This seminal novelist was best summarized by the legendary Amanda Lear ( who married Peyrefitte's "secretary", Alain-Philippe Malagnacshe), as follows, " Roger Peyrefitte was a famous French writer who shocked everybody by writing a book about homosexuality called Special Friendship." . There it is. All the essentials. Famous. French. Shock. Via a clearly autobiographical chronicle of an adolescent love affair in a famous French Catholic seminary.In his lifetime, Peyrefitte's on-going penchant for lovers far younger than he might be the overly Freudian case of arrested development (cut to the "secretary") but it is the lapsed Catholic aspect of his oeuvre that captivated me.
Just how ultra-catholic France can be, one can never understand until you read of its Foreign Offices in the exhaustively truthful way Peyrefitte does. ' La Fin des ambassades', translated into English in 1954 by Edward Hyams as 'Diplomatic Conclusions', shadows the real-instances of Peyrefitte's diplomatic career in Vichy-era France as well as an ill-fated station in Greece where his sentiment of, "J'aime les agneaux, pas les moutons", ended that career. That left his restless mind room to tell everything he knew of the political intricacies of Gaullist France. He doesn't mince words.
For all his rather libertarian views on sexuality, politically Peyrefitte was a classic conservative bourgeois and in his later years he would deem to support extreme right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen. Diplomatic Conclusions offers an insight into the supporting mind-set behind such decisions.
In an obituary written for The Independent by James Kirkup it notes that : "Peyrefitte was a skilled manipulator of the media. He was charismatic to the point of absurdity, with his dramatic gestures and outrageous behaviour, so that in the end no one took any notice of his often ludicrous fabrications, though they were always delivered with great style and conviction, and with an effrontery that was amusingly malicious".
Here in this clip from a 70's French talk show, the evidence of that overfloweth.