Sophie Geoffroy

Sophie Geoffroy

“Vernon Lee e i suoi amici francesi, 1925-35”

Il mio intervento presenta documenti inediti relativi alla corrispondenza di Vernon Lee con i pittori francesi Berthe e André Noufflard nell’ultimo decennio della sua vita. Questi documenti ci permettono di accedere alla fase meno conosciuta, anche per gli studiosi leeiani, della vita della scrittrice: è l’epoca delle opere tarde, dei bilanci, delle amicizie fedeli e dei rapporti con la Francia. Le lettere svelano la fitta rete delle relazioni di Lee in molti ambienti – aristocratici, artistici, intellettuali, letterari, politici, scientifici – in Francia e all’estero (Inghilterra, Galles, Svizzera, Italia), e la sua illuminata comprensione della situazione politica europea. Il suo radicalismo, intellettuale e personale, durante il delicato periodo interbellico rappresenta uno dei temi portanti. Si scopre così una Miss Paget premurosa, calorosa, buffa, capace d’autoironia, vulnerabile e sensibile, piena di sollecitudine per “i suoi nuovi amici cari e indulgenti” (4 nov. 1925), molto diversa dalla persona dura e autoritaria che visse isolata “il resto dei suoi giorni” dipinta da Irene Cooper-Willis. Sono amicizie generose, colme di delicatezze, in un’epoca travagliata. Passate le iniziali divergenze dovute al pacifismo di Lee, una complicità profonda e sincera legherà fino alla morte Miss Paget agli amici francesi. Le loro visite al Palmerino e i soggiorni di Lee presso i Noufflard sono l’occasione per letture comuni (G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells), visite turistiche, viaggi, conversazioni e opere che testimoniano l’importanza di Berthe Noufflard, ispiratrice di Lee, e del suo circolo di familiari (Daniel Halévy, Elie Halévy) e amici (Mary Duclaux née Robinson, Emile Duclaux, Mme Hecht, Irene Forbes-Mosse, Heini Waser).

“Vernon Lee and her French Friends, 1925-35”

This paper is based on Vernon Lee’s correspondence with the French painters Berthe and André Noufflard and their family and friends over the last ten years of her life. These recently discovered unpublished archival manuscripts give us access to unknown aspects of Vernon Lee’s life and work. They shed light over the vast scope of Lee’s French and European network in every social environment in France, England, Switzerland, Italy, the in-depth understanding and radicalism of her unconventional views as to the political situation of interwar Europe. Lee shared with her French friends her passionate quest for an ideal political order. Once they had overcome their initial misunderstandings of Lee’s radical pacifism, they were bound by a deep complicity till Lee’s death. The MSS also uncover a very different person from the image painted by Irene Cooper-Willis: the generous, humorous, sensitive, kind-hearted old Miss Paget, who sincerely cares for her “dear, indulgent new friends” (4 nov. 1925) and their children, and is taken care of by Berthe and André Noufflard. The Noufflards’ visits to Il Palmerino and Lee’s stays at the Noufflards’ were very much looked forward to; books recently published (Shaw, Wells), politics, travels, children’s education, were discussed. Their respective works bear witness to the important role of Berthe Noufflard and her family (Daniel Halévy, Elie Halévy) and friends (Mary Duclaux née Robinson, Emile Duclaux, Mme Hecht, Irene Forbes-Mosse, Heini Waser, to name but a few) as Lee’s inspirer and support.

Sophie Geoffroy insegna all’Università de La Réunion (Francia). Specialista di Ottocento e gender studies, è direttore associato di O.R.A.C.L.E. (Observatoire Réunionnais des Arts, des Cultures et des Littératures dans leur Environnement) (http://laboratoires.univ-reunion.fr/oracle/documents/115.html) e presidente di Niama (Indian Ocean Association for the Development of Gender Studies) (Lien vers NIAMA). Dirige The Sibyl, Journal of Vernon Lee Studies (www.oscholars.com e www.thesibylblog.com). Ha curato edizioni critiche (Hawthorne, by Henry James, 2000), carteggi inediti (“Henry James and Family: Eleven Unpublished Letters”, Sources, Spring 2003, http://www.paradigme.com/sources/pageaccueil.htm), e scritto libri e articoli su Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Vernon Lee (La voix maudite, 2001), Angela Carter, Annie Besant.Sta lavorando all’edizione critica e traduzione in francese del Bourbon Journal (Aug. 1863) di Sir Walter Besant e all’edizione critica delle lettere di Vernon Lee ai suoi amici francesi.

Sophie Geoffroy is Professor at the University of La Réunion (France). Specialising in nineteenth century studies and gender studies, she is the associate Director of O.R.A.C.L.E. (Observatoire Réunionnais des Arts, des Cultures et des Littératures dans leur Environnement) (http://laboratoires.univ-reunion.fr/oracle/documents/115.html) and President of Niama (Indian Ocean Association for the Development of Gender Studies) (Lien vers NIAMA). She is the editor of The Sibyl, Journal of Vernon Lee Studies (www.oscholars.com and www.thesibylblog.com). She has published critical editions (Hawthorne, by Henry James, 2000), unpublished correspondence (“Henry James and Family: Eleven Unpublished Letters”, Sources, Spring 2003, http://www.paradigme.com/sources/pageaccueil.htm) and books and articles on Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Vernon Lee (La voix maudite, 2001), Angela Carter, Annie Besant. She is also a translator, preparing a critical edition and a translation into French of Sir Walter Besant’s Bourbon Journal (Aug. 1863) and a critical edition of Vernon Lee’s letters to her French friends.

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