LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 45, No. 2 - Summer 1999
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
Copyright © 1999 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE GENDERING OF THE LITHUANIAN NATION IN MAIRONIS'S (1862-1932) POETRY
This article grew out of the desire to create new contexts. The writings of Maironis, icon of Lithuanian patriotic poetry, could serve as such a context for understanding the symbolic of Lithuanian national self-creation in the second half of the nineteenth century.1 In Maironis's poetic vocabulary it is possible to trace the emerging codes of Lithuanian national life which persecute Lithuanians in their archaic absolutism to this very day.
Because Maironis's oeuvre and the historical situation in which it was created are concurrently social and ideological phenomena, they are construed as equal partners in cooperation and yet in conflict with one another. In other words, the works of the Lithuanian national bard participated (and continue to participate) in the formation and de-formation of national history; Maironis's writings should not necessarily be held as a reflection or image of Lithuanian history. They are as much a context for various cultural or material constructs, as the latter are a context for Maironis's texts.2 The poet's works act as the intersection of several Lithuanian cultural voices and as the location for institutional and ideological conflicts. The bard's texts also belong to a larger symbolic order - one which offers clues for the comprehension of the period of national consciousness-building. Maironis's works are the articulation of the imaginative structures as well as the ideological configurations that created them.
While voicing his nation's fictions and Utopias, the poet is well aware that the singer himself may be forgotten ("they will forget my songs, as the other poets search for sweet inspiration...")3, but his legacy will endure - his songs convey the power to form and control Lithuanian identity. By restructuring his reader into a national "citizen" - whose core is permeated with images of the national mentality, Maironis's texts construct the space for the political reality of the nation. While cultivating a communal world view, the poet's works produce a real flesh-and-blood body for national symbolic. On the other hand, by creating Maironis, the nation creates itself.
In Maironis's works the nation becomes the compilation of discursive conventions bestowing an inner logic on the national symbolic. I refer to the national symbolic as a repertoire of discursive practices which transforms individuals into subjects of a collectively-imagined and lived history. Its rituals, metaphors, heroes and narratives provide an alphabet for national subjectivity.4 Within this symbolic, crucially important are the schemes of metaphysical power, played out in the oppositions between the masculine vs. the feminine, the individual vs. the collective, and the public vs. the private. Because each identity is defined by its relation to its opposition, the national identity must be defined by stressing the nation's difference (or its exceptionality) in relation to the Other (other nations); hierarchies must be constructed between form and matter, essence and coincidence, man and woman.
Maironis's works clearly articulate what it takes to be a part of the nation. They discuss the national pains and pleasures - in other words, the honor and the suffering required to be a member of the nation. The fatherland in Maironis's poems is not simply a function of place or time, not exclusively defined by history or archeology, but most importantly it takes on the experiences and actions of the collective. In other words, the nation's subjects are unified not only by a common history, political or spiritual responsibility for the nation and the homeland, but also within the compilation of forms and emotions, which imparts meaning onto their actions, allowing the national subjects to understand one another.
How does Maironis utilize this collective experience of form and emotion endowed with the specific images of the national landscape, history, or sexuality? How are the nation and the fatherland imagined in his works? What forms are used to realize them? In what ways do the technology of the Maironisesque collective fantasy5 and the system of the national memory function?
Attempting to answer the above questions through the interpretation of Maironis's texts, in my essay, I will analyze how the roles of men and women are defined within Lithuanian nationalism and within the technology of the Lithuanian national fantasy.6
A few interconnected and intermingled terms-working tools need to be defined before one is to examine these questions. Sex, in my essay, refers to the biologically determined differences between male and female. Sex in this sense is simply the raw material, on the basis of which gender is socially constructed. Gender then is conceived within a strict social dichotomy of either masculine or feminine identity and behavior. Compared to the chromosomal sex, which is considered unchangeable and biologically determined, the meaning of gender is culturally changeable, varying and relational. (The concept of gender could be compared to the terms class and nation.)7
Another important and multi-dimensional concept is sexuality. Sexuality in this article will be conceived as a historical construct, a great surface network in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledge, the strengthening of pleasures and resistances, are linked to one another, in accordance with a few major strategies of knowledge and power.8
Sexuality denotes words, images, rituals, fantasies, and the body. It includes and reflects the widest spectrum of actions and positions, from the most physical to the most symbolic, from the most intimate to the most social, from the inborn to the socially acquired. Thus, that which is sexual or that which is related to sexuality is imbued with meaning only in or through certain cultural forms.
