© 1958 Lithuanian
Students Association, Inc.
September, 1958 Vol. 4, No. 3
Managing Editor P. V. Vygantas
OUR LITERATURE IN EXILE
KAUPAS, medical doctor, is one of the younger Lithuanian writers and
critics. He graduated from the University of Vytautas the Great in
Kaunas, Lithuania, and received his doctorate at University of
Tuebingen, Germany. Also he has studied art, literature and philosophy.
LITHUANIAN literature in exile is not
uniform but consists of several competing tendencies. Despite this
diversity, however, there are elements common to all the groups and
characterizing this literature as a whole. I should like to mention at
the beginning of this article three important influences that give this
literature its unique character and that also serve to divide it into a
number of distinct groups.
The first influence is the dominant Lithuanian literature tradition. In the second half of the 19th century a unique Lithuanian literature began forming, inspired by "Aušra" ("The Dawn") and "Varpas" ("The Bell"), two newspapers that had as their purpose the stimulation of a national consciousness. The 1918 Declaration of Independence provided an even greater stimulus for this literature. Most of the authors were of rural origin, and village life was the chief subject. Many of the writers were unacquainted with world literature and relied solely on their native gifts. Folk songs, legends, folklore and the stylistic mannerisms of old village storytellers were of great importance to their work. Such city-bred writers as Savickis appeared later, and it was later still that writers like Landsbergis, Pukslevičiūte and Škėma appeared on the Lithuanian literary scene.
A second influence is provided by the dominant tendencies of world literature. These rarely remain within the confines of national boundaries but affect the whole of the civilized world. In Lithuanian literature these tendencies became especially important in the literature of exile.
The third influence is provided by the unusual conditions in which Lithuanians in foreign countries find themselves. The problem of the loss of national identity, which vexes Lithuanian society in exile as a whole, has also affected literature. Furthermore, Lithuanian writers in the West, realizing the standartization to which life in Lithuania has been subjected, attempt to fill the resulting gap and to raise problems that cannot be discussed in Lithuania. Patriotic poetry was born in this way, for example. Such writers, being vitally interested in the problem of denationalization, will at times interpolate didactic passages about the pressing questions. Others, retaining in all their vividness the experiences of the Second World War, attempt to describe it, its horrors and the problems that it raised.
For the sake of convenience, the literature of exile will be divided into the three categories of prose, poetry and drama, and these will be discussed separately. Principal attention will be focused upon those writers who began their careers in exile, rather than upon the older writers.
It is a truism in speaking of
Lithuanian prose that it has not reached the level of Lithuanian
poetry. Possibly the national talent that showed itself most abundantly
in folk songs has much to do with this. Some mention must be made of
the prose writers who began their work in Lithuania. What are their
main directions, and how does the situation of exile show itself in
In many cases exile has failed to leave a mark, and the writers continue to work in their old manner. The most prominent example among these authors is A. Vaičiulaitis. He is a sophisticated writer, a subtle esthete and a good stylist, and the form of his works is impeccable. He does not deal with profound problems but rather de-sribes, in masterly fashion, minute events, the details of life, the insignificant episodes. The war years have had no influence; it is as if they had never been. It is not what he says but how he says it that is important. It is not surprising, then, that the works of his exile make for pleasant reading. His works remain among the classics of Lithuanian literature. Liudas Dovydėnas is another writer who has not changed; he continues to portray Lithuanian village life, which he knows intimately. He, too, does not deal with pressing problems. Jurgis Jankus might also be assigned to this group. It is true that he does at times touch upon the horrors of war or upon problems of the moment, as, for example, in Naktis ant morų (A Night Upon the Litters; "morai," which has no exact English equivalent, signifies a litter for carrying the dead in funeral services), but such attempts are weaker than the mere portrayal of life. His Velnio bala (The Devil's Bog) is an intriguing tale with certain criminal motifs. The author depicts a murder in the bog and the disquieting rumors that the murderer spreads, to the effect that a devil dwells there. To the simple villagers, it seems that the devil himself must have taken the missing man. Thus superstitions and the fantastic are introduced into the tale. Jankus is a master of plot, and the reader's attention is held throughout. For these reasons Velnio bala is one of the best works to appear in exile. As we have seen, the depiction of prewar life has produced credible results.
