The number of novels he wrote exceeds that of his years. And yet, the author Michel Peyramaure, who died on Saturday March 11, had proudly reached the age of 101. This is because his prolific pen went faster than time. Sometimes he could even sign two or even three books in a year. Historical novels most often, a genre where he had ended up establishing himself as a reference since Le Bal des ribauds, a medieval epic in the heart of Limousin, published for the first time in 1955 by Robert Laffont.
Novels and historical biographies
The beginning of a series of frescoes anchored in the past, from La Passion cathare to the Roman des Croisades, which, in the work he left behind, sits alongside biographies in several volumes of illustrious figures: Napoleon, Henri IV , Jeanne D’Arc…
Born in Brive in 1922, Michel Peyramaure will never give in to the calls of the Parisian foot despite the success. “Pure chestnut Corrézien”, according to the expression of Bernard Pivot, he will spend his whole life in his native region. He will become an emblematic figure by participating in the creation, in 1973, of the Brive Book Fair with two local colleagues: the authors Denis Tillinac and Claude Michelet. The event, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, claims from the outset a popular ambition: “Let the books reach the inhabitants”, explained the former mayor and founder of the fair, Jean Charbonnel, during the thirtieth edition.
“The School of Brive”
It is also one of the ambitions of the “school of Brive”, a literary movement created at the same time by the same trio completed by Gilbert Bordes, Yves Viollier and Jean-Guy Soumy around Jacques Peuchmaurd, editor at Robert Laffont. Their principle: realistic writing, anchored in the rural world and dealing with country life. The “terroir novel”, in short, a label which may however sometimes displease interested parties for its regionalist accents. The native lands will be grateful for his loyalty to the child of the country. In 2020, the name of Michel Peyramaure is assigned to a school in Brive. An honor very rarely granted to the living.
Would this tribute have convinced his father? The latter had other ambitions for his son, dreaming that he would take over the family printing business. But writing very early attracted the boy who, at the age of 12, composed his first historical novel, on ancient Greece. At the same age, he also wrote poems. The path to literature, however, will pass through the press. He first became a journalist at Center Presse, Le Populaire du Center and La Montagne. He will have to wait until the age of 32 to publish his first novel: Paradise between four walls.
“Atheist of family tradition”, as he defines himself, Michel Peyramaure writes every day. “I can’t help it, I just have to sit down and the words come to me. This is how we hold the thread of life, ”he says in 2021 at Point, on the front page of which he poses in a kimono on the steps of his house – he practiced tai chi.
“It is a tutelary figure of literature who leaves us, master of the historical novel, author of a monumental work of more than a hundred novels”, regretted his publisher, Calmann-Lévy. In 2021, he published his last work, in the testamentary title: Inventory before closure.
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