OBITUARY: Professor Gilbert Gadoffre

Gilbert Gadoffre was one of the most remarkable Frenchmen ever to hold a chair of French in Britain. As an assistant at Manchester University before the Second World War, he already championed courteous discussion - in beautiful surroundings - of methods and values. That ideal he saw partly realised in the common life then shared in English universities, and continued to uphold throughout his experiences in the French Resistance movement during the war.

At the fall of France in 1940, Dunoyer de Segonzac founded L'Ecole des Cadres in the romantic chteau at Uriage, near Grenoble. An idealistic yet practical community, it sought to instil values into the youth of their dismembered and defeated country. Gadoffre helped to turn it into a seedbed of the Resistance. Rumbled by Vichy (who paid the bills), les hommes d'Uriage were scattered by Joseph Darnand's militia. They regrouped in a rambling chteau, La Thbade, at Murinais, close to the Massif du Vercors, a centre of the Resistance. Gadoffre was the master, training "flying missions" in the techniques of resistance and in those ethical and cultural values which made the Rsistants not rebels or bandits but patriots, prepared for leadership in the liberating of France. When German and Vichyite troops encircled, stormed and sacked La Thbade in December 1943, the "missions" were away: for four days, Gadoffre hid alone in the attics, reading Shakespeare. When the enemy razed La Thbade, Gadoffre shot his way out through the flames and escaped to the maquis.

For his bravery he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Mdaille de la Rsistance and the Lgion d'Honneur, and the RAF expressed its gratitude. Gadoffre rarely spoke of his wartime experiences, but he wrote of them once - in his book Les Ordalies (1955). In 1953 he happily married Alice Staath, herself a heroine of the Resistance.

Once the war was over, Gadoffre became Director of Information in the French Zone of Austria. After lecturing in Manchester and Berkeley, California, he returned in 1969 to Vinaver's Chair of French in Manchester, a power- house of French studies. His interests centred on the Renaissance. His Ronsard (1960) is a model of the genre. His Du Bellay et le sacr (1978) was at once recognised as a probing and original study of the work of the mid-16th-century poet Joachim Du Bellay, a key figure in the French Renaissance. His last book - with proofs sent to Gallimard days before he died - is devoted to Renaissance humanism.

As Professor, Gadoffre held fast to his belief in the "colloque" (colloquy), the word he had introduced into French. In 1947, he had founded the Institut Collgial Europen where, first at Royaumont, outside Paris, and eventually in Loches, near Tours, young thinkers and writers came from many countries to live for a while with scholars, writers and artists known the world over. Gadoffre brought scholars from Germany, Austria and Italy back into the cultural fold; so too China and Japan (he felt a deep attraction to the cultures of the Far East).

Colloquies at the Institut were high-powered but leisurely. Intellectual effort ruled in the mornings around the baize- covered dining-room table; afternoons gave rise to relaxed talk, cutting across age and subject, and lasting friendships were formed. The one rule was courtesy. Disagreements were matters of rationality not ranting. In the highly charged atmosphere of post-war France, that was not to be taken for granted.

Gadoffre, an outstanding colleague, practised those ideals in Manchester, and spent hard-working vacations at the Institut. After his retirement in 1978 he gave even more time to the colloquies and their publication and to the interdisciplinary seminars he had co-founded at the Collge de France. For him there were never two cultures.

He lived for his ideals and for his dreams. Like many a brave man, he was a man of peace. To his humiliated country he brought honour; in England, living respected among colleagues who had also "done their bit", he was loved as an original and patient teacher and admired for his vision and drive.

M. A. Screech

Gilbert Gadoffre, French scholar and wartime resister: born 16 June 1911; Director, Institut Collgial Europen 1947-95; Professor of French, Manchester University 1969-78; married 1953 Alice Staath; died 2 March 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most