'Balladyna' inscribed on the Polish National List of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register
The manuscript of Juliusz Słowacki's Balladyna, a masterpiece of Polish Romantic literature, has been inscribed on the Polish National List of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
Balladyna – or rather Balladina, as the title is spelled in the manuscript itself – is one of Juliusz Słowacki's most popular dramas. The work is almost universally known among Polish readers and combines tragedy and comedy, fantasy, elements of folk culture and irony. It deals with the themes of crime, just punishment and the destructive power of authority. For over 150 years it has been one of the most frequently performed dramas on the Polish stage, and it has a firm place on the national school curriculum. In 2020 it was chosen as the text for the Narodowe Czytanie ("National Reading") campaign, which promotes knowledge of Polish literature through readings in public and in the mass media.
The manuscript itself is a complete, fair copy of the drama, given by the author to Józef Alojzy Reitzenheim (1809-1883). A note by a later owner indicates its origins: Rękopism własnoręczny Słowackiego darowany przez niego przyjacielowi jego panu Józefowi Reitzenheimowi, a przez tego mnie, w Paryżu w kwietniu 1874. St. Tarnowski ("A manuscript by Słowacki, in his own hand, donated by him to his friend Józef Reitzenheim, and by the latter to me, in Paris in April 1874. St[anisław] Tarnowski"). The National Library of Poland purchased the manuscript from Zdzisław Tarnowski, Stanisław Tarnowski's nephew, in 1937.
Due to its exceptional value, the manuscript is under special protection. A digitised copy is available via polona.pl.
The prestigious Polish National List of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register contains invaluable written documents relating to key events in the history of Poland. UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Its aim is to permanently recognise the significance of humanity's many centuries of documentary heritage. The Programme draws society's attention to the necessity of preserving documents of particular historical importance which are a record of our culture and civilisation. Information about the objects honoured this year with inscription on the Polish National List will be gradually released on pamiecpolski.archiwa.gov.pl. The full list will be published on June 9.
Balladyna is the second item to be inscribed on the Polish National List this year, after Teki Górskiego.
Previous years have seen the inclusion of exceptional objects from Polish archives, libraries and other Polish institutions in Poland and abroad. The following items from the collections of the National Library of Poland already feature on the Polish National List: the Gesta principum Polonorum of Gallus Anonymous, the Kazania świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross Sermons), the Rocznik świętokrzyski dawny (Old Annals of the Holy Cross), the manuscript of Stefan Żeromski's Przedwiośnie ("The Spring to Come"), the first edition of Józef Pawlikowski's pamphlet Czy Polacy wybić się mogą na niepodległość? ("Can Poles win their independence?") and a poster of the Regency Council dated November 11, 1918 announcing the handing over of military power in Poland to Józef Piłsudski. The separate UNESCO Memory of the World Register includes two further objects from the collection of the National Library of Poland: manuscript scores by Chopin and the Codex Suprasliensis.