The body of the French writer Maurice Genevoix is to be moved to the Panthéon necropolis in Paris today, in a special ceremony in line with President Macron’s wish to honour the First World War writer.
The Panthéon, a classical style, domed building positioned high on Mont St. Geneviève in the 5th arrondissement of Paris is a monument to some of the greatest figures in France’s history.
The French president has reportedly been keen for some time to “pantheonize” a prominent WW1 figure and recently settled on Genevoix.
Macron was introduced to the writer’s harrowing, desolate descriptions of life for soldiers in the trenches by his maternal grandmother, who was a key figure in his youth.
Macron spent every Wednesday with her and she nurtured in him a profound love of literature.
At today’s ceremony he will outline the importance of the writings of Genevoix, with their bleak portrayals of the misery, cold and death of World War 1.
The writer joined up when he was 23 in August 1914 and fought in the Battle of the Marne before being wounded in April 1915. He was hospitalized and declared unfit to return to the trenches.
In hospital and during a period of convalescence Genevoix wrote what was to be later published as “Ceux de 14” – (The Men of 1914)
Over nearly a thousand pages, in vivid detail, he revealed the suffering, the pain and the hopes of the men in the 7th and 8th companies of the 106th regiment of the infantry, changing the names of the protagonists to spare their families.
Monument to French heroes and heroines
The Panthéon is the resting place of such French literary giants as Victor Hugo and Émile Zola and the Resistance fighter Jean Moulin.
Today it is recognized that there is an urgent need to address the issue that among the 75 greats honoured in the Panthéon, only 5 are women.
Among them are the Scientist Marie Curie and more recently the Feminist icon and prominent European, Simone Veil.