Free Sex has a Price: The life of Francoise Sagan by C. JOHN McCLOSKEY III

8 06 2015


One of the saddest things I’ve read in a long time was the New York Times’ obituary of French novelist . She was an enormously successful writer whose precocious first novel, Bonjour Tristesse,was a tremendous hit when it appeared in 1954. After that rousing start she published a long string of successful books and made a great deal of money along the way. The Times obituary appeared on September 25, 2004. Here is the final paragraph: “In a 1993 interview before her second drug trial,

Ms. Sagan recalled: ‘I had incredible luck because just when I grew up the pill came along. When I was 18, I used to die with fear of being pregnant, but then it arrived, and love was free and without consequence for nearly 30 years. Then AIDS came. Those 30 years coincided with my adulthood, the age for having fun.’”

Oh, what fun she must have had! Twice married, twice divorced, twice convicted of narcotics offenses, Ms. Sagan— who on one occasion suffered a fractured skull in the smashup of her expensive sports car—also said, “I believe I have a right to destroy myself as long as it does not harm anyone. If I feel like swallowing a glass of caustic soda, that’s my problem.”

No doubt Francoise Sagan’s attitudes and behavior had other causes over and above the fact that she insisted on having so much “fun” in her own peculiar way.

But can anyone seriously doubt that the lifestyle of sexual permissiveness was part of the self-destructive syndrome that marked her life? For a long time secular culture has been in denial about matters having to do with sex. Francoise Sagan—God rest her soul!—was just one conspicuous case. Human sexuality is a great and beautiful gift from God. But the residue of sin in human beings—both original sin and personal sin—makes the sexual drive more or less difficult to control and to order to the good ends of procreation and love. In order to exercise sexual self-control, we need God’s grace and the virtue of chastity, which is an aspect or subcategory of the cardinal virtue of temperance.

Back in the fourth century, St. Augustine understood quite well what it meant to want and not want to be chaste. He called it “a sickness of the soul to be so weighted down by custom that [the soul] cannot wholly rise even with the support of truth”. But persistent efforts to be chaste are eventually crowned with success. With God’s help, Augustine succeeded. Later he wrote that as charity increases, “lust diminishes; when it reaches perfection, lust is no more.” Good love drives out bad.

Article adapted from his book,( Good News, Bad News)



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