And so we come to the stereotypes of national self-construction.9 Collective forms imprinted onto the Lithuanian mindframe include the invocation of the homeland as a woman, a mother ("Lithuania, you are as beautiful and as graceful as my mother." VS 121), as the one who comforts, warms, and never forgets. The nation, however, is a society of men.10 Early Lithuanian nationalism's traditions and practices as seen in Maironis's poetry are passionately homoso-cial.11 The national brotherhood is honored/respected (as in Maironis's narrative poem Young Lithuania: "Here are twenty men in the shade of the birch tree/seated in a circle on the gray lea/engrossed they leaf through readings;" another example: "Here are twenty men sitting side by side as brothers/ Impatiently awaiting Rainys/ Without him they feel weak/ Only his wise speech can raise their spirit and strengthen their unity..."12 The ideal of brotherly friendship is worshipped:
And happy are the years when the first friendship
embroiders our spirits with its indelible ideals;
these ideals remain so deeply engraved in our hearts
that even old age cannot erase them. (YL 10)
The passionate brotherhood in Maironis's poetry is expressed with gestures of physical closeness (for instance, "Motiejus 'was so satisfied with the daring response of Juozas/ That he started to kiss him/ as if they had been friends for hundreds of years." YL 17). Nevertheless an attempt is made to conceal any secret homoerotic aspect of the men's relationship.13
The men's friendship in Maironis's poetry is elevated to a greater extent than heterosexual love because friendship depends more upon intellect and "high ideals" than upon emotions. A friendship between a man and a woman here is given little importance when held up in contrast to the friendship between men. (Although a man can understand his 'sister's' soul, "fate sends him down a different path," writes the poet. (VS 148). An example from family life is the relationship between the brother and sister, Motiejus and Jadvyga: "Although there is little openness between a brother and sister, although he often laughs at her sensitivity, he would never hurt her" (YL 30)14. The friendship among men in Maironis's poetry and in general in the national movement, becomes essentially an act of self-sacrifice and religious celibacy: the ideals of youth, lofty goals, dreams while staring at the skies (YL 9). The friendship described here is unavoidably masculine, because only men are capable of overcoming their passions and their sexual desires. Such a chaste ideal of friendship was undoubtedly also supported by the Catholic Church.
The national brotherhoods can be considered essential spaces for cultural masculinity. It is not coincidental that the brotherhood of men is most often depicted in natural settings. In the national literatures of the second half of the nineteenth century, including that of Lithuania, the city typically represents danger and decadence. It is in nature and in the traditional villages that nation and masculinity can feel at home.15
The years of national self-fashioning, as Maironis's poetry demonstrates, associated the ideal of masculinity with a virtue. Masculinity's "hard breasts" resist passions and control sexual inclinations: "No, I don't need dreams, only truth and work, I will fight for my cause ceaselessly." (VS 95). Emblematic in this respect is the situation of Young Lithuania: When Juozas Rainys and Jadvyga Goštautaitė fall in love, Juozas's plans for priesthood fall by the wayside. However, he simply cannot believe that "the shining eyes of a weak woman" could have the power to nullify his promises and oaths (YL 32-33). Juozas decides to study law; but social impediments such as the fact that Goštautaitė is a wealthy baroness while Rainys is from the peasant class, will prevent their being together. Juozas sacrifices his personal happiness, offering everything for the national 'ideals': "I would rather sacrifice my life for the ideals..." (YL 51) desperately thinks Juozas. The wounds inflicted by such a deep love may torture the man, but "like a giant [he] will protect his spirit." (YL 52). Sexual love is sublimated to sacrifice and love for one's fatherland: Having chosen Lithuania as a beloved, Rainys promised to "awaken his sleeping country" much cherished and valued because of its heroic ancestors (YL 54). However, the sacrifice for Lithuania does not completely help him forget his desperate love for Jadvyga.
The example of Rainys from Young Lithuania confirms that nineteenth-century nationalism, based on the sacrifice for the vision of the fatherland, controls a man's sexual instincts, transferring his passions towards a higher goal: the stereo-type of humanity here is essentially rescued from emotion and feeling.16 Nevertheless it is evident from this poem that sexual feelings are both a means for fulfilling national fantasies and aspirations (through sublimation) as well as a hindrance for successfully realizing these goals (a hypothetical example, if there had not been any obstacles to Rainys and Jadvyga's love, Rainys might have not devoted himself to the national movement).
