Bancquart, Marie-Claire 1930-

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BANCQUART, Marie-Claire 1930-

PERSONAL: Born 1930, in Aveyron, France; married Alain Bancquart (a musician/composer);

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Gallimard, 5 rue Sebastien-Bottin, Paris 75328, France.

CAREER: Poet, novelist, critic. Professor of French literature at the Universities of Brest, Rouen, Créteil, Nanterre, and Paris-Sorbonne. Currently professor emerita at the Sorbonne (Paris-IV).

MEMBER: L'Académie Française, La Maison de la Poésie.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grand prix de l'essai de la Ville de Paris, grand prix de critique de l'Académie Française; Prix de poésie (prizes for poetry): Max Jacob, 1978; Alfred de Vigny, 1990; Supervielle, 1996; Prix d'automne de la Société des gens de lettres, 1999; the November, 1998 issue of La Sape was dedicated to Bancquart's work.



L'Inquisiteur, Belfond (Paris, France), 1980.

Les Tarots d'Ulysse, Belfond (Paris, France), 1984.

Photos de famille, Francis Bourin (Paris, France), 1988.

Elise en automne, Renaudot (Paris, France), 1990.

La saveur du sel, Bourin/Julliard (France), 1994.


Mais, Vodaine (Baslieux, France), 1969.

Projets alternés (title means "Alternate Plans"), Rougerie (Paris, France), 1972.

Mains dissoutes, Rougerie (Paris, France), 1975.

Cherché-terre, Saint-Germain des prés (Paris, France), 1977.

Mémoire d'abolie (title means "Memory of an Abolished Woman"), Belfond (Paris, France), 1978.

Habiter le sel, Pierre Dalle Nogare, (France), 1979.

Partition (title means "The Score"), Belfond (Paris, France), 1981.

Votre visage jusqu'à l'os (title means "Your Face to the Bone"), Temps Actuels (Paris, France), 1983.

Opportunité des oiseaux (title means "Opportunity of Birds"), Belfond (Paris, France), 1986.

Opéra des limites, Corti (Paris, France), 1988.

L'Atelier imaginaire: poèmes et réflexions, L'Age d'homme (Lausanne, Switzerland), 1988.

Végétales, Les cahiers du Confluent (Monetereau, France), 1988.

Sans lieu sinon l'attente, Obsidiane (Paris, France), 1991.

Dan le feuilletage de la terre, Belfond (Paris, France), 1994.

Énigmatiques, Obsidiane (Sens, France), 1995.

La vie, lieu-dit, Obsidiane (Sens, France), 1997.

La paix saignée, with Contrées du corps natal, Obsidiane (Sens, France), 1999.

Voilé/dévoilé (collection), Trait d'Union (Montreal, Canada), 2000.


Anatole France, Polémiste, Nizet (Paris, France), 1962.

Maupassant conteur fantastique, Minard (Paris, France), 1976, reprinted, 1993.

Anatole France, un sceptique passionné, Calmann-Lévy (Paris, France), 1984.

Images litéraires de Paris "fin de siècle," Editions de la Difference (Paris, France), 1979.

(With Pierre Cahné) Littérature Française du XXeSiecle, PUF (Paris, France), 1992.

Paris "Belle Époque" par ses écrivans, Adam Biro (Paris, France), 1997.

Fin de siècle gourmande, 1880-1900, PUF (Paris, France), 2001.


Oeuvres (Pléiade Edition), Gallimard (Paris, France), Oeuvres I, 1984, Oeuvres II, 1987, Oeuvres III, 1991, Oeuvres IV, 1994.

Anatole France: Les Dieux ont soif, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1989.

Anatole France: La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1989.

Anatole France: Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1991.

Anatole France: Le Lys rouge, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1992.

Guy de Maupassant: Notre Coeur, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1993.

Anatole France, Julliard (Paris, France), 1994.

Poésie de langue française 1945-1960, PUF (Paris, France), 1995.

Contributor to La Sape and Autre Sud.

