Nadine Ribault

Passing of Nadine Ribault

Passing of Nadine Ribault

Photo of Nadine RibaultWe record with great sadness the death of Nadine Ribault the first French writer to take up a residency at Randell Cottage nearly twenty years ago. Nadine Ribault died on 17 January 2021. She would have turned 57 on the 20th of January. Our deepest condolences go out to Nadine’s husband Thierry and daughter Blanche.
In the Livre d’Or, published in 2012 to mark the tenth anniversary of residencies at the Cottage, Nadine wrote:
La nature étant l’aliment qui donne des forces pour la lutte, j’ai reçu, en Nouvelle-Zélande, voici très exactement dix ans, un aliment de choix. Les falaises, les plages, les fjords, les criques, les lagons, les rivières, les volcans, les montagnes, les forêts, tout m’a comblée d’une magie et d’une énergie merveilleuses. J’en nourris encore et mon sens de la lutte et mes rêves.
J’y ai déambulé au milieu d’une fantasmagorie que je n’oublierai pas. Dans le creuset des traditions maories, des amitiés soudaines et des vents tournoyants aux origines mystérieuses, j’ai puisé de l’inspiration pour des temps infinis. Installée au Japon maintenant, et ce depuis 2009, j’ai fait appel à ces images quand il a fallu traverser les difficiles moments qui ont suivi l’accident nucléaire de Fukushima. Je me suis souvenue qu’en terre néo-zélandaise, j’ai marché en « terre non-nucléaire ». Je me suis souvenue qu’il est possible de marcher en « terre non-nucléaire » et j’ai décidé de dire combien il serait vital de marcher de la sorte partout sur cette Terre.
Il y a dix ans donc, j’entamais un séjour qui, de la découverte des deux îles du Nord et du Sud à la rencontre de Janet Frame, de la découverte aussi des paysages sauvages et tourmentés qui semblaient faits pour moi, au temps passé avec celles et ceux qui devinrent des ami(e)s, me ramenait toujours au Randell Cottage, véritable centre du tableau.
Dans cette maison, le vent passait sous les portes et me parlait de l’infini des horizons marins. Ma plume ragaillardie dansait sous les embruns. J’adorais cet endroit et je m’y sentais bien et j’ai su que je m’y sentirai bien sitôt passé le seuil. Certains visages ne trompent pas, on sait dès qu’on y porte les yeux, qu’ils feront notre joie. Pour moi, la Nouvelle-Zélande est à jamais un visage aimé.
Nature is the nourishment that gives us strength for the struggle, and in New Zealand, exactly ten years ago, I was very well nourished. Cliffs, beaches, fjords, bays, lagoons, rivers, volcanoes, mountains, forests, all filled me with their magic and a wonderful energy. I feed from it still, it nourishes my sense of struggle and my dreams.
There, I wandered through a fantasy world I’ll never forget. From the crucible of Maori tradition, sudden friendships, and winds whirling up from nowhere, I drew inspiration for all time. Resident in Japan since 2009, I called on these images when I had to live through the difficult times that followed the nuclear accident at Fukushima. I remembered that in New Zealand I had walked in a ‘nuclear-free world’. I remembered it was possible to walk in a ‘nuclear-free world’ and resolved to articulate how vital it would be walking that way all over this World.
Ten years ago, I set out on a journey that, between exploring the two islands, the North and the South to meeting Janet Frame, and discovering the wild and tortured landscape that seemed to have been made for me, to the time spent with those who became friends, always brought me back to Randell Cottage, the true centre of the picture.
In this house, the wind blew under the doors and spoke to me of the infinity of the sea’s horizons. My pen, inspired, danced under the sea spray. I loved this place and I felt at home here, and knew that I would feel at home as soon as I crossed the threshold. Some faces do not lie, we know, the moment we see them, that they will bring us joy. New Zealand’s is forever a face I love.
[Translated by Jean Anderson]
Nadine Ribault – 2002

Nadine Ribault – 2002

Photo of Nadine RibaultNadine Ribault (1964–2021) was born in Paris and travelled a great deal during her childhood, to Africa, Holland and Scotland. She obtained a BA in French literature at La Sorbonne in Paris, then taught French in the Lorraine region in France. Ribault then went on to spend several years in Japan, teaching French language and French literature. It was during this time where she wrote a great deal and was involved in organizing lithographies exhibitions.

Ribault now lives in the North of France, on Côte d’Opale. Her first book of short stories Un caillou à la mer was published in 1999, and her first novel Festina Lente in 2000.

The next collection of short stories, Coeur Anxieux was written in New Zealand during her time at the Randell Cottage. The collection Un caillou à la mer has been translated in English by Jean Anderson (a Trustee of the Randell Cottage) under the title A pebble in the sea. She has recently published Moments Littéraires, a short story in which she describes her meeting with Janet Frame in Dunedin. Ribault is married and has a daughter.