The Pleasure of the Text

The noted French literary critic, Roland Barthes once wrote a book entitled, The Pleasure of the Text (Le plaisir du texte.) As the title indicates, the book describes the many joys of reading.

Our new Incarnation Book Club has been experiencing some of these joys. Our most recent meeting featured a spirited discussion of Muriel Burbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

One of the protagonists of the novel is a concierge in an upper-class Paris apartment building. Unbeknownst to the tenants of the building, she is an autodidact who is far better-read than any of the people she is subservient to. Happily, in the end, the concierge emerges from her shell and becomes the real and happy public self she was meant to be.

Most of us have a tendency to retreat into our private selves from time to time. Burbery’s book reminds us that the public selves God gives us can also bring us pleasure. —J. Douglas Ousley

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