Meggie Boyle is a 3rd year student of French in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Literature and Linguistics. Earlier this year, she got in touch with us at Cambridge University Libraries with book recommendations for her Year Abroad Dissertation project. She suggested titles that we did not have, and we arranged digital alternate formats for books that were only available to buy in print format, via the Cambridge Libraries Accessibility Services. You can read here about her experience of disability which fueled her dissertation project.
“Disability has dominated my life, not only pervading every part of my physical body, but also seeping into the very core of my being, my mind: I see it in everything I do and everywhere I go.
We previously published a blogpost about Cambridge University Library’s French acquisitions in relation to Women’s History Month. For International Women’s Day, we would like to shed light on three inspirational women featured in recent French language publications. Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier was a photographer, a Communist and a resistante. Uyaïnim was a member of the Jivaroan peoples in Peruvian Amazonia who fought for indigenous and women’s rights, and Nina Bouraoui is a Franco-Algerian writer whose works address question of identity and homosexuality.
Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier was a reporter and photographer, a resistant and Communist politician. She came from a liberal bourgeois family, daughter of Lucien Vogel, editor of the magazine Vu, and of Cosette de Brunhoff, sister of the creator of Babar and of the editor of Vogue. A pioneer woman photographer, she travelled to Germany in 1933 and was the first to photograph the camps of Oranienbourg and Dachau. She met a friend of her father, Paul Vaillant-Couturier, editor of communist newspaper L’Humanité, and became his partner, marrying him shortly before his death in 1937. During the war, she contributed to clandestine publications and worked as a messenger for the resistance. She was arrested in 1942 and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then Ravensbrück. She returned to France in June 1945, testified at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and became a Communist member of parliament. She has been the subject of two biographies :
Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier : une femme engagée, du PCF au procès de Nuremberg / Dominique Durand, Balland, 2012.
On l’appelait Maïco : Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier, la révoltée / Yseult Williams, Bernard Grasset, 2021. C206.d.8481
Uyaïnim, or Albertina Nanchijam Tuwits, from the Awajun / Aguaruna people (part of the Jivaroan peoples) in Peruvian Amazonia, became a spokeswoman for indigenous rights and the defense of women. Her memoirs are written through a collaboration with ethnologist Hélène Collongues. They speak of years of pressure put on the land and Amazonian indigenous people by the farmers and colonisers; the suspicion towards and failure of development projects; as well as the discrimination and deculturation faced by native people through educational missions. The narrative also exposes issues within patriarchal indigenous societies, from internal divisions and warfare to exploitation of and violence against women, also highlighting the corruption brought by the introduction of money and greed within these communities.
Nina Bouraoui was born from an Algerian father and a Breton mother. Her novels deal with questions of memory, identity, homosexuality, and nostalgia for Algeria, where she lived until she was a teenager. She was distinguished as Commandeure de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ministry of Culture in 2018, and since the 2010s has been the subject of a number of critical studies.
Beaux rivages, JC Lattès, 2016, C204.d.9787
Tous les hommes désirent naturellement savoir, JC Lattès, 2018, C206.d.1617 (All men want to know / Nina Bouraoui ; translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins. London : Viking, 2020 & 2021, LSF)
Otages, JC Lattès, 2020, C206.d.6938
Satisfaction, JC Lattès, 2021, C206.d.7485
Critical studies :
Rabiaa Marhouch. Nina Bouraoui : la tentation de l’universel. Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2023, 739:47.c.202.1
Belgacem Belarbi, Nina Bouraoui, une nouvelle sensibilité littéraire, Sarrebruck, Editions Universitaires Européennes, 2022, C219.c.4993
Myriam-Naomi Walburg. Zeit der Mehrsprachigkeit : literarische Strukturen des Transtemporalen bei Marica Bodrožić, Nina Bouraoui, Sudabeh Mohafez und Yoko Tawada. Würzburg, Ergon Verlag, 2017, C213.c.7656
Rosie MacLachlan. Nina Bouraoui, Autofiction and the search for selfhood, Oxford ; New York, Peter Lang, 2016, 735:44.c.201.92
Kirsten Husung. Hybridité et genre : chez Assia Djebar et Nina Bouraoui, L’Harmattan, 2014, C209.c.4543
Mokhtar Atallah. Études littéraires algériennes : Albert Camus, Nina Bouraoui, Boualem Sansal, Ahmed Kalouaz, L’Harmattan, 2012, C207.c.1905
Almost as soon as the European Languages Across Borders blog was created, it started recording prizes for French language books (see French prizewinners for 2013). Before that, French literary prizewinners already featured in the webpages dedicated to Cambridge University Library’s French Collections. Prizes have long been an indicator of literary and cultural trends, reflecting the reception of contemporary writing, and contributing to its promotion and diffusion, on a national and international level. 2022 can be remembered as the year when Annie Ernaux became Literature Nobel Prize laureate. Prizes are also a useful tool in collection development. Here is a list of French and Francophone prizewinners for 2021-22. Among Francophone prizes, the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Mondestill has to be awarded.
Comar d’Or: En pays assoiffé / Emna Belhaj Yahia, Des Femmes Editions, 2021, C206.d.6950
Colonised by the Spanish and then the French until its successful revolution and independence in 1804, Haiti plays an important role within Francophone literature. However, it still bears the traces of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake (which claimed between 100,000 and 300,000 lives), followed by an extended period of political uncertainty and upheaval. This was further aggravated by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew (which, though less lethal, left 175,000 people homeless). This series of disasters has meant that at Cambridge University Library, sourcing books published in Haiti has been challenging. Over several years, our regional supplier Libros Latinos was not able to travel to the country. However, as is often the case for Francophone literature, many Haitian authors are also published in Canada and France, whether they are still residing in Haiti or have emigrated.
One example is the writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, born in Haiti, who founded the publishing house Mémoire, as well as the magazine Cultura and the journal Boutures. He moved to Québec in 2001, is a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec, and in 2003 created the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, based on the principle of cultural diversity:
Mémoire d’encrier publie des auteur.e.s québécois.e.s, autochtones, antillais.e.s, arabes, africain.e.s… représentant ainsi une large plate-forme où se confrontent les imaginaires dans l’apprentissage et le respect de la différence et de la diversité culturelle.Continue reading →
We are delighted to be able to shed light on the recent purchase by Cambridge University Library Special Collections of a satirical Panorama of the Franco-Prussian war. Illustrated by Percy Cruikshank, it probably dates from the end of 1870. It relates to both the exhibition of the Cambridge collection of 1870-71 caricatures held at the University Library this spring, and the academic conference on the Memory of 1870-71 held at Wolfson College by Marion Glaumaud-Carbonnier and Nick White last month.
The Panorama of the Franco-Prussian war, published in London by F. Platts & Mann Nephews, was “painted by PC from the sketches of Messrs. Smith, Brown, Jones & Robinson”. The full signature of Percy Cruikshank (1817-1880) appears repeatedly within the images themselves. Percy came from an illustrious family of caricaturists: he was the son of Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1789-1856), the nephew of George Cruikshank (1792-1878), and the grandson of Isaac Cruikshank (1764-1811). He contributed caricatures of the Franco-Prussian war to the British satirical humour magazine Judy or the London Serio-Comic Journal (named after Punch and Judy). The highly collaborative nature of the panorama is interesting given the reference to no less than four sketchers. Continue reading →