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Publishing ventures / periodicals : Lithuania

  • Publishing, periodicalsLithuanian
  • Cultural Field:
  • Author:
    Sniečkutė, Marija
  • Text:

    Some Lithuanian periodicals date back to the Polish-Lithuanian period and are, accordingly, largely in Polish, the oldest being the political weekly <em>Kurier Litewski</em> (1760-63, Vilnius), resumed in 1797 and as of 1834 in Russian; it was followed by the <em>Kurier Wileński</em> (Polish-Russian between 1841 and 1865, then in Russian until its demise in 1915). Important literary periodicals were <em>Wiadomości Brukowe</em> (1816-22, Vilnius), <em>Dziennik Wileński </em>(1805-06, 1815-30, Vilnius), and <em>Tygodnik Wileński</em> (1815-22, Vilnius), which published Lithuanian folk songs. After the 1831 rising, almanacs were allowed to be published, which included important sections on Lithuanian literature, folklore, and history: <em>Biruta </em>(1837-38, Vilnius; also contained poetry on Lithuania) and <em>Linksmynė</em> (1841, Vilnius).

    Periodicals in the Lithuanian language were better established in East Prussia, beginning with <em>Nusidavimai Dievo karalystėje </em>(1823-25, Tilsit; compilations from <em>Königsberg</em><em>er Missionsblatt</em>), followed by <em>Nusidavimai apie evangelijos praplatinimą tarp žydų ir pagonių</em> (1832-34, 1837-1914, Königsberg). Other important periodicals were <em>Keleivis</em> (1849-80, subsidized by the Prussian government and continued as <em>Naujasis keleivis</em>, 1880-83) and the newspaper <em>Lietuvißka ceitunga</em> (1877-1940, Memel), which in 1880-82 also published articles from Lithuania Major by activists like Basanavičius. There were also a few short-lived periodicals such as <em>Lietuviškas prielaiškis</em>, <em>Lietuvininkų prietelis</em>, <em>Klaipėdos ceitunga</em>.

    In the Russian-governed lands of Lithuania Major, there were also unsuccessful attempts to launch periodicals in Lithuanian: <em>Aitvaras</em> (1857, Vilnius), <em>Pakeleivingas</em> (1859, Varniai), and the government-supported Lithuanian/Belarusian newspaper <em>Drug naroda</em> (1863, Vilnius).

    Meanwhile, there was an ongoing tradition of popular calendars published in Memel, Vilnius, and Tilsit; and important publisher being Laurynas Ivinskis (1810–1881). The first calendar in Lithuanian was <em>Metu skajtlus ukiszkas</em> (1846, Vilnius), renamed as <em>Kalendorius arba Metskajtlus ukiszkas</em> (printed in Cyrillic after 1865).

    In 1864, the Russian authorities imposed a ban on printing Lithuanian in Latin letters; it lasted until 1904. On the one hand, this sparked a lively contraband traffic in books smuggled in from Lithuania Minor; that manifestation of grassroots literacy and defiance of the authorities has become a nationalist <em>lieu de mémoire</em> in Lithuanian historical consciousness. Simultaneously, there were some attempts to circulate non-“printed”, manuscript and hectographed periodicals: <em>Kalvis melagis</em> (1875-76, St Petersburg) and <em>Aušra</em> (1880-81, Moscow). In addition, opportunities were explored to publish Lithuanian newspapers outside Russia.

    These attempts culminated in the establishment of <em>Auszra/Aušra</em> (“The dawn”) in Ragnit, East Prussia, near Tilsit (where it moved in 1886). The key instigator, Jonas Basanavičius, had previously explored publishing possibilities in Sofia, Belgrade, and Prague in 1883. Its purpose was stated in its first editorial: to encourage love for fatherland and the native language, the basis of national identity. Over its 40-year career, it drew most of its writers (40%) from the Suvalkai district (the north-west of Russian-governed Lithuania Major), and had an important consciousness-raising function, although some Catholics, such as Antanas Baranauskas, had reservations. Catholic nationalists had a forum in <em>Tėvynės Sargas</em>

    An important cultural platform alongside <em>Aušra</em>, and dedicated, like it, to the spread of nationalist ideals, was the monthly <em>Varpas</em> (1899-1905), edited by Vincas Kudirka on behalf of the Warsaw <em>Lietuva</em> society (itself founded in 1888) and published in Ragnit, later Tilsit. Its focus was on practical rather than cultural or literary topics.

    Other periodicals sprang up from the mid-1880s onwards, largely published from Tilsit or the nearby village of Bitėnai, home to the patriotic printer Martynas Jankus. In addition, by the end of the century, more than 30 Lithuanian periodicals were published in the United States, providing nationalist debating platforms for or against Polish-Lithuanian unity (for: <em>Gazieta lietuviška</em>, 1879-80; against: <em>Unija</em>, 1884-85) and catering for the emergence, which by 1900 was gaining considerable momentum, of a nationally-minded Lithuanian public sphere irrespective of territorial divisions.

    Word Count: 796

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  • Aleksandravičius, Egidijus; Kulakauskas, Antanas; Carų valdžioje. XIX amžiaus Lietuva (Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1996).

    Girdzijauskas, Juozapas (ed.); Lietuvių literatūros istorija. XIX amžius (Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, 2001).

    Girnius, J. (ed.); Lietuvių enciklopedija (37 vols; Boston, MA: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla, 1953-85).

    Kaunas, Domas; Lietuvių periodikos pirmtakas (Vilnius: LKD, 1991).

    Kaunas, Domas; Mažosios Lietuvos knyga (Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1996).

    Merkys, Vytautas; Draudžiamosios lietuviškos spaudos kelias, 1864-1904 (Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidykla, 1994).

    Merkys, Vytautas; Knygnešių laikai: 1864-1904 (Vilnius: Valstybinis leidybos centras, 1994).

    Navickienė, Aušra; Besikeičianti knyga XIX amžiaus pirmosios pusės Lietuvoje (Vilnius: Vilniaus universiteto leidykla, 2010).

    Urbonas, Vytas; Lietuvių periodinė spauda: Raidos istorija ir dabartis (Vilnius: Voruta, 1995).

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    All articles in the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe edited by Joep Leerssen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.spinnet.eu.

    © the author and SPIN. Cite as follows (or as adapted to your stylesheet of choice): Sniečkutė, Marija, 2022. "Publishing ventures / periodicals : Lithuania", Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe, ed. Joep Leerssen (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, https://ernie.uva.nl/), article version, last changed 24-08-2022, consulted 07-12-2023.