Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What I like about youth is its spontaneity,its gay conversation - From Bonjour Tristesse

Nearly ten years after World War 2, France was smitten by a young new writer, Francoise Sagan, whose first book 'Bonjour Tristesse' created quite some ripples in the literary circles.

When the story unfolds, a seventeen year old girl, Cecile, is holidaying with her father and his girlfriend Elsa. The book comes alive with fresh wisps of breeze from the French Riviera that you can almost smell the beach, but interspersed with the colorful life of the father-daughter duo is the mental turmoil of young Cecile. Cecile’s father, Raymond has fun with Elsa while Cecile herself is busy with Cyril, when Anne enters this tranquil scene. Cecile despises the fact that Anne takes control of their smooth sailing carefree boat. Anne wants Cecile to concentrate on her studies, but little does she realize that she has awakened the dormant manipulator in Cecile.

At some point in Sagan's 'Bonjour Tristesse', you pause and wonder if there is a parallel between ‘Holden Caulfield' and Cecile. But youth is the only common theme running through these books. While Holden comes across as dark and depressed, Cecile is colorful and feisty. Unlike Holden, she is uncomfortable introspecting herself and is clear on her plan of action.

Don’t you love books that makes you want to hate the protagonist, Humbert anyone? I had no such qualms. I knew whom I liked in my head; it is Cecile all the way. Freedom is the one thing that is totally shackle-free and I would hate to see it stifled.

I think that many readers would disagree or denounce this book as a paragon of vice, but I beg to differ. Should youth be given a free hand to do what they want or be subjected to benchmarks of achievements? Should the choice of what you want to do with your life be yours or those of your well-wishers?

And why does pleasure always has to be remorseful?