'Paris Is a Celebration': Hemingway's Paris Memoir Becomes Symbol of Defiance

Janet Flanner and Ernest Hemingway at a table in the Deux Magots café in Paris in 1944. Hemingway's House in Key West reported no damages after Hurricane Irma made landfall. Glasshouse Images/Newscom

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway's memoir about the time he spent in Paris as a young man, is titled in French Paris Est une Fête, or "Paris Is a Celebration." In the week since the attacks on the city that so captured Hemingway's heart, his book has become a symbol of defiance and resilience, selling at a dizzying pace.

"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," Hemingway, who lived in Paris in the 1920s, wrote many years later. The book was published in 1964, a few years after his death. "We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other," he recalls in the book.

Now, following the November 13 attacks on the city, copies of the memoir can be seen among flowers and candles at tributes to the victims and in the hands of defiant Parisians at cafés and bars, says David Ducreux, a spokesman for the French publisher, Folio. The book's presence comes in conjunction with hashtags like #TousAuBistro, meaning "everyone to the bar," and #JeSuisEnTerrasse, or "I'm on the terrace," which encourage people to continue going out and embracing Paris's cultural offerings in the aftermath of the attacks.

Folio says that sales of the Hemingway memoir have multiplied from an average of 10 or 15 per day to 500 and that it is printing 20,000 additional copies. The book also shot up to No. 1 on Amazon's French site, with the tag "#1MeilleureVente," or No. 1 best-selling, appearing next to search results.

"There was a strong rise [on Thursday], with 1,600 books going out of our stocks," Ducreux told The Guardian. "We also received many orders from groups such as Fnac [a French retail chain that sells books, among other products] and Amazon, amounting to 8,500 copies. Usually, we sell between 6,000 and 8,000 copies a year."

Several outlets credit the book's resurgence to an interview that aired on BFMTV. "It's very important to bring flowers for our dead," said a woman identified only by a first name, Danielle. "It's also important to see Ernest Hemingway's memoir of life in Paris at the memorials, because we are a very old civilization and we will uphold our values at the highest level."

Following the January attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a similar trend occurred, with sales of Voltaire's A Treatise on Tolerance skyrocketing. Ducreux says Folio has since sold 100,000 copies of the book, published in 1763.