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The Villa Pérochon, the house of Goncourt

Curiosity Frédéric - assistant base de données et TIC By Frédéric - assistant base de données et TIC, the 05 October 2018

The photographic Contemporary Arts Center of Niort receives in 2018 of the Ministry of Culture the label " Contemporary Arts Center of national interest ". The same year, " La Geste " publishes the work " In the house of Goncourt, the Villa Pérochon " of Fabien Bonnet and Alexandre Giraud (on sale at the 20-price in the Tourist Office of Niort, 2 street Brisson): an ideal opportunity to evoke in this article the life and Ernest Pérochon's work, Goncourt Prize 1920, which lived until he dies in 25 avenue of Limoges which is, since 2013, the eponym Villa, the place-totem of the photography.

Ernest Pérochon, been born on February 24th, 1885, to Courlay, in the bocage bressuirais, " Country of granite and oak ", the elder son of three boys is who will be also teaching. His parents, Zéphirin and Célestine, of Protestant liberal confession and farmers, work for an owner in the farm called " The Tyrant ". He is brought up to the works of fields and learns, from the age of 4 years, to read in the family Bible, " the most beautiful book of the world literature " according to him.

The first one of the canton to the basic school-leaving qualification at the public school of the Tour-Nivelle, opened the year of his birth, he enters 1897 to the Superior Primary school of Bressuire. However talented in sciences in letters, his writings appear in the Exercise book of honor and his primary school teacher describe one " Bring up very intelligent. Should make a success, especially in math " so that it is exhorted to tempt the Superior teachers' training college of Saint-Cloud. But, his poor health forbids him to pursue studies so long and painful. Again the first one of his promotion to the teachers' training college of Parthenay, he is named a primary school teacher-assistant to Courlay, then, in 1904, delegated to teach French to the Superior Primary school, the appendix of the middle school of Parthenay (current Ernest Pérochon high school), before being in the armed forces in the 114th Regiment of Infantry of Saint-Maixent.
In 1907, him wife Vanda Houmeau, primary school teacher laic as him. Both are named to Saint-Paul-en-Gâtine. One year later, is born their daughter Simone.

After a publication at the author's own expense to the niortais Clouzot of its poems " alternated Songs " and " Flutes and Bumblebees ", his first novel " The Hollows of houses " appears in serial in the socialist newspaper " The Humanity " of Jean Jaurès.

In 1914, Vanda and Ernest are moved to Vouillé among whom today the school complex, the bookcase and a street bear its name.

Soldier in the 114th R.I., it is taken by an acute heart attack on the front of Lorraine by being the witness of the death of a friend killed by a shell. It is hospitalized to Parthenay, then, once on foot, allocated in Lorraine to the auxiliary service as vaguemestre. In 1917, he is again confined to bed for a phlébite with threat of embolism. He is back to Vouillé next year. 

Taken on an aura of the Goncourt prize 1920 for "Nêne", a melodrama which will be concerned the Big screen in 1923, he so becomes the first academician Goncourt of Deux-Sèvres and the second primary school teacher to obtain him after Pergaud in 1910.
Next year, he leaves the education, but not the state education which is, for him, the way of the social justice and the progress; 1 street of Quintinie, current avenue of the Martyrs of the Resistance settles down in Niort. He writes a new novel almost every year!
Named in 1925 to the administrative Committee of the municipal library (statutory authority of management and control of this cultural department to decide on the employment of the credits and proceed to the choice of acquisitions), he asks for the integration the municipal collections of the funds of the former popular bookcase created by the League of the Education. In 1937, he presides over the creation of the first modern public bookcase of the west central region with the opening of a special section of popular reading offering " in the general public more opportunities to obtain the books for which he wishes ".

The family settles down in 1927 in n°25 of the avenue of Limoges.
Two years later, in the hotel of the Grape of Bourgogne (current Gallery located Hugo kicks Victor Hugo), he is received chevalier of the Legion of Honor by Maurice Le Blond, son-in-law of Emile Zola, on the occasion of a banquet prepared by its teaching friend Jarry and Soyer.

