Department of French Studies Professor Emerita Palomba Yashinsky arrived at York University in 1968. Yashinsky, who continued to teach after her retirement, died on Jan. 7 at the age of 89.
At York University, Yashinsky taught 19th-century French literature. She loved to combine painting with literature. She wrote poetry, drew and painted herself. For a few years she also taught in the Humanities Department where she could combine music, performing arts, painting and literature. Of all the books she ever taught, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary was probably her favourite. Yashinsky probably knew it by heart.
An excellent translator, Yashinsky worked on the first collection of journalistic articles on criticism published in volume from Emile Zola. “Mes Haines,” published June 1866. This important work of Zola and Naturalism provides an overview of the multiple issues confronting 19th-century France during the Second Empire. She loved teaching and cared for her students. After she retired she became a docent at the Art Gallery of Ontario and would give tours in French and English. She also volunteered to teach French at the Life Institute at Ryerson University.
Yashinsky was born in Bucharest, Romania. As an only child, her four cousins (all only children) were more like her sisters. They would spend their summers at their grandparents’ house in Constanza by the Black Sea. The Second World War changed the course of their lives. After the war ended they all left Romania. Yashinsky came to Detroit, Michigan, where she earned her PhD from Wayne State University. Her cousins were dispersed to other countries (Belgium, Brazil, France and Israel). All through her life she suffered a great deal from this separation.
Yashinsky made an impact on her students, her colleagues, staff members and all those who knew her. She will be greatly missed.
Originally published in YFile.