The Maison de l'Ecriture, situated near Lake Geneva in the picturesque Swiss municipality of Montricher, is entirely devoted to world literature. The centre inaugurated a new building designed to hold the institution's vast library, an auditorium and an exhibition hall - where the inaugural exhibition is dedicated to Polish dramatist Sławomir Mrożek.
Library of the Maison de l'Ecriture, photo materials from the Jan Michalski Foundation
The Maison de l'Ecriture, situated near Lake Geneva in the picturesque Swiss municipality of Montricher, is entirely devoted to world literature. The centre inaugurated a new building especially designed to hold the institution's vast library, an auditorium and an exhibition hall - with the inaugural presentation dedicated to Polish dramatist Sławomir Mrożek.
The four-year project of building the spectacular structure was headed by the Swiss architects V. Mangeat and P. Wahlen. The centre was established by the Jan Michalski Foundation for Literature, which developed the project in Montricher near the town of Morges, at the foot of the Jura Mountains. The site "was selected for the beauty of the landscape and the calm that surrounds it", the foundation's site declares, "which is conducive to reflection and writing".
Building of the Maison de l'Ecriture in Montricher, photo from the Jan Michalski Foundation
The architecture of the complex consists of existing buildings combined with new ones, and the centre will offer a variety of resources to writers. Vera Michalski-Hoffman (owner of the Polish publishing house Wydawnictwo Literackie), said in her inauguration speech.:
It is our intention to support writers and literature in every possible way: by hosting writers in this special place, by making available to them all the tools and information necessary for their work (a multicultural physical and numerical library, Internet access, etc.), by housing, feeding and treating them well in individual cabins, while at the same time offering them the possibility to meet in common spaces.
The new cultural center launched an exhibition devoted to Sławomir Mrożek. The exhibition celebrates the foundation’s acquisition of Mrożek’s archives. They will be housed in the multilingual library of the Maison de l'Ecriture. With five floors of book storage, it will eventually hold 80,000 books written in the 20th and 21st centuries. They will be mainly literature and non-fiction, as well as books on contemporary art, architecture and photography. From September 2013 on, the library will be available to authors and researchers, as well as to the public on selected days of the week.
Also in September, the foundation will give out the first edition of the Jan Michalski award. Nominations are for literary and documentary works from around the world. Nominees include Janusz Głowacki’s Good Night, Dżerzi and Steve Sem-Sandberg’s Destitutes of Lodz. The winner will also receive 50,000 Swiss franc (over 40,000 euro) and a work of art created for the occasion. See more...
The interior of the library of the Maison de l'Ecriture in Montricher, photo from the Foundation Jan Michalski
La Fondation Jan Michalski pour l'Ecriture et la Littérature was founded in 2004 on the initiative of Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, to honor the memory of her husband, publisher Jan Michalski (1953-2002), and to pursue their joint activities in the literary world. The mission of the foundation is to promote literature through activities such as co-financing projects, organizing literary events, enabling the residency of authors at the Maison de l'Ecriture, and granting an annual literary award.
Michalski was born in Poland in 1953 and studied sociology and philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin. After completing a degree in political science, he devoted himself mainly to the integration of Poland in the European Union, studying first at the College of Europe in Bruges and then at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
In Geneva, he met Vera Hoffmann, whom he married in 1983. Three years later he co-founded the publishing house Montricher Noir sur Blanc, which publishes novels, short stories, reportages and testimonials from Eastern Europe. The publishing house has a Librairie Polonaise, and has also published translations of Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Blaise Cendrars, Charles Bukowski, Paul Auster, Nicolas Bouvier, Umberto Eco and Donna Leon.
Sources: www.fondation-janmichalski.ch, press materials, edited by mg, 28/06/2013