Student Memories of Marian House and Skaryna Library

Aleksey Gibson

In his short memoir for the Skaryna Library, an American Slavist Aleksey Gibson recalls his time as a student in London in 1978-1982. Though not taking “advantage of exploring the Skaryna Library”, he paints an interesting picture of the transformative time for the Library, Belarusian Catholic Mission and Belarusian community in London. In 1979, the Library became a charity which meant that in the eyes of the British society it was an important cultural institution working for the public benefit. The Library was particularly active in popularising the Belarusian studies among researchers and students like Aleksey Gibson.

From September 1978 till June 1982, I was a student at the School of Slavonic & East European Studies in the University of London where I obtained my BA Degree in Russian Language & Literature with Old Russian History. Although my own Slavic family background is Carpatho-Rusyn and Greek Catholic (my mother’s family, the Vislockys had emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the USA in 1921; my father was an American Catholic convert who adopted the Byzantine rite soon after my parents’ marriage in 1950), my main interests at the time were the Russian Silver Age &  Medieval European History. Looking back now after more than thirty years, it might still be possible to reconstruct the particular thinking that characterized my generation of descendants of Eastern and Central Eastern European exiles and immigrants during the last decades of Soviet domination and the circumstances in which we attempted to study and perpetuate our family heritages. Continue reading