Lovinescu–Ierunca Collection at Central National Historical Archives (ANIC) Bucharest
The Lovinescu–Ierunca Collection at the Central National Historical Archives (ANIC) in Bucharest is arguably the most important collection created by the Romanian Diaspora in Paris. The collection illustrates not only Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca’s interest in the subject of dissent in Romania but also how their activity at Radio Free Europe (RFE) created a transnational network of support for those who decided to speak against the regime.
București Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta 49, Romania
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Name of collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The documents of the Lovinescu–Ierunca Collection at the Central National Historical Archives in Bucharest testify to the interest of its creators in the subject of Romanian opposition to the communist regime and the involvement of Radio Free Europe (RFE) in creating a transnational network of support for those who had the courage to protest against the regime (Petrescu 2013, 20, 25, 33).
Monica Lovinescu began her collaboration with RFE when she was no longer afraid for the life of her mother, who had died in a Romanian prison, and her programmes (and Virgil Ierunca’s) systematically documented and disseminated many acts of resistance and opposition against the Romanian communist regime. For the documenting and drafting of each of the texts of their broadcasts, as Lovinescu later recalled, she and her husband would read two or three books, newspapers, magazines, press articles, and other materials prepared by RFE’s research department. After that, they spent many more hours typewriting the drafts of their RFE broadcasts. In addition to writing and producing their RFE broadcasts, Monica Lovinescu also helped her husband, who was constantly involved in editing many Romanian publications published in exile (Lovinescu 2008, 655–659). Consequently, a large part of the Lovinescu–Ierunca collection is made up of press materials collected from the international and Romanian press (with the help of visitors from Romania) about the cultural and political opposition or the collaboration of some intellectuals with the Romanian communist regime. As the leading voices of the Romanian exile community in Paris, they also received and stored in their library newspapers and magazines published by Romanians in exile along with the publications edited by themselves, such as Românul (The Romanian), Cuvântul în exil (The word in exile), Revista scriitorilor români (The review of Romanian writers), Caiete de dor (Notebooks of sorrow), Limite (Limits), Ethos, etc., (Manolescu 2003, 390–396).
Lovinescu and Ierunca actively involved themselves in supporting and defending Romanian dissidents. They used the microphone of RFE and organised protests in order to raise the awareness of international public opinion and human rights organisations about the persecutions that dissidents were subject to by the communist authorities. This resulted in an intense correspondence with the dissidents themselves, whose letters were smuggled from the country with the help of friends or foreign visitors, with the friends of Romanian dissidents and also with international human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and the Paris-based French League for the Defence of Human Rights. These letters, the interviews with Romanian dissidents, and the main findings of Human Rights Watch reports and the reports produced by the RFE’s research unit were read as such or used as documentary materials for drafting the texts of Lovinescu and Ierunca’s broadcasts on RFE or other pieces that they published in various newspapers and magazines. Due to their documentary and sometimes personal value, the personal correspondence and research reports were stored in Lovinescu and Ierunca’s library and now they represent an important and a particularly original part of the collection to be found at the National Archives in Bucharest.
Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca manifested a constant interest in preserving their collection. In many entries in her journals, Monica Lovinescu spoke about their huge library and the growing space it occupied in their home. In 1983, she mentioned that “we are covered by books, newspapers, manuscripts, archives” and the fact that none of them had the spare time needed for organising the library. The situation had worsened a few years later, as Lovinescu mentioned in an entry in her 1985 journal that Ierunca was happy to get a light ladder that would allow them to store the archive also in the attic as the garage and cellar were already full of papers (Lovinescu 2010, 110, 477). The lack of organisation was an obstacle for anyone interested in researching Lovinescu and Ierunca’s vast collection. Thus, in 2001 when Lavinia Snejana Stan, a PhD candidate working on the cultural activity of the Romanian exile community contacted them about their archive, Monica Lovinescu telephoned her saying that their archive could not be researched (Meseșan 2015, 161).
Aware of the value of their collection for the history of the Romanian exile community, Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca decided to donate it to the Romanian state, and in 1998 entrusted two of their closest friends, Mihnea Berindei and Gabriel Liiceanu, to bring it to Romania after their death (Lovinescu 2010, 477). After the death of the owners and creators, the collection was divided between Gabriel Liiceanu and Mihnea Berindei. In 2012 Mihnea Berindei decided to donate his part to the Central National Historical Archives of Romania in Bucharest. Thus, the donation deed was signed in 2012 and almost 4.2 linear metres of manuscripts, memoirs, and press clippings and almost 5.00 linear metres of books, collection of newspapers, and magazines were transferred to the Central National Historical Archives. The donated materials were divided into two distinct parts. The manuscripts, memoirs, and press clippings formed the Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca collection. The books, newspapers, and magazines were transferred to the library of the same Central National Historical Archives in Bucharest. Since 2015 the Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca collection has been open for research at the Central National Historical Archives in Bucharest and a temporary exhibition with documents from this archive was organised in the lobby of the same institution in 2016 (Editorial Historia 2016).
Description of content
The Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca Collection at the Central National Historical Archives in Bucharest is made up of approximately 10,000 folios organised in 215 files. The files contain literary manuscripts, memoirs, clippings from newspapers, copies of press articles, and magazines and other foreign press publications covering mainly but not exclusively the communist period in Romania. The documents are thematically divided into several subject areas: personal documents of Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca, documents created by RFE and various foreign press agencies, papers regarding the activity of the Masonic Lodge in Tel Aviv, biographical and documentary materials about Romanian dissidents and open acts of protest against the communist regime, and clippings from various Romanian and foreign newspapers and magazines.
