Life and works
Born in August 1907 in Castres, France to a wealthy family, Peyrefitte went to Jesuit and Lazarist boarding schools and then studied language and literature in Toulouse. After graduating first of his year from Ecole des Sciences Politiques in 1930, he worked as an embassy secretary in Athens between 1933 and 1938. In 1943 he became assistant to Ferdinand de Briton, the representative of the government to the German occupying authorities. He was removed from office in February 1945 because of his collaboration activities. The discharge was revoked in 1960 and his diplomatic status was restored in 1962.
Peyrefitte is best known for his controversial novels and literary biographies. One recurring theme in his novels is pederasty. Most of his works have a pederastic undertone, and in some he freely explores that side of his own personality. Even more than André Gide or Henry de Montherlant (with whom he was friends), he used his literary career as a tool for his defence of pederasty.
The most known and probably best of these novels is the semi-autobiographical Les Amitiés particulières (1944, translated as Special friendships) which won him the Renaudot prize in 1945. The novel, based on his experiences, deals with a homoerotic relationship between two boys at a Roman Catholic boarding school and how it is destroyed by a priest's feelings for the younger boy. However, most of the intertextuality, symbols, names of secondary characters, and also the adult characters, constantly contrast with the 'young homosexual' main theme, as they all relate to an ancient, modern and contemporary pederastic culture.
In 1964, the novel was made into a movie by director Jean Delannoy. On the set of the film, Peyrefitte met the 14-year-old Alain-Philippe Malagnac (later Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villele) who had been cast as a choir boy and was a big fan of the book. Not only did Peyrefitte sign Alain-Philippe's copy of the book but the two also fell in love, pursuing a stormy relationship that Peyreffite chronicled in some of his later novels such as Notre Amour (1967) and L'Enfant de cœur (1978). Peyrefitte remained friends with Malagnac and he would later sell his precious collection of rare books and erotic art to finance Malagnac's business ventures.
Peyrefitte also wrote about Baron Jacques d'Adelsward-Fersen's exile in Capri (L'Exilé de Capri, 1959) and translated Greek pederastic love poetry (La Muse garçonnière, 1973). Other works put him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church (Les Clés de saint Pierre, 1955) while others resulted in libel charges against him (Les Juifs, 1965, Les Américains, 1968)
Roger Peyrefitte -- Our Love
- Roger Peyrefitte, "Notre amour" ("Our Love") (Paris, 1967):
This autobiographical novel describes the love affair between the author and a fourteen-year-old boy who is never named, but who Peyrefitte much later in his autobiography revealed was actually twelve years old (the boy later went on to become a prominent French politician).
Peyrefitte and the boy make eye contact when P. visits the boy's school. P. knows that the boy has read his book, "Special Friendships" (see above), where Alexandre wears a red tie to signify his love for Georges. P. returns to the school and attends a mass in which the boy sings in the choir. He is wearing a red tie. After the service, P. waits behind:
I surveyed the chapel: everyone had left, except my choirboy. I walked forward with slow steps: he managed to extinguish the candles with a calculated slowness, as if he was waiting for me. He had taken off his vestments. He was alone.
At the sound of my steps, he turned his head quickly and smiled at me. I walked to the side, so as not to be seen from behind, and signalled to him to come over. He came over, his face redder than his tie, but with a decided air that I admired. "Bonjour!" I said, holding out my hand. He introduced himself. His first name, his last name, were sweet and sonorous like those of lovers. His voice was hot, rich, a bit sing-song.
Our eyes penetrated each other. "We are in agreement, aren't we?" I said.
I gave him the slip of paper with my telephone number. "Do you live in Paris?"
"No, at X., near Versailles... After I read your book, I wanted to write to you and I looked up your address in the telephone book, but it wasn't there." I listened to this declaration in delight.
"I love you," I murmured. "You know what that means, love?"
"Yes," he said.
"Ever since I became a man, all I've wanted out of life is a boy to love for the rest of my life. You have helped me attain the goal of my life." I was no more astonished than he was at my words. His hand was in mine: he squeezed my fingers. "Did you put on the red tie for me?"
He smiled. "And it was for you that I served the mass."
"We're not playing at Special Friendships now."
"I know that, but it was necessary to have read it first."
