Rosemary Lancaster


Women Writing on the French Riviera: Travellers and Trendsetters, 1870–1970 (Brill, 2020)

The beautiful French Riviera has long attracted visitors to its shores: artists, writers, the rich, curious tourists, convalescents, holidaymakers. Over successive chapters, this book explores the unique contributions of nine women to its cultural identity within the hundred years of its rise to fame. Whether choreographer, writer, artist, cook, perceptive adult or impressionable child, each seized the challenges and opportunities of her travels at pivotal points of social and artistic change. Their narratives take us to the places they frequented and where they lived out their professional and personal ideals: variously, fashionable nineteenth-century Nice, the gaming halls of Belle Epoque Monte Carlo, Monaco’s opulent Opera House, the quiet early twentieth-century St. Tropez, Antibes, and Menton, the grand coastal villas of the postwar super-rich, the markets of Martigue, and the bustling docks of Marseille.

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Poetic Illumination: René Char and his Artist Allies (Rodopi, 2010)

In 1980 an exhibition in Paris of the Illuminated Manuscripts of René Char took the artistic and literary worlds by surprise. It featured illustrations by twenty-eight artists of an array of Char’s handwritten poems. Char’s artistic associations, spanning seven decades, remain remarkable. Not only was he amply illustrated by those he called his ‘substantial allies’: the dedicatory poems and prose pieces they inspired make up a unique corpus in the history of art and poetry. This book, informed by poetic analysis and aesthetic reflection, highlights those whose work Char most prized: his contemporaries Dali, Kandinsky, Picasso, Braque, Miró, Vieira da Silva, Nicolas de Staël, and Alexandre Galpérine, as well as Corot, Courbet, La Tour, Van Gogh, and the cave art of Lascaux.

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‘compelling discussions … of interest not only to students of Char and his ‘allies’, but also to those interested in text-image relations in twentieth-century France, and indeed in the broader conditions of artistic sociability that made these relations possible’ (ResearchGate)
‘rigorous scholarship, an attention to the singularities of visual and verbal expression … While an important work for specialists, this is also a significant contribution to current thinking about the relationship between text and image’ (Journal of European Studies)
'Lancaster richly studies the shifting emphases of Char's art writing as the poet moved through Surrealism, Resistance, and into his long postwar era, marked increasingly by images of fragility and by his tenacious defence of ideas and things that modern society endangers, including poetry itself.' (The French Review)

Je Suis Australienne: Remarkable Women in France, 1880–1945 (first edition, U. of Western Australia, 2008; now available to download )

Some extraordinary Australian women travelled to France between 1880 and 1945, and recorded their impressions variously in fiction, diaries, letters, and autobiographies. Focussing on individuals such as Nancy Wake, Christina Stead, Stella Bowen, Tasma (Jessie Couvreur), the schoolgirl Daisy White, and nurses on the Western Front, the diverse worlds of art, war, education, sexuality, and politics are explored against a culturally rich French backdrop.  A Parisian finishing school; the Belle Epoque; the decimated terrains of the Somme; the decadent Left Bank studios and cafés of 1920s; the Great Depression; German-occupied France – these narratives tell as much about the experiences of the women writers as they do about identity and Australia’s response to key moments in French history.

‘All their stories are utterly fascinating in this brilliantly researched book about women who were independent, strong and determined to live. Not only a work of superb scholarship, but a damned good read’ (West Australian)
‘a fascinating set of portraits’ (Society of French Historical Studies)
‘highly readable ‘ (Australian History Review)
‘lively, informed writing that gets you in’ (The Australian)

Click to download pdf file: Je Suis Australienne: Remarkable Women in France, 1880–1945 (Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Lancaster)

La Poésie éclatée de René Char (Rodopi, 1994)

René Char (1907–1988) is considered one of the greatest French poets of the twentieth century, His evocations of his native Provence, his love of nature, his faith in human endeavour, and his life-changing experiences as a resistant in World War II continue to inspire. Characteristically, he distilled philosophical thought and humanitarian ideals in aphorisms that are, intriguingly, both enigmatic and revelatory. This book, written in French, is a study of his ‘poésie éclatée’ (a reference to his fragmented, fractured style), spanning seven decades.  Such writing, which encapsulates complex ideas in a handful of words, is compellingly immediate while inviting sustained reflection on universal truths. Pithily, he wrote: ‘For me’, he pithily affirmed, ‘the lighting flash endures’.

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Work-in Progress: The Brief Art of René Char

A selective edition of translations into English of aphorisms, poetic fragments, and brief poems by Char, with a preface, introductions to thematically presented sections, and annotations.