By Thomas Blumann
Author Roger Peyrefitte, whose style brought a new kind of poetry to literature, was honored by friends and admirers with a dazzling reception at Nörvenich Castle in Germany. On August 17, 1992, Peyrefitte celebrated his 85th birthday quietly in Paris. He was busy preparing new texts for publication. Shortly before, the master was distinguished with the 1991-92 Prize of the Balzac Academy for his work as a whole.
A few weeks later, at the invitation of the Museum of European Art and the European Forum, Peyrefitte traveled to Bonn, where he stayed at the Maritime Hotel. Accompanying him was his friend Alexandre de Villiers, who is in charge of the great Frenchman's literary work.
To honor Peyrefitte, a reading from some of his works was given on a sunny Saturday in the great hall of Nörvenich Castle near Cologne. Approximately 200 invited guests from Germany and other western European countries gathered for the occasion.
"We are indeed fortunate to be spending the day with Roger Peyrefitte," said Joe F. Bodenstein in his welcoming address. Bodenstein, art patron and owner of Nörvenich Castle, recalled Peyrefitte's dedication to promoting German-French friendship. "Peyrefitte and the sculptor Arno Breker were models of loyalty and friendship during the past 50 years. Even the war could not divide these two men, who were united by their artistic and cultural ideals." Along these lines, Bodenstein also mentioned the politicians Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, fathers of German-French friendship after 1945.
In his response, Peyrefitte stated: "I have dedicated my life to greater understanding, friendship and love among people. It is also from this perspective that I have written my books. When criticized, I do not shrink from scandal. This I say: the histories of men's lives are full of small and great scandals. It is only important that we extract what is good and enduring." Actor Peter Hohberger read from Peyrefitte's book "Alexander the Great." The guests were also given the pleasure of hearing Peyrefitte himself read. He quoted from his new book "Frederick the Great and Voltaire."
On the evening of this memorable day, Klaus Mühlbauer and his wife Ulrike gave a sumptuous banquet at their villa. Among the guests was Mrs. Charlotte Breker, widow of the artist. Madame Mühlbauer was a charming hostess. She provided a combination of French and German delicacies, while husband Klaus supplied the best wines.
A reception in honor of Peyrefitte was held on another day and attended by politicians, diplomats, artists and other prominent members of society. Included among the guests was the president of the German Parliament, Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, who discussed with Peyrefitte and Alexandre de Villiers the cultural cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe.