LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 23, No.2 - Summer 1977
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1977 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Albinas Baranauskas. Rudenys ir pavasariai, arba Užplynių Pultinevičius namie ir svetur. Chicago: Lietuviškos Knygos Klubas, 1975-1976, 2 vols., $6.00 each.
The subject matter of the most recent novel of A. Baranauskas, Rudenys ir pavasariai, arba Užplynių Pultinevičius namie ir svetur (Autums and Springs, or Pultinevičius from Užplyniai at Home and Abroad) is based on the stories of the older Lithuanians who immigrated to the U.S. The author, who belongs to the younger generation of Lithuanian writers, has already made his name in the Lithuanian emigre literature after World War II with two volumes of his short stories: Sniego platumos (Plains of Snow) 1956 and Kalvos ir lankos (Hills and Meadows) 1959. In 1966 he published his first novel, Karklupėnai, for which he won the annual Draugas prize for a novel. He also writes poetry, and a collection of his poetry, Pasaga ir vyšnios (Horseshoe and Cherries) was published in 1969. He is, however, more popular as a fiction writer.
The first volume of Rudenys ir pavasariai introduces the reader to Mr. Pultinevičius and his friends, who came to the U.S. with the new wave of Lithuanian immigrants after World War II. The author goes back to the 19th century with his hero. 24 chapters of vol. 1 show us a vivid picture of his background and life in the U.S. The narration with as little intrigue as you can expect takes the reader through many pages. However, the marriage of Mr. Pultinevičius and the story of his father-in-law Kalasauskas (Callas), who lives in Chicago, catches us by surprise. There is a moderate trend of humor in the novel. Included are recollections of life in Lithuania either from the period before World War I or after World War II as well as a description of the flight to the West at the end of this latter war. The last two chapters of vol. 1 are dedicated to the description of the first soviet occupation of Lithuania in 1940 - 41. A short history of Squirreltown in New England, where Mr. Pultinevičius is living, completes vol. 1 of Rudenys ir pavasariai.
Vol. 2 continues with the story of another hero of the work, Mr. Rokas Kukis who is a school friend of Mr. Pultinevičius. During the first occupation of Lithuania by the Soviets Kukis tried to join the communists in establishing their way of life. However, he was disappointed and came back to the old "Christian way of life." Scenes from the life of exotic merchants are like excerpts from a highly fantastic novel, but the author is cautious not to go too far with this kind of fiction. More realistic is the story of Mr. Siaurusevičius, who became a candidate of the Christian Democratic Party. Chapters 14 and 24 are not a part of the narration, but are included in the novel like samples of Lithuanian poetry and fiction.
Since the author of Rudenys ir pavasariai tries to show us a broad scale of events during different periods of time, his task is not as easy as a description of a particular period of time with a smaller number of heroes would have been. This lack of a proper coordination in a plot is redeemed, partially at least, by the author's sound and warm narration, a moderate trend of humour which runs through both volumes, and his sharp observation of nature, taken mostly from reminiscences of childhood. This kind of description requires special words and expressions. The author makes a wide use of all this. Some of these words would hardly be understood even by the Lithuanian reader without a special dictionary, particularly if he is not born in the same region of the country as the author himself. An additional explanation or a vocabulary of some rare and unusual words would be desirable. This is not the only case, since there are other Lithuanian writers, who are prolific in the use of such words in their works, for example Pulgis Andriušis (d. 1970) whose works are full of the regional Eastern Lithuanian dialect words and expressions.
It would be desirable that his novel, Rudenys ir pavasariai by A. Baranauskas, which deals with life of Lithuanian immigrants to the U.S., be translated into English for a larger number of readers.
University of Notre Dame