The languages of the documents are Romanian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca used these materials to document the various subjects approached in their RFE broadcasts and other published pieces. Their activity focused mainly on supporting Romanian dissidents by mentioning their names and acts of opposition from RFE’s microphone or by organising public protests in Paris against the harsh treatment the dissidents were subjected to by the communist authorities. This reflected the general aims of RFE, which was supposed not only to popularise the courageous stands of national dissidents but also to break the monopoly on information imposed by the communist regimes (Petrescu 2013, 24–25, 32–33). Consequently, Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca’s broadcasts at RFE were an important contribution to the “other” Cold War that was fought on the ideological, cultural, and propaganda front and aimed at providing an alternative (Western) sphere of values and ideas to people in the Eastern bloc (Engerman 2010, 20–41).
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Marin, Manuela
- Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu
Burlacu, Mihaela-Nicoleta. 2014. Monica Lovinescu: O voce a exilului românesc (Monica Lovinescu: A voice of the Romanian exile community). Iași: Editura Institutul European.
Crăciun, Camelia. 2009. “Monica Lovinescu at Radio Free Europe.” In The Exile and Return of Writers from East–Central Europe: A Compendium. Edited by John Neubauer and Borbála Zsuzsanna Török, 276–303. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Dumitrescu, Vasile C. 1997. O istorie a exilului românesc (A history of the Romanian exile community). București: Victor Frunză.
Editorial Historia 2016, “Documente din colecția Lovinescu–Ierunca, expuse la Arhivele Naționale” (Documents from the Lovinescu–Ierunca collection shown at the National Archives). Accessed March 25, 2018. https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/timp-liber/articol/documente-din-colectia-lovinescu-ierunca-expuse-la-arhivele-nationale.
Engerman, David C. 2010. “Ideology and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917–1962.” In The Cambridge History of the Cold War. Vol. 1 Origins. Edited Melvyn Leffler, Odd Anne Westad, 20–41. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lovinescu, Monica. 2001. La Apa Vavilonului (By the river of Babylon). Vol. 2. București: Humanitas.
Lovinescu, Monica. 2008. La Apa Vavilonului (By the river of Babylon). București: Humanitas.
Lovinescu, Monica. 2010. Jurnal esențial (Essential journal). București: Humanitas.
Monolescu, Florin. 2003. Enciclopedia exilului literar românesc 1945–1989: Scriitori, reviste, instituții, organizații (Encyclopaedia of the Romanian literary exile community 1945–1989: Writers, magazines, institutions, organisations). București: Compania.
Manolescu, Nicolae. 2014. “Mircea Eliade, cenzurat” (Mircea Eliade censored). In Adevărul, July 25, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2018.
Merișanu, Nicolae, and Dan Taloș. 2009. “Cuvânt înainte” (Foreword). In Antologia rușinii după Virgil Ierunca (The anthology of shame according to Virgil Ierunca). Edited by Nicolae Merișanu and Dan Taloș, 5–24. București: Humanitas.
Mănescu, Alexandra. 2012. Exercițiu anamnezic: Virgil Ierunca (Anamnestic exercise: Virgil Ierunca). Târgu-Jiu: Academica Brâncuși.
Meseșan, Anarela. 2015. Exilul românesc din perioada comunistă, reflectat în fondul bibliotecii de la Paris a familiei Monica Lovinescu–Virgil Ierunca (The Romanian exile community of the communist period reflected in Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca’s personal library in Paris). Cluj-Napoca: Centrul de Studii Transilvane.
Petrescu, Cristina. 2013. From Robin Hood to Don Quixote: Resistance and Dissent in Communist Romania. București: Editura Enciclopedică.
Petrescu, Dragoș. 2009. “Bulding the Nation, Instrumentalizing Nationalism: Revisiting Romanian National-Communism, 1956–1959.” In Nationalities Papers, 37: 4, 523–544.
Stan, Snejana Lavinia. 2010. “Exilul ca dialog: Monica Lovinescu și Virgil Ierunca” (Exile as dialogue: Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca). In Istoria culturii, cultura istoriei: Omagiu Profesorului Doru Radosav la vârsta de 60 de ani (History of culture, culture of history: Homage for Professor Radosav at the age of 60). Edited by Ionuț Costea, Ovidiu Ghitta, Valentin Orga, and Iulia Pop, 681–716. Cluj-Napoca: Argonaut.
Stan, Snejana Lavinia. 2013. Exilul românesc în Europa occidentală în anii 1970–1980: Politica prin cultură (The Romanian exile community in Western Europe during the 1970s and 1980s: Politics through culture). Cluj-Napoca, Gatineau: Argonaut, Simphologic Publishing.
Vladimirov, Iulia. 2011. “The Voice of Unbound Freedom.” In History of Communism in Europe. Vol. 2: 309–321.
Vladimirov, Iulia. 2012. Monica Lovinescu în documentele Securității 1948–1989 (Monica Lovinescu in the Securitate’s documents 1948–1989). București: Humanitas.
Pavelescu, Alina, interview by Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu , November 28, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Turcitu, Claudiu-Victor, interview by Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu , November 21, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection