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French feminist author Benoite Groult dies at 96

The French writer Benoite Groult, famous for her novel "Salt on our Skin," has passed away. Although initially dismissed in France as "women's porn," her work was later renowned for its feminist themes.

Benoite Groult, a French feminist novelist and icon, passed away late on Monday night in the southeastern French city Hyeres, her family announced on Tuesday.

"She died in her sleep, just like she wanted, without suffering," her daughter Blandine de Caunes told the news agency AFP. Her publisher has yet to confirm Groult's death.

Groult was born in Paris on 31 January 1920 to an upper-class family. She first worked as a teacher and later as a journalist before she began alongside her sister, Flora. The two siblings published many books together.

Her feminist essay Ainsi soit-elle (which loosely translates to So Be It) was "a revolution," said Education Minister Najat Vallud-Belkacem.

The work "opened the field on women's writing and point of view about the condition of women,"Vallaud-Belkacem said, adding that "the work challenged the confiscation by men of every form of discourse, from political discourse to literary writing."

In 2013, Groult was awarded as a member of the National Merit Order

In 2013, Groult was awarded as a member of the National Merit Order

Successful novelist

"Salt on our Skin," her passionate bestseller about two mismatched lovers, was the author's first feminist breakthrough, Groult wrote in her autobiography. Her writing often dealt with misogyny and discrimination against women.

The novel's descriptions of its characters' wild sexual encounters were initially criticized in France as "women's porn" and "a hymn to the phallus." The book, which was first published in 1988, is now considered an erotic literature classic.

The novel was also made into a successful movie by director Andrew Birkin, staring Greta Scacchi and Vincent D'Onofrio. Groult, herself, was the subject of several documentary films.

In 2010, she became a commander of the French Legion of Honor.

She was awarded as "Grand Officier" in the "Ordre national du Merite" (or national Merit Order) by French President Francois Hollande in December 2013.

Groult's daughter Blandine said her mother led a "truly beautiful life."

rs/kms (AFP, dpa)

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