Monday, March 23, 2009

Ah, the French

They really know how to stick it to the politicians they don't like:

They put their least favorite book on the bestseller list.

Mr Sarkozy, a man often ridiculed in France for preferring fitness to literature, has frequently expressed his disdain for "La Princesse de Cleves" (The Princess of Cleves), a novel by Madame de La Fayette which was published in 1678 and is taught in most French classrooms.

Now, French readers have adopted the book as a symbol of dissent: as Mr Sarkozy's popularity falls, sales of the book are rising.

At the Paris book fair this week, publishers reported selling all available copies of the novel, while badges emblazoned with the slogan "I am reading La Princesse de Cleves" were a must-have item that sold out within hours....

Over time, his attacks have bolstered the book's popularity, and even given it a new role as a symbol of dissent at a time when public anger over Sarkozy's economic policies is high.

Public readings of the work have proliferated at universities like the Sorbonne in Paris, hit by protests over government reform plans, and at theatres.

The cultural weekly Telerama this week published results of a survey asking 100 French writers to list their 10 favourite books. "La Princesse de Cleves" came third in the overall rankings, after masterpieces by Marcel Proust and James Joyce.

Telerama commented that it was unlikely Madame de La Fayette would have done so well before Sarkozy's jibes.

Oh, to belong to a nation that values literature enough that it can be used as a form of protest. *Sigh* I'm sooo jealous!

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