We reproduce below a message published on the Indology forum following the death of Marie-Claude Porcher, an eminent and discreet figure in the field of Indian studies:
Dear Indology members, dear friends and colleagues,
I am posting below, on behalf of Professor Sylvain Brocquet, a message bearing the sad news of Professor Marie-Claude Porcher’s passing. She was one of my teachers when I began learning Sanskrit, and I remember with much gratitude, admiration and affection her wonderful ability to share her love for kāvya, her great generosity, and, beyond her reserved manners, her delightful sense of humour. She will be greatly missed.
With my condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and students,
Professeur, Département des Études Orientales, Sorbonne Nouvelle
From Professor Brocquet, Aix-Marseille University:
We have the regret to report the death of Marie-Claude Porcher, Professor emerita of Sanskrit, on December, the 31st, at the age of 85. Her funeral will take place on January, the 13th, at Nantoux (Côte d’Or, France), in privacy.Marie-Claude Porcher, before she retired, was long Professor of Sanskrit language and literature in the University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle, where her teaching was much appreciated by all her students. She specialised in Sanskrit court poetry and Indian Poetics, and became a prominent indologist in that field. She studied and translated into French several works composed by Veṅkaṭādhvarin, in particular his Rāghavayādavīya, a difficult poem whose verses can be read from left to right or from right to left, thus conveying two different meanings (anulomavilomakāvya), and his Viśvaguṇādarśacampū (both published in 1972). Her approach of Indian Poetics was very original and creative, since, being an expert in Indian traditional alaṃkāraśāstra, and in contemporary linguistics and poetics as well, she could combine them to provide analyses that proved to be relevant from both points or view, and helped connoisseurs not aware of Indian categories to access a deep understanding of Sanskrit poetry. Among many other scholarly works, including articles on ambiguity and suggestion, her monography, Figures de style en Sanskrit, complemented by the analysis of poems by the same Veṅkaṭādhvarin (published in 1978), has been for more than 40 years a reference book that all indologists have recourse to. She was also a great translator, who achieved a perfect balance between philological accuracy and literary elegance, as witnessed by her translation of Daṇḍin’s Daśakumāracarita (published in 1995), probably the best of all the renderings of that poetic narrative. She was also, with Madeleine Biardeau, one of the two architects of the celebrated French translation of the Rāmāyaṇa (published in 1999). By her vast knowledge of Indian literature and theory, her intellectual openness to the contribution of the human sciences, her taste for belles lettres and the literary quality of her translations, she undoubtedly was one of the worthiest heirs to the French indological tradition.
We reproduce below the message posted by Lyne Bansat-Boudon following those of Isabelle Ratié and Sylvain Broquet reproduced above:
Dear Indology members, dear friends and colleagues,
I wish to join my voice to those of my colleagues, Isabelle Ratié and Sylvain Brocquet. The very sad news of Professor Marie-Claude Porcher’s passing came as a shock to me who had recently sent her my greetings for the New Year. I owe her for having given a significant turn to my life and career, encouraging me to choose Indian theatre and aesthetics as my first field of research. During the long period of her supervision of my D. Lit. thesis, bonds of friendship were created that never faded. And she did the same with some other students, so discreetly radiant was her personality. That is the image we will keep of her.
An internationally recognized specialist of Sanskrit kāvya and Poetics, Marie-Claude Porcher was a philologist in the full sense of the word, a lover of the texts and of the language, thus a very precise as well as subtle translator and exegete. Professor Sylvain Brocquet having faithfully described her wide range of talents and cited her major publications, I will confine myself to pay tribute to her accomplishments in the field of Indian theatre, as witnessed by her contributions to Théâtres indiens, the collective volume published in 1998, and to Théâtre de l’Inde ancienne, an anthology of Sanskrit theatre, published in the collection of La Pléiade (Gallimard, 2006).
Les âmes des défunts brillent dans le ciel d’hiver.
Directeur d’études pour les Religions de l’Inde
Ecole pratique des hautes études, section des sciences religieuses
Membre senior honoraire de l’Institut universitaire de France
Below is an email from Kamalesh Datta Tripathi to Lyne Bansat-Boudon after learning of Marie-Claude Porcher’s death:
Dear Professor Lyne Bansat-Boudon,
Your email of January 13, 2023 to hand. The sad news of the demise of profound scholar Marie-Claude Porcher has immensely shocked me. My meetings with Marie-Claude Porcher during my several Paris-visits are still fresh in my mind. Her command over Indian poetics and Sanskrit literature, her translations of Rāghavayādavīya of Veṅkaṭādhvarin which familiarized, a less-known category of Sanskrit poetry, are well-known to the lovers of Sanskrit language and literature all over the world. However, her translation of Daśakumāracarita, one of the best Sanskrit narratives, is considered to be best of all her translations. Her rare insight reflected into her work on Sanskrit poetics is a landmark among the French writings on the subjects in which her deep understanding of the Sanskrit literary criticism is remarkably present. She translated Rāmāyaṇa with Madeleine Biardeau, which is really a glorious contribution for familiarizing one of the great Indian classics to French-knowing lovers of world-classics.
I join in my condolences to her family, friends and fellow-Indologists all over France.
Kamalesh Datta Tripathi
We reproduce below a message posted by Silvia D’Intino on the Indolody forum following the publication of the homage to Marie-Claude Porcher posted by Lyne Bansat-Boudon:
“… so discreetly radiant was her personality”. So rightly said, dear Lyne.
What a sad news. I remember with lot of affection our conversations on Indian poetics at the Library of the Collège de France, and her constant support to my research, though I was not one of her students.
My sincere condoleances to her family, to her colleagues, to all her students,
CNRS – ANHIMA
We also reproduce below the notice written by Jamil Jean-Marc Dakhlia, President of the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle:
C’est avec grande tristesse que nous avons appris le décès, survenu le 31 décembre 2022, de notre collègue Marie-Claude Porcher, professeur émérite de sanskrit à la Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Ayant exercé à Paris 3 de 1972 jusqu’à sa retraite en 2003, Mme Porcher était une indianiste de grand renom, spécialiste de littérature sanskrite et de poétique. Elle avait étudié et traduit en français plusieurs œuvres très complexes composées au XVIIe siècle par le poète Venkatadhvarin (l’un de ces longs poèmes peut être lu de gauche à droite mais aussi de droite à gauche, avec des sens différents). Sa monographie Figures de Style en Sanskrit, publiée en 1978 par le Collège de France, est aujourd’hui encore un ouvrage de référence. Ses traductions, précises et élégantes, comprennent notamment le roman Histoire des dix princes de Dandin (Gallimard, 1995); elle avait aussi co-dirigé la traduction française de la grande épopée du Ramayana parue en 1999 dans la collection de la Pléiade.
Marie-Claude Porcher a laissé à ses étudiants le souvenir d’une enseignante exigeante et généreuse qui savait brillamment faire partager sa passion pour la littérature indienne classique. Au nom de l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, je présente mes plus sincères condoléances à tous ses proches, ainsi qu’à ses anciens collègues et étudiants.
Jamil Jean-Marc DAKHLIA
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle