Giroud, Françoise 1916-2003

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GIROUD, Françoise 1916-2003

PERSONAL: Born September 21, 1916, in Geneva, Switzerland; died January 19, 2003, in Paris, France; daughter of Salih (a journalist) and Elda (Faragi) Gourdji; married Anatole Eliacheff, June 25, 1946 (divorced, 1961); children: Alain Danis (died, 1972), Caroline Eliacheff. Education: Educated in France. Politics: Radical Party. Religion: Catholic.

CAREER: Script-girl, in cinema productions Fanny (with Marc Allegret), 1932, and La Grande Illusion (with Jean Renoir), 1936; assistant producer, 1937; Elle (magazine), Paris, France, editor-in-chief, 1946-53; Express (news magazine), Paris, co-founder and editor-in-chief, 1953-74; Express-Union, Paris, president, 1970-74; served in French government as minister of women, 1974-76, and minister of culture, 1976-77; writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (France); Merite Civil (Spain); Ordre du Drapeau decoration (Yugoslavia); D.H.L. from University of Michigan, 1976, and Goucher College, 1977.


Françoise Giroud vous presente le tout Paris, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1952.

Nouveaux portraits (title means "New Portraits"), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1953.

La nouvelle vague (title means "The New Wave"), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1958.

Si je mens . . . , Stock, 1971, translation by Richard Seaver published as I Give You My Word, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1974.

Une poignée d'eau, Laffont (Paris, France), 1973.

(With others) Les femmes et le droit social, Editions Techniques et Economiques (Paris, France), 1976.

Cent mesures pour les femmes, Documentation Française (Paris, France), 1976.

La comedie du pouvoir (title means "The Comedy of Power"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1977.

Ce que je crois (title means "What I Believe"), Grasset (Paris, France), 1978.

(With Philippe d'Arvisenet and Jacques Sallois) Reflexions sur l'avenir du travail, Documentation Française (Paris, France), 1980.

Le bon plaisir (also see below), Mazarine (Paris, France), 1983.

Une femme honorable, Marie Curie, Fayard (Paris, France), 1981, translation by Lydia Davis published as Marie Curie, a Life, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 1986.

Dior: Christian Dior, 1905-1957, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1987.

Ecoutez-moi: Paris-Berlin, aller, retour, M. Sell (Paris, France), 1988.

Lecons particulieres (title means "Private Lessons"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1990.

Alma Mahler, ou, L'art d'être aimée, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1988, translation published as Alma Mahler; or, The Art of Being Loved,, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Jenny Marx, ou, La femme du diable, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1992.

(With Bernard-Henri Levy Les hommes et les femmes, Olivier Orban (Paris, France), 1993, translation by Richard Miller published as Women and Men: A Philosophical Conversation, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.

Journal d'une parisienne, Seuil (Paris, France), 1994.

Mon tres cher amour (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1994.

Coeur de tigre, Fayard (Paris, France), 1995.

Chienne d'année, Seuil (Paris, France), 1996.

Cosima la sublime, Fayard (Paris, France), 1996.

Arthur, ou, Le bonheur de vivre, Fayard (Paris, France), 1997.

Gais-z-et-contents, Seuil (Paris, France), 1997.

Deux et deux font trois (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1998.

La rumeur du monde: Journal, 1997 et 1998, Fayard (Paris, France), 1999.

Les françaises: De la gauloise a la pilule, Fayard (Paris, France), 1999.

C'est arrivé hier: journal 1999, Fayard (Paris, France), 2000.

Histoires (presque) vraies: recits, Fayard (Paris, France), 2000.

On ne peut pas etre heureux tout le temps: Recit, Fayard (Paris, France), 2000.

Profession journaliste: Conversations avec Martine de Rabaudy, Hachette (Paris, France), 2001.

Lou: histoir d'une femme libre, Fayard (Paris, France), 2002.

Also author of dialogue and adaptations for numerous films, including Antoine et Antoinette, 1947, La belle que voila, 1950, L'amour, madame, 1951, Julietta, 1953, and Le bon plaisir (based on her book of the same title), 1984. Former contributor to Monde; contributor to Nouvel Observateur.

