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أناقة القنفذ

تلجأ هذه الرواية إلى حيلة أدبية تكاد تكون كلاسيكية: حيث تقسم نفسها إلى ثلاث نساء بطلات من مراحل عمرية مختلفة. تحتوى الرواية على كثرة من الإحالات الأدبية والفلسفية والتاريخية والموسيقية والفنية, كما تلمس موضوعات مثل الوعى الطبقى والصراعات النفسيةحظيت الرواية بشعبية كبيرة فى فرنسا حيث بيع منها مليون نسخة فى أول سنة بعد نشرها, وترجمت إلى عدة لغات وحظيت بإعجاب نقدى فى أمريكا وتلجأ هذه الرواية إلى حيلة أدبية تكاد تكون كلاسيكية: حيث تقسم نفسها إلى ثلاث نساء بطلات من مراحل عمرية مختلفة. تحتوى الرواية على كثرة من الإحالات الأدبية والفلسفية والتاريخية والموسيقية والفنية, كما تلمس موضوعات مثل الوعى الطبقى والصراعات النفسيةحظيت الرواية بشعبية كبيرة فى فرنسا حيث بيع منها مليون نسخة فى أول سنة بعد نشرها, وترجمت إلى عدة لغات وحظيت بإعجاب نقدى فى أمريكا وانجلترا...

Title : أناقة القنفذ
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789774216417
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 470 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

أناقة القنفذ Reviews

  • trivialchemy
    2018-10-27 18:44

    I recently had a brief relationship with a young lady who had studied philosophy at a university in southern California. The relationship was destined to be a brief one, as she left for the Philippines to join the Peace Corps just a week or so ago. On one of our last evenings together, she thanked me for something that I found curious. She said, "Isaiah, have you ever met someone at a party or something who finds out you studied philosophy -- and then they just try to talk to you the whole rest of the night about random philosophers they happen to know about, when all you want to do is play beer pong and find someone to make out with?" I'm not sure I would have voiced the sentiment in exactly the same words, but I know what she was talking about. Actually, for me these days my background in philosophy is fairly inconspicuous, but the exact same thing happens to me for my work in the space industry. I'll meet someone at a bar or a house party who has a subscription to Scientific American, and he'll find out where I work and then he'll tag behind me for the entire rest of the party asking my opinion about aliens, or string theory, or any number of subjects almost totally unrelated to my actual specialty or areas of interest except they happen to fall under the general heading of space sciences. Or perhaps in a rare case he might want to talk about space policy, or advanced propulsion systems, or something else that I do actually care about. But it's Friday night, man. Can't you just chill out? Let me get drunk? Wait... do you by any chance have a sister?"Anyway," she continued, "thanks for not ever doing that." Now to understand why I find it curious that she would thank me for such a thing, you do have to realize that we had certainly had conversations about philosophy. I remember one particular rant about utilitarianism, Mills, and his relationship to his father on a concert lawn somewhere. And I'm sure I made plenty of my categorically unfunny cracks about Kantian imperatives. But the point was that I didn't bring it up when it was totally irrelevant and then refuse to drop it the whole night because I didn't understand that even people that love philosophy don't walk around thinking about philosophy all day (barring, of course, our dear MFSO), nor do they give two shits that you are marginally acquainted with a few Wikipedia entries on phenomenology. And even if they did, couldn't it wait until after we meet your sister and I've got a decent buzz going?Well, this book is that guy. He follows you around at a party boring you with his pent-up discussion questions from a survey course on philosophy that his professor didn't care enough to work out of him.Don't misunderstand me. My issue with this book is not the literary name-dropping or the dime store philosophizing. Some authors can get away with this stuff, even brilliantly. Kundera, for example. The difference is that Kundera is interesting. Whereas nothing and no one in this book is anything but a one-dimensional bore.Who cares about these people? Why should I care about them? One's a concierge, the other's a privileged brat with the exact same hormones as every other 12 year-old girl on the planet. Now, you might say, that's the point, Barbery is trying to show that these people are marginalized, and look how beautiful they actually are in their minds and spirits. But they're not beautiful. I don't give a damn that they're smart. You know what, lots of people are smart. Smart people are a dime a dozen. That doesn't make you, or me, or Renee or Paloma a special beautiful flower. It makes them smart, but they're still completely uninteresting. I mean, that's really the crux of the irritant right there. Barbery spends half of this book droning on and on about how this concierge and schoolgirl are so unseen because of social expectations, and she would have them be redeemed because they are both intelligent and tender. But that's absurd. That's like Good Will Hunting without the dénouement. I'll say it right now, I don't care about Renee, because she's a concierge in a building in France. I read the whole book and I still don't care. Is it because I'm stilted by my class astigmatism? Please. I'm barely middle-class. I grew up in trailers and fertilized lawns for a living. I don't care about her because she is a concierge and has done nothing interesting with her life except sit in her apartment with a fat cat and read Tolstoy. And the ultimate stupidity -- the most absurd thing in this entire book -- is this ridiculous and unbelievable artifice that Renee has to "hide" who she is, because of the expectations of the upper class. As if they're going around with spyglasses on trying to root out concierges who have read too much Marx. What garbage! If I found out my concierge had read Marx, I would (a) not give a shit and (b) avoid her as much as humanly possible, out of fear that she would talk to me in exactly the way Renee talks to the reader in this book: interminably. If anything, I"d be more interested in her if she were an ignorant working-class stiff. I'd like to know what her life is like, then. Carver writes about people like that all the time, and its enthralling. Because he makes you care about these people and their motivations. Intelligentsia pretensions in a do-nothing concierge? Excuse me while I pour some more bourbon in this drink. Same goes for Paloma. She's precocious, fine. That's charming, I guess, but it's not redeeming. She wants to kill herself and burn down her family's house. Wow. That's really unique. I guess I should care about her "plight." Or... just maybe... she's exactly the same as every other precocious 12 year-old brat in the bourgeoise world and she'll get over it as soon as she discovers penis and marijuana. I've read this book be described as very "French" in its casting of the class divides, but I think that's totally incorrect. The invisibility of people who aren't interesting is universal. The ethic espoused in this book -- that Renee and Paloma are profoundly worthwhile because they are intelligent and tender is unequivocally American. Only in modern western cultures would we say, "oh! how wonderful and individual that you are smart and feel alone! you are a special flower! everyone gets a participation ribbon!" No. A brat who wants to burn her house down and a concierge who has done nothing with her life except isolate herself are not special, no matter how many books they've read. They are every single uninteresting person that I don't want to read books about. Don't even get me started on Kakuro, the messianic father-figure (or the absurd Japanese fetish that permeates the book like one of those guys that follows you around at a party talking about natural healing because he read the Tao Te Ching and thinks sushi is real tasty). He's a paper-thin romance novel male. Dominant, austere, "deep," and sexually unconscious. After reading Kakuro in Hedheog, I understand why women get so upset about male-fantasy portrayals of women in novels by male authors. This is the exact other side of that coin.This was more of a rant than a review, so here's my summary for the book jacket: stupid, stupid, stupid. I was irritated the whole time.