The older writers have been less successful in their attempts to deal with problems of the moment. Kryžiai (Crosses), by Vincas Ramonas, is probably the best of the efforts. The form is carefully developed and the characters are alive and interesting. Kryžiai presents Ramonas' views of life in Soviet Lithuania. He describes the tragedy of the left-oriented Kreivėnas, a tragedy that stems from Kreivėnas' gradual disillusionment with the new order. At first he sympathizes with the new system, but gradually his hopes fade and finally he is nailed to a tree by Communists. Pragaro prošvaistės (The Flashes of Hell), by V. Alantas, depicts the cruelties of war and the Nazi persecutions of Lithuanians and propagates the idea of a return to the ancient pagan religion. According to Alantas, Christianity has failed to bridle the beast in man and is therefore bankrupt. Only by a return to paganirm can the Lithuanian nation survive the current storms. He introduces idyllic visions of ancient Lithuania, and warriors of that day are made to appear and discuss current problems with the hero. Nele Mazalaitė, in Negestis, advises Lithuanian women not to marry lion-Lithuanians, asserting that such families are unstable. The two last-mentioned works are didactic, thesis novels, the characters serving only to demonstrate the authors' viewpoints. It must be concluded that of the older Lithuanian writers, only Ramonas has portrayed war and its consequent problems successfully.
A whole series of previously unknown writers have established themselves in exile. Some, such as M. Katiliškis and P. Andriušis, continue the old tradition by portraying the village life they knew in their childhood. Others, such as Landsbergis, Škėma and Pukelevičiūtė, are experimenting with modern styles, in particular the so-called "stream of consciousness," while still others Jurkus and Grincevičius are interested in legends and tales.
Užuovėja (Refuge), by M. Katiliškis, is one of the best collections of short stories to appear in exile. Katiliškis concentrates his attention on the traditions and customs of his land. He describes, accurately and in detail, the brewing of beer, harvest festivals, love for the land and neighborly cooperation. His characters are children of nature rough, unpolished and externally coarse, while in essence, internally, they are emotional and easily hurt. They are in perfect harmony with their surroundings, as if they themselves were part of nature, but throughout they remain artistically true. Their language is vivid and filled with folk expressions. Užuovėja consists of 12 stories; they take place at different seasons, thus giving us a complete description of the rural year. The story Kaitra (The Heat) belongs among the masterpieces of literature in exile. Here Katiliškis depicts an elderly couple who have given shelter to an abandoned child and become attached to it. The two go almost as far as marrying in order to give the child a normal family life. However, after several years the real parents appear, and after many explanations the child is returned to them. The characters are unusually alive, and the short story displays a real faith in life. With this work Katiliškis demonstrates that a literature developing in the conditions of exile and in a society faced with grave national crises need not be satisfied with merely encouraging its readers to maintain their nationality or with preaching patriotic sermons. The Lithuanian reader of Užuovėja will quite naturally learn to love Lithuanian village life and to cherish its values, and this without the aid of patriotic appeals. In this sense a work of art is much more effective than sermonizing.
