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The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006)

by Muriel Barbery

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,933629517 (3.79)2 / 917
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.
  1. 161
    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. 20
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (krist_ellis, tinyteaspoon)
    tinyteaspoon: Strong young female protagonist
  4. 64
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (cransell)
  5. 64
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (lauranav)
    lauranav: Both show relationships and point of view of a young girl.
  6. 10
    The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (heterotopic)
  7. 10
    The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt (camillahoel)
  8. 10
    Seven Fires of Mademoiselle by Esther Vilar (sanddancer)
  9. 00
    Margherita Dolce Vita by Stefano Benni (Nickelini)
  10. 00
    The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Of no earthly relevance to the Barbery except that the death of the author is the death chosen by the other author. Comment dit-on 'Look both ways before you cross' en français?
  11. 00
    The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Péju (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Both are modern French novels written by philosophy teachers, both protagonists are awkward and isolated, both authors mask their sentimentality with a calm tone and both remind us that pedestrians should look both ways before crossing a road.
  12. 00
    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (rocks009)
  13. 00
    Lovesong by Alex Miller (jll1976)
    jll1976: There is the obvious 'Paris connection'. But, also a similar slow almost dreamlike quality. About the beauty of a 'simple' life.
  14. 00
    The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers (klerulo)
    klerulo: Not so much the commonality of a French setting but that of a very enigmatic, obscure heroine who attracts the attention of others who are discerning and sensitive enough to perceive the hidden depths.
  15. 01
    Chocolat by Joanne Harris (hildretha)
  16. 26
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (tandah)
  17. 18
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: Una historia oscura e intrigante y, al mismo tiempo, llena de profundas reflexiones sobre la risa, el arte y la libertad del hombre.

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English (512)  Spanish (32)  Italian (25)  French (25)  German (9)  Finnish (7)  Swedish (5)  Catalan (5)  Dutch (5)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (628)
Showing 1-5 of 512 (next | show all)
bookclub book 2014?
  PatLibrary123 | Aug 9, 2022 |
This very French book is amusing, engrossing, and ultimately moving, despite the fact that it spends A LOT of time musing on various philosophical issues. First, the easy part -- the book is very funny, in terms of phrase and in situational humor. The take-down of the French haute bourgeosie is shattering -- there are differences between this class and our American liberal elite, but the similarities (and absurdities) are striking. And the language is a delight to read. Although it is in translation, it captures playfulness, elegance, and self awareness; very French. The central characters grow increasingly endearing and interesting, and I really cared what happened to them. The plot is slow moving, but by the end I was caught up in it. Second, the potential negative -- all that philosophy. At first I found this distracting, but gradually came to accept the book in its own terms, and see the revelations about character woven into the philosophizing. A book that I feel really deserves just four stars, but I gave it five because I enjoyed it so much. ( )
  annbury | May 23, 2022 |
Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog, La siepe di more

Avevo letto questo romanzo nella tarda adolescenza e me lo ricordavo come una lettura senza infamia e senza lode, tant’è che mi era scivolata dalla mente e, quando è stato scelto come libro del mese di dicembre per LiberTiAmo, ero contenta perché pensavo che avrei finito l’anno con una rilettura tranquilla.

Non dovrei proprio fidarmi ciecamente del giudizio della me lettrice adolescente: immagino che, ai tempi, fossi rimasta colpita, e forse anche un po’ intimorita, dalla filosofia che circola nel romanzo. Essendo Barbery una proprio una professoressa di filosofia, ha profuso le sue conoscenze in questa storia, che si presenta come una raffinata commedia francese.

Inizio quindi col dire che non ho ben colto l’ironia de L’eleganza del riccio, perché sebbene si prendano in giro le pretese dell’alta borghesia parigina entrambe le protagoniste, la portinaia Renée e la giovane Paloma, hanno punti di vista che suonano molto borghesi. So che la storia gioca con l’umile portinaia più colta di quanto sembri, ma mi è sembrato un gioco molto debole: in primis perché, finché non scopriamo il motivo della sua reticenza, le sue precauzioni appaiono decisamente spropositate; poi perché, quando questo motivo ci viene invece rivelato, non c’è tempo per metabolizzarlo prima che il romanzo sia finito.