  • K
    2018-11-01 19:45

    My name is Renee, and I’m the first protagonist of this book – the hedgehog, as it were. I’m a 54-year-old concierge who works in a building populated by rich and powerful people who barely notice my existence. I’m also a closet intellectual and I frequently try to prove that to you by digressing into asides about philosophy, culture, and other topics. I alternate between sniping at the apartment owners for their snobbish indifference to my lowly concierge self (an image I strive to maintain at every opportunity while blaming the rich apartment owners for buying into it), and terror that they may find out that I read loftier books than they do (I’m as much of a snob as they are, if not worse, but I guess we won’t go there – let’s keep things simple, even though this book is ostensibly higher literature). Given the owners’ apathy toward me, it’s not clear what I fear might actually happen if they learned that I was an intellectual. Probably nothing. But hey, this conflict keeps the book going and maybe makes some kind of a statement about French class differences. I guess you’d have to be French to understand. But you don’t have to be French to feel smug and superior about reading this pretentious novel. In fact, it probably helps if you’re not French because then you’re reading something foreign.My name is Paloma, and I’m the other protagonist of this book. I’m a brilliant, precocious, underestimated and misunderstood 12-year-old who plans to burn down my apartment and commit suicide on my 13th birthday. I’m not sure exactly why I’m so unhappy. I mean, I can make all kinds of bitter and cynical observations about my parents and sister, but really, I’m not lacking for anything. I can tell you in lofty language about how life truly has no meaning, but for someone so bright, my thinking tends to be pretty two-dimensional as does my personality and my life in general. Although disliking your family is pretty normal in adolescence, it’s not clear why, in all 12 years of existence, I’ve never discovered a friend, teacher, neighbor, or relative who might complicate my unilaterally dark feelings about humanity by actually having some positive qualities. But maybe this is part of what helps me sound like a 50-year-old philosopher even though I’m supposed to be a 12-year-old girl, so I guess that’s something. In fact, I spend so much time sounding intellectual that, except for my melodramatic suicidality, there’s little hint of the fact that, emotionally, I’m really just an early adolescent. A bit more attention to my emotional side might have made my character more interesting, but c’est la vie. I get a little more three-dimensional at the end, but you have to hang in there and I'm not sure it's worth it. My name is ___, and I’m a reviewer for a snooty periodical. I just finished Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and my editor is expecting a review from me this week. To be honest, all the pedantic asides left me cold. They took me out of the story and weren’t all that interesting. I kind of skimmed over them, but that’s not something I could ever reveal to my readers. I have to act like I read them, understood them, and appreciated them as only a brilliant reader could. I have to act like they enhanced the novel, rather than detracting from it. Similarly, if I poke holes in the characterization or plot, it might sound as if I didn’t understand or failed to appreciate the depth of this book. When a book comes out that tries to sound like it’s above my head, my job is to rave about it. This way, the snooty readers of my snooty periodical can feel even snootier as they read, even as they also feel alienated by this pretentious book.***I (Khaya, not one of the characters) wrote the above when I was about halfway through and feeling very negative. Now that I've finished the book, my opinion mostly stands. I will say, though, that the book had some better moments and was quite readable. It's really a 2-going-on-3-star book, as opposed to a solid 2 or a 2-rounded-up-from-1 book. Definitely didn't live up to its hype, though.

  • Isabelle
    2018-11-08 21:58

    This is another moment when I wonder what is wrong with me... Everyone in France recommends this book! The premise is original enough that I was hoping the book would be a real find: within the same super high end Parisian apartment building live 2 misfits: the 54 year old concierge who reads Kant and Tolstoi in secret and a 12 year old girl with abnormally high IQ and suicidal tendencies. The first half of the book is an excuse for the author's long academic digressions on Kant, phenomenology, William Ockham, oh and Tolstoi. Nothing is really going on... When finally a semblance of plot surfaces, it is so banal that you want to cry... So much for this latest ode to French high culture! The only redeeming point about the book for me is that it made me want to re-read Tolstoi!

  • Eva
    2018-11-02 17:45

    That so many people love this book makes me fear for the future of literature. It is one of the most pretentious, banal "novels" I've ever read. In fact, "novel" is too good a word for its bloggishly self-indulgent, smugly insipid meanderings. Actually most blogs are much more interesting than this book. The two main characters (the concierge Renee and the young girl, Paloma) are hypocritical snobs who accuse others of snobbery. This intolerance is forgiveable in a child perhaps, but not in a 53 year old concierge. Renee whines about her lot constantly (and not in an amusing way -- she's incredibly tendentious and judgemental). She vaunts her superior intelligence, is very self-involved, and yet fancies herself compassionate.The world view of the book is conservative. Renee worships the accepted canons of Western art, music, and thinking. She herself epitomizes the upper-middle class women she regards with such scorn. She is one of the most obnoxious characters I've come across in a book. The author expects the reader to sympathize with Renee, but she is boring and self-pitying, among other faults. Both Renee and Paloma (the girl) think themselves unconventional, yet they are extremely ordinary in their views. They are humorless (this is NOT a funny book) and mean; they mock everyone they know and regard themselves as superior beings. All of their thinking is cliched, and their stale opinions are expressed with narcissistic melodrama and hyperbole, in elevated tones and stilted diction. Actually, the concierge and the 12 year old girl sound pretty much alike. The characterization is that thin. The book is full of stereotypes. Asia and Asians are characterized as "mysterious" and "inscrutable!" It makes France (or French culture) look bad . The book has no tension but it does have some contrived action as well as a ludicrous red herring. The prose is riddled with sentimentality and cuteness, and the awkward "plot" serves as a skeleton for a host of trite, sophomoric ideas. A few basic philosophical problems are rehashed in reductive ways, and the narrators imagine that they invented these ancient conundrums. Oh, and the writing is terrible: affected and clumsy. Forget le mot juste! Words are misused throughout. In the last twenty pages, the concierge weeps quite often and I guess the reader is supposed to sob along, but it's bathetic, anything but moving. The only emotions I felt were disgust and anger.With so many wonderful books to read, why are so many people reading (and liking) this drivel?

  • Lisa
    2018-11-10 22:55

    if you are an artist, a thinker, someone who longs for more, an aestheticist, a dreamer, a seeker.... then read this book. it made me laugh and cry in a way that only a well crafted, well loved, well written book can.

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2018-10-26 20:44

    I must admit this wasn't a 5-star read until the last 50 pages, which may actually make this a 6-star read. This book is beautiful for its underlying truth: we are all worthy of love, love that will surely be given, if we will but believe we are worthy.My friend Rose, repeated the quote that referenced Renee Michel as being prickly like a hedgehog, but so elegant on the inside. For me, the section that spoke volumes was the Profound Thought by Paloma in defense of grammar:Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain beauty. When you speak, or read, or write, you can tell if you've said or read or written a fine sentence. You can recognize a well-turned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are applying the rules of grammar skillfully, you ascend to another level of the beauty of language. When you use grammar you peel back the layers, to see how it is all put together, see it quite naked, in a way.She continues, but enough here. Thank you Paloma, you reminded me of my mother. I can see her nodding her head in such agreement.

  • Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum
    2018-10-24 16:45

    Έπειτα απο 54 χρόνια μιας ζωής μέσα στη λαθροβίωση ενός μοναχικού πνεύματος,με ατελείωτα ασκητικά αναγνώσματα,με χειμώνες αρρώστειας,με θαλπωρή φιλίας,με αγάπη για την ένοχη ζεστασιά του κόσμου. (Υπάρχει η κομψότητα του σκαντζόχοιρου)Έπειτα απο 54 χρόνια συναισθηματικής και ψυχικής ερημιάς και σιωπηλών θριάμβων,μέσα σε ένα απομονωμένο εσωτερικό και μοναχικό πνεύμα που μίσησε θανάσιμα τις διακρίσεις και τις κάστες,που αποτέλεσαν διέξοδο για τις μάταιες ψευδαισθήσεις των ελπίδων της,(μυήθηκε στον πνευματικό κόσμο γραμμάτων και τεχνών, (ως αυτοδίδακτος ο σκαντζόχοιρος..)Έπειτα απο αυτά τα 54 χρόνια ασημαντότητας,συστηνόμαστε με την ομορφιά μέσα σε τούτο τον κόσμο. Για χάρη της αξίζει να ψάχνουμε το Πάντα μέσα στο Ποτέ. Αυτή είναι η Ρενέ,(ο σκαντζόχοιρος)μια ηλικιωμένη θυρωρός. Απο φτωχή και άξεστη αγροτική οικογένεια,ανύπαρκτη σχολική μόρφωση και με ένα "φαίνεσθαι"τόσο περιφρονημένο που κατάντησε άσχημο. Η Ρενέ Μισέλ που λάτρεψε τη λογοτεχνία και κάθε μορφή τέχνης. Που μυήθηκε σε φιλοσοφικές αναζητήσεις και είχε συντροφιά τον Προύστ,τον Σταντάλ,τον Τολστόι,την κλασική μουσική και την ιαπωνική κουλτούρα που θαύμαζε. Η γοητεία της ταπεινής και άσχημης ηλικιωμένης θυρωρού όμοια με αυτή μιας κίτρινης καμέλιας ή ενός ασήμαντου σκαντζόχοιρου.(κρυμμένο επιμελώς "είναι"). «Η κυρία Μισέλ έχει την κομψότητα του σκαντζόχοιρου. Απέξω είναι γεμάτη αγκάθια, αληθινό φρούριο, αλλά έχω την αίσθηση ότι από μέσα είναι τόσο απλώς ραφινάτη όσο και ο σκαντζόχοιρος, που είναι ένα ζωάκι δήθεν νωθρό, σκληρά μοναχικό και εξαιρετικά κομψό»Παράλληλα ένα 12χρονο κοριτσάκι, ξεχωριστό και ευφυέστατο που έχει αποφασίσει να αυτοκτονήσει ακυρώνοντας τη ματαιοδοξία και την κενότητα της ύπαρξης και ένας ηλικιωμένος Ιάπωνας ο Κακούρο Όζου,με γνήσια αρχοντιά ύλης και πνευματος,ζουν στην πολυκατοικία της οδού Γκρενέλ 7. Είναι ένα Μέγαρο με υπερπολυτελή διαμερίσματα γεμάτα απο σνόμπ γαλλική ψευτοαριστοκρατία. Εκεί εργάζεται ως θυρωρός η Ρενέ και απο μια σύμπτωση λογοτεχνικής αξίας γίνονται οι τρεις τους μια ετερόκλητη επιφανειακά παρέα με πολλά κοινά πνευματικά ιδεώδη. Αυτή η παρέα έρχεται σε πλήρη αντίθεση με τους αριστοκράτες πλούσιους και ματαιόδοξους εκπροσώπους της γαλλικής τάξης. Αυτή η παρέα διδάσκει και προβάλει τη γνήσια παιδεία και καλλιέργεια. Την ευγένεια ψυχής. Την αλληλεγγύη των χαμένων στην υλιστική αχόρταγη κοινωνία ανθρώπων. Τη συνείδηση της ανθρωπιάς.Την επικοινωνία με σκοπό το νόημα της ζωής και όχι των φαινομενικά ζωντανών. Και την ευδαιμονία που οφείλουμε να παίρνουμε απο τη ζωή μας,η οποία είναι γεμάτη απελπισία,αλλά και μερικές στιγμές ομορφιάς, σε αυτές τις στιγμές ο χρόνος δεν είναι πια ο ίδιος!Ένα αλλού..ακόμη εδώ..ένα πάντα ..μέσα στο ποτέ!Καλή ανάγνωση!Πολλούς ασπασμούς άνθρωποι και άνθρωποι!

