In 1977 I was coordinator of York University’s creative writing program, and heard that Munro, despite the Canadian popularity of her books and her recent writer-in-residency at the University of Western Ontario, was seeking more income. I engaged her to teach a creative writing course at York, but after a few months she told me that she thought she was not being helpful to her students – I don't think her students
I did not see Munro again for another decade. Then my friend Professor Ileana Cura of the University of Belgrade, a passionately committed reader of Munro, asked me during a visit to Toronto whether I could arrange for them to meet. Munro graciously agreed – somewhat to my surprise, given her well-known care for her privacy. I drove Ileana to Clinton, where Munro served us tea and biscuits. That afternoon was the highlight of Ileana’s visit to Canada.
Munro, however, had been very much on my mind. A York doctoral student from France, Héliane Daziron, had come to me some years before to ask me to supervise her Greimassian dissertation on Munro’s stories. She was the first student I’d encountered who was more interested in the complex construction of Munro’s stories than in their perceptive portrayals of women. She was also one of the first indications for me of a European curiosity about Munro. Héliane completed her thesis in 1985, and returned to France, where her Canadian PhD was not greatly respected (I believe she had to supplement with a French one), but made her way nevertheless to significant faculty positions at the universities of Strasbourg, Orleans, and presently Toulouse, under her married name of Héliane Ventura. She organized and co-organized several conferences on Canadian literature, including one on Robert Kroetsch at Strasbourg in 1995 and one on Munro at Orleans in 2003, where the well-known theorist of biography and autobiography, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, gave the key-note address, and various scholars from the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland and Canada, including Ventura and her co-organizer Mary Condé, contributed fascinating papers. I published the proceedings as the Fall-Winter 2003-4 issue of my journal Open Letter. Copies of that issue are still available, and offer a wide view of how Munro has been read and appreciated outside of Canada – i.e. a wide view of the Nobel-winning Munro.