The French spite Sarkozy– by reading his least favorite novel?
Only a highly literary country would consider this a form of political protest, but the French are currently expressing their displeasure with President Nicolas Sarkozy by championing the novel he most detests.
Sarkozy has been very public about reviling "La Princesse de Clèves," the 17th-century classic by Madame de La Fayette that is widely studied in French classrooms. According to the Telegraph, since becoming president, Sarkozy has "repeatedly criticized the tale of duty versus love at the 16th-century court of Henri II, suggesting that knowledge of it was not useful."
So now the French, as a means of thumbing their collective noses at their president, are embracing the novel as never before. The Telegraph reports that, "At the Paris book fair this week ... badges emblazoned with the slogan 'I am reading "La Princesse de Clèves" ' were a must-have item that sold out within hours" even as "[p]ublic readings of the work have proliferated at universities like the Sorbonne ... and at theatres."
It is unknown if enthusiasm for "La Princesse de Clèves" is actually harming Sarkozy in any way, but it is clearly helping French publishers, as sales of the book are noticeably on the rise.