On 29 October at the National Centre of the Book (Centre national du Livre) in Paris, the Embassy of Lithuania in France in cooperation with the Friends of Oscar Milosz (Association Les Amis de Milosz Oscar) held an event, dedicated to this famous French poet of Lithuanian descent, who was a Lithuanian diplomat and an enthusiastic promoter of the Lithuanian culture in Western Europe.
Oscar Milosz was born into a noble Lithuanian family in 1877 in Čareja (near Mogilev in present day Belarus). At the age of 11 he was sent to study in France, where he attended the Lycée. After that he studied Oriental languages and began to write in French.
He published his first poems in 1899. According to Paul Fort, a famous French poet and playwright, Oscar Milosz is by far the most beautiful European gift to France.
After Lithuania became an independent state, Milosz was appointed the first Lithuanian Envoy of Lithuania in France and a representative to the League of Nations in 1919.
Although Milosz learned the Lithuanian language only when he started to work in the mission in Paris, he prepared for publication translations of texts by Simonas Daukantas, Antanas Baranauskas and fairy tales by other Lithuanian authors in the French language - “Ancient Lithuanian Fairy Tales and Legends” and “Grandma’s Lithuanian Fairy Tales”. At that time he was one of the most active promoters of the Lithuanian culture in Western Europe.
In 1928, he was awarded the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas. In 1936, he received an honorary doctorate from the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.
Oscar Milosz died in 1939 and was buried in the cemetery at Fontainebleau, where a commemorative reading of his poetry takes place every spring.
The event is part of the series of events “Journey to Lithuania” (Voyage en Lituanie), which the Lithuanian Embassy organises in cooperation with the French Ministry of Culture to present Lithuania in France in 2012-2013. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture support these cultural events presenting Lithuania in France.