Erich Segal, author of “Love Story”

Most famous as an author on Love Story, American writer, screenwriter and academic Erich Segal died of a heart attack on Sunday, January 17, at his home in London. He is 72 years old and has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for twenty-five years.

Born in Brooklyn on June 16, 1937, Erich Segal was the son of a New York rabbi and the grandson of a rabbi from Vilnius, Lithuania. Such a background would naturally set him up for a religious career if he had not, very early on, concluded an agreement with his father: he would seriously study the Torah every night, instead of allowing him to leave. yeshiva, the Jewish religious school, to follow a secular path.

In this course, Erich Segal will not take long to succeed. After studying at Harvard – where he introduced himself in poetry and Latin – he began an academic career, teaching classics at Yale for twenty years, then at Harvard, Princeton and even Wolfson College in Oxford. . . A good Latinist, he was also a specialist in ancient theater, a sports enthusiast – especially when he became a marathon champion at the university of the United States in 1966 -, a lover of music, cinema and … literature.

Always nurturing the desire to write, Segal first signed screenplays – we owe him especially the film Yellow Submarinefilmed with the Beatles in 1968, musicals, such as Helen of Troy played at Broadway length in 1961; and, of course, novels.

It was Christmas time 1969 he was writing Love Story. The novel – published in the United States in 1970 by Harper and Row and, in France, the same year, by Flammarion – was the “novelization” of a film that was on Erich Segal’s mind at the time and that would see the light of day. day in late 1970. He offered it to Paramount, who did not believe it and suggested that he first write the story in the form of a novel.

The plot could not be simpler. Male and female. He was Oliver Barrett IV, heir to a great New England WASP dynasty, he was Jennifer Cavilleri with his intelligence and courage by his side. They met on the Harvard campus. They are in love but the father of the single is against the marriage. They ignore it but when life seems to make them smile, Jennifer is sick and severe. In short, “He died, he cried and the story endedin “ironically summarizes Margalit Fox’s New York Times on January 19.

This romance did not arouse the enthusiasm of critics, but it did not take long, on the other hand, to become a huge commercial success. With over 10 million copies sold worldwide, the novel has been on the bestseller list for over a year. New York Times. As for the film, in which the couple was played by Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, it won an Oscar for best music in 1971 – five memorable notes by Frenchman Francis Lai – and saved the studios from in bankruptcy from Paramount Pictures. “The success of Love Story in the United States is quickly explained “, Directed by Françoise Wagener at The world in 1970. “After so much violence, sex, trouble, a little rose water seems beautiful, in any case it is very necessary to water and make the“ blue flower ”that people bring to their hearts to bloom . The book and film will leave the memory of America in some famous prints such as: “Love means you don’t have to be sorry anymore” (“Love because you don’t have to apologize”).

Was Oliver’s character inspired by Al Gore or the actor Tommy Lee Jones who worked with the writer at Harvard? The American press will issue many speculations that Erich Segal wants to ignore.

In 1977, he published with Harper and Row, Oliver’s story, where he continues the story of his male hero. Many other novels follow, including The class (1985), doctors (1988), Works of Faith (1992), the three with Bantam, or even Love ra (Putnam, 1997) … But the victory of Love Story never to come back again. In 2001, Erich Segal signed a final work, inspired by his PhD thesis at Harvard, The Death of Comedyan essay on Western comedy, from antiquity to the present (Harvard University Press).

June 16, 1937: Born in Brooklyn (United States)

1970: Publication of “Love Story”

January 17, 2010: Death in London

Leave a Comment