YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Expatriate French Author Marguerite Yourcenar Dies

December 18, 1987|Associated Press

BAR HARBOR, Me. — Marguerite Yourcenar, one of the 20th Century's great writers in the French language and the first woman admitted to the Academie Francaise, has died at 84.

She died Thursday night of complications from a stroke that hospitalized her five or six weeks ago, said Mount Desert Island Hospital nursing supervisor J. E. Murley.

Jean d'Ormesson, a fellow member of the Academie Francaise, said that after Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Aragon, Ms. Yourcenar was the best representative of French literature in the world.

She was an erudite author of historical novels set in a wide variety of countries and cultures.

Best-known for the 1951 novel "The Memoirs of Hadrian," about the Roman emperor, and "L'Oeuvre Noir" (The Abyss), about Europe in the 16th Century, Ms. Yourcenar was applauded by critics for her independent judgment and her impassioned inquiry into the human condition.

"French letters has just lost an exceptional woman," Premier Jacques Chirac said in Paris. "On the strength of a classical and rigorous style, Marguerite Yourcenar used a very personal tone to find, thanks to history, the occasion for a strong reflection on morality and power."

In 1980, Ms. Yourcenar made history by becoming the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Academie Francaise, the 350-year-old guardian of the French language and one of France's last fortresses of male supremacy.

The decision sparked heated debate in France because she had been an American citizen since 1947 and had lived on Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast since 1951.

Yourcenar never married.

Los Angeles Times Articles