  • Steve
    2018-11-05 22:06

    If you bite into this expecting a light, buttery, wholly unhealthy croissant, be forewarned -- it has some fiber in it, too. It’s about two unlikely intellectuals. One is a dowdy concierge in an upscale Paris apartment and the other is an unusual 12-year-old girl living there with her well-to-do family. I like how their brainpower comes through in their ideas and observations rather than from the author just telling us how “wicked smaht” they are (to borrow Chuckie’s phrase from Good Will Hunting). Their outsized crania were not always easy to carry. Renee, the concierge, was not to the manor born (probably more like the servants’ quarters) and she never seemed to forget it. She had a real thirst for knowledge, though –- an accomplished autodidact in philosophy, film, art, and music. But she never felt comfortable sharing any of these joys with anyone given what she felt the attitudes towards a woman of her social standing would be. The girl was a different story. Her cross to bear was how to carve out a niche for herself in a family that was all too comfortable with its elevated status. Her main weapon against the soullessness of life in the upper crust was cynicism. She wielded it well, sometimes to humorous effect. At times she may not have seemed real, but then you could say the same about the Coneheads, and if you recall, they too were from France. As everyone knows, smart people don’t always figure out ways to be happy. This is one of the themes. However, they might just meet someone with a clear-sighted appreciation for hidden beauty, an easy manner, and a rich vein of empathy for kindred spirits. Much of the meeting up takes place late, but is powerful when it finally does. The spoiler police prevent me from saying as much as I'd like.In addition to interesting characters, a solid plot, and real wisdom to impart, the book was well-written to boot. I rarely think to appreciate how difficult a translator’s job must be to project a distinctive voice, but this work really stood out. Comment on dit “2 thumbs up” en Francais? At least I know how to say croissant + fibre = still délicieux.

  • Fabian
    2018-11-06 14:40

    An expert, uproarious parallel play of two extremely astute yet heartwarming consciousnesses! There are so many quotable lines here, observations that are immeasurably insurmountably profound. It is a book of paradigms, life lessons, needle point philosophies arriving from two different backgrounds. The Point: no matter where you are from, you can attain an envious intelligence & plenty a poetic articulation.About the plot must be simplified by simpler minds (my own, etc.) as: la femme francois version of the English novel by Nick Hornby (& the adorable film with Hugh Grant it spawned) "About a Boy." (Although the two main protagonists don't reference each other til the second half of the book.) Refined & elegant (doi!), the novel astounds! You will very likely want to reread this one once again in your lifetime...

  • Katya
    2018-11-10 14:38

    after giving this book a chance, i have decided that the only chance it deserves is to be methodically shredded page by page and subsequently dissolved, in its entirety, in a pool of ammonia.the rampant fetishism of japanese culture aside (which is seriously so disturbing and surprising to come across in a bestseller that was written within the past 5 years), the plot is entirely centered on the interior monologues of two characters, two characters who are so unctuously trite and platitudinizing in their "petit daily observations" that I believe only the heartiest of misanthropes will take any joy in following the oppressive journey this book calls its narrative.

  • Manny
    2018-10-16 17:52

    "Philosophy is the disease for which it should be the cure, but isn't," said someone - possibly H. Feigl. To me, this engaging book is above all an exploration of what it means to be a philosopher. The author briskly dismisses common misconceptions: to start with, you don't need to be an academic, and indeed this may well be harmful. Really, being a philosopher is about having a certain kind of attitude to the world. The two main characters, who alternately narrate the story, are both philosophers. One is a reclusive, middle-aged concierge, and the other a precocious 12 year old girl. They are both desperately lonely people who live almost entirely in their heads. Renée, the concierge, reads Tolstoy and Husserl, but takes great pains to make sure no one knows she's doing it. Paloma, the little girl, hides from her hated family and writes two notebooks: her Deep Thoughts, and her Movements of Life. Both narrators claim to feel immeasurably superior to everyone around them, which has duly annoyed a good half of the reviewers on this site. I think the author is giving you plenty of clues that this feeling of superiority is to a large extent illusory. Renée is a Proust fan, and writes in a delightfully convoluted faux-Proust style which must have given the translator a few headaches. But, even before we get to hear her witty comparison of M. Arthens with Proust's Legrandin, we've come across Paloma's ditzy, neurotic mother and her constant insufferable references to les Guermantes. Paloma makes fun of her elder sister Colombe's absurd name ("at least I'm not named after a bird"), but oddly enough doesn't seem to be aware that Paloma means the same thing in Spanish as Colombe does in French. Her criticisms of the family's lack of sanity clearly need to be taken with a pinch of salt, given that she's planning to celebrate her thirteenth birthday by killing herself and burning down the apartment. So why do Renée and Paloma feel superior? In general, why do people who have a philosophical attitude feel they are better than those around them? Barbery, herself a philosopher, offers various explanations. Philosophers read more than most. They have a proper understanding of grammar, something that's even more important in French than in English: the hysterically funny sequence where Renée vows to kill her neighbour over a superfluous comma is one of the high points of the book. But, above all, they care about things that other people find uninteresting, or don't even notice. I was at several points reminded of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, a book which has many points of contact with L'élégance du hérisson. Nick, the narrator, is rather like Renée; he's a colourless, self-effacing person whose main pleasure is to observe the people around him and slowly piece together the pattern of the Dance. Throughout the series, he's contrasted with the appalling Widmerpool, who busily, and with considerable success, pursues conventional worldly goals. At one point, Nick memorably wonders why he thinks he's better than Widmerpool. His rival makes more money, has had a better career, and enjoys a higher standing in society. Nick comes to the conclusion that he really only has one advantage: sometimes he can laugh, when Widmerpool doesn't see that anything is funny. I hope Paloma reads Powell when she's a little older. I think she'll like him.

