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L'Elegance du Herisson (French Edition) (French) Paperback – June 24, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0320079566 ISBN-10: 0320079562

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: French and European Publications Inc (June 24, 2009)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0320079562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0320079566
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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A wonderful, touching, moving novel,in a beautiful prose.
Valerie L. Lent
Although the book has been translated into English, I doubt that a translation can capture all the subtlties of language evoking the various personalities.
labagel
Glad I began with the English version as the ethereal prose might have stymied my comprehension in the French edition had I read it first.
Linda Z. Debard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Ferrer on May 28, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To understand why Muriel Barbery has chosen a concierge to be the heroine of her novel I think it is important to understand what concierges have meant in France since 1789. Because it was from the days of the glorious revolution and the anguish of the days of Le Terreur when concierges where an important part of the new society of citizens who beheaded a king. They where agents of the governemnt when ID's did not exist so in a way there is still a certain mistery around them, and even today a certain respect about their hidden authority. In the country where René created the je suis donc je pense a concierge was the deus ex machina who said il habite ici donc il est.
Our shy concierge Renée (curiosly she shares the same name that our philosopher) hidden in her small apartment is not an agent in disguise, but she is an erudite in disguise. Considered just a part of the building by the burgoise tenants she scapes, and rejoices in her books by Tolstoy, the films by Ozu and having tea with her friend Manuela.
Another brilliant mind shares the building with her: Paloma Josse, The product of a very French, very burgoise, very rive gauche family. Like Renée, Paloma considers the world outside threatening and in a way dangerous.
these two forces of the mind tell their stories like a beautifully tapestry made with their impressions of the lives the others live, seeing depth in ordinary matters but hiding all the time.
Our two heroines little and coveted world suddenly is going to be swept away by a tsunami: monsieur Ozu. Who like the real ones simply move the ground under their feet and force them to face the world. With Renée, offering her glimpses of being not a concierge only but a woman too.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Linda Z. Debard on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed the English translation "Elegance of the Hedgehog" and wanted to get a copy of the original. Glad I began with the English version as the ethereal prose might have stymied my comprehension in the French edition had I read it first. Seller sent book immediately, so all in all, a seamless transaction. Thanks so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By paulaum on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was prompted to read this book in the original French after watching the movie version ("L'Herisson") on the flight home from Paris. My wife had read the English translation but I was only vaguely aware of her having done so. The movie was excellent but I suspected the book might be even better and more complete; I was certainly not disappointed.
During our time in Paris, Rue de Grenelle was just around the corner from where we stayed. It must have been the downmarket end as the apartments weren't all that flash but it gave me a visual context and made the story very real. The characters are all brilliantly rendered - I think Renée, Paloma and M. Ouzo, and even Manuela, are all people one would love to know personally, although Rénee is appropriately painted as private, reserved and lacking in self-esteem, which of course is the essence of the story. I loved much of the dialogue, especially the scene where Paloma has been brought by her mother to see the psychiatrist that she herself has been consulting for many years - much to Paloma's perceptive scorn.
The narrative is written in the first person by two separate people (Renée and Paloma), taking turns to tell their story. I found this remarkable in the way it reflected the personalities and perceptions of these two characters - Paloma's "pensées profonds" are often delightful. There is necessarily a great deal of philosophising by both but this is almost never even vaguely boring because it conveys so much about what is going on in these people's lives. Altogether one of the most memorable and rewarding books I have ever read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maria Antonia Luna Canut on August 2, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this is one of the best books I ever read. Just finishing, I started again to read it now with a pencil to underline a lot of important things the author says.
I will read again for sure in some other time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katia G. on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
(Tout d'abord, comme d'habitude, excusez moi les erreurs je vais faire) C'est drôle la vie, n'est pas? Un jour tu penses que tu est très triste, le jour après tu vois que tu as beaucoup de la chance. Un jour tu penses que ton destin c'est déjà écrit et que tu ne peux rien faire pour le changer. Le jour après tu vois que ce n'est pas vrai et tu as beaucoup des occasions de changer ta vie ou si tu laisses les autres entrer dans ta vie, peut-être qu'ils peuvent t'aider a te rendre compte que ça c'est vraiment possible.
Dans un petit monde hiérarchique ou mieux dans un grand immeuble, les destins d'une concierge spéciale, d'une adolescente riche avec une intelligence étonnante et d'un monsieur chinois célèbre se rencontrent.
C'est le moment où tout semble parfait. C'est la vie. "Oui, c'est ça un toujours dans le jamais."
Amusant, émouvant... un roman, qu'ouvre les yeux et fait battre le caeur.
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Format: Paperback
This a closed spaced —locked?— novel almost to the end, as everything happens indoors—physically and metaphorically speaking. When the door of the building is pushed at last and Paris shows its face, then it’s all over. Tragedy strikes. At least tragedy in its most manifest, albeit ordinary, form. For this is not a happy novel, although the possibility of redemption, or at least hope, appears. Destinies are retraced. What one pre-adolescent thought she understood and controlled ends up being not so controllable or understandable after all. Suicide might not be the solution. Life is not such a simple formula. What the intellect grasps, the emotions swallow and spurt out, but not very neatly. What ideas collect and put in place, art rearranges and deranges in the process.

Muriel Babery sets her philosophical novel in a Paris building for the rich and spoiled. Two rebels against the system are the voices of this novel—Renée, the concierge, and Paloma, a gifted twelve-year old who thinks life is not worth living. Their rebellion is an inner rebellion, and the building in which all this (non)action takes place can be seen not only as a metaphor for their inner life, but also for the suffocating society that surrounds them. Only books, only literature can open up such a space, reinvent such a space. Only minds like them can now enter this reinvented place. A cat will be allowed as well. And, later, a Japanese man with his new perspective on things.

Babery, in this slow paced, intellectual and poetic work, depicts two refined souls in a brutal world, two strangers with a hermit crab attitude trying desperately to protect themselves from the adventure of life.
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