SIDELIGHTS: Marie-Claire Bancquart is one of the most prolific as well as most admired and honored of contemporary French poets, although she is not well known, translated, or reviewed outside of her own country. A professor emerita at the Sorbonne, she is also an acclaimed novelist and critic with a special interest in several writers, including Jules Vallès, Anatole France, Guy de Maupassant, and others of the period from 1880 to the start of the first World War. In her writing, she has studied the surrealists as well as other less experimental writers.

In addition, she has published numerous articles on contemporary poets in European poetry reviews and as part of the proceedings of various meetings. She was among those organizing the André Frènaud meeting at Cerisy-la-Salle, France, in August, 2000.

Bancquart is deeply admired by her colleagues, as is indicated by several publications dedicated to her. These include À la voix de Marie-Claire Bancquart, published in her honor in 1996, which contains contributions by G-E. Clancier, Jean-Claude Renard, Andrée Chedid, Lionel Ray, Claude-Michel Cluny, Jean Orizet, Vahé Godel, Salah Stéié, Michaël Bishop, and Pierre Brunel. As well, a special number of the publication La Sape was devoted to her in November, 1998. It included contributions from Gérard Noiret, J-B. Para, Christian Doumet, Richard Rognet, an article and translations by Elisabeth Lange, translations by Michaël Bishop and Marie-Louise Lentengre, and previously unpublished poems by Bancquart herself. The poet has also been featured in the publication Autre Sud with previously unpublished poems and articles by Georges-Emmanuel Clancier, Dominique Sorrente, and Pierre Brunel, a contribution by Richard Rognet, and an illustration by Pierre Dubrunquez.

Anatole France Polémiste explores the life and writings of Anatole France (born Anatole François Thibault, 1844-1924), a French writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1921. In a review of the book in Comparative Literature, D. Bresky wrote that Bancquart "refutes the old popular charges that France was a backwardlooking bookworm, evoking the dead past in his roman livresque without infusing new life into it, and disproves as unsubstantiated the accusation that the author cannot commit himself to any worthwhile cause." While Bresky expressed general admiration for Anatole France Polémiste, he observed that Bancquart's "documentation, breathtaking when it comes to French sources, is much less thorough as far as the foreign, that is, non-French, sources are concerned."

Bancquart's interest and involvement with Anatole France has been extensive. She was the editor of the distinguished Pléiade edition of France's novels and short stories. As a result of the Pléiade edition, Blancquart has written several volumes about Anatole France, among these is Anatole France: La Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard. (La Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard was one of France's first literary successes.) S. Beynon John, writing in French Studies, enthusiastically praised Bancquart's "meticulously informed and cogently argued introduction," pointing out that she "traces convincingly the way in which France absorbs into his stories a defence of the claims of the imagination against the stultifying scientism of the early Third Republic." Two other volumes from this series, Anatole France: Les Dieux ont soif and Anatole France: La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque, reveal the balance in Bancquart's view of France: "While Bancquart writes sympathetically of La Rôtisserie, fully recognizing its elements of genial pastiche and praising its philosophical temper," wrote John, "she sensibly makes no great claims for it as a novel, as she does (and with reason) for Les Dieux ont soif." Reviewing Anatole France: Le Lys rouge, also part of the same series, John in French Studies, observed that Bancquart "skillfully trac[es] the degree to which the novel derives from France's love-affair with Léontine de Caillavet." In addition, wrote John, "Bancquart also shows how the transposition from lived experience involves the author in a series of imaginary compensations for the more mediocre realities of his own social origins."

In a Times Literary Supplement article about several books published on the 150th anniversary of France's birth, critic David Coward singled out two books edited by Bancquart, Oeuvres IV, and Anatole France. Oeuvres IV, the fourth volume of Bancquart's Pléiade's series, traces the last years of Anatole France's life, including his outspoken stance against oppression and war. Coward noted that Oeuvres IV, had been "meticulously edited by the indefatigable Marie-Claire Bancquart." In his review of Anatole France, Coward said "Bancquart's estimate of the man and his works is kept on a tight scholarly rein in the notes and notices to her stunningly erudite edition, but finds warmer expression in her excellent short guide which mixes comment with extracts from the works and reminds us that Camus, Giraudoux and Queneau were among France's admirers."

