True Lithuania

The wise men of Lithuania Minor and 18th Century

While in large areas of Lithuania a process of Polonization was taking place whereby the Lithuanian language was relegated to that of the peasantry, a different situation prevailed in the Lutheran German-ruled Lithuania Minor.

It was in Lithuania Minor where Martynas Mažvydas (8 urban streets) published the first Lithuanian book (a catechism) on 1547 and a priest Kristijonas Donelaitis (19 urban streets) wrote the first Lithuanian novel (actually a long poem imitating Homer in style) in late 18th century.

The last famous man of culture to hail from Lithuania Minor was Vydūnas (real name Vilhelmas Storosta, 1868-1953; 13 urban street names). He was the first philosopher to write in the Lithuanian language. He was interested in the Hindu tradition and theosophism.

In 16th-19th centuries the literature of Lithuania-proper (excluding Lithuania Minor) was written largely in Polish. The Lithuanian and Polish nations were not yet fully separated. A kind of diglossia developed where people even referred to themselves using different names in different languages. The tradition of 19th century National Revival put a special importance on the Lithuanian language, thus downplaying local historical personalities who published their work in the other languages. However, some luminaries of the era, such as Adomas Mickevičius (1798-1855, Adam Mickiewicz in Polish; 6 urban streets) receive a fair share of interest despite publishing major works in Polish.

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