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Literature seemed to find itself thrust into the center of a market place bustling in the trade of used Western cars, counterfeit deer clothing, and pirated audiocassettes. One literary critic and lecturer had this to say to his graduating class in He appears strange and alien. Many cultural figures were in a state of shock after finding that economic censorship was no less fierce than its ideological cousin. A growing crisis in literature was one of the most important issues being discussed in society in the early s.
I believe there were s of a crisis in our literature and in our culture. Precisely during that critical period. When the stability of our artificially crafted world collapsed, the material foundation, that most important element, also collapsed. Publishing became more difficult as a result. The of people employed in literature, especially in literary criticism, dropped quite suddenly. To be sure, the of books also decreased. For many writers, the loss of stature in society was a painful experience, while others sought out new solutions, getting used to genres of popular literature, and attempting to learn and grow accustomed to life as a professional writer—an occupation no different than any other.
: Diverse Popular Literature. Before, a professional writer was someone supported by the state, and a member of prestigious commissions, presidiums and editorial boards. Nevertheless, the of writers living solely from earnings received from works of fiction could still easily be counted on one hand. The circulation of cultural journals continued to shrink, as did their influence in public life. Contemplating literature became relevant for the cultural press alone, which meant that writers were discussing their craft within an almost completely closed circle.
For some, this was a cause for concern—for others, it brought joy and relief expressed with self-consoling overtones:. Until very recently, becoming a writer in Lithuania meant about the same thing as becoming a priest did at the start of this century. Literature has simply lost its earlier unhealthy level of universal ificance—something that should be celebrated.
The masses have finally thrown off the myth of The Writer, thereby automatically liberating the writer as well: he is now alone with himself, with his own conscience, desires and talent. Now, he speaks immersed in the dense stuff of the routine. The first decade of independence was marked by a cultural depression—by s of self-contempt and dissatisfaction over an imminent cultural apocalypse, or, in the best case, with attempts to console one another that everything was as it was meant to be.
Circulation is as high as it needs to be; the size of audiences at literature readings is exactly as big as it needs to be; there is no—and never was any—public discourse with literature, nor is one necessary. Society is not a collective farm, and writers are not collective farm chairmen.
Translated foreign literature was a positive counterweight to the decline in the s of books and professionals working in the creative field. Atviros Lietuvos Fondas Open Society Fund Lithuania , financed by American philanthropist George Soros, began to support the comprehensive publication of books on cultural history, contemporary philosophy, as well as works by select Lithuanian authors.
The Fund established a foundation for the intellectual renewal of Lithuanian culture. Over a fairly short period, classical works from various eras and movements on philosophy, anthropology, political science and history became a critical part of university education programs.
The Fair was also a good opportunity to assess the state of Lithuanian literature and to test its vitality within a European context by taking a look at itself with the eyes of an outsider, surveying which direction it should proceed in the future. I think it is most important to stress that Lithuania always was, and always felt like, a character in a larger, enduring story.
A story called Europe. A boom in translations had already begun in Lithuanian literature before the Frankfurt Book Fair. Both contemporary and historical literary works were translated into various languages. Individual authors also had beneficial outcomes. The Frankfurt Book Fair was the crowning moment in the creative careers of authors who had dominated Lithuanian literature in the final decade of the 20th century. At the same time, the year of the Fair also marked the start of a period in which Lithuanian literature also lost some of its most talented and mature writers.
After the loss of authors who had laid the foundation for the literature of a newly independent Lithuania and who had been examples of adaptation to new times, talk again began to circulate about another crisis in literature and a void in the cultural realm. It was entirely natural, then, that these writers had a different view of their role in society and of literature itself.
Kukulo, M. Kvietkausko, V. As in the first years of the Lithuanian political reform movement, the removal of these blank spots was accomplished through the continued publication of memoirs. Though with reduced circulation, memoirs written by partisan freedom fighters and former deportees to Siberia continued to appear in print. Attention increasingly turned to publications written by diaspora authors.
Authors avoided keeping real diaries. There was hardly a riskier thing than openness in the Soviet period. The painter Vincas Kisarauskas also wrote his own diary in extremely small print for the same reason. Ironically, in an attempt to avoid the attention of wandering eyes, Martinaitis kept his notes on fine stationary bound in a red notebook sold to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Youth League—each diary entry perhaps a small attempt to wound and overcome the system.
Post-modernist prose appeared on the scene fairly early, but it remained on the sidelines. What was missing, though, was not so much a collection of post-modernist prose, but a sufficient audience for it. Post-modernist prose was often equated with pornography, obscenity, or any form of "an undermining of values"—particularly by the more senior generation of writers.
Such change following the lifting of censorship was entirely predictable. The socially aware author appealing to the nation's consciousness was replaced by the individualist, the dandy, and the loafer or by intellectuals capable of mesmerizing their readers with unexpected insights. Geda, S. Parulskis, G.
The core of Lithuanian poetry consisted of work written by established writers or authors who had debuted their work in earlier years, mainly Sigitas Gida, Vytautas P. Later, I discovered Gintaras Patackas I liked his force and his muscular way of speaking. Edmundas Kelmickas, meanwhile, appeared on my horizon sometime later. Jonynas, Almis Grybauskas , Poetocentric Poetry.
: Neo-avant-gardism in Contemporary Lithuanian Prose. At the same time, poetry was engaged in a search for alternatives to a highly developed, metaphorical Aesopian language and for appropriate means to express its shifting status in society. Gone were the times of popular literary evenings, akin to high holy masses, when the public waited in anticipation for new poetry, and no one expected poetry to continue to speak in references to historical or political truths.
The poet had become mortal, positively simple, just "like everyone else. Metaphorical Aesopian language yielded to the narrative, history, and to everyday and recognizable experiences. Their relationship with the world, with themselves and their poetry, is indifferently ironic. The very use of conversational language and the "overhearing" of phrases spoken in local dialects is its own form of adapting the ready-made aesthetic to poetry. By publishing her first collection of poems in Rojaus ruduo [The Autumn of Paradise] , she virtually leapt directly from secondary school into literary textbooks.
To this day, her playful, ironic, intertextual but not referential post-modernist poetry is either relegated to the sidelines of discussion by reviewers, or it occupies the center of a principled debate about the essence of poetry itself. Trends espousing playful postmodernism as well as authenticity and a documentary style have also continued in the works of the younger generation of individualists. All of this demonstrates that the shifting of boundaries and canons of poetic genres continues today. More and more often we hear the question posed: what is, "and what is not poetry" the theme of the Druskininkai Poetic Autumn.
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