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  • Marie-Odile Sweetser, Women in French Studies Advisory Boar In Memoriam
  • Catherine R. Montfort

Marie-Odile Sweetser’s passing on April 6th 2014 was an immense blow as she had been a towering figure in Seventeenth-Century French Literature and Culture in the United States and Europe for over thirty years. Her life reads like a fairy tale. Born in Verdun, France, in 1925, she received her undergraduate degree at the University of Nancy and immigrated to the United States in 1949, earned her Masters at Bryn Mawr College and her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She taught at different colleges across the country until she settled, with her husband, at the University of Illinois Chicago in 1969 where she was hired as Associate Professor. From then on her research agenda kept expanding with studies on both canonical and non-canonical figures that included drama, novel and poetry. She was particularly known for her scholarship on La Princesse de Clèves, Corneille, Molière, La Fontaine to name but a few. Marie-Odile Sweetser was my role model: a scholar with an international reputation, a beloved teacher and an attentive colleague always eager to help younger colleagues within the university or outside. I was one and I am thankful that we crossed paths. I met her in 1980 at my very first conference, the NASSCFL conference at UC Berkeley. Thereafter we met at the MLA and different conferences in the US and in Europe. The last was the conference for the Tricentenary of Mme de Sévigné’s death in Grignan, France, in 1996. She retired in 1997 but we kept in touch until a few years ago, speaking about our publications or projects and sharing ideas on different topics. When I became the Executive Editor of WIF Studies in 2005, I invited her to join our Advisory Board. She gracefully accepted and evaluated essays whenever asked. She had a deep intelligence and great insights but was never supercilious nor condescending. Her smile told one and all who she was. She will be sorely missed. [End Page 12]

Catherine R. Montfort
Santa Clara University


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