three pairs of lovers with space

A REVIEW OF UN DEUXIÈME PÈRE BY JEAN-DOMINIQUE BUNEL

 

Un deuxième père (A Second Father), the autobiography of French humanitarian worker Jean-Dominique Bunel, was published in Paris in 2018 by les éditions Sydney Laurent.  It has not yet been translated into English. The following review of it by Jean-Claude Féray was published in Quintes-Feuilles, Bulletin trimestriel no. 13, 2019, pp. 7-8. The translation from the French is this website's, presented here with the kind permission of the reviewer.

 

The introduction of gay marriage into French civil status in 2013 gives the title of the memoirs we present here an unexpected ambiguity. Indeed, in this book there is no question at all of a paternity of convenience acquired by the marriage of a man with his lover, who would himself be the father of a family. Yet, curiously, this modern and legitimately controversial subject is despite all evoked in the memories of J.-D. Bunel, in its female counterpart: the author himself, after his parents’ divorce, saw appear in his home a "second mummy", which he presents as a misfortune in a childhood haunted by thoughts of suicide.   

No, the “second father” evoked by the title of this serious book concerns the educational role in the broad sense that pederasts, that is to say lovers of boys, had in ancient Greece, and often still have today. One thus grasps at once the enormous courage it takes, in our time, to write down and publish the memories of an existence viewed entirely from the angle of this form of love. But it is true that the very beautiful introduction which the author wrote (entitled "insight"), in giving the motivations for these confessions, does more than excuse them: it legitimizes them.   

Presenting the author allows us to talk about a publisher who has some very indirect links with Quintes-feuilles: Jean-Dominique Bunel is indeed one of the grandsons of Francisque Gay, who joined forces with the Edmond Bloud bookshop to found the Bloud and Gay publishing house. An admirer and disciple of Marc Sangnier, Francisque Gay published several authors who were members of the Sillon, the famous movement of this Christian Democrat. This is how he published Antone Ramon by Amédée Guiard in 1929, a novel republished and annotated by us in 2007.   

It is known that this grandfather, Francisque Gay, joined the active resistance and then undertook important political activity after the Liberation. Before being made ambassador to Canada by Charles de Gaulle, he helped found the MNR[1], was elected deputy and appointed Minister of State. He had six children, some of whom are more particularly mentioned in the memoirs of which we are speaking. Thus, the eldest, Élisabeth Gay, having married the Gaullist deputy Louis Terrenoire, the young Jean-Dominique Bunel benefited from privileged admissions to the Elysée Palace. Geneviève Gay, the mother of Jean-Dominique, was the 4th child of Francisque Gay. After her divorce and after having lived with an intimate friend (the famous “second mummy” of Jean-Dominique), this lawyer married in a second wedding the director of the bank which had recruited her, Henry Nosny, which restored financial ease and lustre to the family. In the family tableau, there is talk of Camille Gay, famous lawyer, 6th and last son of Francisque Gay. Above all, there is talk of Alphonse Gay, who was a priest and... pederast - in the etymological sense of the word. That the latter lived his attraction to adolescents without his reputation as a priest or colony director having been tainted explains why he could have served as a model for Jean-Dominique on account of his own amorous tastes. Not, however, to the point of following Father Gay's religious commitment: the author renounced the priesthood, despite the prominent place that his faith in God had, since his childhood and throughout his existence, and despite his adherence to Roman Catholicism.   

Jean-Dominique Bunel in 2018

Unfortunately, Jean-Dominique was not as lucky as his uncle in his affective life: he went to prison, for reasons associated with his tastes and his activities, in Switzerland and Morocco, hence some incredible episodes that the reader will discover with astonishment, episodes which punctuate a life rich in meetings and in formative professional trips.   

Those whose subject of study or centre of interest is pederasty will regret a little that this important subject is diluted in too large a volume devoid of an index (452 pages of unequal strength). Nevertheless, this testimony on the way of life and customs of a certain haute bourgeoisie of the era of de Gaulle as well as the era which followed May 68 (the author was born in 1946) is important. One can gauge the huge difference between our time, grim in many ways, and that which he knew. This book will thus teach the younger generations some historical and societal facts which help to shed light on the meaning of their own existence.

 

[1] This seems to mean the MRP (Mouvement Républicain Populaire or Popular Republican Movement), co-founded by Gay in 1944. [Translator’s note]

 

 

Comments powered by CComment