Friday, June 11, 2010

All About Beauty

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is all about beauty. A beautiful and elegant book; it is about the beauty of language (so well-written!), the beauty of now. And the questions: What makes a life beautiful? What gives life meaning? How do you find beauty in a senseless death--a death that comes when the person has just begun to discover the beautiful possibilities of her own life? I think Paloma sums it up on the very last page of the book:

"...maybe that's what life is about: there's a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It's as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never."

The beauty of Renee Michel's life is brought into focus when she becomes the answer to Paloma's plea: "I implore fate to give me the chance to see beyond myself and truly meet someone." When she "truly" meets Renee, Paloma has her first "always within never"--her first real moment of beauty in a life that she planned to end in suicide.


Katie L. said...

Hi, Bev! I finished the book last night (in Kansas City), and the first website I visited when I got back to my computer in Mpls was this one. Wanted to tell you that I actually liked the ending--but I *loved* Renee Michel, so *her* ending was heartbreaking. (But still smart and knowingly funny, like her.) What about the ending bothered you? (Or did I mis-remember your email?)

Bev Hankins said...

I just hated to see Renee's life end when she was just getting comfortable with her new friends and just embarking on her relationship with Kakura Ozu. It wasn't that the ending was bad (plot-wise) I just didn't want Renee to be gone. It's a selfish thing, more than an artistic thing.

Katie L. said...

Yeah, I totally understand that. I felt that way, too.