The sublimation of sexual passion is also evident in Maironis's poem Jo pirmoji meilė (His First Love) from his collection of poems Voices of Spring: "No one will ever love you this way,/as your forsaken poet;/nobody will suffer so much sorrow,/as he has for you" (VS 52). The poem suggests that the homeland in Maironis's poetry is not simply Lithuania, the motherland, but also a woman incarnating sexual tensions and erotic fantasies. In His First Love the national man constructs his fatherland as the object of his idealized love.
It is in the homeland's power to discipline the individual's body. Masculinity in Maironis's poetry and in the national movement signifies freedom from sexual passions and sensual desires (let us remember the recurring lines of Maironis "Having hidden the painful thoughts deeply in his heart..." (VS 74); "Not accustomed to lamenting or crying/ We hold out our chests enchained with ice" (VS 81). Sensations and emotions are transformed into the national leadership. The subject's body and sensitivity are excluded from the boundaries of the collective subjectivity. To put it differently, the individual is coerced into living not according to his emotions and feelings but according to the nation's dispositions and inclinations. One must silence one's own emotionality and sensitivity for they, like women in the national movement, do not have a voice (in Maironis's words, sensations are voiceless; either pain, or happiness "do not have the ability to speak"; the Lithuanian displays his wounded and aching chest to no one (the lines from the poem Lietuvis ir giria [The Lithuanian and the Forest]).17
To give in to tears and sorrow is unmanly. Only women, as creatures of nature, are permitted to weep (the girl of Maironis's poem says that she is like the cuckoo bird flying about and wailing in the forest (Daina, A Song, VS 85). The poet himself, speaking on behalf of the national movement, states: "I cannot bear weak wills /beautiful to me is the secret heart,/ which conceals its profundities." (VS 97). The poet asks "only for pain and war" (VS 97). In the poem /. ST.18 Maironis says:
No golden dreams for him;
May the storm roar
and with the ominous lightnings
call him to battle;
May he breathe more freely
and may his heart become iron. (VS 151)
One cannot emphasize enough, that the protagonist Rainys of Young Lithuania is depicted as "eternally" masculine: "from childhood never a complaint, nor a tear touched his face; / as the glassy surface of a lake is his face / As a dammed river, he had locked all his most bitter pains in his heart." (YL 31). The ability to suffer pain silently produces heroes. Thus suffering is the school of heroes: "He who loved so much, who suffered/ Will become a man who does not bow to thunderstorms:/ Suffering is the school of heroes" (YL 51). According to Maironis, heroism is achieved by disciplining one's weak and vulnerable body.
Masculinity in Maironis's poetry is unavoidably related to the solid, strong bodies of medieval warriors and their prowess at war. Thus a bellicose masculinity enters into the foundations of the national ideal. The poet models warlike masculinity on the cult of the aristocratic warriors. The ruins of castles, gravesides, and songs are reminiscent of the mighty grand princes ("The bones of giant men lay rotting, their graves crying," VS 64). The great men of old, according to the poet, were morally superior to other tribes, that is why they "banished the might of the evil." (VS 69) Moral firmness is an important element of national identity.
That the war motif is also prevalent in Western European national movements' inventory of images in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century comes as no surprise - war was conceived as a means by which the individual and the nation are to wake up as they overcome sexual passions by calling forth their aggressive warrior instincts. Experience at war creates the foundation for a new type of man, confident and self-sacrificing. In Germany and England the writers Walter Flex and Rupert Brooke were symbols of such ideal men. Their works admire the ideal of the youth who worships his nation's history and gives himself up for his country; this is the ideal of unblemished heredity, beauty, and sexual innocence.19 This is why even the bodies of warriors in Maironis's poetry are "deeroticized". Among the few similes in his poems we find the sons of Lithuania compared to perfect oak trees (Senovės daina, The Old Song, VS 69).