  • Chrissie
    2018-11-10 20:51

    AFTER READING THE BOOK:I just finished the book and I suppose it is better to let it sink in before I do a review, but since I do not think the following statements will be altered by further thought, I will state them now. First of all I rhink many who read this book will say OMG, it's a fairy tale! That couldn't happen. Well I don't agree. I am not going to give anything away, so don't worry. What happens, could happen, although I agree perhaps not that often. One has to believe and one has to have a few camelias. I found the book, ie its principal characters, very annoying at first, then they soften and the book gets funnier and funnier and then it gets serious. You need humor in life and you need it in books too. Real humor that sprinkles in between the shit that life throws at you, me and everyone. This book confronts the reader with important philosophical ideas. This book is about art. It is about beauty, and more specifically, what is the point of beauty? Why do we need beauty? Why do we need the beauty that art, music, litterature and nature offer us? This book is about our pets, about our daily routines. This book eggs us on to consider many, many philosophical ideas. Why do people give up? Why do we think life is absurd? Why do people play social games with each other? Why do we hide from each other? And do any of us clearly see what is happening around us? Now, if you consider the above questions philosphical garbage, well then skip the book. Although you will in so doing loose an opportunity to laugh at ourselves and our world. Don't forget, the book is funny. Some may say I am way too naive. That's fine. Say that, but I will stand for my views. Concerning the questions I had before I read the book - I don't think the disparate views on this book have anything to do with the translation or cultural differences. I think it is simply that people are different. We value different things. We are interested in different issues. It's that simple.BEFORE READING THE BOOK:I really am curious about this book. The reviews are so different, thumbs up and thumbs down. Is it that there is a cultural difference between Europe and the States, or is it the translation? Who knows! The English translation is entitled The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Kirkus has already reviewed it, and they liked it. I will be reading it in French because no book is as good in translation as in its original. I am SO happy I have found a book here on GoodReads in French, maybe now I will get in contact with more French readers and current French litterature. Oh, and I really was surprised about some comment that this book was no "Amelie Poulain"! Who would ever think that one country will only produce one type of book.......... I have to remember to add to my list some books by Eric-Emanuel Schmitt, a French/Belgian author.

  • Amy
    2018-11-14 21:55

    Even if I were to overlook the self-obsessed, banal philosophical discourses that dominate this novel, I would still hate 'Elegance of the Hedgehog,' mainly because its characters are contrived and unbelievable. The main character, a concierge for a luxurious Parisian apartment complex, is a self-taught expert in philosophy, art, and film, yet she pretends to be stupid. Her behavior is apparently explained by her conviction that people from different social classes should not interact or become friends. This propels the remainder of the plot, in which a wealthy, chic Japanese retiree moves into her building and doggedly befriends the concierge, somehow knowing they are kindred spirits. Even though she is lonely and fascinated by this man, she resists their friendship until near the book's finale, a finale which is meant to convey deep irony and meaning, but ends up feeling as contrived as all that precedes it.

  • Oriana
    2018-10-27 20:04

    The Elegance of the Hedgehog is an absolutely breathtaking book. Just stunning. Light and airy, yet penetrating, with bits of soft brilliance on every page. My goodness, what an astonishing book.There are two narrators. The first is Renée Michel, a middle-aged concierge at an extremely opulent luxury apartment building in Paris. She has spent her twenty-five years there cultivating a careful persona of low-class idiocy – leaving the TV on at all times, maintaining an unkempt appearance, speaking in grumbly monosyllables when any of the elite tenants ask her to water the plants or polish the elevator buttons or sign for a package. Of course, this is all an act. She is actually highly cultured, a fervent devotée of philosophy and film and Art (caps intentional). The veneer of stupidity is only to allow the people who live in the building to maintain the class hierarchy that keeps their worlds sensibly organized. The other is Paloma Josse. She is twelve, terribly smart and terribly sad, unable to bear the simpering silliness of everyone she knows, especially her family. She has decided on her thirteenth birthday to burn down her apartment (when no one is home, of course; she doesn't want to actually hurt anyone) and then to kill herself. Her sections are told through two journals: a journal of profound thoughts and meditations, and a journal of the movement of the world. In the latter, she catalogues actual movements, those which are jarring, peculiar, or beautiful. For example, her mother takes her shopping one day, and they go to a chic lingerie shop. Her mother tries on a garish purple-flowered bra, but when she reaches for the matching panties, she finds that another lady has also just grabbed them. They then do a complex dance, wherein they have a very aggressive passive-aggressive discussion about who deserves the panties, while each tugging, white-knuckled, at the garment, not so hard as to rip the flimsy lace thing, but hard enough to keep one another aware that no one is yielding ownership. Etc. Paloma is searching for movements that are so profound that they can elevate a life predictably lived, and profundity that can remove the taint of silliness from those around her.There is, of course, so much more than this. The denizens of the apartment building are all catalogued, in all their snobbishness, bitchery, haughtiness, and rare moments of humanity. (In this way I was reminded of Perec's Life: A User's Manual, though of course on a very tiny scale.) Renée watches archly as they all reveal their nasty attitudes and dirty secrets, and then she retires to her loge to watch Japanese art films and read phenomenology (and thoroughly debunk many reigning theories) and meditate on camellias, cats, class, grammar, beauty, and on and on. In many ways a very still book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog manages, in its quiet way, to be about everything. It is so very soft, very quiet, and very graceful. Not so very much really happens here, at least until the last fifty pages or so, when everything twists and changes. Until then it is just a series of beautiful or saddening meditations, through the eyes of either Paloma or Renée, either of whom I was happy to listen to for pages and pages. Because I can't think how else to describe this, here is a sample from each narrator. From Paloma: If you want to understand my family, all you have to do is look at the cats. Our two cats are fat windbags who eat designer kibble and have no interesting interaction with human beings. The only purpose of cats is that they constitute mobile decorative objects, a concept which I find intellectually interesting, but unfortunately our cats have such drooping bellies that this does not apply to them. My mother, who has read all of Balzac and quotes Flaubert at every dinner, is living proof every day of how education is a raving fraud. All you need to do is watch her with the cats. She's vaguely aware of their decorative potential, and yet she insists on talking to them as if they were people, which she would never do with a lamp or an Etruscan statue.From Renée: And then, summer rain...To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, trapped, ravished, amazed by the bounty of the world.And then, you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light. Another dimension, a certainty just given birth. The body is no longer a prison, your spirit roams the clouds, you possess the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washes away the motionless dust can bring to a person's soul something like endless breathing.(Oh, but minus one star for the most flabbergasting, devastating ending I have ever turned a page to find.)******From a review by a clerk at Powell's:The plot is light on what you might call "action." It's a novel of conversations and self-reflections, and takes place almost entirely within the confines of the apartment building. But it moves like a life, in the best possible way.Um, yes please! That sounds like all my favorite kinds of movies too.

  • David
    2018-11-10 18:38

    Initial review: 12/11/2008 -I may revisit the 5-star rating in a week or two, but after reading this book through all last night in a single sitting, it seems ungenerous to give it anything less. Muriel Barbery walks the high-wire throughout - there were any number of places where things could have degenerated into mere sentimentality. Not to mention the assorted philosophical digressions. But the alternating narrators - Renee the dumpy concierge and Paloma the precocious 12-year old - are so charming that I just went with the flow. I granted Mme Barbery my willing suspension of disbelief, trusting that I was in good hands. And Muriel, God bless her, delivered the goods. An enormously satisfying ending to a highly unusual book. Now that the book has been translated into English, it seems highly likely that Oprah will pick it. It would be a shame to hold that against it.Update 12/12/2008: Well, the five stars didn't even last 24 hours. Although I was swept up enough by the book to read it in one sitting - which should be acknowledged as a major point in the book's favor, by the way - some of its weaknesses become evident upon reflection. Unlike some of the other reviewers, the fairly hefty dollop of implausibility attached to the two protagonists didn't bother me all that much - the author is constructing a kind of fable, after all. But it has to be said that the way Barbery plonks in whole pages of ponderous ruminations on art, philosophy, Japan-worship, just like that is (a) a completely intrusive artifice and (b) a huge structural weakness. Aren't authors suppose to show and not tell? Then, too, my inner cynic has to cavil just a little bit at the unlikely perfection of the emotional harmonic convergence towards the book's ending. Mr Ozu seems more than a little too good to be true. And, for that matter, once you get away from the hypnotically, charmingly persuasive voices of the two narrators, the thought might cross your mind that maybe the other residents of the building aren't quite the shallow monsters they are made out to be throughout the book. Maybe the much maligned older sister, Colombe, deserves a break as well.The moral of this story is that I should impose a 24-hour waiting period before assigning ratings. I still give "hedgehog" a strong recommendation, though.

