Between Conflict and Convergence: Actualization of the Symbol of Donelaitis in the Late 19th to the Late 20th C. in Prussian Lithuania and Klaipėda Region

Vasilijus Safronovas


Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714–1780), poet of Prussian Lithuania of the epoch of Enlightenment, who wasfirst turned into a symbol in the late 19th c., for more than a century has been one of the brightest memorysites in the region. The paper analyzes the contexts in which the symbol was actualized in PrussianLithuania and Klaipėda Region in the late 19th to the late 20th c. The change in the interpretations of Donelaitisis presented: from the resource for the maintenance of Prussian Lithuanian regional patriotism,a symbolic figure of Lithuanian national culture, to the Sovietization of Donelaitis and his turning into aresource for the maintenance of the Lithuanian national uniqueness within the boundaries of the USSR.The analysis of the meaningful content in which the symbol of Donelaitis functioned and of its symbolicexpressions proves that, over all the analyzed period, Donelaitis has been a figure that encouraged notonly the convergence of cultures, but also a conflict.

KEY WORDS: Donelaitis, cultural contacts, regional patriotism, Lithuanian nationalism, sites of memory.



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