Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Paris est un fête

Hemingway's novel A Moveable Feast is a bestseller in France right now. Parisians have turned to it for an affirmation of their city and what it symbolizes. This was taken outside the Bataclan. This new wave of interest comes from a televised interview with a French woman, a 'Mamie' grandma, known only as Danielle, in the days following the attack. Danielle, a former attorney and human rights activist promised "to fraternize with five million Muslims who practice their religion freely and kindly, and […] fight the 10,000 barbarians who kill, supposedly in the name of Allah." In the same interview, Danielle urged people to honor the dead with flowers and to read and re-read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. The video went viral. In January after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, they turned to Voltaire - monsieur wicked wit - and his "Treatise on Tolerance", originally published in 1763, which flew off bookstore shelves across the country. Voltaire penned stinging critiques of the Catholic Church and poignantly defended freedom of religion and freedom of expression. He was moved to write "Treatise on Tolerance" following the trial of Jean Calas, a Protestant executed on claims he murdered his own son to prevent his conversion to Catholicism, a charge that Calas denied. Getting back to Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast he wrote: “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy." and the 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.” Right now I'm thinking how lucky and blessed I was to have shared Paris this time with old friends and new friends joining up on the Aimée Leduc tour. It's kind of amazing to take readers to a real place in Paris where a fictional character works, lives and eats. We even snuck into the scenes behind the scenes. Audrey Hepburn once said, "Paris is always a good idea." Now it's back to work, Cara - Tuesday


  1. Lovely piece, Cara. So glad everyone got to enjoy the Aimée Leduc tour.

    I don't always like or agree with Brit comedian Frankie Boyle, but he's written a remarkable piece about the Paris situation in The Guardian:


  2. Thank you, Cara. I will reread A Movable Feast too, in honor of a people that, in times of grief and outrage, turn to books. Formidable!

  3. Barbara agrees with you and Audrey Hepburn. So what choice do I have left in the matter but to go. :)

  4. Wow, Zoe that Frankie B hit a lot of nails on the head, sorry for the cliché, with his article. Thanks. I heard a teacher interviewed in St. Denis who said 'this attack's new to the world but why do Parisians forget what happened 10 years ago when three boys were electrocuted in a power station fleeing from the police in a suburb? That tore Paris apart.'