Janelle's Reviews > The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
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May 19, 09

bookshelves: 2009
Read in May, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is a disarmingly beautiful book, constructed out of extreme respect and devotion to language. The continuous and arresting flow of words in this novel alone is worth the read. I haven't seen anyone write with such graceful ability in some time. Every sentence works here. Every phrase has deep meaning and applies to the story. There is not one paragraph awash with unnecessary detail.

I was thrilled that I was able to relate so much to the characters. This book speaks to anyone who has ever felt obscure in their own skin; anyone who has ever felt out of place or unwanted. This is an extremely touching tale about the armor people wear to protect their innermost passions while at the same time discovering just what they truly are.

You can find true beauty in simple and seemingly insignificant things; a flower, your reaction to a misuse of "bring" vs. "take," and the amazing ability that complete strangers have to make your day with simple gestures.

This is a read that I have learned from. It has reminded me of how deceiving appearances are and that everyone you meet is fighting some sort of inner battle. I am amazed at Barbery's use of imagery and sense; she describes an auditorium full of people gathered to watch a choir performance and how once those arranged voices begin singing, nothing else in the world matters to the assembled people... not bills or fights with friends and children or work... how very true. Life needs more moments such as these, coupled with the ability to recognize them when they occur.

Thank you Madame Barbery, your tale has touched my heart. I will look for "moments of always in the never" from this day on.
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Quotes Janelle Liked

Muriel Barbery
“People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl. I wonder if it wouldn't be simpler just to teach children right from the start that life is absurd.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“I find this a fascinating phenomenon: the ability we have to manipulate ourselves so that the foundation of our beliefs is never shaken.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“In a split second of eternity, everything is changed, transfigured. A few bars of music, rising from an unfamiliar place, a touch of perfection in the flow of human dealings--I lean my head slowly to one side, reflect on the camellia on the moss on the temple, reflect on a cup of tea, while outside the wind is rustling foliage, the forward rush of life is crystalized in a brilliant jewel of a moment that knows neither projects nor future, human destiny is rescued from the pale succession of days, glows with light at last and, surpassing time, warms my tranquil heart. ”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“I have finally concluded, maybe that's what life is about: there's a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It's as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never. Yes, that's it, an always within never.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“I may be indigent in name, position, and in appearance, but in my own mind I am an unrivaled goddess -”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature...yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are - vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth - and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honor this beauty that owes us nothing.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery
“As a child I often wondered whether I would be allowed to live such moments- to inhabit the slow, majestic ballet of the snowflakes, to be released at last from the dreary frenzy of time.
Is that what it feels to be naked? All one's clothes are gone, yet one's mind is overladen with finery.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog


Reading Progress

05/13/2009 page 1
0.31%
05/18/2009 page 327
100% "Beautiful. Would give it 4.5 stars if I could."
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