Romain Gary

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Romain Gary (8 May 1914 – 2 December 1980) was a French diplomat, novelist, film director, World War II aviator. He is the only author to have won the Prix Goncourt twice (under his own name and under a pseudonym).


Gary was born Roman Kacew (Yiddish: קצב, Russian: Касев), born in Vilnius to a family of Lithuanian Jews. Gary changed his name to Romain Gary when he escaped occupied France to fight with Great Britain against Germany in World War II. His father, Arieh-Leib Kacew, abandoned his family in 1925 and remarried. Although Gary never liked to discuss his father's identity, his recent biographer Dominique Bona[1] theorizes convincingly that he was the son of the actor Ivan Mozzhukhin. After his father left Gary was raised by his Jewish mother, Nina Owczinska. When Gary was fourteen, he and his mother moved to Nice, France. In his books and interviews, he presented many different versions of his father's origin, parents, occupation and childhood.

Gary's first wife was the British writer, journalist, and Vogue editor Lesley Blanch (author of The Wilder Shores of Love). They married in 1944 and divorced in 1961. From 1962 to 1970, Gary was married to American actress Jean Seberg, with whom he had a son, Alexandre Diego Gary. According to Diego Gary, he was a distant presence as a father; "Even when he was around, my father wasn't there. Obsessed with his work, he used to greet me, but he was elsewhere."


Gary studied law, first in Aix-en-Provence and then in Paris. He learned to pilot an aircraft in the French Air Force in Salon-de-Provence and in Avord Air Base, near Bourges.


Following the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, he fled to England and under Charles de Gaulle served with the Free French Forces in Europe and North Africa. As a pilot, he took part in over 25 successful sorties, logging over 65 hours of air time.

He was greatly decorated for his bravery in the war, receiving many medals and honours among which Compagnon de la Libération and commander of the Légion d'honneur.

After the war, he worked in the French diplomatic service and in 1945 published his first novel.

In 1952, he became secretary of the French Delegation to the United Nations in New York, and later in London (in 1955).

In 1956, he became Consul General of France in Los Angeles.

Literary career

Gary would become one of France's most popular and prolific writers, authoring more than thirty novels, essays and memoirs, some of which he wrote under a pseudonym.

He is the only person to win the Prix Goncourt twice. This prize for French language literature is awarded only once to an author. Gary, who had already received the prize in 1956 for Les racines du ciel, published La vie devant soi under the pseudonym of Émile Ajar in 1975. The Académie Goncourt awarded the prize to the author of this book without knowing his real identity. A period of literary intrigue followed. Gary's cousin's son Paul Pavlowitch posed as the author for a time. Gary later revealed the truth in his posthumous book Vie et mort d'Émile Ajar.

It was not unusual for Gary to write under an assumed name. He also published as Shatan Bogat, Rene Deville and Fosco Sinibaldi, as well as his own name Roman Kacew.

He also co-wrote the screenplay for the motion picture, The Longest Day and co-wrote and directed the 1971 film Kill!, starring his now ex-wife Seberg.

In 1979, he was a member of the jury at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival.

Final years

Suffering from depression after Seberg's 1979 supposed suicide, Gary died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 2 December 1980 in Paris, France though he left a note which said specifically that his death had no relation to Seberg's suicide. He also stated in his note that Émile Ajar was himself.

Gary was cremated in Père Lachaise Cemetery and his ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea near Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

Selected bibliography

As Romain Gary

    * Education européenne (1945); translated as A European Education
    * Tulipe (1946); republished and modified in 1970.
    * Le grand vestiaire (1949); translated as "The Company Of Men, 1950)
    * Les couleurs du jour (1952); translated as The Colors of the Day, 1953
    * Les racines du ciel — 1956 Prix Goncourt; translated as The Roots of Heaven (1957); filmed as The Roots of Heaven (1958)
    * Lady L (1957); translated and published in French in 1963; filmed as Lady L (1965)
    * La Promesse de l'aube (1960); translated as Promise at Dawn (1961); filmed as Promise at Dawn (1970)
    * Johnie Coeur (1961, a theatre adaptation of "L'homme a la colombe")
    * Gloire à nos illustres pionniers (1962, short stories); translated as "Hissing Tales" (1964)
    * The Ski Bum (1965) (French transl. Adieu Gary Cooper, 1969)
    * Pour Sganarelle (1965, literary essay)
    * Les Mangeurs d'Etoiles (1966); translated and first published as The Talent Scout (1961)
    * La danse de Gengis Cohn (1967); translated as The Dance of Genghis Cohn
    * La tête coupable (1968); translated as The Guilty Head(1969)
    * Chien blanc (1970); translated as White Dog (1970); filmed as White Dog (1982)
    * Les trésors de la Mer Rouge (1971)
    * Europa (1972) translated in English in 1978.
    * The Gasp (1973); translated as Charge d'ame (1978)
    * Les enchanteurs (1973); translated as The Enchanters(1975)
    * La nuit sera calme (1974, interview)
    * Au-delà de cette limite votre ticket n'est plus valable (1975); translated as "Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid", 1977.
    * Clair de femme (1977)
    * La bonne moitié (1979, theatre)
    * Les clowns lyriques (1979); new version of the 1952 novel, "Les couleurs du jour" (The Colors of the Day)
    * Les cerfs-volants (1980)
    * Vie et mort d'Émile Ajar (1981, posthumous)
    * L'homme à la colombe (1984, definitive posthumous version)
    * L'affaire homme (2005, articles and interviews)
    * L'orage (2005, short stories and unfinished novels)
    * Un Humaniste, a short story

As Émile Ajar

    * Gros câlin (1974)
    * La vie devant soi — 1975 Prix Goncourt; filmed as Madame Rosa (1977); translated as "Momo" (1978); re-released as The Life Before Us (1986).
    * Pseudo (1976)
    * L'Angoisse du roi Salomon (1979); translated as "King Solomon" (1983).
    * Gros câlin - new version including final chapter of the original and never published version.

As Fosco Sinibaldi

    * L'homme à la colombe (1958)

As Shatan Bogat

    * Les têtes de Stéphanie (1974)


As director

    * Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (Birds in Peru) (1968) starring Jean Seberg
    * Kill! (1971) also starring Jean Seberg

As screenwriter

    * The Roots of Heaven (1958)
    * The Longest Day (1962)

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