Vivre sur la Terre – the French Edition of Living on the Earth

Cover of Vivre sur la Terre

See a flip book of the covers and opening pages, click here.

Here is an English translation of the introduction to the book written by the editor at Editions Ulmer, Lila Hervé-Gruyer.

“How Living on the Earth became Vivre sur la Terre…

“The story of this book is magical. For several years, I have dreamed of getting my hands on this mysterious book, but second-hand copies are sold at a high price on the Internet. One day, I came across a website that sold the Spanish version. When I received it, I was moved.

“Alicia’s drawings and words resonate very strongly with me. This 19 year old hippie embodies a freedom, a simplicity and a carefree attitude that we miss today. An almost dreamed life, a total commitment. Alicia proposes to live like a flowing river or a growing tree. To live in the middle of nature, in community, out of the consumer society and far from capitalism.

“50 years after the first edition of Living on the Earth, the biosphere is enoxerably degrading and anxiety is rising, even faster than the ocean level. Alicia reminds us that ecological movements are not new. Today too often derided, the hippies had the courage to question the very foundations of a capitalist society. It does a lot of good to delve into their legacy, full of struggles and inventiveness. Reading Alicia, the answer is here, almost obvious, in front of our eyes. I am convinced that living on love alone is not naive, but one of the possible solutions to face this ecological crisis. A fair, beautiful, desirable, joyful and fun path.

“One day, I bring this treasure to the office, to share with my colleagues. This hippie bible is a literary UFO! A bestseller that has gone around the world, translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish… And sold more than 350,000 copies for the American version.

“We bet with Emmanuelle and Antoine, Ulmer’s managers, that it could work. I contacted Alicia who quickly told me that the book would be published in English to celebrate its 50th birthday! What a happy coincidence, life is well done. Virginie started translating and Alicia agreed to rewrite everything by hand in French, a language she does not speak. Once the translation is finalized, Alicia starts writing, courageously. She spends more than 6 days on some pages. Until she injures her hand and the project comes to a halt.

“That’s where Harmonie the aptly named comes in. I was working with this potter-designer-artist on another book. I had shown her Alicia’s book and she too had fallen in love with it. She often asked me about the translation and I was disappointed to tell her that it wasn’t going well… Until I received a handwritten note from Harmonie: her handwriting looked like Alicia’s! So Harmonie started to rewrite the book with a lot of enthusiasm. 248 pages later, Agathe proofreads, Camille prepares the files, it goes to the printer’s.

“This is why you can now hold this precious book in your hands. The moving testimony of an emancipated young woman living as close to nature as possible, patiently rewritten to be as close as possible to the original. Because in 2022, we continue to have a great need for Peace and Love.

“I wish you all to live closer to the flowers!”

Lila Hervé-Gruyer