  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    2018-10-16 20:52

    "this is the fear, this is the dreadthese are the contents of my head..."I've always loved that line from Annie Lennox's Why. This book is about the contents of two characters' heads: Paloma, the 12-yr old suicidal prodigy, and Renée, the 50-something cat-lady concierge. Be careful with these characters, and by that I mean: take care of them, for they are fragile, sad souls in need of understanding and in need, moreover, of someone--anyone--to see through their facades and see them for who they really are. And don't we all need that?And be careful of them: for they will, despite their attempts to push you away with their overly intellectual babbling, their deliberate hiding, their desperate and unconscious need to repress their true natures to protect themselves from long-buried pain or more recent and ongoing torment, sneak up on you, seize your heart and send you reeling at the depth of what they reveal about being human, about being loved, about being validated, about being.Their torment is simply the day-to-day experience of living when you are of a certain sensibility: when you think deeply, feel deeply, experience the full pain of injustice and hypocrisy around you and--even worse for these two trapped into the stereotypes imposed on them by their class and time and place--when you are disenfranchised, "out of time" and "out of place".This is the story of two misfits who find comfort, eventually, gratefully, mercifully, in themselves and in others. Who reconcile their heads with their hearts, and find a way of being in the world that is bearable for them. This occurs through the intervention of a third character, Kakuro Ozu, who--while he has his own story, his own pain, his own needs--is somewhat secondary to the story. Nothing happens in this novel, and yet two lives open up, blossom like a camellia (<-- simile chosen intentionally, important symbol), and then...Well, I will leave it to you to find out. Please do. The only way you will be disappointed by this book, I think, is if you allow the two protagonists to mislead you. If you see their endless philosophizing and pretense as anything other than what it is: a desperate need to cover up what can only be a similarly-deep and coherent heartache.The ending is an absolute triumph, for the characters and for the reader. Which is not to say that it is a happy or unambiguous one. But it will send you spinning, it is so very unexpected, so very poignant. I burst into tears. Literally. (how many reviews have I written lately where I mention myself crying. I'm not a suck, really.)Does it pull the strands of Renée's story together a little too neatly? Part of me thought so, but that was my head talking, not my heart. Despite everything you are reading, listen to your heart in this story, not to your head--your head, in isolation, will lead you astray and strip from you the richness of the story unfolding (a theme, and--for this fable--a moral, yes indeed).Did I write once here that I hate fables? I believe I did. The Elegance of the Hedgehog (and what a fabulous title--it's what made me pick this up in the first place), along with Timothy Findley's Not Wanted On The Voyage are exceptions to the rule.A few notes: Renée's first-person narration takes a surreal turn at the end--does it work? It pulled me out of the story a bit, although I quickly overcame it. I'd appreciate hearing others' viewpoints on that. Also, a very good grounding in Tolstoy's War and Peace, which shamefully I do not have, likely adds a layer to the meaning. My view is that it is not important to know Kant or the phenomenologists as well--this is part of Renée's charade, meant to be seen through. Agree? Final note: the social satire is as delicious as the plum jam Renée uses to test the strength of a philosophical argument. I particularly enjoyed the ridicule of psychoanalysis, but then I am evil that way. heheSeriously recommended. On my "lonely hearts club" shelf. An unequivocal 5 stars from me.

  • Barry Pierce
    2018-10-24 23:04

    I've had this on my bookshelf for years. That's so typically me. I'll buy a book tomorrow but I probably won't read it for at least a year. I don't know why I do this because, as is the case with this novel, I seem to be putting off reading books that I quite enjoy.This is the first book I've read this year which teeters on the edge between the three and four star rating. I enjoyed all the characters in here. Of course I loved Renée. I saw a lot of myself in her. Which is odd because she is a French woman in her fifties. I also liked little Paloma even if her knowledge is quite unrealistically beyond her years. But what do I know? Maybe all twelve-year-old French girls have a throughout understanding of the psychoanalytical studies of Freud, the works of Tolstoy, and Cartesian phenomenology. It's a great cast, in fact every character in this novel is ostentatiously pretentious and it is WONDERFUL. Reading through reviews on here I see that a lot of people are complaining that this novel is full of baffling philosophical musings. I perhaps have an advantage here because I have literally just finished a year of studying philosophy in university so I was somewhat familiar with the concepts and names that Renée was dropping. However I do wish that in her accounts of William of Ockham that Barbery would have used his famous razor to cut down some of her dry and overlong ramblings.So yeah, this has been one of the most enjoyable books I've read thus far this year. The level of pretentiousness was right up my alley (*winky emoji*). It definitely has one of the most perfect endings to a novel that I've read in recent months and for that I applaud it. However I did feel that it lacked depth and heart, I blame this on the stilted half-epistolary/half-first-person narrative style that Barbery employs. Overall, I would recommend it to people. Well... people who'd understand the allusions and references peppered throughout the novel. Let's just say that if this novel were a sitcom it'd be Frasier.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    2018-10-20 21:04

    My friend, Elyse, sent me this wonderful book, and I found it extra sweet that she sent me a book with a poignant friendship theme. This book was thought-provoking, and the characters were endearing, philosophical, and super-intellectual with crazy good vocabularies that kept me on my toes! Seriously! I'm at a loss of how else to describe this book other than to say I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Elyse! ❤️

