Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette "The Princess of Cleves" and Nicolas Sarkozi

"A sadist or an idiot, you decide, included questions about 'La Princesse de Cleves' in the exam for public sector jobs…. I do not know if it ever happened to you to ask a ticket seller what she thinks of 'La Princesse de Cleves'…. Imagine the spectacle,” Sarkozi said in 2006.

In Spring 2009 Mr. Sarkozi apparently made another comment about the book, as in March 2009 publishers reported a sudden rise in sales of ‘The Princess of Cleves’ and the banners with the slogan "I am reading La Princesse de Cleves" was a very popular sales item.

Mass protests in form of public readings of the book were initiated by Sorbonne and other Universities. Here you may watch a short reportage on manifestation in front of Pantheon.

I personally tend to agree with the ex-president of France. Although I am a passionate reader, I do not think the knowledge of ‘The Princess of Cleves’ is necessary to perform well at a job in the public sector. Knowledge of literature has nothing to do with your job performance in many areas (I do not mean librarians and other book related professionals). I’ve met high profile professionals who have never heard of Tolstoi. 

Without wanting Mr. Sarkozi boosted the popularity of the book. Telerama commented that it was unlikely Madame de La Fayette would have done so well before Sarkozy's statements. 

Now you be the judge of whether the ex-president of France was right or wrong in respect of this 17th century novel about the court of Henri II which is called the first psychological novel.

Here is a link to a free version of the book.

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