Letter from Irena Krońska written in 12.07.1946
Paris, July 12, 1946
c Your letter brought me great joy and I thank you for that.
c My husband came to Paris at the end of last month and we both had to use all our time and energy to manage on time with the registration for the university year 1945/46 and with formal and financial matters that would enable us to stay in Paris before the end of the university year. Most of these errands are already behind us, but unfortunately, we still have some tasks left and for now we still cannot devote every moment to our studies, as we would like to do. That is why I have to hold off on answering Professor’s question to the next letter. I hope that I can find the time to send you a considerable amount of bibliography and titles next week. – As for existentialism, it used to have a large following in France and Walloon Belgium before the war and now it is experiencing another phase of enormous popularity. Its creator, J.-P. Sartre, preaches it both in his philosophical works and his novels. He laid out his doctrine most extensively in L’ETRE ET LE NEANT. Sartre studied under Heidegger and existentialism bears a clear mark of Heidegger phenomenology. It also references Kirkegaard. Besides existentialism, personalism is also experiencing a period of development, as they are strongly related, though the latter derives mainly from Jaspers, and further back – from Nietzsche. Both trends merge somewhat as a trend and appear as phenomenological. Their followers gather – outside the university – at a phenomenological club that organizes conférences in Salle de géographie on Bd St Germain – and besides in Café de Flore where Sartre sits all day to write. Personally, I have only been to one conference at their club, whereto I was invited by Prof. Wahl. The speaker was E. Mounier, a personalist – the discussion included a fierce polemic between the speaker and Sartre’s students. Unfortunately, it was the last meeting this year, as it is already the break. – In Sorbonne, personalism and phenomenological existentialism appear to be the most characteristic and largest school alongside Marxist philosophy. – Alongside these more extreme variants one could call the phenomenological right, there is also a phenomenological “center” with its Thomizing branch. But I would like to wait a bit before I write about it as I still lack the proper discernment. In general, I will provide Professor with more phenomenological data and bibliography in my upcoming letters, with a little help from my husband; – today I would like to write about life and personal matters instead, since they are still the prevailing issue for now.
c During the war, up until the uprising, we were in Warsaw where we worked in underground press – we also studied (mainly the Greek classics – I wrote a decent paper on XXX-). Besides, we have learned English well and read English classics. The Germans deported us during the first month of the uprising – we were in a forced labor camp in Essen. It was hard for us and, of course, we had to suspend all work and, in this respect, unfortunately, libération did not bring relief. Before the end of the war we managed to escape from the camp and reach the Allies. Since then we worked as translators for the English occupation army. We were very well off materially, but unwell, or even worse intellectually – so we finally gave up the comfortable financial state and moved to Paris to return to the only way of life that is worth something, though it is materially challenging. We have, at least, managed to enroll at the Sorbonne and I think we will both get French scholarships this year. If so, we should be able to implement our plans. My husband will be a doctoral student and will be writing his dissertation on Avenarius under the guidance of Prof. Jean Wahl (known for sure to Professor – he spent the war in the USA, like Professor Koiré). In the meantime, he has applied for a formal recognition of the équivalence of his M.A. diploma with a French licence – I hope it will be resolved successfully. – My situation is more complicated, because I am missing certificates from seven master’s exams from classical philology, which I passed in Lviv. I talked to prof. Więdkiewicz, who is currently in Paris, about the prospects of obtaining the certificates – but prof. Więdkiewicz does not know whether the archives of Jan Casimir University survived, and if so, where they are. I dare not ask, but I would really be very grateful to Professor for information, and maybe some help regarding this matter. French professors, whom I am in contact with, say that that if the relevant papers were lost, something could be done provided I have a confirmation from the respective prof[es]sors with whom I passed the subject. As for my exams, they were as follows: In 1934, an exam in ancient history with prof. Chyliński – who is dead – but maybe his assistant from that time Mr. Starczuk is still at the university, he could remember and an exam in the introduction to classical philology with prof. Kowalski, who seems to be in Wrocław. The former I passed with an A, the latter with a B. I also passed one exam (major trends in philosophy) with Professor in 1937. All the rest, namely 1) Greek and Roman literature, 2) Greek and Roman grammar, 3) The influence of ancient culture on European – especially Polish – culture, and 4) Greek and Roman XXX I passed with Ganszyniec. – Of course, the most important thing for me would be to find out Ganszyniec’s address, since he was the one whom I passed the most exams with and who was the most familiar with my course of studies. – As far as the papers from the Jan Cas. University I would also need the original of my High School Graduation Exam Certificate which was submitted there – [a]s Sorbonne cannot issue a final diploma without it.
c For now, I have enrolled at the Sorbonne without the certificates, so as not to lose this year, and I am determined – even if all hopes for getting them die – to acquire four French licence certificates. As [v]ictime de la guerre I have the right to a session speciale and I could do the whole licence in a year and write the Thése next year. The intellectual hiatus I have had the past few years has made me so desperate that I will do everything I can – there is no l’impossible – to cope with the difficult tasks, because I have mastered Greek and Latin, and during the war in Warsaw I read a lot of texts in them, so I feel strong in them – but French is a lot of work – the local philological licence requires two certificates in French philology and literature, and the written exams include version from Latin and Greek into French – where the latter must not only be correct, but literally impeccable. Unfortunately, I know French even less than English and German – I have mastered the last two languages very well and I use them in professional work – especially English – which I can also fluently speak.
c As for mutual friends, nothing is known about Mrs. Łuszczewska. – My husband received a letter today from his friend Potočka from Prague – they have only found each other now. Potočka also writes that he has been in touch with Professor. – My husband went to a lecture by prof. Mucharowski about contemporary Czechoslovakian aesthetics here – the discussion involved a lot mentions about Professor’s works – prof. Koiré is in Paris, we have been meaning to go see him for a while, but as I have mentioned, we were so preoccupied with taking care of formalities that we have not had the time yet. Since he will be staying until July, we can definitely still make it and ask him about the matters you raise.
c Although it is already mid-July and hot, Paris is still intellectually and artistically lush – what a wonderful city in general! It is only after we came here that we can finally breathe, we are stunned, it is as if we were suddenly lifted from the lowlands into the sharp mountain air.
c Dear Professor, I believe that you will forgive me the chaotic nature of this letter; I promise improvement in the next ones. I surely do not have to tell you, Professor, how much I will enjoy any further news and the promised prints. If our financial situation allows, besides the list of titles etc. – I will also send you some books
My deepest respect and cordial friendly greetings
XXX and husband