  • Algernon
    2018-10-25 21:02

    Five stars for the philosophy essays, four stars for the actual plot. I have a feeling that the philosophy professor is dominating the novelist in this highly popular novel by Muriel Barbery, yet I have really enjoyed the time spent in the company of the two main characters: and elderly concierge and a pre-teen girl, both living in a high end Paris apartment, but at opposite ends of the social scale. Madame Renee Michel hides in the basement while Paloma Josse plays hides and seek with her family in their huge penthouse. I have wondered at times if their role in the economy of the book as soundboards for the author's ideas is not diminishing their credibility as actual people. For most of the novel the trick works, and despite the lack of a traditional plot line I had no difficulty turning the pages, eager to find out more and invested in the fate of the two women. I guess this reaction validates the bestseller status the novel has achieved in its native France and elsewhere. Barbery manages even more: makes me identify with her characters and with their search for meaning, across gender and economical differences, accentuating the universal nature of the philosophical and social issues raised here. I am neither near the bottom, nor at the top of the ladder in economic terms, but I have something of the hedgehog in my own nature, both as I remember my awkward teenage years and as I ponder on my currrent single status. It also helps that I am interested in Tolstoy and Flaubert, in Yasushiro Ozu, visual arts, cooking and classical music like Madame Renee; that I like Japanese Manga and haiku poetry like Paloma. That I have a social conscience and an aversion to affectations and sophistic arguments.The "hedgehog" argument is easy to discern : we all have our defensive mechanisms - protective armour, camouflage colours and survival instincts that help us avoid bullies and survive in a mostly predatory and selfish society. As always, I am saved by the inability of living creatures to believe anything that might cause the walls of their little mental assumptions to crumble. Concierges do not read 'The German Ideology', hence, they would certainly be incapable of quoting the eleventh thesis of Feuerbach. Madame Renee had decided very early in life that she needs to hide her intelligence if she wants peace and a normal life. Insecure about her physical appearance and held down by extreme poverty, she plays the role of the dumb concierge, while in the privacy of her den she reads the classics or treatises of philosophy while she cooks secret haute-cuisine recipes. Her curling into spiny ball that keeps the world at a distance and her radical opinions on the class struggle have deeper roots that I first thought. (view spoiler)[ In one of the last chapters we find out that she has been traumatized in early childhood by the death of her older sister, seduced by a rich man and then abandoned to give birth in the middle of a blizzard, like in a cheap Victorian melodrama. Dr. Freud would have a field day analyzing her subconscious and her repressed emotions.(hide spoiler)]. Two things in particular recommended her journal entries to me : an excellent sense of humour, most often than not directed at her own person, and her ultimate refusal to give in to despair, her constant search for beauty and transcendendal moments that might redeem her negative experiences. Compare these two statements: I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump, I have bunions on my feet and, if I am to credit certain early mornings of self-inflicted disgust, the breath of a mammoth. I did not go to college, I have always been poor, discreet, and insignificant. I live alone with my cat, a big lazy tom who has no distinguishing features other than the fact that his paws smell bad when he is annoyed. Neither he nor I make any special effort to take part in the social doings of our respective species. and The tea ritual: such a precise repetition of the same gestures and the same tastes; accesion to simple, authentic and refined sensations, a license given to all, at little cost, to become aristocrats of taste, because tea is the beverage of the wealthy and of the poor; the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing into the absurdity of our lives an aperture of serene harmony. Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed. Such a deep divide between the outside image we present to the world and the private landscape of our inner thoughts I believe is present in each and everyone of us, making Madame Renee a proper stand-in for the human condition. I also believe that the hedgehog in us starts to display its spines as we leave childhood behind, thus the need for a second lead character in the person of Paloma Josse. The similarities of the two cases subvert the class divide theory of Madame Renee, demonstrating that neither poverty nor a life of plenty are the deciding factors in the awakening of a higher awareness. Two further quotes should illustrate the point:ReneePoverty is a reaper: it harvests everything inside us that might have made us capable of social intercourse with others, and leaves us empty, purged of feeling, so that we may endure all the darkness of the present day. PalomaAll our family acquaintances have followed the same path: their youth spent trying to make the most of their intelligence, squeezing their studies like a lemon to make sure they'd secure a spot among the elite, then the rest of their lives wondering with a flabbergasted look on their faces why all that hopefulness has led to such a vain existence. People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl. Both the older woman and the young girl share in a fascination with Japanese culture, a prop to balance the yinof daily tedium with the yangof artistic aspirations. Which brings me to the "elegance" argument of the novel. I may not be fully convinced by the plotting talents of the author, but I am ready to bet Barbery is a great teacher of philosophy. It's not so much the clarity of the presentation as the passion she manages to transmit for the subject, the way she makes it obvious that philosophy is not a dry academic pursuit, but a vital part of being alive, that it has bearing on everything we do and on how we interact with others. When you set out to deal with phenomenology, you have to be aware of the fact that it boils down to two questions: What is the nature of human consciousness? What do we know of the world? We know for sure that the world is not a nice place to live. We also know what the end will be, and an afterlife is only relevant in light of the decisions we make here on Earth. Death and a sense of failure, of wasted opportunities can be studied either on the materialistic or on the spiritual level, which is how my teachers used to boil down different philosophical schools back in my highschool days. Barbery is even more concise: Which way lies truth, in the end? In power, or in Art? I don't think it's much of a spoiler, or much of a surprise to the reader, to find out that the author comes down heavily on the side of Art, in particular when Madame Renee is confronted with the death of one of the tenants in her luxury building: At times like this you desperately need Art. You seek to reconnect with your spiritual illusions, and you wish fervently that something might rescue you from your biological destiny, so that all poetry and grandeur will not be cast out from the world.Thus, to withdraw as far as you can from the jousting and combat that are the appanages of our warrior species, you drink a cup of tea, or perhaps you watch a film by Ozu, and place upon this sorry theater the seal of art and its greatest treasures. Escapism from the daily worries is the name of the game for many a compulsive reader. I know that in my own case more than half of the books I read are a hard sell for anything else that simple entertainment. At what point do we make the transition from reading for pleasure to reading for meaning? Is this distinction useful or desirable? Another of those simple pointers from highschool that have managed to endure over the years is that Socrates counsels moderation and finding the balance between opposite concepts, the truth being found neither at the black end nor at the white end of the spectrum: 'highbrow' & 'lowbrow' ; 'yin' & 'yang'. The best books would be then the ones that are both entertaining and instructive, and Barbery has come very close to this midpoint. When something is bothering me, I seek refuge. No need to travel far; a trip to the realm of literary memory will suffice. For where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature? The problem of the hedgehog is that he or she may find peace in retreating from the rat race and shelter among the great thinkers of the past, but the sharp spines that provide safety are also serving to keep the world at a distance. What value has all the beauty of Art and philosophy if it stays locked up inside your head? Both Madame Renee and Paloma need to come out of the shell and remember that to live is to share - a cup of tea, a book you loved, a sunset over the sea. A beautiful haiku offered by Paloma captures this last theme: If you want to healHeal othersAnd smile or weepAt this happy reversal of fate. In the novel the hand of friendship is extended from Manuela, the cleaning lady who bakes exquisite patisserie and from Mr. Kakuro Ozu, an elderly Japanese businessman whose name is a homage to the great filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. On the internet I may not share the tea cup, but I can pay it forward by recommending novels like this to friends who have similar tastes in literature. 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. - - - - -A good reviewer knows how to stop on a good phrase, but I am still finding my way, and I still have a bunch of bookmarks and ideas floating around in my head, probably waiting for a re-read in order to fit better into this presentation.One of these projects is to try to explain why I didn't go for 5 stars, despite liking the novel so much: I felt that Paloma was not as interesting and well developed and Madame Renee. I thought Mr Kakuro Ozu was a little too convenient and theatrical - too obvious a means to an end. Most of all (view spoiler)[ I really think it is a cop out to kill the main character in order to make a point. I felt the same way about David Nicholls and his "One Day"(hide spoiler)]Other themes I wanted to touch : Politics. A toy for little rich kids that they won't let anyone else play with. Tolstoi - I must re-read Anna Karenina - 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 insignicance 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. Popular entertainment: Television distracts us from the onerous necessity of finding projects to construct in the vacuity of our frivolous lives: by beguiling our eyes, television releases our mind from the great work of making meaning. Subjectivism: We never look beyond our assumptions and, what's worse, we have given up trying to meet others; we just meet ourselves. We don't recognize each other because other people have become our permanent mirrors. If we actually realized this, if we were to become aware of the fact that we are only ever looking at ourselves in the other person, that we are alone in the wilderness, we would go crazy. Violence: Civilization is the mastery of violence, the triumph, constantly challenged, over the aggresive nature of the primate. For primates we have been and primates we shall remain, however often we learn to find joy in a camellia on moss. The camellia reference is from one of the Ozu movies, a bleak story where the only relief comes from contemplating one of those formal Japanese temple gardens.A reader on reading: I enjoy reading the leaflets that come with medication, the respite provided by the precision of each technical term, which convey the illusion of meticulousness and a frisson of simplicity, and elicit a spatio-temporal dimension free of any striving for beauty, creative angst or the never-ending and hopeless aspiration to attain the sublime. Unity in diversity: ... Can we all be so similar yet live in such disparate worlds? Is it possible that we are all sharing the same frenetic agitation, even though we have not sprung from the same earth or the same blood and do not share the same ambition?

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2018-11-04 21:06

    L' elegance du herisson = The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery (1969)عنوان: ظرافت جوجه تیغی؛ اثر: موریل باربری؛ مترجم: مرتضی کلانتریان؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، آگاه، 1388، در 360 ص، شابک: 9789644162978؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی قرن 21 مداستان در آپارتمان شماره هفت خیابان گرونل جریان دارد که آپارتمانی در منطقه ی مرفه نشین شهر است. خانم رنه میشل: سرایدار پیر، چاق و زشتروی ساختمان روحی بزرگوار دارد. او عاشق: ادبیات، سینما و موسیقی هست؛ اما کوشش میکند کس این را نداند. از خط قرمزهای اجتماعی‌ خویش پا فراتر نمیگذارد. پالوما نیز دختری بسیار باهوش و دوازده ساله است و یکی از ساکنین همین ساختمان. پالوما دختری مهربان و ساکت است، که به این نتیجه رسیده، که خانواده اش زندگی مسخره ای دارند، و او نمیخواهد به این سرنوشت دچار شود، او تصمیم دارد در روز تولدش، خانه را بسوزاند و خودکشی کند. کاکورور اوزو نیز یک ژاپنی فرهیخته و کتابخوان است و ساکن تازه وارد ساختمان. او یک حلقه ی دوستی بین خود، رنه و پالوما ایجاد میکند. ا. شربیانی

  • F
    2018-11-12 19:36

    I really loved this little book. The only reason it is not getting 5 stars is because of some of the long, boring, and i felt unnesscary philosophical parts. Just droned on. Like I get it......you are smart. Enjoyed the short/alternating chapters. Loved the characters. True friendship.

