Françoise Sagan  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Françoise Sagan (21 June 1935 – 24 September 2004) was a French writer known for works with strong romantic themes involving wealthy and disillusioned bourgeois characters. Her best-known novel was her first – Bonjour Tristesse (1954) – which was written when she was a teenager.

Biography and career

Sagan was born in Cajarc, Aveyron, where she lived for the first few years of her life, until her family moved to Lyon at the outset of World War II. She failed entrance examinations to the Sorbonne in 1953 mainly due to her active nightlife in the Paris clubs. 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 (meaning "Good Morning, Heartache," the French translation of the Billie Holiday song) 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 nouveau roman 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.

Fond of travelling in the United States, she was often seen with Truman Capote. She was once involved in a car accident with her Aston Martin, which left her in a coma for some time.

She was married twice, to Guy Schoeller and Bob Westhof, but both marriages ended in divorce.

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

In the 1990s Sagan was convicted for using cocaine.

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

In his statement 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." Ironically, the same France, through its tax authorities, had seized the last franc of Sagan's royalties and property, and thus condemned her to a painful and difficult survival during the last four years of her life. Only by the kindness of a few friends she avoided being homeless. These friends appealed for an amnesty that would have allowed Sagan a less tragic end. Template:Fact

The character of Margot Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums is allegedly based partly on Françoise Sagan.


"to jealously, nothing is more frightful than laughter"



  • Bonjour Tristesse
  • Un certain sourire (A Certain Smile)
  • Les merveilleux nuages (Those Without Shadows)
  • Aimez-vous Brahms? (Goodbye Again, USA 1960)
  • La chamade
  • Les yeux de soie (Silken Eyes)
  • Le lit défait (The Unmade Bed)
  • Le garde du coeur (The Heart-Keeper)
  • La femme fardée (The Painted Lady)


  • Château en Suède (Château in Sweden) (1960)
  • Les Violons parfois
  • La Robe mauve de Valentine
  • Le Cheval évanoui
  • L'Écharde
  • Un piano dans l'herbe


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Françoise Sagan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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