- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

HONFLEUR, France (AP) — Francoise Sagan, author of the best-selling novel “Bonjour Tristesse” about seduction and infidelity among the idle rich, died yesterday. She was 69.

The cause of death was heart and lung failure, said Yves Buzeins, director of Honfleur hospital, near her home in Normandy, where Miss Sagan had been hospitalized for several days.

“With her death, France loses one of its most brilliant and most sensitive writers — an eminent figure of our literary life,” President Jacques Chirac said. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin’s office called Miss Sagan “a smile — one that was melancholy, enigmatic, distant and yet joyous.”

Born Francoise Quoirez on June 21, 1935, in the town of Cajarc in southwest France, Miss Sagan wrote “Bonjour Tristesse” in six weeks while a student at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1953. Published in 1954, the book sold more than 2 million copies worldwide and was translated into at least 15 languages.

“I met upon glory at 18 years of age in 188 pages — it was like an explosion,” she once said.

Miss Sagan married publisher Guy Schoeller in 1958, then divorced him two years later. In 1962, she married American sculptor Robert Westhoff and had a son, Denis. The couple separated a decade later.

Miss Sagan, who selected her pen name from a character in Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” went on to write 30 novels and compilations of novellas as well as nine plays.

A longtime smoker with a penchant for fast cars, Miss Sagan was fined for using cocaine in the mid-1990s and ordered to seek treatment. In 2002, a court convicted her of tax fraud.

She is survived by her son. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.

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