Authors: Françoise Sagan

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Bonjour Tristesse, 1954 (English translation, 1955)

Un Certain Sourire, 1956 (A Certain Smile, 1956)

Dans un mois, dans un an, 1957 (Those Without Shadows, 1957)

Aimez-vous Brahms?, 1959 (English translation, 1960)

Les Merveilleux Nuages, 1961 (Wonderful Clouds, 1961)

La Chamade, 1965 (English translation, 1966)

Le Garde du cæur, 1968 (The Heart-Keeper, 1968)

Un Peu de soleil dans l’eau froid, 1969 (Sunlight on Cold Water, 1971; also known as A Few Hours of Sunlight)

Des bleus à l’âme, 1972 (Scars on the Soul, 1974)

Un Profil perdu, 1974 (Lost Profile, 1976)

Le Lit défait, 1977 (The Unmade Bed, 1978)

Le Chien couchant, 1980 (Salad Days, 1984)

La Femme fardée, 1981 (The Painted Lady, 1983)

Un Orage immobile, 1983 (The Still Storm, 1984)

De Guerre lasse, 1985 (A Reluctant Hero, 1987; also known as Engagements of the Heart)

Un Sang d’aguarelle, 1987 (Painting in Blood, 1988)

La Laisse, 1989 (The Leash, 1991)

Les Faux fuyants, 1991 (Evasion, 1993)

Un Chagrin de passage, 1994 (A Fleeting Sorrow, 1995)

Le Miroir égaré, 1996

Short Fiction:

Des yeux de soie, 1976 (Silken Eyes, 1977)

Musiques de scènes, 1981 (Incidental Music: Stories, 1983)

Drama:

Le Rendez-vous manqué, pr. 1958 (ballet scenario; with Michel Magne)

Château en Suède, pr., pb. 1960

Les Violons parfois, pr. 1961

La Robe mauve de Valentine, pr., pb. 1963

Bonheur, impair, et passe, pb. 1964

Le Cheval evanoui, L’Echarde, pr., pb. 1966 (2 plays)

Un Piano dans l’herbe, pr., pb. 1970

Il fait beau jour et nuit, pb. 1979

L’Exces contraire, pr. 1987

Screenplays:

Landru, 1963 (with Alain Cavalier)

La Chamade, 1969 (adaptation of her novel)

Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel, 1970 (with Philippe Grumbach; adaptation of Raymond Radiguet’s novel)

Teleplay:

Le Sang doré des Borgia, 1977 (with Jacques Quoriez and Étienne de Monpezat)

Nonfiction:

Toxique, 1964 (English translation, 1964; illustrated by Bernard Buffet)

Mirror of Venus, 1966 (with Federico Fellini; photographs by Wingate Paine)

Résponses: 1954-1974, 1974 (Responses: The Autobiography of Françoise Sagan, 1979; also known as Night Bird: Conversations with Françoise Sagan, 1980)

Brigitte Bardot, 1975 (photographs by Ghislain Dussart; Brigitte Bardot: A Close-up, 1976)

Avec mon meilleur souvenir, 1984 (With Fondest Regards, 1985)

Sarah Bernhardt, le rire incassable, 1987 (Dear Sarah Bernhardt, 1988)

Et toute ma sympathie, 1993

Derrière l’épaule …, 1998

Biography

Françoise Sagan (sah-gahn) was born Françoise Quoirez in 1935. When she was eighteen, Sagan astonished the world by writing a short novel, Bonjour Tristesse, about a teenager like herself who deliberately sets out to prevent the remarriage of her father. The sophisticated tone of the writing and the amoral attitude of the young author shocked the French public and brought her instant fame. Bonjour Tristesse was soon appearing in bookstores around the world and was translated into more than twenty languages.{$I[AN]9810001577}{$I[A]Sagan, Françoise}{$S[A]Quoirez, Françoise;Sagan, Françoise}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Sagan, Françoise}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Sagan, Françoise}{$I[tim]1935;Sagan, Françoise}

From this precocious beginning Sagan went on to write dozens of novels, short stories, plays, and essays and to join her literary career to the life of a celebrity, a life that has included political friendships on the left, most notably that of former French president François Mitterand. In 1988 she was arrested for possession and passing of cocaine. She admitted the cocaine use (she said that it helped her to write) but claimed that the other accusation was an attempt to harm Mitterand’s reelection chances by creating scandals involving his close friends.

In interviews Sagan has freely discussed her own life, which often sounds like the lives of characters in her many books. She was born in a town in Southwest France into a middle-class family, which she has always praised for warmth and personality. Later, her brother was to be her companion in the “enfant terrible” life she led in Paris and St. Tropez, a fishing village on the Mediterranean coast which became a rendezvous for the young and idle of her generation.

Sagan grew up in Lyon and later went to Paris to study in convent schools; she soon began to skip classes in favor of the lively student cafés of the Left Bank. After the success of her first novels had made her rich, she set about spending the money they brought her on fast cars, nightclubs, gambling, and lavish gifts to friends. Once she found herself completely broke. She married twice and had one son. Both marriages ended in divorce, and she seldom mentions her son in personal essays and interviews. Instead, her life seems to have continued in the same restless fashion since her youth.

As a high-profile literary personality, Sagan’s interviews with the press are well worth reading (see her autobiographical Responses), as is a collection of personal essays, With Fondest Regards, in which she describes her fast-paced life and her feelings for famous people she has known (Tennessee Williams) or interviewed (Rudolph Nureyev). A beautifully written essay on the theater expresses her love of that world and her feeling that plays were her true literary form. She has written several plays, some successes, some not. The best known is Château en Suède (castle in Sweden), which she helped stage in Paris in 1960 and which became an international success.

Although Sagan’s novels have been described as sophisticated but superficial (they most often portray a doomed love between a young woman and an older man or vice versa), her style has been praised for its clarity. She was awarded the Prix des Critiques in 1954 for Bonjour Tristesse and the Prix de Monaco in 1985 for her entire body of work. Her novels take place in playgrounds of the rich and famous, as has much of her own life. With the help of film star Brigitte Bardot and others, she turned St. Tropez into a town of fast sports cars, all-night drinking parties, and illicit romance–in short, a glamorous meeting place for pleasure-seeking youth.

The “amorality” of her fiction created a public avid for the next novel but often disapproving and uncertain of her place in literature. Is she an excellent stylist with little to say, an extraordinary talent with a real understanding of human character, or a more cynical but equally frivolous writer as the authors of paperback romances? She has often written about her love for reading and words and the importance of literature. In addition to her classical style, which separates her from most best-selling authors, her characters recognize that happiness is fleeting and that they are resigned to a final disappointment.

Although Sagan has denied that she enjoys the playgirl role that she insists others have forced on her, she continues to write of her passion for gambling and speed. Restless and sophisticated, she is in many ways like her characters. The difference is that she creates them with great seriousness of purpose, holding the mirror of fiction up to her own image and producing novel after novel in a pure classical style.

BibliographyCismaru, Alfred. “Françoise Sagan: The Superficial Classic.” World Literature Today 67 (Spring, 1993): 291-294. Assesses Sagan’s work in the attempt to determine whether or not her work is superficial or an authentic literary contribution.Lloyd, Heather. Françoise Sagan, “Bonjour tristesse.” Glasgow, Scotland: University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1995. A study of Sagan’s first novel.Miller, Judith Graves. Françoise Sagan. Boston: Twayne, 1988. A good critical assessment.Morello, Nathalie. Françoise Sagan, “Bonjour tristesse.” London: Grant and Cutler, 1998. A critical guide to Sagan’s novel.
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