Sono rimasta anche sconcertata dal modo in cui viene introdotto il nuovo coinquilino, il signor Ozu: solo perché giapponese sembra possedere tutta una serie di ottime qualità. Ora, se è passabile che Paloma, una dodicenne appassionata di manga e studentessa di giapponese, sia tutta eccitata dalla novità e se lo immagini già come il suo senpai, meno comprensibile è l’atteggiamento di Renée, che tra l’altro dovrebbe temere i ricchi borghesi tout court. Invece pare che nel suo mondo non esistano giapponesi ricchi e buzzurri. Okay. ( )
  Baylee_Lasiepedimore | May 13, 2022 |
L'eleganza del riccio - Muriel Barbery

Leggi la mia....
Metti mi piace e aggiungimi se ti fa piacere!
Qualcosa di più qui....

La storia di Renée che, mentre fa di tutto per sembrare ciò che le portinaie sono nell'immaginario collettivo, si nasconde e nasconde un'anima colta, coltivata in una vita con interesse e passione. Una vita che non le ha dato né occasioni né soddisfazioni, né gioie ma una collezione di dolori e privazioni.

La storia di Paloma Josse che, mentre vive una vita perfetta in una famiglia perfetta, vorrebbe sparire in un nichilistico diario di addio al mondo.

La storia di Kakuro Ozu che, da un mondo diverso con diversi valori e punti di vista, diventa l'inquilino più discusso del palazzo.

La storia del numero 7 di rue Grenelle e dei suo stravaganti e stereotipati abitanti che, apparentemente in un normale condominio parigino di famiglie importanti e altolocate, nasconde... camelie.

Questo libro mi ha lasciato tantissimo.
Mi ha fatto piangere, ridere e riflettere. Come ogni libro dovrebbe, è vero, ma era davvero parecchio tempo che non mi capitava di venire così tanto segnato.

È vero che vi sono diversi livelli di lettura: quello meramente narrativo mi ha comunque saputo trattenere e intrattenere anche se ammetto che esca parecchio dalla mia comfort zone, quello filosofico è quello che mi ha definitivamente catturato attenzione e cuore e penso che sicuramente chi se ne intende più di me in questo campo ne possa trarre interessanti spunti. Infine quello riflessivo, quello che rimane dopo, quello che ti porti dietro quando sei costretto a chiudere il libro (perché solo necessità biologiche o sociali mi hanno potuto staccare).

Va ascoltata con, senza cadere nel banale, la voce di Édith Piaf. Bassa bassa, da un'altra stanza. ( )
  louchobi | May 12, 2022 |
2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 because its catty style held my attention enough to finish it quickly. Otherwise (very minor spoilers ahead), the self conscious philosophizing became boring when I realized there was no other subtlety to the characters. Everything they believe and learn and struggle with is just explicitly stated. It becomes its own critic, a pop philosophy novel that sermonizes about the failure of the imagination of the privileged, then allowing no space for imagination in interpretation. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 512 (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 (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbery, Murielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Öjerskog, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, AlisonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andersson, KerstinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balžalorsky, VarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonaiuto, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borger, EduTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caillat, EmmanuelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardoso, ElisaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christov, PetrTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Company Gimeno, SalvadorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enqvist, HelénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ergüden, IşıkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
陳春琴Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farkas, KikoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freire d'Aguiar, RosaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
González-Gallarza, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Κολαΐτη, ΡίταTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, Kjell OlavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koff, IndrekTÕlkijasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kokkin, JanneMedarb.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krüger, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindblad, SiljeReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meilahti, Sanna-ReetaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mikkin, DanKujundajasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poli, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Provily, PhilipCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ragnisco, EmanueleDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohrwacher, AlbaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saar, AntiToimetajasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tótfalusi, ÁgnesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thalbach, AnnaSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thalbach, KatharinaSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torcal García, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viitanen, Anna-Maija(KÄÄnt.)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waals, Tessa van derCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zehnder, GabrielaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zorec, MetkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Stephane, with whom I wrote this book
A Stéphane, con quien he escrito este libro.
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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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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