Beauty and death

SparklersThe main characters in Muriel Barbery’s excellent and moving The Elegance of the Hedgehog spend much time ruminating on, searching for and stumbling upon beauty and the sublime within the confines of their constricted lives.

If the book were an essay, its main argument might be summed up in the scene in which the young and precocious Paloma witnesses a rosebud fall from a broken stem in a bouquet of flowers. The beauty of this tiny movement strikes a chord within Paloma, and she grasps after what it is about this moment that has affected her so.

“In the split second while I saw the stem and the bud drop to the counter I intuited the essence of Beauty…[B]eauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it. It’s the ephemeral configuration of things in the moment, when you can see both their beauty and their death.”



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2 thoughts on “Beauty and death

  1. Jason says:

    In Japan, this concept is known as “mono no aware” – the simultaneous sadness and beauty in the transience of things. Japanese people use it to refer to cherry blossom season – that it is somehow more beautiful *because* it is so brief. But of course it can also refer to love, or life, or almost anything.

    Two films that really articulate this theme beautifully are Before Sunrise and (I shit you not) The Bridges Of Madison County.

    Nice entry.

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