Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I began reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Translated from French to English by Alison Anderson) during my trip to New Orleans. I had finished the book of science fiction type short stories that I had brought with me. So I went into the Chicago Airport book store to look at books during a layover and it was there that I opened The Elegance of the Hedgehog to a random page and read…

“There’s so much humanity in the love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling your own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature…yes, that’s it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love of 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.”

When I got to page 169 today, I realized that this was the paragraph that convinced me to begin this book. I did not know then that the speaker is one of the main characters, the eleven year old Paloma. I also didn't know then that she is too brilliant for this world and unless she finds a reason to keep living she is going to kill herself and set fire to her apartment on her 12th birthday. The book is a little bit pretentious, but offers many beautiful descriptions about beauty, art and balance. I highly reccomend it.

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