The role of the Reformation in the creation of Lithuanian literature: the phenomenon of Donelaitis
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Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski w Olsztynie
Online publication date: 2021-07-23
Publication date: 2021-07-23
Corresponding author
Alina Kuzborska
KMW 2021;312(2):189-208
The Reformation features as a cultural force in the emergence of Lithuanian literature. Lithua-nian writing developed in Prussian Lithuania, starting with the printing of the first Lithuanian book, Martynas Mažvydas’s Lutheran catechism, which appeared in 1547 in Königsberg, then the centre of Protestantism in Prussia. Over the course of almost 300 years, many generations of Lutheran pastors, mostly of German origin, trained here and published religious literature for Lithuanian parishes. Reflecting the Enlightenment ideas radiating from Königsberg, as well as the increase in publishing, the first work on secular themes was Metai (the seasons) by Lu-theran pastor Kristijonas Donelaitis. A didactic poem concerning the four seasons of the year, regarding the work and everyday lives of Lithuanian peasants in Prussia, it was written in the second half of the 18th century but only published almost 40 years after the poet’s death. Ludwik Rhesa’s bilingual Lithuanian-German edition from 1818 facilitated a dual reception of Don-elaitis’s work. In the nineteenth century, he was known primarily in East Prussia, whilst in the twentieth century his work was more popular in Lithuania. From the post-war period up to the present day, research into his work continues in Lithuania, where he is considered the “Father of Lithuanian Literature”. Donelaitis’s work has been translated into many languages. The Polish translation of Zygmunt Ławrynowicz’s Metai was published in Olsztyn in 1982
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