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Françoise Sagan (1935 - 2004)

French novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, whose dispassionate portrayals of bored, amoral middle-class people have been translated into many languages. Sagan published her first novel, Bonjour tristesse (1954), at the age of 19. It was a succes de scandale for its depiction of a young woman breaking up her father's affair.

"Sur ce sentiment inconnu dont l'ennui, la douceur m'obsèdent, j'hésite à apposer le nom, le beau nom grave de tristesse. C'est un sentiment si complet, si égoïste que j'en ai presque honte alors que la tristesse m'a toujours paru honorable. Je ne la connaissais pas, elle, mais l'ennui, le regret, plus rarement le remords. Aujourd'hui, quelque chose se replie sur moi comme une soie, énervante et douce, et me sépare des autres." (from Bonjour tristesse)

Françoise Sagan was born in the village of Cajarc, in southwestern France, into a well-to-do family. She was the third child of Pierre Quoirez, a prosperous industrialist, and Marie (Laubard) Quoirez. The family moved at the outbreak of World War II to the provinces, living mainly in Lyon; Sagan also spent some time in Switzerland. After the liberation of France in 1944 the family returned to Paris. A Certain Smile (1958), her second book, also was a success. Although her works about love, marriage and rootless existence are classified often by male critics as entertainment, her earlier novels in particular deserve according to feminist critics more attention. The confessional tone of Bonjou tristesse has been considered a precursor in such writing by women from more recent years. Sagan's later novels include Le Garde du coeur (1968), set in Hollywood. In the story a middle-aged woman, Dorothy, takes the guardianships of a beautiful boy, Lewis. She must choose between her mature lover and the young drop-out. At the same time a series of mysterious deaths shock the film circles. Scars on the Soul (1974) was a combination of an essay, autobiography, and novel. Un Orage immobile (1983) was set in 1932 in a small country village, and depicted the passionate love story of a beautiful widow, which is observed by an young notary. In Un Chagrin de passage (1994, A Fleeting Sorrow) Sagan follows the thoughts and reactions of a man in his thirties, Paul Cazavel, who learns that he has lung cancer. Paul sees his life and closest relationships, his mistress and former wife, in a new light. - In 2002 Sagan was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence for tax fraud. Due to ill health, Sagan was not present in the Paris court. Her name was connected to the Elf scandal. Sagan allegedly received money in exchange for persuading the late Socialist president François Mitterrand to intervene on a contract in Uzbekistan. Sagan claimed that the money had been provided by her insurance company - her manor house in northern France was partially destroyed by a fire in 1991.

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