Françoise Sagan 1935–
(Pseudonym of Françoise Quoirez) French author of novels, plays, short stories, screenplays, songs, and autobiographical works.
The success of Bonjour Tristesse made Sagan a world-wide literary celebrity before she was 20. Acclaimed by some as a born writer for the artistry of her spare prose, Sagan was said to have captured the mood of her generation. Like most of her later characters, the protagonist of Bonjour Tristesse is self-indulgent and restless, struggling with little success against the inertia that deadens her comfortable life. The skill evidenced by Sagan's early novels earned her many comparisons to the French novelist Colette.
The links between her personal life and her writing remain mysterious at best, despite the publication of several autobiographical works. Many readers were surprised by her ability while still a teenager to write about sexual involvements with precision and distance. Though she became the subject of countless interviews and endless curiosity she claimed to be affected by her success only in that it allowed her to own fast cars. A crash in 1957 nearly killed her, and led to a temporary morphine dependency about which she wrote in Toxique, but it appears doubtful that her belief in the fragility of life was greatly changed by the experience.
Over the years Sagan's novels have been both praised and blamed for their unrelenting focus on one theme: the futility of love in a world where people are preoccupied by superficialities. Subtlety is essential to the cool, analytical tone in which she describes each failure, and few critics challenge her technical skill. Recently, however, some have suggested that her subject itself is disappearing under the gloss of her style. Yet others see her worldly wise pose as that of the eternal adolescent, whose alternating moods of indifference and excitement are youth's true experience of life. (See also CLC, Vols. 3, 6, 9, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 49-52.)