Lithuania Literature

By | December 22, 2021

During the period of independence (1918-40) and Soviet domination (1940-41, 1944-90), the works in poetry and prose of V. Mykolaitis-Putinas (1893-1967) resonated, in particular the novel Altoriụ šešėly (“In the shadow of the altars”, 1933) which was nominated for the Nobel; the narrative work permeated with oriental motifs by V. Krėvė-Mickevičius (1882-1954) who later, like many other intellectuals, preferred the path of exile and ended his career in the United States; the novels and short stories of K. Boruta (1905-1965) Mediniai stebuklai (“Miracles of wood”, 1938) and Baltaragio malūnas (“The Baltaragis Mill”, 1945); those of A. Vienuolis (1882-1957) and I. Simonaitytė (1897-1978). In poetry, however, the conditions for continuing the existentialist line inaugurated in the 1920s and 1930s by the so-called £ Zemininkai (i.e. “ terrestrial ”) poets such as K. Bradūnas, V. Mačernis, A. Nyka-Niliūnas, H. Nagys, and J. Kėkštas.

With the Soviet domination we are witnessing a radical change in literary orientations. ” Socialist realism ” became the dominant artistic model for much of the 1950s and 1960s.

In this period, writers willing to put into practice the dictates of Ždanov, such as A. Gudaitis-Guzevičius (1908-1969), author of the novels Kalvio Ignoto teisybė (“The truth of Ignatius blacksmith”, 1948-49), Broliai (“Brothers”, 1951-55), Samokslas (“Conspiracy”, 1964-65); J. Šimkus (1906-1965) who wrote the volumes of short stories Kova dėl Dievo (“Fight for God”, 1937), Ryt bus gražu (“Tomorrow will be beautiful”, 1962); J. Dovydaitis (1914-1983) who celebrated the achievements of the working class in dideli  · ivykiai Naujamiestyje (“Major Events in Naujamiestis”, 1953); K. Korsakas (1909-1986) who was an academic and essayist of the new course. The ” thaw ” of the Khrushchev era finally released from the Stalinist censorship the novel Diev ū miškas (“The Wood of the Gods”, 1957) by B. Sruogà (1896-1947), set in the German concentration camp of Stutthof; in poetry the poet E. Mieželaitis (b. 1919) enjoyed considerable critical acclaim, obtaining the Lenin Prize for the Žmogùs collection (“Man”, 1962); while the “national” poetry of J. Marcinkevičius (b. 1930) and the lyric poetry of P. Širvys (1920-1979), author of Berž ū lopšinė (“- ta giesmė (“Nostalgia is the song”, 1972).

Starting from the seventies the schematism and exemplarity of the typical characters of the previous period are avoided and, especially in the narrative, themes and subjects are varied, the psychological and philosophical novel are imposed. Among the authors stand out J. Baltušis (1909-1991) for the novels Parduotos vasaros (“The summers sold”, 1957) and Sakmė apie Juz ā (“Legend about Juza”, 1979); A. Bieliauskas (b. 1923) for Kauno romanas (“The novel of Kaunas”, 1966) centered on the post-war Lithuanian city intelligentsia; J. Avyžius (b.1922) in Sodyb ū tuštėjimo metais (“The era of abandoned farms”, 1970) instead questions the ideological and moral maturity of the Lithuanian rural intelligentsia; A. Venclova (1906-1971) in his memorial stories tries to capture the changing times. Particularly interesting are the Lithuanian Jewish writers carrying motifs from their own community, such as G. Kanovičius (b. 1929) author of novels in Russian and Lithuanian, and I. Meras (b. 1934) who prefers the short novel. In contemporary short stories, it is necessary to remember R. Granauskas (b.1939) for Duonos valgytojai (“The bread eaters”, 1975), also R. Lankauskas (b. 1932), M. Sluckis (b. 1928), J. Mikelinskas (b. 1922), V. Petkevičius (b. 1930), V. Sirijos Gira (b.1911). The dramaturgy in these same years records the trilogy by J. Marcinkevičius, centered on historical characters and subjects of the Lithuanian nation.

