By Joe F. Bodenstein
Paris/New York. It was the last magnanimous gesture of the French writer Roger Peyrefitte towards the United States: he let a special edition of his famous novel "Secret Friendships" from 1942 to be illustrated. Several days before his death in November appeared this poetic story of a friendship between two young students at an elite school for boys in France.
"There is a special reason for it", said publisher B. John Zavrel. Peyrefitte, as the Grandmaster of the Alexander Order for Science and Art, wanted to make possible a special edition for readers and book collectors. To this purpose, the book was illustrated by the contemporary British painter Hugo Haig-Thomas. The artist is well known as portraitist of high aristocracy and the top society. For this unique commission the Englishman has selected tender pen drawings to accompany the text: Farewell to Mother, Sleeping Boy with Red Poppies, The Dream, and The Boy in Orange Garden are some of the titles of the classically beautiful drawings.
This special treat for book lovers was published exclusively by Zavrel in West-Art Publishers. This book became a worldwide bestseller in 1940s. To the enchanted readers belonged among others Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson. Today, after many years, this timeless novel in modern presentation has lost nothing from the freshness of this story of youthful friendship and affection. More than this, the text has become a part of world literature.
The book is expanded with several quotes by the friends and admirers of Peyrefitte. So wrote the surrealistic artist Salvador Dali, to whom America devotes an art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, in an homage in 1976: "My friend Roger Peyrefitte is one who magnificently inspires literature. He is also an excellent observer of the secrets of life. The Divine Dali shares these interests."
The French President Francois Mitterrand praised in 1988 the former diplomat Peyrefitte for his global thinking and his international friendships: "As a French writer, Roger Peyrefitte is a Cosmopolitan. The subjects of his interests are in the United States, Europe and Asia. No wonder that his books are read around the world."
And the sculptor Arno Breker, bound in friendship with Peyrefitte, Dali, Jean Cocteau and Ernst Jünger, noted in 1990: "Even more dangerous than the tip of his pen is the love of Roger Peyrefitte. I can call him a dear brother in Apollo."
(The book: "Secret Friendships" by Roger Peyrefitte, 263 Pages, illustrated, ISBN 0-914301-23-3, Price $ 20 plus $5 shipping, West-Art, 10545 Main Street, Clarence, New York 14031. E-mail: email@example.com )
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Copyright 2001 West-Art
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science.