July 26, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - one of the most wonderful books I’ve read in a while – and I consider myself to be quite a bookworm. I usually savour the books I read, slowly consuming it to the bone, enjoying each bite. This time, I just swallowed up the whole thing, basically in one sitting.

I found many ideas in this book that I do not agree with, and I would love to discuss them with a person that finds them significant. For example, I still hope that human beings are, in some notable way, different from animals. Maybe some people aren’t, but not all.

When I began reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I didn’t know anything about the author, and I couldn’t sustain my amazement at her ability to juggle philosophical ideas. It didn’t matter who was the mouthpiece for her ideas – a young girl or a middle-aged concierge. This book isn’t the simplest read, and it makes sense to me that French readers, with their love for philosophy, were able to appreciate this book right away. I hear that every sixth person in France owns this book! I just don’t see this book gaining such a following in places where most people would rather read Dan Brown.

You can think this book over, try to apply it to your life, feel sad, and have a laugh all at the same time. In the end, you will likely feel for the characters, and you might even consider reading Karl Marx. (This applies even to me, despite the fact that everyone who went to college in the former USSR had to spend countless hours studying Marx – it didn’t matter whether you were training to be a veterinarian, an architect, or a soldier.)

The feeling that was left in my mind after reading this book, similar to what I experience when listening to Mozart, was that of lightness.

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