Those of the Lithuanian intellectuals who chose emigration generally had the American continent as their preferred destination, often after a brief stop in Germany. In the literature produced in the United States, the novel Balta drobulė (“The White Shroud”, 1958) by A. Škėma (1911-1961) first stands out, with surrealist echoes and set at the time of Stalin’s purges. In poetry we note the inexhaustible work, rich in mystical accents, by B. Brazdžionis (b.1907), S. Santvaras (b.1902), Liūnė-Sutema (b.1927), as well as that of the ” terrestrial ” K. Bradūnas (b.1917) also very active in cultural promotion, H. Nagys (b.1920) operating in Canada, and A. Nyka-Niliūnas (b.1919) original interpreter of(“Winter Theology”, 1985). Since 1977, the poet and essayist T. Venclova (b. 1937), perhaps the most interesting intellectual in the current panorama, has also lived and worked in the United States as a voluntary exile.

In the 1980s, the growth of prose production led to a more marked stylistic and genre differentiation. Alongside the traditional epic works, novels and short stories of various orientations are now encountered: lyrical-ironic, intellectual-psychological, symbolic-allegorical, historical-philosophical. For Lithuania 2005, please check

With a certain approximation they can be indicated as examples of the first address J. Aputis (b. 1936) of which we remember the collection of short stories Gegužė ant nulūžusio beržo (“The cuckoo on the broken birch”, 1986), R. Šavelis (n. 1942), S. Šaltenis (b. 1945) and D. Mušinskas (b. 1951); of the second address we remember B. Radzevičius (1940-1980) author of the incomplete work Priešausrio vieškeliai (“Le vie prima alba”, 1985 posthumously), V. Martinkus (b. 1943) and R. Gavelis (b. 1950); the third address is TS Kondrotas (b. 1953) who passed to the West in the early 1980s; exponent of the last address is P. Dirgela (b. 1941). Fine female voices are B. Baltrušaitytė (b. 1940) and B. Vilimaitė (b. 1943), authors of short stories and novels. In poetry V. Bložė (b. 1930) of which the collection Polifonijos (“Polifonie”, 1981) is mentioned, and J. Juškaitis (b. 1933) expressed a philosophical meditation long relegated to the margins of officialdom. In the variety of personal achievements, M. Martinaitis (b.1936) in Kukučio baladės prevailed among the poets of the following generation(“Ballads of Kukutis”, 1977) very attentive to folkloric motifs, J. Vaičiūnaitė (b. 1937), J. Strielkūnas (b. 1939), S. Gedà (b. 1943), G. Patackas (b. 1951), K. Platelis (b. 1951); A. Marčenas and D. Kajokas belong to the last generation. Lithuanian children’s literature is rich and deserving. In literary criticism we must mention J. Lebedys (1913-1970), V. Kubilius (b.1928), V. Areškà (b.1927), K. Nastopka (b.1940) for poetry, A. Zalatorius (n. 1932) for the prose, J. Lankutis (b. 1925) for the theater and among the critics of emigration R. Šilbajoris (b. 1926).

In the late Eighties, new themes emerge in fiction that go hand in hand with the stages of the rising protest for an identity of its own, defined by the critic Zalatorius as “the singing revolution”. The first sign of the change in orientation comes from Granauskas’ Gyvenimas po klevu (“A life under the maple”, 1986), a reflection on forced collectivization in the Lithuanian countryside after World War II. Aided by the typical phenomenon of publishing cooperatives, a literature also emerges that deals with issues of Lithuanian deportation to Siberia such as for example. in Nubaustieji (“The punished”) of Gavelis or in Upė i̧ šiaurę (“River to the North”) by E. Ignatavičius (b. 1935); moreover, works by authors of the diaspora are published, often for the first time at home. Literary magazines that arose in Soviet times such as Literatųra ir menas (“Literature and art”) continue to appear, but alongside them many others have appeared with a very varied circulation and duration; we remember the literary monthly Metai (“The year”), Santara (“Conciliazione”) aimed at dialogue with emigration and Sietynas (“Pleiade”) published for a long time in hiding.

Lithuania Literature 1980s