In Maironis's works, the worship of Lithuanian grand princes is the basis of official masculine memory. By remembering the majestic feats of the great warriors, it is easier for the oppressed sons of Lithuania to bear the difficult trials of the present. The role of official memory is to produce nationalistically inclined subjects, orchestrating and choreographing national mentality. Into the common catalogue of memory are entered the icons and metaphors of traditional nationalism (Vilnius, the river Nemunas, the Castle at Trakai, the river Dubysa, etc.), national heroes (such as Kęstutis, Vytautas, Algirdas), and national rituals (songs about the green rue, Kęstutis's horse and Birutė, sung by innocent maidens; prayers and hymns that unite the faithful as they pray and sing together). All this imparts a bent and a form for the national subjectivism in which a masculine version of history dominates; it also shapes the stereotypes of femininity (more on this later).
The official participants of the national movement are the men who have appropriated for themselves the right to dominate a patriarchal, homosocial sphere of national life. Thus nationalism in Maironis's works is the location where the homosocial passion is created and justified: the friendship of men here is intrinsically important because the nation is the society of men.
In his works, Maironis raises the Utopian fantasy of a men's society (let us remember the men-only national congresses in Warsaw from Young Lithuania 59-68): here the higher form of love (love of country) requires men's relationships to be transformed into ideal, dis-embodied, spiritual contact. "Real love" transgresses the intimate relations between individuals and embraces the entire nation. In such a homosocial utopia, a man's might and pleasure are freed from the demands of the body.20 Masculinity, but not the masculine body, here is imbued with a higher purpose and reason. Within this male world women and even the male body are seen as foreign or Other (throughout, the "iron-chested" men are encouraged to sublimate their sexual desires). The body is negated ("inauthentic" man [i. e., a bodily or physical man] is killed), while at the same time man is liberated from his own weaknesses which unfortunately are inseparable from his essence.
The national space is essentially deeroticized, divided into the heart vs. the mind, body vs. spirit oppositions.21 It is ironic that the body is not the means nor the place by and in which the nation is experienced. To learn one's nation means to discipline one's body, according to the rules of the totalizing patriarchal logic. The male body can be imagined only within such frames of logic.
Official "masculine" memory constructs its own public version of life, in which the space allotted to women is not especially ample. It is the male's prerogative whether or not to allow women into the nation (on Jadvyga's acceptance by the national movement Maironis writes: "Here slightly blushing and stroking his hair,/ [Jakštas] added: 'if we drew her into our circle/ she would become a shining star!'" YL 59). Nevertheless, the woman who is permitted into the ranks of the masculine national movement does not fit into traditional "feminine" fictions. Jadvyga Goštautaitė in the poem Young Lithuania has educated herself; she is a pianist and a composer. She is a woman who has dedicated herself to the life of the mind, consequently, she is no longer an "authentic" woman. She is a woman who has forsaken love: "Her face resembles pale marble;, her eyes do not glow, and no tears dampen them! ... Everyone should understand: she has renounced love and hope forever!" (YL 100).
The women in other Maironis's poems and Voices of Spring are made to fit the socially accepted forms of national identity. The family sphere oppresses Onytė and Vanda from Young Lithuania whose lives are beyond the borderline of discourse of the national movement. Although women are idealized, they are silenced and placed within the confines of strictly defined space of family and everyday life. The symbolism of the family dominates, for example, in Young Lithuania.
Along with the domestic realm, women are often framed within the domain of nature. For example, the girl from the poem Mergaitė (The Girl) is imagined to be the queen of nature: "With the birds I shall sing, I shall whistle as their beautiful queen." (VS 94).22 The symbols of nature, mythological, non-historical figures (for example, the Lithuanian goddess Jūratė), mothers and sisters, mourning for the son or brother who has not returned from battle, prevail in the archives of the feminine memory. The most that the masculine national imagination can offer a woman is Birutė, the wife of Kęstutis, Grand Prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
In Maironis's poetry, as in the poetry of most nineteenth-century European national movements, women are depicted as chaste and dutiful, good sisters and mothers.23 The description of Onytė: "Candid and sweet, she hums like a bird from early morning:/ Nobody has ever seen a dark cloud of concern on her young face./ As a joyful and bright spring, she has enlivened the spirits of family members in Goštautas's house" (YL 93). Jadvyga Goštautaitė, before sacrificing her love and personal life to the objectives of the national awakening, was "Sweet as the first scent of spring." (YL 13). The "national" man knows what is appropriate and inappropriate for a woman: "If a girl plants chrysanthemums in her hair, she errs/They belong to men as symbols of manly strength;" that is why a Lithuanian woman must adorn herself only with a wreath of rue (VS 89). It is emblematic of femininity to be chaste, fragile, plain. Strength is suitable only for men. Women symbolize only beauty and chastity.