Pulgis Andriušis, who up to the appearance of Anoj pusėj ežero (On the Other Side of the Lake) was known to the public primarily as a humorist, gained a strong position with this work. It is a lyrical and sunny description of the lakes in one part of Lithuania and of the people who live around them. The pieces that make up the book cannot really be called short stories, for there is very little action in them. Andriušis calls them lyrical tales. Only one of them, Neįleido (Refused Admission), can pretend to be work of traditional finish. The author depicts with great warmth and optimism the life and death of a childish old villager who, though he can hardly move, hobbles around his house scolding the sparrows and gophers as if they were human and could understand his words. Finally he dies, of natural causes and without the help of doctors. And in heaven he speaks of his death in exactly the same way he speaks of the damage done by the gophers. The other pieces resemble beautiful stage settings, when the curtain has risen but before the action begins. Nevertheless, Andriušis' "landscapes" are so clear and rich that the book may be read several times, and each time with fresh pleasure. At times his "landscapes" express his optimistic view of life, as in this passage from Penkių beržų kronika (The Chronicle of Five Birches): "The bells in five parishes ring, roosters crow at noon, a thin silver fountain of smoke rises from the chimney, wild geese honk overhead, the bells of the priest bearing the sacrament jingle, the planks of a wooden bridge like mild thunder resound..." Sudiev Kvietkeli (Goodby, My Flower) and Tipelis (A Character) are in the same vein, though they fail to reach the lyrical heights of the fragment just quoted.
Another writer who follows the
tradition of portraying rural life is Alė Rūta. In the novel Trumpa diena (A Short Day), the authoress has the characters speak in their native dialects in order to achieve a more exact representation.
But while seme Lithuanian writers describe Lithuanian village life, others, influenced by modern Western literature, employ the stretuu-of-con-sciousness technique. This technique rejects a logical and consequential plot development c.nd intermixes events that occur at different times. Old memories and past experiences of the characters are interspersed throughout the work, and thus the action oscillates between the present and the past.
A. Landsbergis employs this method in Kelionė (The Journey). While describing the war, he frequently wanders into his hero's childhood in an attempt to elucidate his past. The author succeeds in describing the life of the displaced persons in Germany up to the end of the war. He portrays a youth, torn from the shelter of his family, who meets life and attempts to find his own individual way. His journey is not only a flight from Lithuania to Germany but also a spiritual leap from childhood to independent young manhood. The hero has to assiociate not only with his countrymen but also with Germans, Ukrainians and Italians, all possessing different outlooks on life, and he matures by evaluating their various philosophies and on this basis constructing his own views.
In Aštuoni lapai (Eight Leaves), B. Pūkelevi-čiutė treats a comparable subject, although in this case the protagonist is a girl. The description of war scenes in Danzig is somewhat static, but the author excells in recreating childhood memories, games, adventures. With the collapse of Germany the heroine finds herself in a perilous position; she recalls the collection of glass she had in her childhood, how she wore her mother's dresses, how she used to gaze at the neighbor's garden through a crack in the fence. Life in Kaunas is described as seen through the eyes of a little girlpictures of a children's room, ice cream vendors, a steamboat journey on the Nemunas, the longest Lithuanian river, and other simple childhood recollecitons. These many and varied childhood memories give the work a mosaiclike effect.
A. Škėma uses a still freer and less logical method in his collection šventoji Inga (Saint Inga). His prose at times becomes a dream, a nightmare, a handful of impressions. His style is daringly and interestingly experimental.
These younger writers surpass the older ones, with the exception of Ramonas, in describing the war. It must be supposed that age is an important factor here, and it seems safe to assume the experiences of youth lend themselves much more easily to literary expression.
The third direction Lithuanian prose takes is toward tales and legends. When the events of life become too tragic, too repugnant to logic, too meaningless, man turns for relief to the creation of legends. Here the evil are always punished and the good are always rewarded. The problems of life become light and comprehensible. The writer of legends ignores reality, and his work has an ideal-spiritual meaning. During the tragic war years these writers began to search for truth and meaning without reference to a painful reality. V. Krėvė, one of the classics of Lithuanian literature, represents this tendency in his Rytų pasakos (Tales of the Orient). His large and unfinished biblical work Dangaus ir žemes sūnūs (Sons of Heaven and Earth) is another example of this type. A younger writer who has had recourse to legends is N. Mazalaitė, who has published several books of this genre; they are somewhat sentimental, but are written in a charming and sometimes childishly naive style. Of the new writers, C. Grince-vičius and P. Jurkus tend to this genre. The author of this article also attempts to follow in this path.
