Adultery by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Marriage and family are often regarded as the basis of society and a story about adultery often shows the conflict between social pressure and the individual struggle for happiness.
However the real crux of the story is enlivened I think with a reference to the dilemma of intimacy exemplified by an allegory about porcupines popularized by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: when the animals draw close in the cold for warmth, they prick each other, yet when they move apart, they shiver.
Schopenhauer, and later Sigmund Freud, have both used this allegory as a way to describe what they feel is the state of the individual in relation to others in society. The hedgehog's dilemma suggests that despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm, and what results is cautious behavior and weak relationships.
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