The French Australian Review – No 69 Australian Summer 2020-2021


CAROLINE WINTER, Com-Memoration of the Great War: Tourists and remembrance on the Western Front

Social memory changes in response to the characteristics and needs of each generation, thus it can often present a somewhat more favourable perspective on past events, compared with historical reality. In the lead up to the centenary of the Great War, 1914-1918, the Australian government sought to intensify its commemorative focus in Europe to the battles around the village of Villers-Bretonneux, the site of the Australian National Memorial in France, and since 2018, the Sir John Monash Centre. This appears to have initiated a process of sight sacralisation, which may lead to the creation of a ‘commemorative bubble’ that narrows Australians’ views of the war. It remains to be seen, whether or not the site at Villers-Bretonneux leads to the development of a broader understanding by Australians of the Great War, or in fact narrows it. Other nations in Europe have also changed their focus, but moved towards an international perspective, that acknowledges a common war experience for all of the nations involved.

Keywords: commemorative bubble, commemoration, social memory, tourism, Great War, remembrance, forgetting.

PAULINE GEORGELIN, ‘The fighting in France’: French-Australians report from the front.

This article examines the experiences of French-Australians fighting with the French army in the First World War, via reports sent to Australia and published in the press. French-Australians sent back personal accounts of their experiences in iconic battles such as Verdun, and their letters performed multiple functions. In addition to informing and entertaining the Australian readership, the firsthand accounts provided a sense of immediacy and authenticity, and helped to strengthen feelings of connectedness between Australia and its French ally, therefore underpinning pro-war rhetoric.

Keywords: French-Australian relations, French army, Verdun, World War One.


GILLES PRILAUX, Underground Traces of the Great War at Naours: Some Australian Soldiers and their Stories

This article documents the discovery in 2014 of a concentration of inscriptions in a network of underground caves and tunnels under Naours in the Somme. Almost 3,200 of these inscriptions date from the First World War, with 2,200 inscriptions by Australian soldiers identified. An historical overview of the site is presented along with the personal biographies of a selection of the soldiers who inscribed their names, drawing on the National Archives of Australia and family records, including personal diaries. The article contains many images of the underground signatures as well as photos of the soldiers.

Keywords: Naours, the Somme, World War One, the ‘souterrains’.

YVONNE DELACY, French Australian Encounters Number 5

Yvonne DeLacy connects the story of the ‘Sunnysiders’—a group of artists, poets and writers in Kallista, Victoria—with the First World War battlefields in Picardie, where she visited the grave of one of group, Frank Roberts and a sculpture by Sunnysider Web Gilbert, that was erected at the site of the battle only to be demolished at the order of Hitler during the occupation of France during the Second World War.

Keywords: the ‘Sunnysiders’, Kallista, Villers-Bretonneux, Frank Roberts, Web Gilbert.


The authors are the joint chairs of the ISFAR Research Committee and report on its program of activities including two new research projects—one on the French influence on the wine industry in Australia and the second on the development of a walking tour of the sites of French presence in Sydney. They also draw attention to the aim of holding a biennial conference the first of which will be held 8–9 April 2021 in Melbourne.

Keywords: French-Australian Dictionary of Biography, ISFAR 2021 Symposium, Colin Nettelbeck, Indo-Pacific region.

KERRY MULLAN, The Annual Ivan Barko Prize
This note congratulates Angela Giovanangeli as the recipient of the 2019 Ivan Barko Prize for her article ‘Communal Luxury and the Universal Republic in the Designs of Lucien Henry’ published in Issue 67 of the French Australian Review.

Keywords: Ivan Barko Prize, Lucien Henry, Angela Giovanangeli.

WALLACE KIRSOP, Obituary: Meredith Sherlock, 1955–2020
Wallace Kirsop pays tribute to Meredith Sherlock who died in November 2020, and who, for many years, was the Technical Editor of the Australian Journal of French Studies and from 1992 to 1996 of Explorations. More recently she was editor for Ancora Press and the Centre for the Book at Monash University.

Keywords: Meredith Sherlock, Ancora Press, Centre for the Book, Monash University, Harold Love, the Early Music Society.

KERRY MULLAN, Melbourne Salon and ISFAR Events

This note reports on the events held by the Melbourne Salon and ISFAR during 2020. Two on-line Salons were held, the first in September with author Juliana de Nooy speaking about her recently published book, What’s France Got to do with it: memoirs of Australians in France. The second was held in November with Professor Frédéric Thomas of the CNRS (France) and Professor Beata Ujvari of Deakin University reporting on their joint research project Unravelling the cancer puzzle from an ecological and evolutionary perspective: an Australian and French International Associated Laboratory.

Keywords: Juliana de Nooy, Frédéric Thomas, Beata Ujvari, facial tumours in Tasmanian devils.

