This novel is a little gem, a must read. I have seen some reviews – only a few, actually – dismissing it as boring. Well, maybe it’s not for everyone, since the philosophical and political reflections are just meant to be there. They give justice to the protagonist and to what happens as the story unfolds.
Personally, I found it precious.
Believe me, it would not have been easy to “surpass” Under The Visible Life by K. Echlin, the novel I had read before The elegance of the Hedgehog and placed back in my library with immense reluctance. But that is another story.
“Humans live in a world where it’s words and not deeds that have power, where the ultimate skill is mastery of language.”
“Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside she is covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog.”
“Beauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it. It’s the ephemeral configuration of things in the moment, when you see both their beauty and their death.”
“It would never have crossed her mind spontaneously that somebody might actually need silence. That silence helps you to go inward, that anyone who is interested in something more than just life outside actually needs silence: this, I think, is not something Colombe is capable of understanding, because her inner space is as chaotic and noisy as the street outside.”
“Human longing! 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; but in sunlight does it not look like a territory ripe for conquest, a place where-even though tomorrow we will die-we can build empires doomed to fade to dust, as if the knowledge we have of their imminent fall had absolutely no effect on our eagerness to build them now? We are filled with the energy of constantly wanting that which we cannot have, we are abandoned at dawn on a field littered with corpses, we are transported until our death by projects that are no sooner completed than they must be renewed. Yet how exhausting it is to be constantly desiring…”