Contacted in 1940 by the novelist ruraliste reactionary Alphonse de Châteaubriant, he refuses to collaborate in the press (" The Sheaf " or " the Atlantic Ocean ") and on the radio of Vichy to speak camps of youth and Europe. Previously, he boycotts a lecture tour in Nazi Germany. We try to make him resign from the board of directors of girls' high school (the Bernard d'Agesci museum today). Are forbidden " In the shade of wings " which evokes a nice Englishman and shows the illustration of a family listening to a broadcast in front of a post of TSF and " The Plot of land 32 " which employs the word "boche" and exults, according to the German censorship, the resistance of the French farming community during the Great War. 
In January, 1942, denounced as " Gaullist, propagandist and agitator of the youth ", he is threatened by the prefect and the Gestapo. During his last interview, he exclaims that he would prefer to break his feather. Hiding his anxiety to his family, he dies on February 10th of a heart attack, before his scheduled deportation.
His burial in the Younger cemetery, the street of Bellune, takes place without official funeral. His grave will be decorated with flowers in secret by pupils and their primary school teacher.

In 1946, his patronymic is given to the street situated near The Post office of Niort, then, a few years later, to the school complex (street Max Linder), at the high school of Parthenay and at the middle colleges and the school complexes of Cerizay, Vouillé and Poitiers.
To the teachers' training college of Parthenay, a plate of the memory is inaugurated in 1953 under the patronage of the writer Jacques Nanteuil, the vice-president of the Association of the Alumni based in 1942 (Pérochon occupied the same function) and the historian Georges-Julia Picard.
Thanks to the committee for the erection of a monument of the memory managed by mister. Lallemand, inspector of the primary education, a stele, realized by Albert Boquillon, first Grand Prix of Rome, is put in 1970, rue Ernest Pérochon, in Niort. The speech is pronounced by Jean-Albert Sorel representing the Société des Gens de Lettres and Louis-Gabriel Robinet, the director of the Figaro.
Finally, in 2010, one of the seven buildings of the new General Council of Deux-Sèvres takes his name.

The novel " The Guards ",
appeared in 1924 and sold to 100.000 copies, is écranifié by the director Xavier Beauvois, Grand Prix of the jury in Cannes for " men and gods " in 2010. It was already the project of adaptation of the film-maker niortais Henri-Georges Clouzot failed by the Second World War. 
His seventh full-length film, of documentary dimension, is turned in 2016 in Montmorillonnais, Haute-Vienne and Indre and not in the Swamp from Poitou where takes place the action. But, as specifies it Jane Debenest, granddaughter of the writer: " that the movie takes place somewhere else is important. It proves that the label of regionalist writer, that some people wanted to stick on grandfather, was not justified ". She completes by asserting that Ernest Pérochon knew how to, in his work, observe his contemporaries in real sociologist. " It is even more obvious in " The Plot of land 32 "and" Bernard the Bear and the open touring car small van ".
Taken out in 2017, this movie, with Nathalie Baye and Laura Smet, his daughter in the life as in the screen whom she matches for the first time, tells the heroic role of the women in campaigns during the World War I, at the same time getting down themselves to the plow, for lack of horses and betting on the modernization of farms, sometimes misunderstood of the men in their return. 

Next week, my blog posting will evoke the Villa Pérochon as Contemporary Arts Center Photographic.

Photo credits: Ernest Pérochon's bust by Léon Salvan (Bernard d'Agesci museum, Niort), cover of Ernest Pérochon's novel "Nêne" (Plon, on 1920) and of the book"In the house of Goncourt, the Villa Pérochon" of Fabien Bonnet and Alexandre Giraud (La Geste, on 2018), shows the movie "The Guards" of Xavier Beauvois (2017).


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