SIDELIGHTS: The late Françoise Giroud was a journalist who aired many concerns about conditions for women in twentieth-century France. As secretary of the world's first ministry for the feminine condition, created by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Giroud captured international attention through her efforts to meet the ministry's goal of "overseeing the integration of women into contemporary French society." In a society still largely dominated by the sexist Napoleonic Code and traditional views of women's roles, many French women continued to fill low-status, low-paying jobs and endure discrimination. Giroud viewed her task primarily as one of changing the public's attitude in order to facilitate the adoption of various reform measures.

High on Giroud's list of priorities were the special problems of older women, who often lacked skills necessary for entering the work force because of the years they had spent in child-rearing. Giroud also sought to encourage the development of day-care centers and the adoption by employers of more flexible working hours to enable women with families to pursue jobs outside their homes.

Despite the visible accomplishments of women in French national life, Giroud remained concerned with the lackluster quality of advancement experienced by women and endeavored to upgrade their social status by such measures as urging professional schools to admit more women. Determined to enforce existing legislation guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work, she also fought discrimination in hiring practices. In addition to issues relating to employment, Giroud also concentrated on other concerns of women, such as the liberalization of abortion laws and the banning of exploitative television advertising.

Though she forcefully denounced sexism in French society, both as founder and editor of the popular magazine L'Express and as minister of women, Giroud refused to ally herself with feminists or the women's liberation movement. In an interview with Marilyn Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal, she once said that the "revolt" of women "is part and parcel of the evolution of human affairs and is right. But when it expresses itself as hatred of men, it's stupid. The best way to hurt a man, if you hate him, is to be the object of his desire, not to hustle him into the kitchen to do dishes." As she once explained to CA, she was reluctant, or more exactly, refractaire, to take a militant feminist stance.

Giroud's status as a high-ranking journalist, author, and speaker did not decline as her age advanced. In 1993 she had a bestseller in France, co-written with Bernard-Henri Levy, in which she and Levy engage in a conversation about issues ranging from romantic love to employment. She also wrote a number of popular biographies of prominent French women, from Marie Curie to Alma Mahler. A People reviewer called her biography Dior: Christian Dior, 1905-1957 a "beautiful, fascinating book," adding: "Giroud's essay on the master tailor is graceful and revelatory."

A year after publication of her 2002 biography Lou: histoir d'une femme libre, Giroud died as a result of head injuries sustained in a fall. In his New York Times appreciation of the author and her work, Benjamin Ivry called Giroud "a canny writer with a keen ear for journalistic prose" who . . . "was known for being ever-vigilant about politics." As Alan Riding noted in a New York Times obituary, Giroud "served as a role model for two generations of French women seeking a more prominent role in French society." Riding also observed of Giroud: "Her books had a loyal readership, not least because they were packed with well-aimed commentaries on life."



Authors in the News, Volume 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1976.


Booklist, January 15, 1995, Bonnie Smothers, review of Women and Men: A Philosophical Conversation, p. 876.

Contemporary Review, March, 1996, Geoffrey Heptonstall, review of Women and Men, p. 160.

Milwaukee Journal, November 10, 1974, Marilyn Gardner, interview with Giroud.

Ms., January, 1975.

New Republic, April 17, 1995, Alain de Botton, review of Women and Men, p. 48.

Newsweek, September 22, 1975.

New York Times Book Review, December 28, 1986, Terrence Monmaney, review of Marie Curie, a Life, p. 19.

Notes, March, 1993, Julia Moore, review of Alma Mahler: or, The Art of Being Loved, p. 972.

Oregonian, October 30, 1974.

People, February 22, 1988, Harriet Shapiro, review of Dior: Christian Dior, 1905-1957, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, November 20, 1987, Penny Kaganoff, review of Dior, p. 56; January 20, 1992, review of Alma Mahler, p. 55; November 28, 1994, review of Women and Men, p. 48.

Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 29, 2001, "French Strike a Blow for Feminism," p. D8.

Time, July 29, 1974.

Times Literary Supplement, October 9, 1981.



New York Times, January 19, 2003, Alan Riding,

"Françoise Giroud: Force in French Media and Politics"; January 22, 2003, Benjamin Ivry, "Remembering a French Journalist's Elan and Grit."*