ELIZABETH RECHNIEWSKI, Book Review: Romain Fathi, Our Corner of the Somme: Australia at Villers Bretonneux

This book is an examination of the commemorative agenda of the Australian Government at Villers-Bretonneux, challenging some of the assumptions underlying that agenda and the increasingly exclusive focus, manifest particularly in the new Sir John Monash Centre, on the role of the Australian troops.

Keywords: World War One, Villers-Bretonneux, Sir John Monash Centre, commemoration, the Western Front.

PATRICIA CLANCY, Book Review: Alistair Kershaw, Village to Village

This review documents the third reprint of a book first published in 1993. It recounts the life of Alistair Kershaw, Australian journalist, writer, reporter and editor, who arrived in Paris in 1948 and fell in love with the city. From down and out times when he first arrived to his retreat from the city to a village in the Berry, he describes, with wit and youthful enthusiasm, his personal relationship with French life and the many people he has known over forty-five years.

Keywords: Paris, Max Harris, the ABC, Sury-en-Vaux, foreigners in Paris, modernisation of Paris.

ROBYN STERN, Book Review: Juliana de Nooy, What’s France got to do with it? Contemporary Memoirs of Australians in France

This book explores what the author describes as a ‘contemporary publishing phenomenon’ – the recent ‘proliferation of memoirs by Australians about their experience of living in France and the seemingly insatiable demand for them’. De Nooy concludes from her research and analysis that these books are less about France itself, than about France as a backdrop to a project of self-renewal by the authors. The author seeks to identify reasons for this, examining the difference in gender constructions between the two countries.

Keywords: memoirs, gender constructions, Australian identity, French identity.

MARGARET SANKEY, Book Review: Danielle Clode, In Search of the Woman Who Sailed the World

The author of this book is a trained biologist and the daughter of a boat builder. She has sailed with her family around the coast of Australia and, since her childhood, has devoured books about maritime adventures. She became aware of the number of women who participated in early French sea voyages when she was researching and writing her earlier award-winning book, Voyages to the South Seas: In Search of Terres Australes. This book tells the story of Jeanne Barret who, dressed as a man, accompanied her partner the naturalist Philibert Commerson on Bougainville’s voyage in 1766-1768 to circumnavigate the globe. The reviewer finds the book rigorously researched, beautifully written and full of interesting facts both historical and scientific.

Keywords: Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Philibert Commerson, Jeanne Barret, Île-de-France, Henriette Dussourd, Glynis Ridley.

GEOFFREY DE Q. WALKER, Book Note: A Translation Project

This note provides details on five new translations now available on-line at the State Library of New South Wales. Through these translations, Geoffrey de Q Walker has made available to the public five studies of early Australia written by nineteenth century French authors.

Keywords: Ernest de Blosseville, Alexis de Tocqueville, Jules de La Pilorgerie, M. Mazois, Thomas Muir, Paul Merruau, penal colonies, convicts, the Scottish martyrs, State Library of New South Wales.

ELAINE LEWIS, Book Note: A Publication Project

This note announces the publication of two new editions of the translations by George Mackaness of the memoirs of two French-Canadians transported to Australia in 1840. The publications are by ETT Imprint.

Keywords: Léon (Léandre) Ducharme, François Xavier Prieur, the rebellions of 1838, Canada, political exiles, French-Canadian ‘patriotes’, Canada Bay.

ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes

The French Australian Review – No 66 Australian Winter 2019


MICHAEL TYQUIN, Revisiting the French Campaign in the Dardanelles, 1915

The article begins with a brief discussion of the commemoration and memory of Gallipoli in France, before proceeding to the reasons behind sending a French force there in 1915. Then follows an analysis of this campaign with a focus of the Corps Expéditionnaire d’Orient under different commanders. Finally, the author draws some conclusions about French participation in both the Dardanelles and Salonika campaigns – and how both were the result of political, rather than military, imperatives. The article raises the question of why the French involvement in this campaign has been neglected both by the French and the Australians.

Key words: Gallipoli, Salonika, Corps Expéditionnaire d’Orient, Albert d’Amade, Henri Gourard

MAGGIE TONKIN, Meryl Tankard’s French connection: Régis Lansac

Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard’s work is suffused with French cultural references, due in part to her ballet training but more significantly to her partnership with French photographer and visual artist, Régis Lansac. Together they have created works in which movement and music are fused with such rich design elements that they speak to the Wagnerian notion of ‘total theatre’ or Gesamtkunstwerk. However, while Lansac is frequently acknowledged as Tankard’s chief collaborator, the full extent of his input to her work has never been recognized. This paper seeks to redress this omission by exploring his multi-faceted contribution to their collaboration, which extends beyond the camera to encompass research, lighting and visual design, music selection, and the design of programs, posters and ephemera. Most importantly, it demonstrates how through her connection with Lansac, Tankard has been able to access aspects of French culture that have enriched her essentially instinctive creative practice.

