Françoise Sagan Quotes on Love, Life, and Writing

Francois sagan

Françoise Sagan (1935 –  2004), the French novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, was always best know for her debut novel, Bonjour Tristesse, published when she was just 18. Following is a selection of quotes by François Sagan on love, life, and writing.

Sagan went on to have an incredibly prolific career after her freshman effort, coupled with a wild and turbulent life that featured fast cars, drugs, and many love affairs. Her turbulent life eventually caught up with her health; she spent her last few years ill and and she died in 2004 of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 69.

Her passing was noted by then-president Jacques Chirac, who stated: “With her death, France loses one of its most brilliant and sensitive writers — an eminent figure of our literary life.” 

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“Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.”

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“I believe in passion. Nothing else. Two years, no more. All right, then: three.”

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“He refused categorically all ideas of fidelity or serious commitments. He explained that they were arbitrary and sterile. From anyone else such views would have shocked me, but I knew that in his case they did not exclude tenderness and devotion – feelings which came all the more easily to him since he was determined that they should be transient.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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“Love lasts about seven years. That’s how long it takes for the cells of the body to totally replace themselves.”

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“Nothing becomes some women more than the prick of ambition. Love, on the contrary, may make them very dull.”

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“I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.”

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Bonjour Tristesse cover

A review of Bonjour Tristesse
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“Sometimes I belonged to the pure and beautiful race of nomads, and at others to the poor withered breed of hedonists.”

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“Whisky, gambling and Ferraris are better than housework.”

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“A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow. The idea of sorrow has always appealed to me but now I am almost ashamed of its complete egoism. I have known boredom, regret, and occasionally remorse, but never sorrow. Today it envelops me like a silken web, enervating and soft, and sets me apart from everybody else.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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“It is a known fact that every man’s heart is set on having a daughter.” (Dans Un Mois, Dans Un An, or Those Without Shadows, 1957)

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“Nothing brings on jealousy like laughter.” (That Mad Ache & Translator, Trader: An Essay on the Pleasantly Pervasive Paradoxes of Translation, 1965)

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“Usually I avoided college students, whom I considered brutal, wrapped up in themselves, particularly in their youth, in which they found material for drama or an excuse for their own boredom. I did not care for young people.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1957)

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“She’d like to be indispensable; that’s what every woman wants…” (Dans Un Mois, Dans Un An, 1957)

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“The one thing I regret is that I will never have time to read all the books I want to read.”

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Francoise Sagan older

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“I have loved to the point of madness, that which is called madness, that which to me is the only sensible way to love.”

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“The questions I would have liked to ask people were: ‘Are you in love? What are you reading?’”

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“What we love we may also despise.” (Dans Un Mois, Dans Un An, 1957)

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“For this was the round of love: fear which leads on desire, tenderness and fury, and that brutal anguish which triumphantly follows pleasure.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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“Every little girl knows about love. It is only her capacity to suffer from it that increases.”

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“There is a certain kind of stupidity reserved for women’s dealings with men.”

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“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 of 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 willpower.” (on writing Bonjour Tristesse at the age of 18; from Paris Reviews Interviews)

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A certain smile by Francois Sagan (1956)

Françoise Sagan page on Amazon*
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“A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to want to take it off you.”

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“My love of pleasure seems to be the only consistent side of my character. Is it because I have not read enough?” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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“For what are we looking for if not to please? I do not know if the desire to attract others comes from a superabundance of vitality, possessiveness, or the hidden, unspoken need to be reassured.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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“She said she didn’t love him, and he said it didn’t matter, and the poverty of their words brought tears to their eyes.” (Dans Un Mois, Dans Un An, 1957)

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“I like men to behave like men. I like them strong and childish.”

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“It amused me to think that one can tell the truth when one is drunk and nobody will believe it.” (Bonjour Tristesse, 1954)

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