The most important of the older Lithuanian poets in exile are J. Aistis and B. Brazdžionis.
Aistis represents the sensitive and subtle tendency in poetry. His poems are filled with longing. He is sad and fragile, and extremely subjective. He frequently touches upon tragic love, sadness, the destruction of illusions. In one poem he describes a caravan carrying a princess through a desert. The princessthat symbol of happy expectations and idealismdies on the way, and only night and the desert remain. A comparable mood is induced by Ratelis (The Small Circle), in which colorfully dressed children dance in a circle while dark clouds gather in the background, as if symbols of a tragic fate.
B. Brazdžionis is a poet of a completely different type. He is a prophet, and he teaches and encourages his people. When he lived in Lithuania he was primarily interested in religious ideas, but in exile he has turned to patriotism. He does not write for the individual reader but appeals to a wide audience, to society as a whole, to the masses. He attempts to lead, and his poetry fulfills a prophetic mission. It is at its best when it is read aloud, and on occasions that call for public recitation his works are the first to be chosen. His poetry, therefore, possesses a social rather than a purely esthetic character.
Both these poets wield great influence among the younger Lithuanian poets; in the case of Brazdžionis and his influence, the very interesting problem of patriotic poetry is posed. Brazdžionis himself is a talented poet, and his work remains artistically valuable even though it does at times tend to become somewhat pompous. This ceases to be true of less-talented poets, who, in the face of repeated encouragements to perservere in their nationality, to preserve their national traditions and their traditional morality, create works of inferior literary quality. The result of this social pressure in prose is the before-mentioned moralizing; in poetry, manifests itself in an overemphasized patriotism. Even lay people are sometimes led to attempt to describe in verse the beauties of Lithuania and the sorrows and emptiness of exile, at the same time pledging perseverance and an ultimate return to a liberated homeland. Such works may be accepted as solemn and public pledges, even though they possess little literary value.
In speaking of the younger Lithuanian poets, we note that they can be divided into three groups: philosophical (Mačernis, Nyka-Niliūnas, Nagys, šlaitas); traditional, comparable to the traditionalists in prose (Bradūnas, Mekas); and esthetic (Radauskas, Blekaitis).
Philosophical poetry is more interested in actual problems than in pure beauty. The boundaries between philosophy and poetry are at present rather ill-defined, and such poets as Rilke, T. S. Elliot and Oscar Milosh have their own philosophical systems, which are communicated in their poetry. The term "philosophical poetry" itself was introduced into Lithuanian literary terminology by Dr. J. Girnius. In the early years of this decade, a group of poetical programists published a joint collection of poetry entitled Žeme (Earth). Dr. Girnius, a young Lithuanian philosopher, contributed an introduction to this work in which he explained the aims of these young poets and introduced the term. Most of the poets who were mentioned above as belonging to this category were members of this group, although among them only A. Nyka-Niliūnas can really be termed a philosopher. The other participants do raise problems, and ideas play an important role in their work, but they cannot pretend to real philosophizing. Of the older poets, J. Aistis has written poetry of this type, in which ideas predominate, as we have seen in the two poems mentioned. A still better example among the older poets would be V. Mykolaitis-Putinas, whose poem Užgęso žiburiai (Extinguished Lights) exemplifies the impermanence of lifefor in life the lights are always extinguished before the last cup has been drained and the last song sung.