The "authentic" woman in Maironis's poetry is visible only in her invisibility. The most important duty for such a woman is motherhood. The pregnant woman and the birth of a child (YL 94-95) are national stereotypes. The authentic woman can participate in national self-creation not by her spirit, but by her body. The importance i of woman is inscribed on her fertile body. To put it more precisely, the woman's body is only a symbolic form, transgressing sexual instincts and expressing nature and nation. The national ideal of authentic womanhood dictates that the woman be a passive, unchanging force, physically guarding the nation's vitality.
An exaggerated emotionality and sensitivity are important elements of authentic womanhood. In the poem Daina (A Song) the poet takes on a young girl's persona and laments that "People grew so indifferent, so cold" (VS 85), that inert desensitized hearts cannot understand emotional femininity. Similarly, in the poem Lietuvos dainos (The Songs of Lithuania) Maironis complains about contemporary women who have lost "true" womanhood. Although their eyes might be blue and their hands white, their hearts are hard and cold. Such cold beauties are confronted with the image of the "sisters of the past", from whose "hot young breasts rang silvery songs." (VS 56). This opposition between authentic and inauthentic womanhood is clearly encoded by patriarchal logic. Female voice in Maironis's poems inevitably assumes male overtones.
Rejecting membership in the patriarchal logic one is left outside the borders of national identity, as it is imagined by men. For example, Vanda Juškytė from Young Lithuania does not fit into the stereotype of the solidly male persona who sublimates his ideals for national duty. Accordingly, in the eyes of men enamored* of their homeland, Vanda is less esteemed than Onytė, who becomes an integral part of the nation by offering up her body to her nation by giving birth.24 (YL 94). Because the nation alertly guards the real woman's, as well as man's, body from its sexual instincts, the woman who produces children is more valuable to the nation than the woman whose only "virtue" is the seductress's eyes. (Vanda's depiction from YL 73; "Speaking confidently and openly, oh my brother, Onytė is definitely more worthy than Vanda." YL 76). Vanda is described with cunning irony: "She swings and warbles amongst the servants of love/ as a swallow amongst the gnats./ It seems that God who has generously given her a pretty face/ also has created her beautiful body ..."(YL 70). Women who seek love in foreign men are also disowned from the national family. Such women are doomed to masochistic suffering, (the poem Vilija, VS 54-55; the narrative poem Madelyn of Raseiniai25). In other words, woman is endowed with patriarchal ambiguity: she is invested with the purpose of motherhood, but she is also inscribed with the motif of monster and sinner (especially one "who loves a foreigner", VS 54).
The images of women in Young Lithuania help construct a Maironesque typology of woman. Three types dominate here: the "authentic" woman (Onytė, the mother), "non-authentic" (Jadvyga, the one who sacrifices emotion for the national Utopia), the authentically deceptive one (Vanda the seductress). Ironically, the third type (like Vanda) would most likely affirm that the nation is not the only space or site with which one can identify one's desires and needs. The nation, according to Vanda's logic, is not an inescapable destiny.
The second type of woman who has renounced family and "real" womanhood (Jadvyga), is drawn into the national "brotherhood". The first "authentic" type of woman is also mobilized into the national service: her body produces new citizens for the nation. However this type of "authentic" woman submits to the patriarchal order, its hierarchies, history, and collective identity. Such women are made "queens" of the everyday sphere; the patriarchal erotics grants them citizenship of the everyday. It should be stressed that everyday life destroys the pathos of the heroic national movement and that it is not a legitimate part of the elevated sphere of nationalism. Both Maironis and the nineteenth-century Lithuanian national movement find the essential woman's service confined to the private pace. Woman is therefore a closed being in the individual sphere. The masculine national identity does not allow its unofficial citizens (which are women) with its feminine counter-memory to participate in the euphoric national happenings.
Maironis's poetry and the Lithuanian national awakening projected onto woman the suspicions and fears of the patriarchal order which was eager to maintain male dominance in the public sphere. As we have seen, the primary sex of national subjectivity is the male. The sex of the nation is also male. The male body, although repressed, remains privileged: it contains the masculine sexual potency (sublimated sexual feelings for the chaste love of fatherland) and social power of the patriarchy which rules national identity. For this reason it is not surprising that masculine primary matter is fated to raise up the feminine (the poem Jaunimo giesmė [Song of the Youth], VS 61-63). Brothers shielding themselves with "masculine love" and taking into their hands "the plow, the book, and the lyre" (VS 63) will raise Lithuania from its sleep.26 In the collective national fantasy, the homeland is passive and always giving herself up to him who is willing to serve his nation. Thus Lithuania is the always attainable object of the collective (often erotic) masculine fantasy.
