Françoise Sagan, My New Favorite
I started Bonjour Tristesse yesterday and love it. I've always been a sucker for stories that feature the spoiled, self-absorbed, manipulative young women and this story is no different. But besides that, the author Françoise Sagan is quite intriguing. Bonjour Tristesse was published in 1954 when she was 18 and it was immediately well received.
It sounds like Sagan herself was quite similar to her female protagonist in Bonjour Tristesse, Cecile. Sagan was born near Bordeaux to an upper-middle class family and was the youngest of three. She was described as "headstrong and fearless". She was spoiled as a child and didn't do well in school, and was eventually rejected by the Sorbonne. So at the age of 18 she began to write. In an interview with The Paris Review in August 1956 she said, "I simply started it (Bonjour Tristesse). I had a strong desire to write and some free time. I said to myself, This is the sort of enterprise very, very few girls my age devote themselves to; I'll never be able to finish it. I wasn't thinking about 'literature' and literary problems, but about myself and whether I had the necessary will power."
After the novel's success, Sagan then had money of her own - and a lot of it. In September 2004, upon Sagan's passing, The London Times wrote "Sagan was not shy in presenting to her public a version of the responsibility-free lifestyle endorsed in her work. She would leave her sports cars haphazardly in the road outside the doors of nightclubs, breakfast on Gauloises and coffee, and play to lurid rumours of her sex life. Her entourage came to be known as the pinnacle of youthful sophistication."
Labeled the enfant terrible, Sagan was a long-time smoker who was fined for using cocaine later in life. All in all, I find her fascinating.