Following the November 13 terrorist attacks on Paris, copies of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast are selling out at 50 times the usual rate. The 1920 memoir has become a symbol of France's strength and beauty in the wake of the recent night of terror. Parisians have taken to leaving copies of Hemingway's famous love letter to the City of Lights among the flowers laid at memorials around the city.
A Moveable Feast details Hemingway's experiences in Paris' bars and bistros, and Bloomberg notes that "people are reading the book in bars and cafes," after a 77-year-old grandmother urged them to leave behind flowers and pick up copies in an interview with BFM. You can find pictures of their defiant merriment shared on social media with the hashtags #tousaubistrot and #jesuisenterrasse.
This isn't the first time a book has become a vehicle for healing in Paris. After the shootings at Charlie Hebdo offices in January, Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance saw a similar surge in popularity. Today, A Moveable Feast is Amazon France's "fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book." Readers are buying 500 copies a day, according to the book's publisher.
The English title of Hemingway's memoir comes from this quote: "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." But the book has many other brilliant passages that prove relevant in the wake of the atrocities. Here are five of the best.
1. On life in Paris
But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there.
2. On how life goes on
There is never any ending to Paris, and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. Paris was always worth it, and you received return for whatever you brought to it.
3. On enjoying the simple things
We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.
4. On how to be good
They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.
5. On how to recover from sadness
You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, $9, Amazon
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