INFLUENCE OF THE PAST: AN ARISTOCRAT’S STORY BY PARKER ROSSMAN
It is explained in the introductory paragraph that it is an account of the life of Georges de Sarre, the fictional pederastic protagonist of seven novels, while in the last paragraph Rossman claims that it is based on nine books by his creator, Roger Peyrefitte (1907-2000) and one biography of Peyrefitte. The problem with these as sources for the life of de Sarre is that only three of them (Special Friendships, Les Ambassades and La Fin des Ambassades) are about him. One of the others concerns another product of Peyrefitte’s imagination (Jean Guibert in L’Oracle), two are barely relevant fictionalised biographies of others by Peyrefitte (Les Amours Singulières and L’Exilé de Capri), one concerns Peyrefitte’s art collection and two are about Peyrefitte himself. Though de Sarre and Guibert were based considerably on their creator, they are nonetheless fictional and independent should not be treated as one with either each other or Peyrefitte himself.
The reader should therefore be aware that only the first two paragraphs concern de Sarre. As regards the life of Peyrefitte, it is unfortunate that Rossman was writing just before his subject published two volumes of memoirs (Propos Secrets in 1977 and Propos Secrets 2 in 1980). The reader wishing to know more about him and the degree to which de Sarre was him is urged to read those or the fine biography by Antoine Deléry, Roger Peyrefitte, le sulfureux (2011).
Influence of the Past: An Aristocrat’s Story
Carefully researched fiction based on true incidents often presents a truer picture of human beings caught up in something like pederasty than does a clinical case study, for it offers the possibility of a well-rounded presentation of character and emotions. This second of our guides to the underground — again told in the first person — is such a fictional character. As the subject of seven novels he is probably the most completely developed pederast in modern literature. We apologize to his real novelist that our style is not so charming and graceful as his. Also, we have chosen arbitrarily the incidents which we see as typical of what living pederasts tell in their true stories. Many of the pederasts interviewed have come to accept their deviancy with a self-understanding based upon the discovery of a previous period in history with which they can identify. Georges de Sarre, hero of this series of novels, here in a reconstructed biography reflects upon his pederasty as from the chair of a Trimalchio:
I attended a boarding school where my fellow students were from prominent families, I was faithful in my religious duties, and I read widely about sexual matters. Today pupils may talk more openly about sex, but I think my pre-World War II generation was more romantic. My father made a point of telling me that I was a man when I went off to school at fourteen. For me that meant I was ready for the pleasures of sex. I was immediately jealous of the sex play between the boy whose bed was next to mine and a handsome older athlete. Though they warned us against “vice” and “polluting friendships,” one of the teachers left open on a table where I could read it, a translation of the Satyricon and I hunted for other classics with similar pederast episodes. It was pointed out to me how often the older boys proselyted in the younger division, as, for example, the athlete who went camping with my neighbor and who met him regularly in a seldom-used greenhouse. Jealous, I planted a note the athlete had written to the boy in a place where the Rector would find it. Although the older boy was expelled, the door was not opened for me to tryst with my neighbor, so I began to look elsewhere. In chapel I noticed a choirboy from the younger division, not yet thirteen, who had a dazzling smile and golden curls, and I began to play erotic games with him, maneuvering to be able to kneel beside him at communion so I could press my knee against his bare leg, staring at him, sending him secret notes. He knew what I wanted and, flushed with excitement, soon was responding coquettishly. I sent him poems by the pederast poet and steel heir Fersen, and he replied with little love poems which he wrote himself. He bought a red tie just like mine, as a surprise message of love, my first intimation that Alexander was ready to be passionate where I intended to be playful. “Be careful,” I warned him. “Red is the color of fire. Aren’t you afraid of getting burned?” As I said this, my caressing fingers closed to clasp his hand.
Our play at the greenhouse was innocent and affectionate. I kissed and caressed his bare legs as he sat above me. He was shy but marvellously responsive. We played other erotic games: traded bathing suits, mixed our blood, had a lovers’ quarrel, and when he became convinced that I wasn’t one of the older boys who simply wanted to use a younger boy sexually, he began to adore me. All might have gone off well if the school authorities hadn’t had such dirty minds. One of the teachers who was himself erotically attracted to Alexander noticed the furtiveness of his favorite pupil, and demanded at confession to know what was going on. Accused of something evil, we both became more deceptive. Alexander wrote me a note saying: “Aren’t boys human? Don’t we have rights to love? Don’t worry, it will take more than parents and teachers to keep us apart.” But we had a new surveillant, a pederast teacher who played sexually with various pupils by awakening first one boy and then another with a flashlight in the middle of the night, and taking them to his room for food and intimate conversation. This teacher spied on us, and told me that we couldn’t fool him, for he knew that the so-called purity of boys was a delusion. He proposed that the three of us could be friends, for he also found Alexander erotically attractive. This worried me, so I framed the surveillant as I had the older athlete by an anonymous note to the Rector. On a surprise visit in the middle of the night, the Rector found a young boy in the teacher’s room, so the teacher was promptly sent away. Later in life I ran into him twice - once marching in a parade with his Boy Scout troop, and again, later, in Vienna, where he had been arrested for sexual involvement with a boy. Other teachers had been alerted, however; so when Alexander and I were caught lying together, smoking forbidden cigarettes, we were told that we would have to be separated, to attend different schools. Alexander sent word to me that he would die first, while I pretended to repent and agree with the plan, even turning over to the authorities the notes he had written to me. He felt betrayed, and later, after I was home, I read about his suicide in the newspapers. It was the most decisive event of my young life. At first I thought to kill myself; then I realized I was obliged to live for both of us for, in dying, Alexander had united his life forever with mine. Since then, I’ve devoted my life to his memory, dedicating my career to him. At the university I had affairs with girls, but always I was haunted by his love. Had he lived, we would have grown apart, gone our separate ways, but now there is no way for me to escape his spell, since he died for our love. I was delighted that my first job took me to our embassy in Greece. Alexander and I had dreamed of exploring Greece together, so I explored the places hallowed by pederast associations. In those days, before World War II, many pederasts came to Greece for sex play with boys, not only because of the lure of history but also under the influence of Lord Byron, for the pederast underground of Europe was full of stories about the poet. Young friends in the diplomatic service introduced me to the swimming pools where pederasts gathered, and were amused when a boy knocked on the door when I was changing clothes to ask if he could come in. One didn’t need to go to such places to find boys, for the hotels swarmed with them. For example, the little groom assigned to me spoke only Greek, so with sign language I asked him, soon after my arrival, to draw water for my bath. Immediately he took off all his clothes to bathe with me uninvited.
