Françoise sagan, the admirable lightness of being on Arte


The way in which Françoise Sagan (here in Cannes in 1954) received the success of Hello Sadness still commands admiration today Edward Quinn

CRITICISM – Priscilla Pizzato’s film returns with great skill to the phenomenon linked to the release of Hello Sadness . Hello Sagana new documentary not to be missed this Wednesday, November 30 at 10:45 p.m. on Arte and on arte.tv.

We miss her, Françoise Sagan, and it is undoubtedly her humility and her detachment that are lacking in our time. Hello Sadness was a phenomenon, we know, but the way in which the novelist receives this success commands admiration. The beautiful documentary written and directed by Priscilla Pizzato illustrates this perfectly.

One million copies sold

Let us recall a few facts. In the France of René Coty, on March 15, 1954, a novel was released which had the effect of an explosion: Hello Sadness. The content, style and age of the author – 18 years at the time of publication. One million copies sold. Translations all over the world. Everything explodes!

In the first ten minutes of the film, the word “scandal” is used again and again. At no time, however, Sagan loses his detachment, his lightness which is not the opposite of depth. For her, the success of her book is not deserved! How did she start? “I failed an exam at the Sorbonne, I had nothing to do, there was a typewriter, so I wrote”she explains.

A great reader

In January 1953, Julliard smelled the vein, she signed a contract. The book is surrounded by a banner: “The Devil at Heart”. The publisher has a sense of marketing. When she tells the good news to her parents, they retort: “Comb your hair and wash your hands before you eat…” His father: “Under no circumstances will you keep my name for your nonsense…” Françoise Quoirez finds the pseudonym of Sagan in Proust, as she had borrowed the title from Éluard. She may not have shone academically, she is a great reader.

“Charming Monster”

The rocket Hello Sadness was put into orbit by the Prix des Critiques, at the time a safe bet. While her publisher asks her to be ready in case she wins the prestigious literary award, Françoise Sagan thinks of only one thing: going to Senlis to a surprise party. “I prayed to heaven not to have this price and to be able to go to this party. I was unconscious”she will say later.

After the price, it is the criticism of François Mauriac, on the front page of the Figaro, which will play a decisive role – the documentary says so. The columnist speaks of a “lovely 18 year old freak”. And writes: “The literary merit bursts there from the first page and is not debatable”. There will be much discussion about the incredible force of this text, and Otto Preminger’s film will add its scent of scandal to it. In this 52 minutes, Catherine Deneuve reads excerpts from it. This increases tenfold the charm, which has never ceased to operate.



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