Such is the dynamic of Lithuanian nationalism propagated through Maironis's creative oeuvre. Although nationalism produced both the ideals of masculinity and femininity, the nation was fashioned from the masculine essence, symbol of the nation's spiritual and material vitality. The ideal of the feminine is expressed by a passive woman who mirrors the "eternal" national forces, their stability and physical capacities. The domain of a woman's power consists of feeling and passion, not of intellect. Idealized as mother, the woman is constructed as a static unchanging system. Furthermore, the homeland as woman and woman as the homeland resides in the male citizen's soul.
It is not the woman's, but the man's prerogative to live and to realize the national fantasy. Nationalism encourages a masculine brotherhood. Nevertheless the masculine Eros is disciplined in favor of temperance and emotional restraint.
To be a man means to control one's emotions and desires. From this is derived the paradox of nationalism: although incarnated by the male body, the nation (the society of males) lacks a "national" genitalia. The nation as a male society resists and transgresses sexual urges; the erotic element is removed from national brotherhood and "national" friendship. Individual relations between men dissolve into the nation, masculinity is elevated from the individual sphere to the realm of national service.27 It is hoped that men upholding the above dictates will fulfill the promise of a (re)fashioning society.
In the lines "They will forget my songs, as the other poets search for sweet inspiration..." (VS 76), Maironis speaks of cultural amnesia: the works and songs of the poet, like those of the other pioneers of national self-building, will be forgotten. Maironis himself witnessed the cultural amnesia of the late 20s and the early 30s. He scolded the alleged decadence of his time when the nation as the beloved object was replaced by other ideologies. "Cosmopolitans! Giants of the day,/ Never having known the past of your fathers!/ The foolish dreams of Marx and Darwin's/ are dearer to them than their fatherland,"(YL 98) wrote the poet. Instead of working for the welfare of their homeland, Lithuanians now cared only about their own good and profit (the .poem Mano draugams [For my friends], VS 100). Instead of sublimating their sexual urges into love for their -fatherland and nation, they easily surrendered to their feelings and sensations: "At a time when we did not have freedom,/ there was no undisciplined corruption/ Although our alphabet was prohibited,/ there was no proliferation of atheists."(VS 142).
According to Maironis, after the foundation of independent Lithuania masculine physical and spiritual strength was dwindling more and more. The healthy and happy world professed by Maironis's poetry and nineteenth-century national rhetoric was fading. National citizens were no longer convinced by visions of a common future; the feeling of belonging and responsibility for the very national community weakened. Lithuanians refused to be inhibited by the traditional identity constraints and by the Utopian longing of the national discourse to create an all-encompassing national identity. All that was dear and sacred to the national founders was forgotten. Their worn-out national visions seemed unrealistic in the face of multiple and not always national possibilities of identification. Nevertheless the pain experienced from the loss of national memory, heard in the voice of the aging poet Maironis is ambiguously pleasurable: his forgotten poems -'his native land - whisper the national fictions and individual fantasies which if not always achievable, can at least always be re-experienced and recreated.
1 Maironis (actual name Jonas Mačiulis) was born in 1862. He graduated from the Russian high school in
Kaunas, then, for a short time, studied literature at the University of Kiev. In 1884-88 he attended Kaunas Theological Seminary and in 1888-92 he studied at St. Petersburg Theological Seminary. (He was awarded a doctor's degree in theology.) After working at the same institution as professor of moral theology, in 1909 he became a rector of Kaunas Theological Seminary. When Kaunas University was founded in 1922, Maironis was elected its honorary professor and taught moral theology as well as Lithuanian and world literature there.
Maironis's main collection of poems Pavasario balsai (Voices of Spring) was first published in 1895. There were five more editions (each enlarged with new poems) before Maironis's death in 1932. Aside from historical dramas and libretto, Maironis also wrote a few narrative poems, Tarp skausmų į garbę (Through Grief to Glory, 1895), Jaunoji Lietuva (Young Lithuania, 1895), Raseinių Magdė (Madelyn of Raseiniai, 1909) and Mūsų vargai (Our Sorrows, 1920).
