Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Romat* + Romant* (for Romantic, etc.)

Today is the first day of summer and time to start selecting your vacation reading or books for the beach. Romances are always a popular choice. Some of the most well-written of these were written by a French teenager in the 1950s, Françoise Sagan (real name: Françoise Quoirez). Sagan was born in Cajarc (Lot) on June 21, 1935. At the age of nineteen, her bestseller Bonjour Tristesse ("Hello Sadness") was published. Her books are highly romantic (as one might well imagine coming from such a creative and high-spirited adolescent girl) as well as being acerbic commentaries on the bourgeoisie (or "older generation" as we tend to call it over here). "Sagan" was a nom de plume, taken from a character in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and some say that the title of her first book inspired the Simon and Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence," which begins with the words: "Hello darkness, my old friend..." Sagan was a media darling as well as an enfant terrible, dubbed "a charming little monster" by François Mauriac on the front page of the French daily Le Figaro. She was married twice and had numerous affairs and long-term relationships with both women and men. She loved the fast life and struggled with drug addiction and varying degrees of literary success throughout her life. When she died in 2004, French president Jacques Chirac proclaimed: "With her death, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive writers—an eminent figure of our literary life." There were 14 instances of Romat* + Romant* (for Romantic, etc.) in OhioLINK and over 200 in WorldCat.

(Portrait de Françoise Sagan au Studio Harcourt, 1963, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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