Saturday, March 21, 2009

"To show my disdain for your policies, I shall read a 17-century French novel!"

When it comes to areas such as politics and literature, the French are sometimes just a bit different. A recent example is an increasingly popular way to express opposition to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Rather than taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks, President Sarkozy's disenchanted constituents are buying and reading copies of La Princesse de Cleves, a novel published anonymously in 1678, that's generally held to be the work of one Madame de La Fayette. A novel of romantic intrigue amongst the royalty, it is considered to be of great historic importance; however, Sarkozy has over the years repeatedly expressed his dislike of it and his opinion that "knowledge of is was not useful."

Sarkozy's bad reviews have now made this novel all the rage in France. According to The Telegraph, badges with the slogan, "I am reading La Princesse de Cleves," quickly sold out at the recent Paris book fair, and public readings of the book have been taking place at various locations including the Sorbonne.

While Accent on Books takes no official stance on the policies of the French President, we will be happy to order La Princesse de Cleves, for anyone who wants a copy. Paperback editions, in English translation, are available from both Oxford World Classics and Penguin Classics. However, last I checked, both editions, interestingly enough, were temporarily out of stock.

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