As we have said, only Nyka-Niliūnas can be considered a true philosopher. He advances an interesting idea: that the internal-spiritual sphere of man is not part of nature and is hence indestructible. What we have experienced, the things we have seen and valued, our dreams and thoughts become spiritual, independent of natural laws and realities, and cannot be destroyed by death. All the things of the earth wait for man, as it were, for only by becoming part of the human spiritual world can they become permanent and indestructible. Nyka-Niliūnas therefore personifies nature. To him spring and the wind are not mere natural phenomena but are almost real people. Even though he has realized the permanence of the spiritual world, he nevertheless becomes even more closely attached to this earth, for the passing world is our only arena of action and only here can we defend our ideals and truth. This is the reason for his passionate love of the earththat only here can we become immortal. He affirms that each man must himself find his way and his truth. According to Nyka-Niliūnas, truth cannot be imposed from outside, regardless of the magnitude and importance of that truth. It must be experienced and accepted by the individual himself. It is not enough to acknowledge it; one must live it.
H. Nagys might be referred to as the poet of youth. To him the earth and life appear as some-. thing dark, inhospitable, common. He searches for an ideal and cannot find one. His man feels himself a stranger on this dreary earth and longs for a different world. Therefore one finds in his poetry such symbols as the beacon that longs to leave the muddy shore and sail the ocean with flying flags, or the birch that is unhappy between dusty city walls and yearns for the sunny fields. In spite of all this, Nagys is not a pessimist. He always encourages struggle, the striving for the desired ideal, and cautions against surrendering to the common reality. Perhaps this is the reason he is so well liked by Lithuanian young people. Even though the world is dark, life must be lived with the flags flying. In this sense Nagys might be called a hero-worshipper. Heroes often figure in his poetry, heroes who do not surrender to the common reality and thus differ from the masses. Prophets, poets, creators of illusions are such figures. The words in the mouths of his prophets are inconsequential; he has no desire to disseminate a definite content. He describes how the prophet's white hair contrasts with the dark clouds, how the people listen to his words and ponder them with amazement. Nagys is advocating an attitude, rather than a theory of life's meaningan attitude with which life must be encountered. His poetry is more like a march than a philosophy.
V. Mačernis is a similar poet. Although he died in Lithuania near the end of the Second World War as the result of a stray bullet, many of his poems first made their appearance abroad after the war. Mačernis is calm, objective and impervious to wounds. In his poetry he challenges life to be as cruel and unjust as it wishes so long as it is grand. This note is similar to what we have seen in Nagys. But Mačernis lacks the bleakness of Nagys. He is always cheerful; even the rhythm of his poetry is calm and fluent. He accepts life for what it is and does not war against it. In his poetic cycle Vizijos (Visions), he speaks of a mysterious "royal flower." Whoever finds this flower becomes immortal; his words become important to all who hear him. To him who finds it, it is as if the whole earth has become a blooming garden. What kind of flower is this "royal flower"? It grows, of course, not in gardens or forests but in the human spirit. To find it means to find oneself, to experience man's divinity and to possess man's ability to create. This is a formidable task, but in Mačernis' poetry it is made to seem familiar and easily performed. Since Mačernis emphasizes the individual and the unique value of man, it is easily understandable that his poetry is unacceptable to Soviet Lithuania and lives only in exile. Although he is not one of the prcgramists, he is spiritually akin to them and they place a high value on his work.
V. Šlaitas can also be included in this group of philcsophical poets. He is a religious poet. His poetry is filled with a feeling of guilt and with attempts to atone for it. He condemns himself with great emotion and experiences deeply not only his own weaknesses but also those of every other person.
The second group of young poets describe rural life and can be compared to Katiliškis and Andriušis among the prose writers. The best examples are K. Bradūnas and J. Mekas. Both deal with the same subject matter, but they approach it differently. Bradūnas is primitive, almost pagan, end is completely wedded to the soil. Mekas, on the other hand, is intellectual and cultivated. He regards the earth with loving eyes, but from a different viewpoint, a civilizational one.
