On the forecourt of the Pantheon illuminated by 101 glass cubes each containing a handful of soil from a French department, the entry ceremony to the Pantheon of Maurice Genevoix, took place on Wednesday November 11, 2020, without an audience and in a small committee, confinement required, as the commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armistice of 1918 and the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, that very morning.
The ceremony was however broadcast by France Télévisions in order to widely associate the French in this homage of the Republic to the great writer and, through him, to all Those of 14, named after his major book.
→ PORTRAIT. To Maurice Genevoix, the homeland finally grateful
After the arrival of the President of the Republic and his wife, two students from the École normale supérieure, where Maurice Genevoix had studied before the war, placed a handful of earth on the square. of Éparges where Second Lieutenant Genevoix was seriously wounded and a handful of Terre des Vernelles, where he later settled.
A projection on the facade of the Pantheon of black and white images followed, evoking the violence of the fighting and the faces of the Poilus. The photo of the writer in uniform, with his thin mustache, was then displayed on the colonnade illuminated in blue-white-red.
The coffin carried to music by Edvard Grieg
It was then that the standard of 106e infantry regiment to which Maurice Genevoix belonged, while his coffin, covered with the tricolor flag and carried by eight Republican Guards, began to move up the rue Soufflot. The Republican Guard fanfare accompanied them with the somber and solemn accents of Peer Gynt Suite n ° 1 of Edward Grieg.
Creations by Anselm Kiefer and Pascal Dusapin enter the Panthéon
Then the procession entered the Pantheon, while an excerpt sounded a vocal work composed especially for the occasion by Pascal Dusapin and which will remain in the building in a lasting way: a polyphony of luminous and clear female voices, like a dawn at the end of the fighting. The coffin was placed under the rotunda, at the crossing of the transept, in front of members of the family of Maurice Genevoix and around thirty officials where we recognized the President of the Senate Gérard Larcher, the former President of the Republic, François Hollande, the general-in-chief of the armies, François Lecointre.
The comedian Théo Frilet, who had played the soldier writer in a television series, then read an excerpt from Those of 14 evoking the fight of the Eparges. Then, Françoise Gillard, Member of the Comédie-Française, read the first letter from Maurice Genevoix addressed to the mother of his friend Robert Porchon, killed at the front that day.
“To his brothers in the trenches, he offered the immortality of words”
Cornflower in the buttonhole, in tribute to all the soldiers of the First World War, the President of the Republic, then delivered a speech of about fifteen minutes, dedicated to that “Who gave new life and flesh to the fighters of the Great War ” and that “Enter here with all those of 14, a whole people trained in the face of trial and torment”.
He greeted the “Republican fate” from “This 23-year-old young man who wanted to become a teacher and to whom the war would assign another destiny, to command 106e infantry regiment, fight and see his brothers fall and finally write. Write with all the tenderness a man is capable of. Write to give a name a voice to these strangers who died as heroes. ” same “Crowned with a Goncourt prize, consecrated perpetual secretary of the French Academy”, Maurice Genevoix “Their brother remained in the trenches, he offered them the immortality of words”, recalled Emmanuel Macron.
“The unknown soldier and the golden books of all our villages were to converge under this nave. We gather them all through the sepulcher of Maurice Genevoix ”, continued the President of the Republic, also referring to the soldiers from overseas and colonial troops but also, beyond, “The courage of those of 1789, of the Volunteers of year II, of all our wars, of all our soldiers, of those who enabled us to build the peace of Europe”.
“Their sacrifice says our debts and our duties”
“Our soil was the land of their battle, their love of freedom the viaticum they bequeathed to us their sacrifice says our debt and our duties”, concluded the Head of State, before praying with the small assembly during a minute of silence, broken by a Marseillaise sung by the Choir of the French Army.
→ MAINTENANCE. “Maurice Genevoix is a virtuoso of things seen”
Epilogue of a serious and sober ceremony which closes the long cycle of the centenary of the Great War, the highlight of which was “Roaming” of a week that led Emmanuel Macron in 2018 to the scene of the major battles in the east and north of the country. It was during a stopover at Épargnes, a small village near Verdun, where Maurice Genevoix was wounded by three bullets, that he announced the entry of the writer into the Pantheon, desired by his family since his death in 1980.