  • Cecily
    2018-10-30 18:43

    "A text is written above all to be read and to arouse emotions." Whether you like a book "is the only question that could give meaning to the narrative points of view or the construction of the story."This is a French confection that is light and pretty and sharp, but actually much, much more skillful and substantial than it first seems. The plot is slight and broadly predictable, but it gently leads the reader along more philosophical lines, many of which probably went over my head, but which I enjoyed anyway.Reading it on a long train journey across France was apt, even though we did not stop off in Paris itself. BlurbAs the cover explains, there are two main characters, both lonely and literary: Reneé, an old concierge at a prestigious apartment block, who has secret, very secret, passion for literature, and Paloma, the brilliant daughter of a government minister and a woman in permanent therapy, who plans to end her life, and torch her privileged but arrogant family's apartment on her thirteenth birthday. It's overtly philosophical, but is at least as much about class, art (books, films, paintings), and about breaking free to be yourself - regardless of the price. Then again, everything I'm reading at the moment seems to have an aspect of breaking free: either the universe is speaking to me, or I'm speaking to myself.Beware the ToCDon't look at the table of contents until you've read several chapters; it will look odd and confusing, though the book is not.It's divided into sections, each with a brief name, and although most of the chapters are numbered, some are unnumbered and in italics. Closer inspection shows all the italic ones to have one of two titles: Profound Thought No. x or Journal of the Movement of the World No. x. Intriguing. It then turns out that the numbered chapters are differentiated by being one of two narrators, Reneé or Paloma, and the italic ones are all entries in one of Paloma's two journals (which are recorded in a non-serif font). The only other thing to beware of is a rather silly and unoriginal toilet scene.ClassBoth Reneé and Paloma are hiding their true selves, at great emotional cost. This is exacerbated by the strict social hierarchy and roles they feel constrained by: is modern France really so class-bound, or is Reneé's thinking stuck in the past? Why is Reneé trapped in "the clandestiny of a solitary mind", so terrified the residents discover she loves Tolstoy, eschews television and is a bit of a gourmet? Her late husband had the TV on all the time, so the expected sounds emanated from her flat, "Alive, he freed me from this iniquitous obligation... Dead, he has deprived me of his lack of culture." Is she really the biggest snob of all, or suffering from cripplingly low self-esteem? An old tramp (hobo) is not jealous of the rich, even those who never give him anything. Reneé muses "I've never given poor people credit for having noble souls" and concludes and that it's other poor people who the poor despise.Paloma's efforts to appear average are more understandable, and quite a common tactic of gifted children. What changes everything is when one of the old residents dies and the apartment is bought by a wealthy Japanese man. The fact he is outside the French class system only serves to emphasise its importance in this story. The three misfits have the chance of change.ReneéReneé is reader, of literature and philosophy, but also a film buff. She was born to poverty, was unattractive, barely educated, married, widowed, and has only one friend. "The feeble child became a hungry soul." She's bitter in a fairly non-specific way. She feels faint at the idea of "so much intelligence" used "to serve so futile an undertaking" as phenomenology or building a great cathedral, but makes no effort to use hers. Much later, we discover a partial reason: (view spoiler)[her pretty sister went to the city, worked for a rich family, had a glamorous life, then returned home pregnant and died, from which Reneé saw danger in acting in defiance of one's class (hide spoiler)].One of the saddest thoughts is the final phrase of this: "I have read so many books... And yet, like most autodidacts, I am never quite sure what I have gained from them."PalomaPaloma reads, but is more of a philosopher-cum-analyst. She has an older sister, Colombe, who she sees as a noisy neat-freak, shallow, unemotional, fake, and annoying (the last of those is mutual). Some of this is normal sibling stuff, but it also feeds Paloma's ennui. Paloma craves peace, so Colombe plays music loudly, "She can't invade anything else because I am totally inaccessible to her on a human level".The parents are wealthy socialists, but it's Paloma who balks at their barely acknowledged privilege and thinks it unjust that those who are good talkers have the most power and money, rather than those with more basic animal skills.To contrast the difficult relationship with her sister and parents, she actively looks for beauty as a reason to live, especially the beauty of movement, and seeing grammar as a means "to attain beauty" (rather than "to speak well", as her teacher suggests). Until then, she also seeks out silence and somewhere to hide.Cats and Dogs and HedgehogsPhilosophy isn't always deep: "The only purpose of cats is that they constitute mobile decorative objects". Paloma's mother is "vaguely aware of their decorative potential, and yet she insists on talking to them as if they were people, which she would never do with a lamp or Etruscan statue."Still, better a decoration than a burden: "If you've voluntarily saddled yourself with a dog... that is as good as putting a leash around your own neck.""Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she's covered in quills... on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary - and terribly elegant."The idea that humans are just animals is a recurring theme, and a belief shared by Reneé and Paloma. For Reneé, it confirms her worst opinions of herself, and for Paloma, it confirms her worst opinions of everyone. Coming TogetherIt's only about halfway through that the two threads begin, tentatively, to connect and the real story starts.(view spoiler)[The catalysts are Monsieur Ozu and the names of his and Reneé's cats (after characters in Tolstoy); the means are literature, tea and open hearts and minds. (hide spoiler)]Art"Art is emotion without desire." I'm not sure I agree, but it's something to ponder.Art, culture, literature keep the key players apart and later bring them together. "Whence comes the sense of wonder when we encounter certain works of art?... The enigma is constantly renewed: great works are the visual forms which attain in us the certainty of timeless consonance... Certain forms... return again and again throughout the history of art."Art "gives shape to our emotions, makes them visible and, in so doing, places a seal of eternity upon themI'm rarely attracted to looking at a still life, but Barberry almost won me over with words: "it embodies a beauty that speaks to our desire but was given birth by someone else's desire because it cossets our pleasure without in any way being part of our own plans."Sliding Doors"I was fascinated by... these [Japanese] doors that slide and move quietly along invisible rails, refusing to offend space. For when we push open a door, we transform a place in a very insidious way... There is nothing uglier than an open door. An open door introduces a break in the room, a sort of provincial interference, destroying the unity of space... a door disrupts continuity, without offering anything in exchange other than freedom of movement, which could easily be ensured by other means. Sliding doors... without affecting the balance of the room, they allow it to be transformed. When a sliding door is opened, two areas communicate without offending each other. When it is closed, each retains its integrity. Sharing and reunion can occur without intrusion."There are so many ways to think about that passage, and one of the good things about this book is that it doesn't dumb down; each reader can draw their own conclusions, and they may not be constant anyway. Rereading now, a couple of weeks after I first read it, I apply it in a very different way.Film of the BookThere is a 2009 film that I haven't seen, merely called "The Hedgehog": http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1442519/?...It's in French, so has probably resisted Hollywood pressure to change the ending, though I notice it has Paloma one year younger than in the book (why?).Quotes* "I have always been poor, discreet and insignificant."* "Children believe what adults say" and later "they exact their revenge by deceiving their own children."* "People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl."* "Politics... a toy for little rich kids that they won't let anyone else play with."* "Shrinks are comedians who believe that metaphors are something for great wise men."* Terminal illness "weaves a dark web between hearts, a web where hope is trapped".* "Nothing is more despicable than a rich man's scorn for a poor man's longing."* "Sight is like a hand that tries to seize flowing water. Yes, our eyes may perceive, yet the do not observe; they may believe, yet they do not question; they may receive yet they do not search; they are emptied of desire, with neither hunger nor passion."I had only a hazy idea of what sort of book this was, based on vague memories of favourable reviews by friends (initially, Steve's http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...). I'm grateful.

  • Phrynne
    2018-11-12 15:03

    Reading all the reviews for this book is hilarious. They range from one star and "this book deserves to be shredded one page at a time" to 5 stars and "this is the best book ever written". I will go half way and say 3 stars and it has good points and bad ones. The bad - at first it comes across as pompous and trying far too hard to be clever. There are long philosophical passages which add nothing to the characters or the story. The good - once the new tenant arrives the main characters all become more likeable and interesting. The ending is rather a shock because the story lulls the reader into feeling that nothing much ever happens. And then it does and it is sadder for its suddenness. By the last page I realised I had actually enjoyed it all quite a lot.

