It is with great sadness that we in the Australian Society for French Studies community learned today of the death of Ross Chambers (and we should like to thank Anne Freadman for letting us know).
While Ross had been in poor health for some time, this news still came as something of a shock. I shall sift into the first person singular now, as I do not wish to speak for all of us; instead, I invite people to share any memories of Ross with other ASFS members via this site.
For my part, I met Ross for the first time shortly after my arrival in Australia in 2001. I have a very powerful memory of his conference presentation on Baudelaire at ASFS (I think it must have been at UQ in 2003), which I found enthralling. I don’t think I was alone in that lecture theatre in feeling like an undergraduate receiving a masterclass in literary analysis. I can only envy those among us who were lucky enough to have Ross either as a lecturer or a supervisor. I realised there and then what a special talent he was and since that time I have taken great pleasure in reading his many and various works. Above all, though, I remember exchanging letters with Ross, who, as you will all know, refused to send emails (he did write Loiterature, after all). The personal tone of his correspondence, the great humanity (and humility) of the man came at first as something of a surprise, especially given that he did not know me well. He was, it turned out, a great reader of people as well as of literature. So, while my loss is as nothing compared with that of those of you who knew him closely, I am sad that I shall not receive any more of those beautiful letters. He was a truly magnificent scholar, one of the superstars, as Larry Schehr used to say about him, and a wonderful human being.