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Sunday, April 10, 2011

French literary fashion taken too literarilty

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/07/french-minister-zadig-voltaire

Asked at the Paris book fair last week which book had made the greatest impression on him during his life, Lefebvre told the interviewer it was "without doubt" Zadig et Voltaire – the name of a French fashion chain. "It's a lesson about life, and I reread it pretty often," said the politician, at the fair to publicise his own book, Le mieux est l'ami du bien, an exposition of his political views. He actually meant to refer to Voltaire's celebrated philosophical novel Zadig, about a Babylonian man subjected to the whims of fate.

The video of his mistake has now been viewed almost 200,000 times, and the French literati have been quick to mock Lefebvre for his slip, suggesting other combinations of consumerism and literature – from The Girl with the La Perla to The World According to Gap, Thus Spake Zara, Waiting for Gaultier and Victor Hugo Boss's Les Misérables – on the trending Twitter hashtag #bibliolefebvre.

In the U.S., we'd clearly view the YouTube video a lot -- witness all those videos of various malaprops from George W. Bush, a mini-genre in itself.  And then there were the GW-like inventions, like Will Farrell's "Strategery" as he was impersonating GW on Saturday Night Live.

But, in the end, I don't think this did GW any great harm. If anything, it gave him a certain human quality that he badly needed as he started multiple mideast wars and wrecked the economy.