One of the most popular books in France this week is a classic: A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. Its title in French is Paris est une fete — or “Paris is a party.” The book is finding new readers — and it’s also being left as a tribute to those who lost their lives one week ago.
The Hemingway memoir, published posthumously in 1964, is being celebrated for what it, in turn, celebrates: Paris as an exciting place of ideas, a nexus of people who love life and the arts. The book is set in the 1920s, as Paris recovered from the oppressions of World War I.
Saying that copies of the book “have been flying off bookshop shelves,” Agence France Presse reports, “Paperback versions are being deposited, along with flowers and candles, in front of bullet-ridden windows at one of the Paris bars targeted by the jihadist gunmen.”
Copies are also turning up outside the Bataclan concert hall, where a rock show became the scene of the worst carnage in the attacks that officials say killed 130 people and wounded more than 350.
On France’s Amazon website, the book shot to No. 1 after re-entering its list of the Top 100 titles just four days ago.
The book includes Hemingway’s famous line, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
The spike in demand means that the book’s French publisher, folio, has received more orders for the book in the past week than the 8,000 it might get in a strong year for the title, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper attributes some of the demand to a French TV station’s interview with a woman whose name was given only as Danielle. Here’s the Guardian’s translation:
“It’s very important to bring flowers to our dead. It’s very important to see, many times, Hemingway’s book, A Moveable Feast, because we are a very ancient civilization, and we will hold high the banner of our values, and we will show brotherhood to the 5 million Muslims who exercise their religion freely and kindly, and we will fight against the 10,000 barbarians who kill, they say, in the name of Allah.”
And here’s the woman herself, speaking three days after the attacks: