Late French professor is commemorated at book fair


TAIPEI — A French professor described as one of the pioneers in promoting exchanges between France and Taiwan was honored in two talks held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TiBE) yesterday.

“The most unforgettable aspect of Francoise Zylberberg was her insistence on living out her dreams and ideals,” said TiBE Chairman Wang Jung-wen in one of the talks.

Zylberberg, who died last August aged 65, is best-known for dedicating the past three decades to teaching French at National Taiwan University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, and for promoting French culture through the TiBE and at Le Pigeonnier, a bookstore specializing in French literature that Zylberberg opened in Taipei in 1999.

Born in Paris, she came to Taiwan through a teacher exchange program in 1979 and decided to settle in the country, later becoming a naturalized Taiwanese citizen. Aside from teaching, she was also engaged in educational television programs on French teaching.

Hao Ming-yi, chairman of Locus Publishing Company, said Zylberberg was a good example of how much one can achieve despite limited resources.

Zylberberg came to Taiwan in the late 1970s, a time when the island was dominated by American and Japanese influences and the locals had very little understanding of France and its culture, Hao said.

She was so passionate about sharing her love of French culture in Taiwan, and that even when she was ill, she still thought about details regarding TiBE and about opening a bookstore in Shanghai, he added.

Christophe Gigaudaut, who oversees cooperation and cultural affairs for the French Institute in Taipei, called Zylberberg a “pioneer” in bringing Taiwan and France closer, and questioned what TiBE would be without Zylberberg.