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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
French literary icon Sagan dies
Francoise Sagan
Sagan: First taste of success came at the tender age of 18
Best-selling French novelist Francoise Sagan has died in the north-western town of Honfleur aged 69.

She died of heart and lung failure a few days after being admitted to a local hospital.

Sagan published her first and best-known work Bonjour Tristesse - an anthem to disillusioned youth - in 1954 at the age of just 18.

She produced more than 40 novels and plays, including A Certain Smile, Incidental Music and The Painted Lady.

She had been ill for several years and was taken to the hospital earlier this week, hospital officials said.

With her passing, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive authors
President Jacques Chirac

She had been staying in the Normandy town of Honfleur, and passed away with a close friend and her son by her side, a hospital official told French radio.

French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin immediately paid her emotional tributes.

Mr Chirac called Sagan "a leading figure in her generation" who helped raise the status of women in France.

"With her passing, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive authors...

"With finesse, emotion and subtlety, Francoise Sagan explored the spirit and passions of the human heart," he said in a statement issued by his office.

Mr Raffarin called Sagan "a smile - one that was melancholy, enigmatic, distant, and yet joyous".

Early success

Sagan was born into a wealthy family in the south-west of France in 1935.

She was expelled from her convent school and took seven weeks in the summer of 1953 to write her most important work.

She was the archetype of the teenage rebel in a post-war Paris abuzz with jazz and existentialism, says correspondent Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness) tells the story of a bored, bourgeois teenager who filled the emptiness of her existence by conspiring to destroy her father's new girlfriend.

It was about adolescence, love and loneliness, and it had an immediate echo in a world looking for new ways of expressing emotion and human identity, Hugh Schofield says.

The novel gained instant success because of its irreverent tone and was considered at the time shocking because of the emotional intimacy and subversive subtext.

It was later translated into 22 languages and sold five million copies around the world.

Later in her life, Sagan proved just as controversial, collecting a number of convictions for tax fraud and drug abuse. She was also known for her love of gambling and fast cars.

"The laws are made to be adapted to people and not the other way round. I have always advised everyone against cocaine," she said at the time of one of the convictions.


Here are some readers' reflections on Francoise Sagan's life and work:

To be remembered for a book of such shining brilliance as 'Bonjour, Tristesse' would be impressive enough; but to have written it in a few weeks at the age of 18 defies belief. French literature has lost one of its most luminous stars.
Eliot Wilson, Edinburgh, UK

It's sad to learn of Francoise Sagan's death. Like millions of others I read Bonjour Tristesse and was struck by its powerful characterisation and sense of location. I read it as part of my 'A' level French exams and it remains one of my favourite books.
James Churchfield, Cornwall

One of my favourites, she will always be remembered fondly and her work will always be sought after.
Antony Brimo, Sydney, Australia

I wonder if we'll ever see a British Prime Minister paying tribute to an deceased author...other than Jeffrey Archer.
Oscar Apfel, Auchenshoogle, Scotland

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Francoise. She was a brilliant writer and was able to convey women's thoughts eloquently in all her novels. I have read all her books and have enjoyed each one and she always portrayed how women really feel in their relationships with men. No one I have read so far is in the same class as Francoise Sagan when it comes to writing about women's emotions and thoughts.
Anne Wood, UK

Farewell...........the world will miss you
John Pater, Penang Malaysia

That's your joy which blooms across the sadness
Ramon M. O'Callaghan, Barcelona Catalunya

She was an excellent example of a person who lead her own life in the way she just wanted to, without letting conventions press on her behaviour neither on the way she liked to write. An excellent example of the youth of those rebellious times in France and in much of the Western World. She will remain in our hearts for ever.
Julian Bono, Seville, Spain

She articulated teenage angst with form and style, never inhibited by convention or false shame. A breath of fresh air in the conformist 1950s.
Maxine Heller, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

All good things must come to an end. All good people come to an end. It's the vision and influence that lives on with the breath of time. Our thoughts are with you Mme. Sagan.
Dale C. Knight, Berea, OH, United States

Adieu, tristesse
Sarah Stock, Edgartown, Ma

Wish her soul rests in peace. She will be remembered forever for her convictions, particularly the one that "The laws are made to be adapted to people and not the other way round."
Pulkit Misra, Paris, France

You will always be remembered with a Certain Smile as we hear an Incidental Music.
Ron A. Alexandri, Kew Gardens, New York

Sagan's death is the death of the romantic post-World War II French existentialism leaving us bare to the cold post-modern, post existentialistic world with no comfort; not even the light escapism that Sagan represented lightening the burden of the bleak future that will not necessarily be better...
Barbara Adler, Ashdod Israel

Francoise Sagan once noted: "The one thing I regret is that I will never have time to read all the books I want to read." That is a sad truth for many of us. But all of us, who are still alive, have the time to read her work. Let's make sure we do not miss that chance!
Tomas J. Fulopp, Poprad, Slovakia

I was in my early 20s when I met Francoise Sagan at a party in Fontainbleau. That memory has lasted vividly in my mind for over forty years. We saw each other occasionally at La Foret in Barbizon. She was a rather unique person, to say the least. Very unique. I have never met another like her. Good bye
Robert J. Denton, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

One of the finest feminists in her generation. Her Bonjour Tristesse is and always will be an inspiration for feminists all over the world. Thanks Alios Frosis in Bangladesh for giving me the chance to read her Bonjour Tristesse .
Taufiq Aziz, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Francoise Sagan was the epitome of a literate, brilliant woman, and the epitome of the statement "Well behaved Women seldom make History."
Kristina Meservey Grant, Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA

It is a sad day for the millions of readers. " bonjour tristesse " was one of my favourite books. She will be missed deeply. Farewell Francoise .
Hamid Bouzrar, Bab el Oued , Algeria

Au revoir Françoise; bonjour tristesse.
david@wine-consultants.com, Bordeaux, France




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