The forty-three lovingly crafted vignettes within The Difficulty of Being a Dog dig elegantly to the center of a long, mysterious, and often intense relationship: that between human beings and dogs. In doing so, Roger Grenier introduces us to dogs real and literary, famous and reviled—from Ulysses's Argos to Freud's Lün to the hundreds of dogs exiled from Constantinople in 1910 and deposited on a desert island—and gives us a sense of what makes our relationships with them so meaningful.
By julia adeney thomas - November 29, 2000
A real surprise and delight. This beautiful little book consists of about forty short chapters about the bond between people and dogs. Grenier shuttles between charming recollections of his late dog Ulysses and tales of dogs who preoccupied great figures in Western culture. He tells, for instance, how Sartre summed up the difficulty of being a dog: dogs are forever straining to understand us, but what they comprehend most keenly is that we're beyond their grasp. Rilke, along the same lines, called dogs "tragic and sublime" because "their determination to acknowledge us forces them to live at the very limits of their nature, constantly-through the humanness of their gaze, their nostalgic nuzzlings-on the verge of passing beyond those limits." The book, which is translated (very gracefully) from the French, makes a nice European respite for American lovers of dog literature. There is, for instance, Grenier's account of a time when Communist authorities in Czechoslovakia saw dog... read more
So Good It Made Me Roll Over
By J. McFarland "jbmcfar" - January 12, 2001
How many varieties of pleasure can a book offer a reader? Read this book and count your own delight in its wit, wisdom, emotional truth, sweetness, deviltry, beautiful writing and as many other rare qualities as you can find. Grenier, an editor at the venerable French publishing firm Editions Gallimard, writes hilariously and affectionately about his own dogs, foremost among them the noble Ulysses and the happily trampy Sarigue. He also ranges through world literature to recount with great Gallic charm the experiences and musings of many others who have similarly fallen under the canine spell. In one section, he notes, "Schopenhauer, the pessimist, wrote about the goodness of dogs: 'I would have no pleasure living in a world where dogs did not exist.' Depressed, and prey to phobias, he alternated portraits of dogs with portraits of great philosophers on the walls of his little apartment in Frankfurt." Page after page bristle with startling facts and opinions that combine... read more
The best of two worlds
By "librarybuff" - December 11, 2001
This delightful book is a treasure if you care about the two worlds of animals and literature. Pault Grenier has perfectly paid tribute to his deep love of dogs by presenting it wrapped in a wealth of literary wit and sharp writing.If you can get through this book without a continual smile and a deeper emotional bond with your own dog, then you're a hard case indeed.
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Over the past decade there has been renewed interest in the thought of the Christian existentialist Gabriel Marcel. An English translation of his autobiographical final work Awakenings as well as a ...