, Renee and Paloma were both beautiful characters too...and Manuela. But I LOVE Mr. Ozu.
The beauty of now.
  Mariesreads | Jul 10, 2014 |
I loved this book and was quite surprised to read so many negative comments about it. I found the story sweet and captivating and the characters very engaging. What I loved most were the writer's use of language and the way she seemed to really understand the mind of the young girl. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Jul 1, 2014 |
I am sidelining this book for now. I cannot go any further. Beings it's on my 2013 challenge as "read"(don't know how to remove status), I will get back to this. I just can't finish it at this time. I have too many other books to read and I know one of those books has more to offer than this. If I had to rate this book now I would give it 1 star. Perhaps I am too anxious to move on to one of my new books but even so, shouldn't a great book hold one's attention until the end? ( )
  MaryEvelynLS | Jun 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (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.

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Muriel Barberyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Öjerskog, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, AlisonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enqvist, HelénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Stephane, with whom I wrote this book
Stéphanovi, se kterým jsem tuto knihu napsala
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.
- Marx naprosto změnil moje vidění světa, svěřil se mi toho rána mladý Palliéres, který se mnou normálně neprohodí ani slovo.
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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.

(summary from another edition)

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