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A Certain Smile (1953)

by Françoise Sagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
455142,350 (3.45)4
Fran#65533;oise Sagan is best known for her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, which caused a scandal when she first published it at the age of eighteen in 1953. But her second novel, A Certain Smile, less shocking and more psychologically convincing, was preferred by many critics.  Like Bonjour Tristesse, this story is set in Paris in the 1950s and told by a young student bored by her law books, restless and curious about love and sex.  She is fond of her loyal boyfriend, but he, too, bores her.  His worldly uncle strikes her as more exciting, appealingly risky and forbidden. Frank and spontaneous, vulnerable and cruel, thoughtless and insightful, Sagan's young narrator explores such perennial themes as unrequited love and the precarious balance of irrational emotions and self-restraint. This edition includes a new foreword by Diane Johnson, author of the best-selling novels Le Divorce and L'Affaire.   "The second book is now out, and so is the verdict. Sagan's novel Un Certain Sourire, written in two months, is the new literary sensation of Paris."--Time   "Miss Sagan is a technician of the highest order, working with exceptional economy and elegance in the tradition of Colette and Benjamin Constant."--Atlantic     "The reader is given the feeling of having opened a young girl's intimate diary by mistake. But whoever put such a diary down?--especially when the author is as sensitive, experienced, gifted and freshly talented as Mlle. Sagan!"--San Francisco Examiner   "[Sagan's] style is honest, direct, and her dialogue true. But for her sake let's hold back those invidious comparisons. Colette indeed! She might turn out to be Sagan."--Saturday Review… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Maddening passivity of a somewhat unsympathetic protagonist described in beautiful language. Somehow oddly satisfying. A good follow-up to Bonjour Tristesse.

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Passivité atroce d'un protagoniste peu sympathique décrit dans un joli discours. Bizarrement satisfaisant. Un bon successeur de Bonjour Tristesse. ( )
  Frenzie | Dec 22, 2017 |
Author Sagan's prose is as disciplined as her characters are not. Her style is spare, lucid and psychologically astute. Yet her novel is a petition in spiritual and emotional bankruptcy. The word "nothing" recurs with obsessive frequency in describing what the heroine thinks and feels. Hemingway reduced the value problem of his "lost generation" to "What is moral is what you feel good after." Sagan has reduced hers to "What you feel is good, if you feel anything."
added by jjlong | editTime (Aug 20, 1956)
 

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sagan, FrançoiseAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ash, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lampo, HubertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pariser, VanCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"L'amour c'est ce qui se passe entre deux personnes qui s'aiment" (Roger Vaillant)
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Voor: Florence Malraux
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We had spent the afternoon in a cafe on the Rue Saint-Jacques, a spring afternoon just like any other.
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Fran#65533;oise Sagan is best known for her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, which caused a scandal when she first published it at the age of eighteen in 1953. But her second novel, A Certain Smile, less shocking and more psychologically convincing, was preferred by many critics.  Like Bonjour Tristesse, this story is set in Paris in the 1950s and told by a young student bored by her law books, restless and curious about love and sex.  She is fond of her loyal boyfriend, but he, too, bores her.  His worldly uncle strikes her as more exciting, appealingly risky and forbidden. Frank and spontaneous, vulnerable and cruel, thoughtless and insightful, Sagan's young narrator explores such perennial themes as unrequited love and the precarious balance of irrational emotions and self-restraint. This edition includes a new foreword by Diane Johnson, author of the best-selling novels Le Divorce and L'Affaire.   "The second book is now out, and so is the verdict. Sagan's novel Un Certain Sourire, written in two months, is the new literary sensation of Paris."--Time   "Miss Sagan is a technician of the highest order, working with exceptional economy and elegance in the tradition of Colette and Benjamin Constant."--Atlantic     "The reader is given the feeling of having opened a young girl's intimate diary by mistake. But whoever put such a diary down?--especially when the author is as sensitive, experienced, gifted and freshly talented as Mlle. Sagan!"--San Francisco Examiner   "[Sagan's] style is honest, direct, and her dialogue true. But for her sake let's hold back those invidious comparisons. Colette indeed! She might turn out to be Sagan."--Saturday Review

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