The Lily Pad and the Spider

By Claire Legendre
Translated by David Homel

The Lily Pad and the Spider
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You're afraid of spiders, heights, sickness, and the way other people look at you. Afraid you'll be betrayed, abandoned, and that the fortune-teller's predictions will come true. You stop smoking, you avoid insects and medical advice, you stop going on stage, taking the airplane, ... Read more


Overview

You're afraid of spiders, heights, sickness, and the way other people look at you. Afraid you'll be betrayed, abandoned, and that the fortune-teller's predictions will come true. You stop smoking, you avoid insects and medical advice, you stop going on stage, taking the airplane, falling in love, leaning over the balcony rail. You don't take your driving test and you start reading novels from the end, as if putting on a chastity belt. You think you are well protected, you will never be caught off-guard, nothing will surprise you. Then a butterfly is discovered in your chest, and you feel its wings beating. It is too late to ignore the sensation. An autobiographical essay on fear, The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar et l'araignée) explores the symptoms, sources, and genesis of anxiety, from the most intimate to the most ordinary kind. Using short chapters that are fragments of her life, Claire Legendre breaks down the psychological, physical, and social mechanisms associated with that emotion. Her style is lively, often funny, sometimes dark though never complacent, and the story traces a unique path between France and Canada and the Czech Republic, casting a defiant yet vulnerable gaze upon the world. The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar at l'araignée) was a finalist for the 2016 Quebec Booksellers' Prize in the Quebec novel category.

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