Accounting History Review – latest edition
Accounting History Review
Volume 26, 2016 – Issue 3: International Festschrift in Honour of Professor Yannick Lemarchand
Editorial – En attendant Gaignot / Waiting for Gaignot
de Cheryl S. McWatters
It seems a long time ago, but there was a time when conference calls were sent via regular post and e-mail was considered ‘cutting edge’. It was one such novelty that led to my first encounter with Yannick Lemarchand – the call for conference papers for the Troisième Journées d’Histoire de la Comptabilité to be held in Nantes, France (March 1997). I had never been to Nantes and the dates suggested Spring flowers and no snow – clearly a bonus. As they say, ‘the rest is history’.
Later, we met again and through a turn of events, Yannick invited me to spend my sabbatical in Nantes. It did not seem at the time much more than an invitation – indeed, I was not aware that Yannick was responsible for his faculty’s ‘international relations’. I arrived in October 2000; since then, the city has become my second home. Moreover, it was the beginning of a research partnership that has crossed borders and continents, stretched time zones and our mutual patience. It has also led to a deep friendship and a sense of being part of the family. ‘So what about Gaignot?’, you might ask.
In Samuel Beckett’s En attendant Godot / Waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon wait and continue to wait for Godot. I will let the reader assign us roles, but Yannick and I have not Godot but Gaignot. I first made Gaignot’s acquaintance shortly after my arrival when we paid a visit to the Mediathèque de Nantes to seek out at a rare book, Le Guide du commerce of Gaignat de l’Aulnais (Gaignat de l’Aulnais, C.-F. 1771. Guide du commerce. Paris: Despilly, Durand, et Valade). Yannick commented that he had always wanted to study this eighteenth-century volume but had never quite gotten around to doing so. It suddenly seemed opportune. After tracking ‘Gaignat’ down in the old ‘card catalogue’, we were able to peruse the actual book. We were so pleased (and I much impressed) when Yannick managed to convince the administrators of the library’s special collections to prepare photocopies and bound volumes (no digital images then!) for us (and them) at not insignificant cost – to Yannick – such that we could explore Gaignat at our leisure and seemingly, at every waking hour. It became my entrée into eighteenth-century Nantes and the beginning of a search that always seems to take us back to where we started.