A petition, signed by several cultural figures, asks for the entry of the two poets to the Pantheon. Without adding her signature, the Minister of Culture provides her support.
To the great poets, the grateful minister: Roselyne Bachelot, in charge of Culture, supports a petition in favor of the entry of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine into the Panthéon, submitted to President Emmanuel Macron.
“It would only be fair to celebrate their memory today by bringing them jointly to the Pantheon, alongside other great literary figures: Voltaire, Rousseau, Dumas, Hugo, Malraux”, we read in the petition revealed on Wednesday.
This “appeal to the President of the Republic”, the only one empowered to decide, was originally launched by a group of intellectuals, academics and academics passionate about these two famous authors.
Former ministers signatories
They convinced, among other things, the Ministers of Culture from Jack Lang (who had been since 1981) to Françoise Nyssen, with the exception of Franck Riester (who held the post until July, but still sits to the government). The ministry told AFP that Roselyne Bachelot did not sign directly, but supported the initiative.
“The fact of bringing these two poets who were lovers, yes, together, to the Pantheon would have an impact which is not only historical or literary, but deeply current”, declares the minister to the weekly Point.
Among the signatories we find for example the former mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë, the former minister Bernard Kouchner, intellectuals as different as Edgar Morin, Alain Minc and Michel Onfray, and many artists and writers like Agnès b, Annie Ernaux , Olivier Py or Line Renaud.
The promoters of the petition are the writers Jean-Luc Barré and Frédéric Martel, author of the preface to a 1,000-page biography of Rimbaud, by Jean-Jacques Lefrère, republished Thursday by Bouquins (Laffont editions).
“Ugly plastic flowers”
Rimbaud (1854-1891) and Verlaine (1844-1896) are two of the most famous poets, adulated and commented on in the French language. The first is buried in his hometown of Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes), which he hated, and in the family vault, alongside, recalls the petition, of “his enemy and usurper, Paterne Berrichon”, a minor poet who married his sister and wronged his posterity. This tomb, although it attracts fans from all over the world, has a “cramped, miserly” appearance, in the words of the poet Yves Bonnefoy.
Verlaine rests in the Batignolles cemetery in Paris, also in the family vault, “near the ring road under ugly plastic flowers”, according to the signatories of the appeal. “Is this how France honors its greatest poets?” They ask.
Some dissenting voices
The idea is not unanimous. “Rimbaud and Verlaine at the Panthéon ?! So you no longer respect anything !?”, wrote the writer Claro on Twitter.
Both despised the honors and had quarrels with the authorities. In 1873 in Brussels, a drunken Verlaine slightly wounded Rimbaud by shooting him because he was about to leave. His young companion will forgive him and refuse any legal action.
“But the Belgian prosecution and the French police have put together a case file, the archives of which now prove that it was linked to his role in the Commune [soulèvement populaire à Paris en 1871] and his homosexuality. He remained 555 days in prison, when he should have spent only a few weeks, “say the signatories.
Place de Verlaine is also justified by a historic moment, when Radio-Londres, from June 1 to 4, 1944, repeats the coded announcement of the Normandy landings. “Long sobs / Violins / Of autumn / Wounds my heart / Of languor / Monotonous” (Autumn song, 1866).
The last two personalities transferred to the Pantheon were under the mandate of Emmanuel Macron: the former deportee and minister Simone Veil, with her husband Antoine, in July 201