  • Del
    2018-10-25 18:05

    What a wonderful book. While reading, when I wasn't bobbing my head in agreement with the philosophical insights, I found myself consulting a dictionary to learn a new word or idea, or pausing to absorb and consider what I'd just read. I'll go through it again soon because I'm sure there's so much I've missed. The pages I'd like to reconsider are already marked and my next reading will probably be carried out with a highlighter. This is on my list of "best books read". Thought-provoking is an understatement. This book made me feel as though my world is too small and that's exactly what I like to find in a good read.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-10-31 17:36

    Onvan : The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Nevisande : Muriel Barbery - ISBN : 1933372605 - ISBN13 : 9781933372600 - Dar 325 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006

  • Maxwell
    2018-11-10 14:45

    Such a lovely story. The characters are pompous and judgmental but also totally endearing. It took me a while, about 1/3 of the story, to get into it completely, but then I fell in love. It's not often I underline in my books, but this one had so many beautiful sentiments that I couldn't leave unrecognized.---"Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?""In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song.""We cannot cease desiring, and this is our glory, and our doom. Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield where, on the eve, the battle was lost...""...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."

  • Miss Ravi
    2018-10-20 20:50

    کتاب را که شروع کردم این احساس به من دست داد که نویسنده فلسفه خوانده (به شکل آکادمیک). و بعد ویکی‌پدیا حدسم را به واقعیت تبدیل کرد. مدت‌ها پیش کسی به من گفت رمان‌نویسی که فلسفه خوانده با فیلسوفی که رُمان بنویسد متفاوت است. حالا مصداقش را پیدا کردم. موریل باربری در مقایسه با امانوئل اشمیت در بعضی از کتاب‌هایش و یا پاسکال مرسیه با «قطار شبانه‌ی لیسبون». درباره‌ی کتاب چه بگویم که تقریباً من را به کُشتن داد؟ بس که روایت دلچسبی داشت و سیر جملاتی که در عین پرطمطراق بودن، جذبت‌ می‌کردند و بهت لذت می‌دادند و چیزهای دیگری که مثل کشفیاتِ باستان‌شناسان ارزشِ نگه‌داری در موزه را دارند. این کتاب را نباید بوسید؟ دست‌کم می‌شود ازش سپاس‌گزاری کرد که لحظات خوش، نه البته یک خوشیِ خالی که یک خوشیِ همراه با تحسین را به خواننده‌اش هدیه می‌دهد. کتاب سرشار از یک غافلگیری کاملاً هوشمندانه است.با این‌همه بی آن‌که بشود درباره‌ی داستان حرفی زد که در خورِ آن باشد، من به جمله‌ای از کتاب دیگری که مشغول خواندنش هستم (لذت متن) ارجاع‌تان می‌دهم. رولان بارت می‌گوید با لذت خواندن یک متن می‌تواند نتیجه‌ی با لذت نوشته شدن آن باشد.

  • Clara Cuevas
    2018-10-21 16:47

    Entonces, lluvia de verano.No me esperaba lo que sucede en las últimas 50 páginas y no creí que fuera a llorar con los últimos 4 párrafos.Sin palabras, me encantó.Si me permiten ahora veré a película.

  • Lisa Vegan
    2018-10-18 16:36

    Some asides before the review: Ugh. One of my pet peeves is when books don’t start on page 1 and I think that this book starts farther ahead of page 1 than any book I’ve ever read. Enough said about that. Also, in this edition there are some mistakes: fourth and sixth floor residents get mixed up two times, the age difference/direction of the sisters was given incorrectly in one instance, I think. I tried, mostly successfully, not to be too OCD like Colombe, Paloma’s sister, as I am normally bothered by these kinds of errors, but it was so easy to immerse myself in the lives of the characters in this case.This book has very short chapters that make it easy to read just one more, then just one more, and yet one more, and so on. I wish I’d had the time to read the whole thing without putting the book down. I thought it was pretentious, self-conscious, too smarty pants clever and possibly somewhat contrived. I felt blindsided at one important juncture. Some things occasionally rang slightly false. Maybe the whole story wrapped up too neatly. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it anyway, but I can’t give it 5 stars for the reasons just stated. This is a book about our ability or inability to change. It’s also about being different. It’s also about the unexpected. It’s also about intimacy and connection with others vs. hiding one’s true self from others. It’s fascinating to read, and often amusing, sometimes sad. I think there are some flashes of brilliance.This book really reminded me of the joy of reading, the simple pleasure of getting to know fictional characters. I loved these characters and enjoyed spending time with them. Paloma (I’ve always enjoyed twelve year old girl characters in literature, ever since I was younger than 12 and was introduced to Madeleine L’Engle’s characters Meg and Vicki!) and Renée are so perspicacious and Paloma is so funny, one of the most amusing suicidal characters I’ve had the pleasure to read about, even though I questioned the authenticity of her plans, at least throughout much of the book. They are two highly intelligent misfits who are so much more appealing than most of those conventional people surrounding them. Kakuro Ozu is such a wonderful character as well; he was so easy to fall in love with and appreciate. Manuela, the other various building residents, and some other characters are of some interest as well. It took a while to really understand why Renée and Paloma have chosen to present facades. The reader gets to see more of their real selves throughout the book and they’re delightful.Paloma and Renée are each interested in different facets of Japanese culture and that culture, and also philosophy, Russian literature, fine art, and music all play parts in this book, as do class and caste and French sensibilities, and human nature. I loved so many parts, and particularly loved the scene with Paloma and her mother’s therapist, and I found most of Paloma’s and Renée’s musings were wondrous and often hilarious.I think whether readers like this book or not will have to do with how much tolerance they have for philosophizing (I have a lot) and how much they like/identify with the two narrating characters, the 12 year old wealthy girl considering suicide: Paloma, and the 54 year old residential building concierge: Renée. (I enjoyed their voices.)P.S. Edits:I am really wanting sliding doors, tea & pastries with friends.One of the review blurbs in the front of the book says a Parisian psychotherapist is prescribing this book for her patients. Hmm. I think it would depend on the person whether this book is experienced as life affirming or devastating or something else; I wouldn't prescribe it to everyone. I don't recommend it for everyone, but I'd recommend that readers who find it intriguing definitely read it.

  • Наталия Янева
    2018-10-28 16:04

    Ако нямам друг живот, освен този, нещо в него трябва да се промени. Не мога да съм рок звезда, астронавт, учен в NASA (просто няма как да стане; не и в тази паралелна реалност), а може би ми се щеше. Не си пускам телевизора, защото нямам такъв. Ако все пак има някаква причина да сме на света точно сега, то вярвам, че това не го дават по телевизията.Животът е гонене на опашки. Някои гонят собствените си, някои – тези на други, а го има и третия вид, които просто гонят опашката на щастието. Може би именно те са на прав път. Всичко е въпрос на избори. Но когато живееш в стереотипизиран свят и откриеш, че самият ти не си клише, диапазонът от избори значително се стеснява. И точно тогава има най-голямо значение. Правилото е, че когато възможностите ти са необятни, грандиозно ги пропиляваш. Просто защото си мислиш, че запасът ти от шансове е неизчерпаем и винаги ще има поне още един. Хората действат оптимално само когато има някаква нотка на фатализъм. Някак още не сме достигнали следващото ниво, в което просто живеем. Без борби за надмощие, без съревнования, без драматизъм. Сигурно още не сме дозрели за това като вид.Та за изборите. И когато са малко, пак ги има. Винаги може да се пуснеш по течението – така е най-лесно и повечето хора го правят. После се оплакват, че животът им бил навлязъл в някакво русло – не, той не е влязъл там самичък, ти си подкарал лодката в тази посока. А когато тръгнеш по другия участък на реката – онзи с подводните камъни и плитчините – наистина има вероятност и да стигнеш до някакво по-интересно място. Ами ако се обърнеш, докато се опитваш? Е, нали затова е животът – иска ми се да вярвам, че е за нещо повече от това да ям, да спя и да се размножавам. А, и да умра накрая. В своя мини философски трактат Мюриел Барбери обръща внимание на част от тези неща, други са си мои размисли след изчитането. Не знам дали подобна история би могла да има изцяло хубав край. Дали един постмодерен морганатичен брак между нашия елегантен таралеж и човека от другия свят е правдоподобен. Дали 12-годишно момиче, което си има всичко, но освен това и ум (обикновено той не се числи към „всичкото“), може да прояви висша степен на емпатия. При всички случаи важното е да продължаваме да крачим напред. Никога не се знае какво ще открием зад следващия ъгъл. Може да е именно това, което ще ни покаже смисъла да живеем. Или Смисъла изобщо.