Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Postby Hornets54 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

Is a wonderful wonderful book. Those of you haven't read it, need to.

The widow Renée is a concierge who has supervised the building for 27 years. She is an autodidact in literature and philosophy, but conceals it to keep her job and, she believes, to avoid the condemnation of the building's tenants if they were to discover how cultured she is. Likewise, she wants to be alone to avoid her tenants' curiosity. She effects this by preparing concierge-type food and watching low-quality television, and whiles away the time reading works by Leo Tolstoy and Edmund Husserl in private. Her perspective is that to be poor, ugly and, moreover, intelligent condemns one, in our society, to a dark and disillusioned life, a condition one ought to accept at an early age".

Twelve-year-old Paloma lives on the fifth floor with her parents and sister whom she considers snobs. A precocious girl, she hides her intelligence to avoid exclusion at school. Dismayed by the privileged people around her, she decides that life is meaningless, and that unless she can find something worth living for, in her words, beyond the "vacuousness of bourgeois existence", she will commit suicide on her 13th birthday on June 16. She steals her mother's pills, and she plans to upset her family by burning down the apartment before dying. For the time being she journals her observations of the outside world, including her perceptions of Renée.

(Taken from Wikipedia, I couldn't give better descriptions)

It's a simply wonderful book, please do read it if you have the time.
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Re: Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Postby UmbrageOfSnow » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:46 pm UTC

I'll probably read this some day, but I just can't get past the fact that my MOTHER recommended it to me. It's almost like having your political candidate endorsed by Dick Cheney (I've avoided that so far, but I can imagine). Maybe when I head home for Christmas I'll give it a shot, who knows.
yellie wrote:Confession: I just had to look up the word ubiquitous because I kept seeing it all over the place and had no idea what it meant.

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