When we read Bradūnas it is as though we were reading something written by a farmer who has stopped plowing for a moment. To him the farmer is a mystical priest who fulfills sacred functions. One perceives in him that love of the soil that was felt by ancient Lithuanians. Nowhere does he encourage a return to paganism, as Alantas does, but he tangibly reproduces the feeling the pagan Lithuanians experienced in nature. The modern farmer, civilized and educated, does not experience that earth mysticism, that vital principle of the soil, which gives life to all. And when Bradūnas describes a farmer, he appears to be describing not a present-day farmer but rather an ancient peasant, one of those who originated Lithuanian folk songs and tales. It is therefore understandable that his poems often resemble Lithuanian folk songs in form, since he shares his sources of inspiration with the authors of these songs. At times Bradūnas also attempts to philosophize, to discuss current problems, but these attempts do not have the merit of his songs about a clump of soil, about the village cemetery, about the traces of his ancestors he has found while out in the fields.
If Bradūnas is a man of the villages, J. Mekas is a city-dweller who nevertheless knows these villages and loves them. However, he does not describe farm life directly but regards it from a certain perspective. His farms are seen within an esthetic framework. The first edition of Semeniš-kių idiles (The Idyls of Semeniškes), which contains his finest poems, appeared in Germany. The second edition was published in the United States and contained many new poems. His poems consist merely of village "landscapes," and he avoids any idea content. He attempts to describe each significant moment of the farm year, be it the first snow or the harvest. His poems bear a close resemblance to Andriušis' lyrical tales in this, for in them neither thought nor action is important. Perhaps only one of his poems can be said to bear an idea content? Senas yra lietaus šnerėjimas medžių šakose (Ancient Is the Swish of the Rain in the Trees). We find primarily in this poem such images as the digging of gravel and the carrying of logs, but the poet also muses about time and ccrnes to the conclusion that past generations lived the same life we live now and that future ones will continue to do the same.
The third, more purely esthetic, direction in Lithuanian poetry is represented by H. Radauskas and J. Blekaitis. Every poem, of course, must be esthetic in some degree if it is to be considered art at all. But estheticism as a tendency in art goes further than this: The esthete holds that beauty is the supreme value, and that all else is subordinate to it. To an esthete the important elements of a poem are its rhythm, the aptness of its metaphor, its delicacy. Human problems are of little concern to him. He exists like a Greek god on Mount Olympus, without regard for the problems of this world. Radauskas himself admits this: In one of his poems he disclaims any desire to be a prophet and to lead his people, and says that he wishes only to write of what he finds beautiful.
This pcem can no doubt be considered an answer to Brazdžionis' poem Šaukiu aš tautą GPU užguitą (I Call to a Nation Oppressed by the GPU). To Radauskas such problems are of little importance. What is important is pure beauty, a beautiful landscape where a yellow beam is lost among the trees, where a birch raises its green umbrella in the rain. These are delicate, esthetic pictures that lack an idea content, thus differing radically from the philosophical poetry of Nyka-Niliūnas and Nagys.
J. Blekaitis is another poet of this type, but his poetry is more complex and less easily comprehended.
of the most characteristic aspects of Lithuanian drama in exile is the
search by the younger writers for new forms of expression. The
influence of modern drama is very noticeable. Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author
presented a new approach to writing for the stage. The barrier between
actors and audience disappears; actors enter the stage from the
auditorium; commentators are introduced in the audience who comment on
the action on the stage; the same action is repeated with variations.
The older Lithuanian dramatists have remained unaffected by these influences, but the younger ones A. Škėma and K. Ostrauskas have incorporated many of the innovations in their piays. The conditions of exile present grave problems in achieving stage presentations. According to directors and producers, it is not feasible to present any play more than twice, even in cities with large Lithuanian colonies, since the potential audience will be exhausted by the third night. So all the effort that is put into a play is quickly dissipated, whereas in Lithuania itself the same play would enjoy an extended run. The tendencies of the older dramatists are well illustrated by A. Rūkas and V. Alantas. Bubulis ir Dundulis, by A. Rūkas, portrays the idyllic life of a Lithuanian village. V. Alantas' Sąmokslas prieš savuosius (A Plot Against Our Own) is a didactic play with the same moral as Mazalaite's ncvel Negestis: to marry a non-Lithuanian woman is equivalent to betraying the nation.
