I was pleased to find this book, a fictional account of two lovers living in France during the revolutionary period of May-June 1968. One of them is an anarchist banker, with all the contradictions that such a title implies, and the other is a professor at L’Acadamie des Beaux Arts in Paris. Much of the book traces the tension between different views of how one best can participate in and support the revolutionary students.
I have to admit, the primary reason I enjoyed this book was its setting–I find the May-June events to be fascinating. The book captures the spirit of the events pretty well, including many of the famous graffiti slogans that were found on Paris walls, incorporating many of the events that took place, and relaying the overall context of the events quite well. As a piece of historical fiction, it works well and for people who are familiar with the events, it is an entertaining read–I found myself reading it in one sitting (it’s short at 118 pages), eagerly turning the pages to see how Ferlinghetti would work in the various philosophies present in May-June 1968.
However, like most works of fiction, there are some errors. The most striking error is found in a passage where Annie, the professor, finds herself marching in the middle of a group of International Situationist marching under the banner of philosopher Henri LeFebvre, who had planted the early seeds of revolt among his students in Strasbourg with his manifesto “on the misery of student life.” While there is no date given to verify the accuracy of this statement, it seems highly unlikely as the Situationists had a falling out with LeFebvre in the early 1960s and the “manifesto” being referred to is most likely the Situationists’ own pamphlet, On the Poverty of Student Life.
Even with a few errors, this was an entertaining and fast read, one that will be especially enjoyable for people who are fascinated by France in May-June 1968.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Love in the Days of Rage, (E.P. Dutton, 1988).