When Jerzy Giedroyc was founding the Literary Institute in 1946, he wanted it to conform to a “social and political movement, in whose orbit all European exiles from ʻopinion-forming elitesʼ would rediscover their political dignity and their uncompromised faithfulness to social ideals”.
In the nearly 50-year battle that he waged for Poland, the Editor’s weapon was the word: the monthly journal Kultura (637 issues), the quarterly Historical Notebooks (171 issues), and the books that he published (over 400 titles). Within the arguments and discussions carried on within these pages, a picture of the future Poland was emerging. It was also a place where works that now belong to the canon of Polish and world literature first made their appearance.
It was Jerzy Giedroyc’s wish that the Literary Institute should remain at Maisons-Laffitte – primarily as an archive and library to serve academic research and general educational purposes. The rules of the Association founded in 1999 by the Editor with Zofia Hertz and Henryk Giedroyc stated its objectives as: “to preserve, make available and promote – for historical research and in the furtherance of democratic values – the intellectual heritage of the journal Kultura, its archives, and the places it was produced, together with other journals and documents published with it, and also all and any objects connected with it”.
This fairly clearly describes the Institute now, after the passing of its founder.
We preserve, catalogue, make available, publicize, and promote… Everything that the Editor created, and which we try to preserve and promote, should continue for many years to come to stimulate discussion about Poland, Europe, and the world.
To facilitate co-operation with Polish institutions, the Association established in Warsaw the Fundacja Kultury Paryskiej (Paris Kultura Foundation), which pursues the same objectives as the Association.
We would like our internet portal – which will be enlarged and augmented with new materials – to become a virtual version of the Institute’s collections, a documentary archive of the creators of this extraordinary entity known collectively as the Paris Kultura, and also – through its blogs – a forum for exchanging views on what was created at Maisons-Laffitte and for reflecting on that legacy.