The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

My current read is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and I liked it from page one, particularly because of the vocabulary. It is always nice to read a book that challenges my knowledge and spurs me on to greater heights. Shakespeare and Hawthorne do it with his syntax, and I have found that Barbery does it with vocabulary. Here are just a few words used so far (I am only on page 41).

impervious

virtuosity

sullied

vulgarity

oozing

euphemistic

communal

proclivities

bulwark

waxing ecstatic

imbecilic firmament

aforementioned

interminably

Quotes I like:

“As always, I am saved by the inability of living creatures to believe anythign that might cause the walls of their little mental assumptions to crumble”(18).

“What is an aristocrat? A woman who is never sullied by vulgarity, although she may be surrounded by it” (32).

“It is a pity to see such a worthy wordsmith blindly wasting his talent.  To write pages of dazzling prose about a tomato–for Pierre Arthens reviews food as if he were telling a story, and that alone is enough to make him a genius–without ever seeing or holding the tomato is a troubling display of virtuosity. I have often wondered, as I watch him go by with his huge arrogant nose: Can one be so gifted and yet so impervious to the presence of things? It seems one can. Some people are incapable of perceiving in the object of their contemplation the very thing that gives it its intrinsic life and breath, and hey spend their entire lives conversing about mankind as if they were robots, and about things as though they have no soul and must be reduced to what can be said about them–all at the whim of their own subjective inspiration” (34).

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About epdwilliams

Junior High English Teacher The Westminster Schools
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