Littérature française du XXe siècle, which Bancquart wrote with Pierre Cahnè, is a history of French literature covering the years between 1884 and 1975. Anna Otten, reviewing the book in World Literature Today called it an "outstanding reference book," noting that the authors used "brilliant judgment, clear diction, and unfailing willingness to explicate difficult models and theories for the reader." Littérature française du XXe siècle is organized into several subject areas, including naturalism, impressionists, symbolism, the image of French society at the beginning of the new century, women writers, and the New Novel. Under each topic, several French writers and their work are examined. Otten wrote that Bancquart and Cahnè have successfully conveyed "the most essential characteristics of the work of the authors included," consequently, "the reader does not drown in information yet still has an excellent overview" of twentieth-century French literature.

Discussing the organization of topics and writers in Littérature française du XXe siècle, David H. Walker observed in French Studies that "authors rub shoulders rather uneasily on occasion." Less enthusiastic about the book than Otten, he found the divisions arbitrary, and although the start of the century was "depicted in a splendid introductory essay," the following decades were rushed. Nevertheless, said Walker, the book offered "a feast of bibliographical references." Walker concluded, "every reader will note limits, but all will hope that the book is not wasted on the young."

Bancquart, the author of several books on Anatole France and Jules Vallès, has also written Images Littéraires de Paris "fin-de-siècle," which Eugen Weber of Times Literary Supplement called "a fascinating essay about life in Paris, as lived by selected characters of some books about that city, running roughly from the mid-nineteenth century (Flaubert's A Sentimental Education) to its end (Claudel's La Ville)." Weber observed that "Bancquart provides a splendid social geography of Paris life," but he felt that more information, such as details about servants, traffic, and sanitation, was needed. Weber praised the extensive research and thought put into the book, noting that this "must be a good book that raises so many questions in the reader's mind. There is a lot of research in it and a lot of thought; and whether you agree with all of them or not, it is full of ideas."

Bancquart has also written several volumes of poetry. In Opéra des limites, according to Maryann De Julio in World Literature Today, Bancquart strives "to reinscribe the limits of the female experience in poetry so that she may transgress and reinvent that experience with unexpected combinations of images that have been perceived heretofore as marginal." Énigmatiques, another volume of Bancquart's poetry, "offers a long, loosely constituted suite of untitled and unrhymed free-verse poems," observed Michael Bishop in World Literature Today. Bishop called the poems "at once speculative and combative, but beyond this even, it wills itself into a manner combining a giving of the world, its minima, its ordinariness." Bishop concluded, Énigmatiques is "a fine book from one of our fine poets."



À la voix de Marie-Claire Bancquart, Cherche-Midi (Paris, France), 1996.


Comparative Literature, summer, 1971, D. Bresky, review of Anatole France Polémiste, p. 273-76.

French Studies, issue 2, April, 1992, S. Beynon John, review of Anatole France: Les Dieux ont soif and Anatole France: La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque, p. 216; issue 3, July, 1992, S. Beynon John, review of Anatole France: Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, p. 346; issue 2, April, 1994, S. Beynon John, review of Anatole France: Le Lys rouge, p. 223; issue 4, October, 1998, David H. Walter, review of Littérature française du XXe, p. 483.

Times Literary Supplement, February 22, 1980, Eugen Weber, "From Scarlet to Mauve," p. 203-204; October 7, 1994, David Coward, "Too Good to Be True," p. 4-6.

World Literature Today, spring, 1989, Maryann De Julio, review of Opéra des limites, p. 279; summer, 1993, Anna Otten, p. 589; summer, 1996, Michael Bishop, review of Énigmatiques, p. 655; summer, 1993, Anna Otten, review of Littérature française du XXe.


Les Éditions Gallimard, (April 14, 2003).*

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Bancquart, Marie-Claire 1930-

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