2 See Jean E. Howard, "The New Historicism in Renaissance Studies," in Renaissance Historicism, ed. Arthur F. Kinney and Dan S. Collins (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1987), 15.
3 From Pavasario balsai (Voices of Spring) (Vilnius: Vaga, 1982), 76. Subsequent references to this text will be marked VS along with the page number.
4 For more on the processes of the national symbolic, see Lauren Berlant's book The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 29-35.
5 The latter term is borrowed from Berlant's book, The Anatomy of National Fantasy, 5. Some of my other thoughts are also inspired by this insightful book.
6 These questions in the context of Lithuanian culture and literature are examined in Viktorija Daujotytė's monograph Moters dalis ir dalia: moteriškoji literatūros epistema (Woman's Lot and Woman's Fate)(Vilnius: Vaga, 1992) and Vytautas Kavolis's study Moterys ir vyrai lietuvių kultūroje (Women and Men in Lithuanian Culture) (Vilnius: Lithuanian Cultural Institute, 1992).
7 For more on this see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 27-28. Therefore sex would be determined by chromosomal differences in human beings. The author here does not agree with this socially accepted sex/gender opposition. See p. 28-35. Another theorist Judith Butler also contests universally established sex/gender binarism. See her Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990).
8 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 105-106.
9 This article will consider Maironis's Pavasario balsai (Voices of Spring) and Jaunoji Lietuva (Young Lithuania). Due to the complexity of Maironis's versification, the translations of his texts paid more attention not to the poetic intricacies but to the accuracy of semantic nuances. All translations from Lithuanian are by Jūra Avižienis and myself.
10 Note the difference between the nation and the fatherland. The nation, as a large-scale solidarity, is imagined as a community of men, while the fatherland (Lithuania as a mother producing Lithuanians) is conflated with the feminine (the word "tėvynė" is feminine in Lithuanian).
11 The word homosocial is often used to define social intercourse between members of the same sex. As a neologism this word is made by analogy with the word homosexual, with the attempt to clearly differentiate between homosocial and homosexual. Nevertheless Kosofsky Sedgwick believes that there exists an inviolable bond between the homosocial and the homosexual. See Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985).
12 Maironis, Jaunoji Lietuva [Young Lithuania] (Meerbeck: J. Narbutas & P. Indreika Publications, 1948). Pages 58 and 59 respectively. Further references to this text will be marked YL plus the page reference.
13 On this topic, see George L. Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality: Middle-Clfiįe, Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe (Madisorv WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 16-18.
14 , Note the lack of openness between the brother and the sister. The little value placed on the friendship between men and women is also evidenced in Rainys's feeling of guilt over the fact that a woman has wrecked his calling to the priesthood.
15 Mosse 13-15.
16 Mosse 11.
17 The song sung by Juozas Rainys from Young Lithuania: "I don't know how to cry, I cannot complain. / People will not understand my complaint, / And I will go my way, with that deep pain, / which will remain silent for ever." (21)
18 J. ST. stand for the initials for a real person.
19 See Mosse 117-18.
20 See Berlant 120-22.
21 In vain our spirit yearns for the Heavens;
in vain it craves to fly; -
the body enchains it and willfully
destroys our purest dreams. (VS 123, my emphases - A.T.).
22 See Kavolis 69-70 for more on female subjectivity in Maironis's writings.
23 See Nationalisms and Sexualities, ed. Andrew Parker et al. (New York: Routledge), 6.
24 The pregnant woman is an obvious national stereotype found not only in Lithuanian literature. Motherhood can thus be studied as one case of a nation's formation. This type of study could be modeled after Lauren Berlant's article "America, 'Fat,' the Fetus," Boundary 2, 21, 3 (1994): 145-195.
25 The narrative poem Raseinių Magdė (Madelyn of Raseiniai) revolves around a female character alienated both from her native language and customs (by marring a foreigner) and from religion (by immersing herself into an atheistic environment).
26 Emblematic are the lines from Young Lithuania:
Despite the eagle, holding our country tightly with its wings,
come men, shoulder to shoulder, come and work
for our beloved country;
Let us awaken our own Lithuania. (YL 67).
The motif of awakening in Maironis's poetry resembles fairy-tales about the sleeping beauty.
27 For more on this in the context of Western European nationalisms, see Mosse 80-85.