Keywords: Meryl Tankard, Régis Lansac, Australian dance, French influences, Design language, Gesamtkunstwerk


CLEM AND THERESE GORMAN, Intrepid: Australian Women Artists in France in the Early Twentieth Century

The authors chose twenty-eight Australian female artists from the 300 or so who travelled to France in the first half of last century to live and work as artists and learn from the world centre of art.  These are representative of the 300, and there the artists about whom enough is known to include them. Some of them embraced Modernism, and brought it back to an Australia which knew relatively little about its techniques and its theories … Others painted traditionally but greatly improved their skills, which they also brought home to the benefit of Australian artists. Many of these women have slipped into obscurity and this book may help rehabilitate their reputations. They were chosen for their skill, their boldness, and their success—many of their paintings were displayed in the Salons or in private galleries, both in Paris and back home.

Keywords: Australian women artists in France, Australian women artists, Paris Salons, early twentieth century Australian women artists

ELAINE LEWIS, Interview: Chris Cody, French-Australian Pianist and Composer

An interview with Chris Cody about his life in Paris and his latest composition, Astrolabe-Suite for La Pérouse. Cody talks about his early influences, his life as a jazz pianist in Paris and his return to Australia where, as well as performing, he has composed and directed performances of Astrolabe–Suite for La Pérouse in a number of Sydney venues and in Paris.

Keywords, Chris Cody, jazz pianist and composer, Australian jazz musicians, Australian musicians in Paris, Astrolabe–Suite for La Pérouse

ÉRIC BERTI & CRISTINA SAVIN, The Story of the Allier Sailors

On 6 July 2015, as French Consul-General to Sydney, M. Éric Berti carried out an official mission in Cooktown, at the north of Cape York in Queensland, to acknowledge the historical sites and participate in a wreath-laying commemorative ceremony at the Allier monument. He explores an ‘urban myth’ to tell the true story of the sailors of the French ship Allier which was on its way to New Caledonia when the captain sought urgent relief at Cooktown, because of the ill health of his crew. A quarantine station was set up on the north coast of the Endeavour river, where vessels had been received in the past.

Keywords, French ship Allier, Cooktown, Gulf of Carpentaria, quarantine station, Endeavour river, M. Éric Berti, French Consul-General to Sydney

KAREN VIGGERS, French-Australian Encounters Number 3

Australian writer Karen Viggers has sold more than 800,000 copies of her books in France. The French translation of her novel The Lightkeeper’s Wife (La Mémoire des Embruns) was on the French national bestseller list for more than forty-two weeks and in 2016 was shortlisted for the Livre de Poche Readers’ Prize. She writes about her recent visit to promote her latest novel and her appreciation of the literary culture she found in France.

Keywords: Karen Viggers, Australian writers in France, The Lightkeeper’s Wife (La Mémoire des Embruns)

ELAINE LEWIS, Translator Julie Rose wins the 2018 Australian Academy of the Humanities Medal for Excellence in Translation

Internationally renowned translator Julie Rose was recently awarded the ‘2018 Australian Academy of the Humanities Medal for Excellence in Translation’ for her translation of Simon Leys: Navigator Between Worlds by Philippe Paquet, published by La Trobe University Press and Black Inc. (Melbourne). In this short article Julie Rose talks of translating the ‘urbane, elegant prose of Paquet, but also the subtle, witty voice of Simon Leys/Pierre Ryckmans and the various styles he employed in diverse writings at different stages of his life, as well as the voices of the numerous French authors quoted in the text (Victor Hugo, Raymond Queneau, Roland Barthes, etc.’.

Keywords: Julie Rose, translator, Pierre Ryckmans, Philippe Paquet, Australian Academy of the Humanities Medal for Excellence in Translation

KERRY MULLAN, Visit to Australia by renowned French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux

Kerry Mullan documents the visit to Australia by French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux, whose research into the underground caves below the city of Naours in the Somme has revealed thousands of scrawled signatures of World War One soldiers, many of them Australian. Following this discovery he has embarked on a project to investigate the lives of the men who left their names and regiment numbers on those cave walls one hundred years ago.

Keywords: French archaeologist, Gilles Prilaux, Naours, caves at Naours, Somme, Australian soldiers, The Silent Soldiers Of Naours: Messages From Beneath The Somme


ELAINE LEWIS, Tom Thompson (ed.), Australasian Artists at the French Salons, Exile Bay (NSW), ETT Imprint, June 2019, 138 pp., rrp AU$ 30.00, ISBN 978-1-92570-670-3.

Jacques Ober, Jules Ober & Felicity Coonan, The Good Son: A Story From the First War, Told in Miniature, USA, Candlewick Studio, May 2019, 104 pp., rrp AU$ 22.00, ISBN 978-1-53620-482-7.

ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes