how did he die? : LUSENET : Boris Vian : One Thread

I'd like to know how did B.V. die. I assume that, at some point of his life, he became aware of the fact that he doesn't have much time left. Is that one of the reasons for his creative lust for life? Perhaps he had a weak HEART? Thanks, S.G.

-- Slobodan Glavas (, October 11, 2001


The story goes like this: Having had a heart condition all his life which should have prevented him being exuberant in all things (but didn't) in 1959 at age 39 he went to a screening of a really bad film based on his book I spit on your graves. Apparently he had "forgotten" to take his heart medicine that morning. He did not approve of the film and had not been involved in the screenplay. After 10 minutes he apparently stood up and said "These are supposed to be Americans? My arse!" Then he collapsed and died.

Here is the version you will find in the Cismaru link under "General Criticism"

In 1932 Boris's heart was affected by rhuematic fever. Three years later he was struck down again, this time with typhoid fever. More heart problems.

After 1956 his health dramatically worsened. Nevertheless, he continued to write, publishing the play Les Batisseurs d'Empire, and many articles for Jazz-Hot.

In 1958 he finished his opera Fiesta written with Darius Milhaud and left Philips to work with the Barclay Recording Co., once again as artistic director.

On 23 June he went to a preview screening of the film J'irai cracher sur vos tombes. He strongly disapproved of the film's treatment of his work, having battled with the film company for years and having all his own film treatments of the book rejected by the producers. Having forgotten to take his medicine that morning, and very agitated, the experience literally killed him.

After ten minutes of attendance, seated in an armchair, he collapsed and died.

Bart Plantenga's version (under Novels & Stories) goes like this:

Death’s Punchline

On the morning of June 23, 1959 Vian sank nervously down into his seat in the stuffy Cinema Marbeuf as he awaited the private screening of the film version of his controversial novel, J’Irai Cracher Sur Vos Tombes (I Spit On Your Graves). He’d already denounced it, had already fought so much with the producers over their treatment versus his that he was ready to remove his name from the credits. He’d also "forgotten" to take his heart medicine that morning. The curtains parted and ten minutes after the first images flickered across the screen he reportedly blurted, "These guys are supposed to be American? My ass!" At 10:10 AM he collapsed into his seat and died of a heart attack en route to the hospital. The horror of coming face-to-face with his own Frankenstein literally may have killed him.

-- robert whyte (, October 11, 2001.

Dear Rob, Not an answer, but another question... Has Fiesta ever been produced/recorded? I'd never heard of this until I read your response. (By the way, how authentic are the accounts of BV's demise? It does seem too good to be true, doesn't it? Oh, and where is he buried? Do we know?)

-- Brian Clover (, September 15, 2002.

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