Françoise Sagan


Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan (June 21, 1935–September 24 2004), real name Françoise Quoirez, was a French playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Nicknamed “the charming little monster” by François Mauriac,citation |title=Lesbian love tangle stirs Paris literati |url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3056419.ece |periodical=The Sunday Times |date=16 December, 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-16 |first=Matthew |last=Campbell ] Sagan was best known for strong romantic themes involving middle-class characters.

Biography

Sagan was born in Cajarc (Lot), where she lived for the first few years of her life, until her family moved to Lyon at the onset of World War II. She failed entrance examinations to the Sorbonne in 1953. Though notorious all her life for her extravagant lifestyle, she would later attend school there but without graduating.

Her first novel was published in 1954, at the age of 18. "Bonjour Tristesse" ("Hello, Sadness") and was an immediate international success. It concerns the life of pleasure-driven 17-year-old Cécile, in particular her relationship with her boyfriend and her adulterous, playboy father. The novel allegedly influenced the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence". Her pseudonym was taken from a character ("Princesse de Sagan") in Marcel Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu" ("In Search of Lost Time").

Sagan's characters became something of an icon for disillusioned teenagers, in some ways similar to those of J.D. Salinger. She produced dozens of works during a career lasting until 1996, many of which have been filmed. Sporting the austere style of the French psychological novel even while "nouveaux romans" became popular, the conversations between her characters are often considered to contain existential undertones. In addition to novels, plays, and autobiography, she also wrote song lyrics and screenplays.

In the 1960s, Sagan became more devoted to writing plays, which, though lauded for excellent dialogue, were only moderately successful. Afterwards, she resumed her career as a novelist.

Personal life

Sagan was married twice, to Guy Schoeller and Bob Westhof, but both marriages ended in divorce. She took a lesbian longer term lover in fashion stylist Peggy Roche; and had a male lover Bernard Frank, a married essayist obsessed with reading and eating. She added to her self-styled "family" by beginning a long-term lesbian affair with the French Playboy magazine editor Annick Geille, after she approached Sagan for an article for her magazine.

Fond of travelling in the United States, she was often seen with Truman Capote and Ava Gardner. She was once involved in a car accident in her Aston Martin sports car, which left her in a coma for some time. She also loved driving her Jaguar automobile to Monte Carlo for gambling sessions.

Also, in the 1990s, Sagan was charged with and convicted of possession of cocaine.

Sagan was, at various times of her life, addicted to a number of drugs. She was a long-term user of prescription pills, amphetamines, cocaine, morphine, and alcohol.

Death

Her health was reported to be poor in the decade of the 2000s. In 2002 she was unable to appear at a trial that convicted her of tax fraud in a case involving the former President François Mitterrand, and she received a suspended sentence. Françoise Sagan died of a pulmonary embolism in Honfleur, Calvados, on 24 September 2004 at the age of 69.

In his memorial statement, the French President Jacques Chirac said: "With her death, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive writers - an eminent figure of our literary life."

Film

Sagan's life was dramatized in a biographic film, Sagan directed by Diane Kurys, released in France on 11 June 2008. The French actress, Sylvie Testud, played the title role.

Quotes

*"To jealousy, nothing is more frightful than laughter."
*When asked if she believed in love: "Are you joking? I believe in passion. Nothing else. Two years, no more. All right, then: three.”
* "A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to want to take it off you."

Works

Novels

*"Bonjour Tristesse" (1954)
*"Un certain sourire" (1955, "A Certain Smile")
*"Dans un mois, dans un an" (1957, "Those without shadows")
*"Aimez-vous Brahms?" (1959, "Goodbye Again", translated 1960)
*"Les Merveilleux Nuages" (1961, "Wonderful Clouds")
*"Toxique" (1964)
*"La Chamade" (1965)
*"Le Garde du cœur" (1968, "The Heart-Keeper")
*"Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide" (1969, "Sunlight on Cold Water")
*"Des bleus à l'âme" ("Scars on The Soul") (1972, translated 1974)
*"Un profil perdu" (1974, "Lost Profile")
*"Brigitte Bardot" (1975)
*"Le lit défait" (1977, "The Unmade Bed")
*"Le Chien couchant" (1980)
*"La femme fardée" (1981, "The Painted Lady")
*"Un orage immobile" (1983)
*"De guerre lasse" (1985)
*"La Maison de Raquel Vega" (1985)
*"Sarah Bernhardt, ou le rire incassable" (1987)
*"Un sang d'aquarelle" (1987)
*"La Laisse" (1989)
*"Les Faux-Fuyants" (1991)
*"Chagrin de passage" (1994)
*"Le Miroir égaré" (1996)

hort story collections

*"Les yeux de soie" (1975, "Silken Eyes")
*"Musiques de scène" (1981)

Plays

*"Château en Suède" ("Château in Sweden") (1960)
*"Les Violons parfois" (1961)
*"La Robe mauve de Valentine" (1963)
*"Bonheur, impair et passe" (1964)
*"L'Écharde" (1966)
*"Le Cheval évanoui" (1966)
*"Un piano dans l'herbe" (1970)
*"Il fait beau jour et nuit" (1978)
*"L'Excès contraire" (1987)

Autobiographical works

*"Toxique" (1964)
*"Réponses" (1975, interviews)
*"Avec mon meilleur souvenir" ("With Fondest Regards") (1984, translated 1985)
*"Répliques" (1992, interviews)
*"...Et toute ma sympathie" (1993, a sequel to "Avec mon meilleur souvenir")
*"Derrière l'épaule" (1998, autobiography)

References

External links

* [http://www.litweb.net/biography/318/Francoise_Sagan.html Litweb.net]
* [http://theparisreview.org/viewinterview.php/prmMID/4912 The Paris Review Interview]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3689484.stm French press bids farewell; BBC article]


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