Collection of exile literature and samizdat
The collection of exile literature and samizdat is held by the Nation´s Memory Institute and was created in 2003 together with Nation´s Memory Institute Archive. The aim of the collection is to represent a large selection of Catholic samizdat and exile literature created during the 1980s. Many of the items were created anonymously as part of the activities of the secret church. Only a part of the Catholic samizdat has been processed and made available to date, but more is being added continually.
Bratislava Miletičova 7, Slovakia 821 08
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Name of collection
- Collection of samizdat and exile literature
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection of exile literature and samizdat is expanding every year. The aim of the collection is to create the most comprehensive representation of Catholic samizdats. Items are collected from different denominational institutions from the entirety of Slovakia. Because of this, and because the illegality of the church required anonymity, there is no single person who was responsible for collecting these samizdats.
Some documents are accompanied with the name of the institution of their origin. Many of these samizdats focus on the topic of combining family life and faith in modern times.
A second part of the documents has author attributions. Authors of these documents are well-known priests from Slovakia as well as from other parts of the world. Examples include the German priest Louis de Wohl (1903-1961), French jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), and the well-known American theologian and writer Thomas Feverel Merton (1915-1968), a Catholic writer, theologian, and mystic. Merton was a Trappist monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky; he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis. Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice, and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki, the Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and he authored books on Zen Buddhism and Taoism. In the years since his death, Merton has been the subject of several biogprahies. The collection contains his essay Who is not with me is against me. The largest number of documents are from John Bosco (don Bosco, 1915-1988), an Italian Roman-Catholic priest, educator, and writer. In 1976 Bosco founded a movement of laity, the Association of Salesian Cooperators, with an educational mission to the poor. In 1975, he began to publish the Sallesian Bulletin. The Bulletin has remained in continuous publication since that time, and is currently published in 50 different editions and 30 languages. Bosco established a network of organizations and centres to carry on his work.
An interesting part of collection is the unprocessed heritage of Rudolf Lesňák (1928-2006), a Slovak writer who dealt with Slovak samizdats on a long-term basis. His 1998 book Letters from underground [Listy z podzemia] is the most comprehensive account of Slovak samizdat to date. The archive of Nation´s Memory Institute took over Lesňák’s heritage in 2009. From 1951 to 1970 he worked for Czechoslovak radio, but in 1970 he was forced to leave his position and he subsequently became active in the Union of Slovak Writers [Zväz slovenských spisovateľov]. After 1989 he focused mostly on spiritual literature, especially Christian samizdat journalism. He co-authored a bibliographic list of crimes committed by communist regimes against church. His heritage in the Nation´s Memory Archive contains a mixture of his writings and essays.
Description of content
The availability of the collection is limited. The only processed part of the collection contains Catholic samizdats. Other types of samizdats and exile literature have not yet been processed. The processed part of the collection contains approximately 400 various documents, including translations, lectures, or prayers. Most of these documents are anonymously authored and could be described as various angelic messages, spiritual lectures, and the history of philosophy.
All of the documents were created between 1981 and 1988; a complete list is given in the attached document.
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Benčuriková, Martina
Šimko, Dušan, interview by Benčuriková, Martina, April 29, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Last edited on: 2020-03-02 10:40:09