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Luxembourg Books in the Library of Congress

Introduction - Language - Literature - Exhibition of Books


The history of literature in Luxembourgish, the native language of the people of Luxembourg, extends back to the early decades of the nineteenth century. In the last decades of this century, Luxembourgish literature (whether as poetry, drama, or fiction) has flourished as never before. In addition, there is an unprecedented number of non-literary publications in Luxembourgish. To celebrate this development, in 1999 the Embassy of Luxembourg presented a comprehensive collection of books in Luxembourgish to the Library of Congress.


Luxembourg lay in the heart of Charlemagne’s empire; some of his key officials resided there. At the division of the empire in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun, the territory that later became Luxembourg was part of Lotharingia.

Founded in 963, Luxembourg became the home of one of the most powerful dynasties of the Middle Ages--the House of Luxembourg. The cover of one of the books in this display shows four counts and dukes of the House of Luxembourg from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: Henri VII, Charles IV, Wenzel II, and Sigismund. All were educated at the French court, and became kings of Bohemia or Hungary and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. (See Map by Johann Baptist Homann, 1663-1724. )

Political unrest in the 1830s led to the transfer of the western, French-speaking areas of Luxembourg to Belgium. The remaining Luxembourgish-speaking areas, still under Dutch control, later became the independent Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. During the second half of the nineteenth century, poverty caused many Luxembourgers to emigrate. About one-third of the population left, mostly for the United States and Brazil. In the United States, they settled mainly along the northern stretches of the Mississippi River, in Chicago, and north of Milwaukee. A typical emigration story. Also, look at the Library of Congress web site: Luxembourgers.

World War II played a large role in defining Luxembourg’s present identity. The country’s literature has dealt extensively with the war’s traumatic events.

An example of books of this kind is Nico Helminger's Patton & Co: Triptychon, published by Editions Phi in 1992. Today, history has come full cycle. Luxembourg has been at the center of the European integration movement since the Belgian-Luxembourg economic union in 1921. Luxembourg also participated in the formation of the International Steel Board and the Benelux economic and customs union, and is a signatory of the Treaties of Rome. Luxembourg is home to a number of European Union (EU) institutions, among them the European Court of Justice. Robert Schuman, one of the fathers of the EU, was born and grew up in Luxembourg and spoke its native language. Today his childhood home is a study center devoted to European integration.

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  September 21, 2010
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