I had the unusual diplomatic assignment of rescuing a thirteen-year-old boy from the yacht of a wealthy pederast who had taken the boy on a year-long cruise with the parents’ permission - later they had repented and wanted the boy home. The yachtsman told me that he went each spring to Morocco to contract with a family for a boy as his year’s companion. The one I rescued had been delightful, he said, except for one problem. He enjoyed the sex play so much he refused to wear clothes most of the time. We had a picnic at which the boy performed for our amusement a naked dance in the moonlight with a girl his own age.
Later, during the war, inquiries were made as to whether or not the yachtsman was a spy, and it was reported that he then had two young foreign boys on his boat. My own troubles, which dramatically ended my diplomatic career, began when I slapped a boy in an Athens hotel, and climaxed elsewhere when I was arrested (I was released with a reprimand and warning) after the police had followed me and a boy all day, although we had done nothing illegal.
I became a writer, beginning with a novel about Alexander which won a large audience of sentimental women who wept over his suicide. I also received many fan letters from schoolboys thanking me for championing their cause. Many confided in me that they didn’t see anything wrong in their sex play, some wanted to meet me, and one wrote to say he had fallen in love with me through my writings. I knew better than to reply to his letter, but once in Naples at a hotel a family from his town in Belgium checked in with a charming boy of the right age. When later I learned that the boy who wrote the letter had committed suicide, my grief over Alexander was rekindled and I resolved that the next time a boy made overtures to me, I would accept. At that time I was in Greece with a woman, and we went together to Pergamum where Julius Caesar as a teenager had shared the bed of a king. Here we discussed the puzzle of pederasty.
Some time later a friend invited me to go with her to visit the boarding school which her son attended. The Rector greeted me warmly, saying that the sex play I had described in my novel no longer existed, for they now had sex education courses and allowed boys to smoke. The teachers were, indeed, so self-confident that my novel was used as a model of good writing! I found, however, that boys weren’t so different as they thought. A youngster hovered near me as if waiting to speak to me alone, and we met in the chapel of all places. He told me that perhaps boys no longer wrote romantic notes, but there was as much sex play as ever, and he kissed me while we were behind the chapel door. Since he lived at home and was not a boarding pupil, he could come to see me each week. He came from a well-to-do, liberal family and had freedom of a sort that even university students did not have in my day. We spent our afternoons looking at photographs of naked boys in an art book, and he admired their physical charms with no embarrassment. I need not tell you that we had fun in bed, but our close ties were intellectual. We discussed Jean Genet and my books, for the boy had been charmed by their spirit, originally nurtured perhaps by the lovely statue of a Neapolitan fishing boy in the vestibule of the house where I grew up, and by the Greek classics which freed me from the necessity of sexual conformism. As he has grown up, we have remained the close friends that Alexander and I should have been. Our love differs now that he is a man, but neither of us regrets a moment of the happy hours we spent between the colored sheets I bought especially for him when he was a schoolboy. He too has explored Greece, for we share a fascination for that time of history when men and boys were free to enjoy themselves, sexually, affectionately, together.
SOME CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
- This story illustrates the need for more adequate ways to interpret male-male sexual experience to the boys involved. It further illustrates the power of a sexual experience which never actually involved deviant coitus to influence a man into becoming a practicing pederast. Much of the sex play between the older and younger boy, while full of arousal and psychic games, was as innocent as wrestling. And yet it was a powerfully emotional erotic experience.
- Another pederast frequently quoted in this book tells a similar story of discovering the Greek classics when he was a young adolescent, at a time when his own erotic attachment for a younger boy was distressing and threatening. Reading about Greek pederasty caused him to relax, quit worrying, accept his emerging pederasty and continue a happy sexual relationship with the younger boy. Similar influences from history appear in the experiences of some of the other pederasts interviewed.
- Although there was every opportunity at the school for the boys in this story to be seduced by adults, they seduced themselves. While it is important to make the point that seduction is more often by another boy rather than by an adult, these novels also report cases of adult seduction, as well as great variety of experience in these cases.
- The reader who wishes to examine this story in greater detail may consult the following books of Roger Peyrefitte: Special Friendships (1958), Jeunes Proies (1948), Les Ambassades (1951), La Fin des Ambassades (1951), Notre Amour (1954), L’Oracle (1948), Les Amours Singulières (1949), L’Exilé de Capri (1959), Une Musée de l’Amour (1972), and a book by Giannoli (1970).
 Paul Xavier Gianolli, Roger Peyrefitte ou les clés du scandale. Paris: Fayard, 1970.
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