Raczyński Library – Much Like the Louvre in Paris – History

At the premises of the Literary Institute at Maison Lafitte, 20011. Including. Cartoons by Jerzy Jederwick and Witold JumprovichPhoto: Forum

58:50 Two Tales After Dark 09/14/2015.mp3 Archival radio interviews with Jerzy Gidwicke (PR)

637 issues of the monthly “Cultura” magazine. 511 volumes from the “Kultura” library (up to the year 2000), including 132 editions of the “Zeszyty Historyczne”. 165 linear meters of archival papers.

These wonderful collections include the most important names of Polish literature of the twentieth century, as well as literary and political masterpieces. This is a unique library.

Jerzy Giedroyc and the Parisian “Kultura”

Impact on the country and immigration

– Speaking of the beginnings of the Literary Institute, one should be familiar with the situation in Rome immediately after the war – recalls Gusto Herling Grodzinsky, who belonged to the “organizing committee members” of the Institute. – According to General Anders, there was likely to be an armed conflict between the victors of the war. The writer explained that the establishment of the institute was based on the belief that this hypothesis is incorrect and that one should prepare for a long migration.

– The situation seemed clear to me: the issue was lost and now it is necessary to maintain contact with the country, influence the situation in the country, influence immigration – said Jerzy Gidruik, summarizing the institute’s activity program.


Read also:


Gasoline in the monastery

Thanks to the efforts of Jerzy Giedroyc and the support of, among other things, on February 11, 1946, the establishment of the leadership of the Second Corps was announced with the founding of the Literary Institute registered in the name of Casa Editrice “Lettere”. Among Giedroyc’s closest associates were Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Zofia and Zygmunt Hertz, who were brought from northern Italy.

– We managed to get a loan from the social fund from the army to buy a printer. We were optimistic about our ability to run this printing press – reminiscent of Jerzy Gidwick’s Roman origins. Sometimes obtaining material resources was very interesting, he added.

One of the ways to “earn extra money” was, for example, selling gasoline obtained from the army thanks to Hertz. Fuel, an invaluable commodity at that time, was stored in one of the monasteries located in the Roman suburbs.

510 level Get 510 level NEW_ACHIEVEMENT_1_510

Last summer at Maisons-Laffitte

In the beginning there was Mickiewicz

The institute began to implement military orders: commemorative albums, Polish-English dictionaries, English-Polish dictionaries. At the same time, publishing what the institute was established for.

– We started with Mickiewicz’s “Books of the Polish Nation and the Polish Pilgrimage” with a very basic introduction by Grudziński – said Jerzy Gidroy. – There was also a “Prometheus” of Stanislav Szbotinsky. We considered this book very important because it showed both the poverty, the collapse of Polish immigration after the November Uprising, and at the same time the inflexibility. It was a warning and encouragement to the resistance – Giedroyc explained when he chose the title “Program” for the institute.

In the years 1946-1947, before the institute moved to France, 26 books were published. Also among them were such masterpieces as Jerzy Stimbowski’s “Travel Journal to Austria and Germany” and – on the other hand – reissues of the works of Sinkiewicz, Remont and Kaden Bandrowski.


Read also:



Gusto Herling Grodzinsky. Polish radio special service

Parisian “culture” was born in Rome

The first issue of Jerzy Giedroyc’s legendary periodical, published as part of the activities of the Literary Institute, was published in June 1947 in Rome (it is still published quarterly). As Giedroyc recalls, the magazine was initially a “by-product” – the editor’s most important intention was to publish books. As a purely literary quarterly magazine, this “by-product” was considered the most important periodical for Polish immigrants.

– He tried to make this magazine a kind of political instrument with which he could influence immigration, because at first “Kultura” appeared mainly in the immigration space – the professor’s assessment. Raphael Habelsky. – But after some time, when he made contacts and the political situation in Poland changed, he began to arrive in the country, carrying a whole bunch of different concepts, which from today’s perspective we consider important and enduring.

From Italy to France

In October 1947 Giedroyc moved the publishing house to Maisons-Laffitte near Paris. We left Italy mainly because they were a province too far from the side at the time, and I wanted to maintain possible close contact with the country from the start. The editor explained that France was the perfect point.

– In a small town near Paris, Giedroyc managed to create a center that was certainly the most important political center in exile. He believed that the best weapon in the fight against communism and the struggle for independence was the word. That’s why he founded the monthly magazine “Kultura,” which has been publishing month after month for over 50 years — says Wojciek Sikora, long-time collaborator with the editor.

Since the French relocations, the publishing activity of the Literary Institute has developed more and more. In 1953, the publication of books within the “Kultura” bookstore series began. The first title of the series was Witold Gombrowicz “Trans-Atlantyk. Wedding”. In the same year, the Literary Institute published, inter alia, “A Captive Mind” by Cheslav Meuse and “1984” by George Orwell. In 1962, “Historical Papers” devoted to the modern history of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe began to be published.


Read also:


In the memory of the world

On July 19, 2011 in Maisons-Laffitte, a plaque was unveiled to mark the entry of the Literary Institute’s archive into the UNESCO Memory of the World program list.

As Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said at that time, these archives were the meeting place of Albert Camus, Andrei Malraux, Joseph Brodsky, Czeslaw Mikos, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Witold Gombrovich, Andrei Sakharov and Boris Pasternak. More more too.

Sources: Jerzy Giedroyc, “Autobiography for four hands”, Warsaw 1994; Andrzej Stanisław Kowalczyk, Giedroyc and “Kultura”, Wrocław 1999.

Leave a Comment