“Which way lies truth, in the end? In power, or in Art?”

Barbery croppedNovelists make assumptions about their readers’ interest in technical details, whether they’re writing about sabotage, romance or philosophy.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog is written by a philosophy professor who assumes we want to know the technical details of her two main character’s struggle to find a philosophy of life that they can live with.  Technical discussions — about phenomenology, for example — are interspersed with conversations about art and social class.  You might think this book has a small audience, but it’s a best-seller in Europe, and has sold a million copies.  I’ve read it three times and find it astonishing.

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, translated by Alison Anderson, (New York, Europa Editions, 2006), p. 96.


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