Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog

by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
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    Sep 2008, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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Beyond the Book

Author Muriel Barbery (who currently lives in Kyoto with her husband) reveals a passion for the arts and cultural practices of Japan as she incorporates references to Japanese poets, directors, films, and traditions into The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

The term wabi-sabi, in its simplest form, is the Japanese view of a simple aesthetic; less is more. Overall, it is a kind of quiet, mellow beauty that is uncluttered and alleviates the weight of the material. Originally two words, they have been paired over time to express harmony, grace, and simple beauty. One who is wabi-sabi has an understated appreciation of nature's beauty and finds peace in simplicity. Likewise, the term can be applied to styles of art, architecture, or design.

Basho (ne Matsuo Munefusa) was born in 1644 outside of Kyoto, Japan. Born into a prominent samurai family, Basho rejected his surroundings and became a wanderer. Living on humble donations from his growing number of students, he...

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