The French Australian Review – No 69 Australian Summer 2020-2021
JANE GILMOUR, ELAINE LEWIS, Foreword
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.
DOCUMENTS, NOTES AND REVIEWS
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.
ELIZABETH RECHNIEWSKI, ALEXIS BERGANTZ, The ISFAR Research Committee
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