A. Škėma is himself an actor, and he is well acquainted with the stage and with the tricks of the profession. In this sense he is a professional, and from the viewpoint of staging his works are almost irreproachable. His plays are primarily concerned with current problems. His most important plot sources are the war years and the conflicts between Communists and underground fighters. The influence of such dramatists as Thornton Wilder and Jean-Paul Sartre can sometimes be detected.
In the play 2ivilė, Škėma develops a motif new to Lithuanian drama. He has chosen three characters; there are two men, one of whom symbolizes good and the idea of patriotism while the second represents evil and betrayal, and a woman who is loved by both. The conflict between the three is shown in three variations, three fateful moments in Lithuanian history. Two take place in times of revolt and the third in the period of Communist occupation. The same conflict repeats itself three times in different periods. It is as if Škėma is presenting the idea that such conflicts are inevitable and eternal and must be expected in the future as well. The central theme resembles the theme of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. The play is a novelty for the Lithuanian stage, however, škėma's most recent play, Pabudimas (The Awakening), presents a similar problem. The characters are Pijus, a Soviet secret police interrogator; Kazys, a member of the underground; and Kazys' wife, Elena, who in the past had been loved by Pijus. At times Škėma attempts in his plays, as in some of his fiction, to scandalize and shock the more snobbish readers, who are used to works filled with moralizing.
Kanarėlė (The Canary), by K. Ostrauskas, represents a different view of life. Ostrauskas has little of škėma's interest in actual problems and prefers to deal with ideas. His drama is symbolic and idealistic. His heroes are beggars in an unnamed town; their poverty, however, is not so
much material as moral. The conflict begins when the blind beggar Juozapas brings home a stolen canary, hoping that with the bird he can now be truly happy. The bird thus becomes a symbol for happiness. His jealous friends do not want him to enjoy this happiness, and they decide to play a mean trick: In the night they will substitute a sparrow for the canary. In the morning Juozapas wakes up deaf, for if he cannot hear the canary he would rather hear nothing. The friends feel guilty about Juozapas' deafness, and they leave, while Juozapasunaware because of his blindness that the "canary" is only a sparrowdecides to return the bird to the place from which he had stolen it. The play portrays man's suffering, his hopes of achieving happiness and the destruction of these illusory expectations. It is an idealistic and sensitively written play.
conclusions can we draw from the picture we have presented? We have
seen that Lithuanian writers in exile enjoy complete freedom to
experiment with various methods and subjects. Some are intimately bound
to the Lithuanian soil and present the country's farm life, in prose or
in poetry. And this tendency has yielded valuable results. The
presentation of current problems, on the other hand, has been
successful only in the drama and has tended to stultify fiction and
poetry. It can be assumed that the writers' overly intense interest in
these problems has affected their objectivity and given their works a
propaganda character. However, the flight from reality has yielded
better results in esthetic and for-malistic poetry and in prose elgends.
Modern influences upon Lithuanian literature have resulted in interesting and significant works. In this category we must mention philosophical poetry and the plays and fiction of young authors.
The problem of literary scholarship remains extremely grave in exile. One cause of this is that the historical sources are inaccessible at the present time. Very few theoretical studies of literature or individual authors have appeared.
Criticism finds itself in a happier situation. It is true that there has been a popular opinion that few demands should be placed upon authors writing under the handicap of exile, and that every new work should be favorably received. But there is an opposing view, primarily represented by the group that surrounds "Literatūros Lankai" ("The Pages of Literature"), which holds that the demands of art retain their validity in exile, and that books written in exile should be evaluated purely on their artistic merit. Among the literary magazines can be mentioned "Aidai" (Echoes"), a conservative and traditional publication that represents the Christian viewpoint, as well as "Literatūros Lankai," which is an intellectual publication that ceaselessly searches for the new.