National Library acquires six letters of Adam Mickiewicz to Alfred de Vigny - News - The National Library

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National Library acquires six letters of Adam Mickiewicz to Alfred de Vigny

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November 26 marks the 165th anniversary of the death of Adam Mickiewicz. A few days ago the National Library bought six letters at auction written by the poet to Alfred de Vigny. This purchase was possible thanks to a donation by Krystyna Piórkowska of New York, who once again generously supports the activities of the National Library.

The letters are of great significance for both Polish and French literature. Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863) was a leading poet, novelist and playwright of the Romantic era, author of the play Chatterton and the historical novel Cinq-Mars. Mickiewicz first met him in 1835 through the sculptor David d'Angers. The letters acquired by the National Library are form 1837 and are dated March 15, March 31, April 2, June 1, July 1 and July 30. Prior to being put up for auction they were owned by de Vigny's heirs, the journalist Jean Sangnier and his sister Madeleine.

The first five letters relate to Mickiewicz's French-language play Les confédérés de Bar (The Bar Confederates). In the letters, Mickiewicz asks de Vigny what he thinks of the play and asks for his help getting it staged. De Vigny, whose Chatterton had run successfully in Paris just two years earlier, agreed to help Mickiewicz, recommending him to the director of the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin. Mickiewicz gives a satirical account of his meeting with said director in the letter to de Vigny of July 1. The final letter concerns some books that were exchanged by the two poets. Mickiewicz writes that he is returning a volume containing Lemercier's satire La Panhypocrisiade and offers to lend de Vigny an unnamed volume from his own library.

The letters are unique and of exceptional historical significance. They testify not only to the fact that these two leading Romantic poets were in contact but to how close this contact was, as well as revealing the intellectual dialogue that took place between them, and the direct artistic influence of de Vigny on Mickiewicz.

The letters to Alfred de Vigny are a valuable addition to the items held by the National Library relating to Mickiewicz. Among the most valuable objects in this collection are the manuscript of Mickiewicz's poem Oda do młodości (Ode to Youth) and his letters to Konstancja Łubieńska, Ludwika z Osztorpów Horwattowej, Stanisław Dobrowolski, Antoine Jean Letronne, Judge Billaud and others, and also a receipt issued to Franciszek Ksawery Godebski by Mickiewicz.

The National Library also holds the minutes of the official opening of Mickiewicz's grave in Paris in 1890. One relatively new acquisition is a letter written by Victor Hugo to Mickiewicz's son Władysław, in which Hugo, having received the translations of Mickiewicz's plays published by the Librairie polonaise du Luxembourg in Paris, pays a moving tribute to the poet.

The National Library is also home to a collection of first printings of Mickiewicz's works and translations of his works into foreign languages. The most interesting objects are available via the POLONA digital library in the "Mickiewicz" collection.

In addition, the National Library holds handwritten documents by other Romantic poets, such as a manuscript copy of Juliusz Słowacki's Balladyna and the Cyprian Norwid archive collection.