In order to mark this meeting with another symbolic gesture, I offered him a silk handkerchief that I had in my pocket. He kissed it. Then I took him in my arms, right there behind the back of the church door, and returned his handkerchief-kiss on his lips.
- (Note: This section was originally posted to ALEXIS'S MINDSCAPE. All rights reserved)
There is a more advanced list of Peyrefitte's works and a bibliography on the related french BoyWiki page, though it lacks the title of the translations included hereunder.
A near complete list of Peyrefitte's works in chronological order:
- Les amitiés particulières, novel, Editions Flammarion 1944, trans. as Special Friendships
- Mademoiselle de Murville, novel, Editions Jean Vigneau 1947
- Le Prince des neiges, drama in 3 acts, Editions Jean Vigneau 1947
- L'Oracle, novel, Editions Jean Vigneau 1948 (definitive edition 1974)
- Les Amours singulières, novel, Editions Jean Vigneau 1949, trans. as Strange Loves
- La Mort d'une mère, Editions Flammarion 1950
- Les Ambassades, novel, Editions Flammarion 1951, trans. as Diplomatic Diversions
- Les Œuvres libres - Roger Peyrefitte, etc. Editions Arthème Fayard 1951
- Du Vésuve à l'Etna, short story, Editions Flammarion 1952, awarded the Prix de le Ville de Palerme
- La Fin des ambassades, novel, Editions Flammarion 1953, trans. as Diplomatic Conclusions
- Les Amours, de Lucien de Samosate (translation of the original Greek), Editions Flammarion 1954
- Les Clés de saint Pierre, novel, Editions Flammarion 1955, trans. as The Keys of St Peter
- Jeunes Proies, Editions Flammarion 1956
- Les Chevaliers de Malte, Editions Flammarion 1957, trans. as Knights of Malta
- L'Exilé de Capri, Editions Flammarion 1959, trans. as The Exile of Capri
- Le Spectateur nocturne, dramatic dialogue, Editions Flammarion 1960
- Les Fils de la lumière, study of Free-Masonry, Editions Flammarion 1961
- La Nature du Prince, Editions Flammarion 1963, trans. as The Prince's Person
- Les Secrets des conclaves, Editions Flammarion 1964
- Les Juifs, Editions Flammarion 1965, trans. as The Jews
- Notre Amour, Editions Flammarion 1967
- Les Américains, novel, Editions Flammarion 1968
- Des Français, novel, Editions Flammarion 1970
- La Coloquinte, novel, Editions Flammarion 1971
- Manouche, short story, Editions Flammarion 1972
- L'Enfant Amour, essay, Editions Flammarion 1972
- Un Musée de l'Amour, photographs of his collection of pederastic art by Marianne Haas, Editions du Rocher 1972
- La Muse Garçonnière, translated of the original Greek, Editions Flammarion 1973
- Tableaux de chasse, ou la vie extraordinaire de Fernand Legros, Editions Albin Michel 1976
- Propos secrets (volume 1) - Editions Albin Michel 1977
- Trilogy about Alexander the Great - Editions Albin Michel
- La Jeunesse d'Alexandre, 1977
- Les Conquêtes d'Alexandre, 1979
- Alexandre le Grand, 1981
- Propos secrets (volume 2), Editions Albin Michel 1980
- L'Enfant de cœur, Editions Albin Michel 1978
- Roy, novel, Editions Albin Michel 1979
- L'Illustre écrivain, Editions Albin Michel 1982
- Henry de Montherlant - Roger Peyrefitte - Correspondance (1938-1941), presentation and notes by R. Peyrefitte and Pierre Sipriot, Editions Robert Laffont 1983
- La Soutane rouge, Edition du Mercure de France 1983
- Doucet Louis, raconté par... photographs by Rosine Mazin, Editions Sun 1985
- Voltaire, sa jeunesse et son temps, biography, Editions Albin Michel 1985
- Voltaire et Frédéric II, two volumes, Editions Albin Michel 1992
- Réflexions sur De Gaulle, Paris, Editions régionales 1991
- Le Dernier des Sivry, novel, Editions du Rocher, Monaco 1993
- Retours en Sicile, Editions du Rocher, Monaco 1996