Researchers of Lithuanian culture, literature and language in the country and around the world will celebrate three hundred years from the birth of Kristijonas Donelaitis (Christian Donalitius) in 2014. The government has formed a commission that has to ensure the meaningful recognition of this anniversary. Its programme of activities includes publication of research work and translations of the texts by K. Donelaitis, organization of several international conferences, creation of new monuments and works of art. The celebration of this anniversary is suggested for inclusion into the UNESCO calendar of globally important cultural events.
K. Donelaitis (January 1, 1714 – February 18, 1780) belongs to a Lithuanian ethnic group that inhabited the Northern part of Prussia. He was born in Lasdinehlen (lithuanian Lazdynėliai, present name Višniovka) village close to Gumbinnen (Gumbinė, Gusev). He studied Evangelist Lutheran theology at the University of Koenigsberg (Karaliaučius, Kaliningrad) and worked as a teacher in Stallupoenen (Stalupėnai, Nesterov) and as a priest in Tollmingkehmen (Tolminkiemis, Čistyje Prudy), where he was also buried. There is a museum for him opened in the previous church. All the named territories belong to Kaliningrad region of Russian Federation after the Second World War. K. Donelaitis is a classic of Lithuanian literature. His most famous work is an epic poem „The seasons“ (Metai). It was published for the first time in original language with a parallel translation to German in 1818. At present it is translated to 13 languages and some fragments of the text have appeared in eight more languages. During the anniversary year translations to Spanish and Italian languages will appear. The poet‘s personality and creative work is investigated since the beginning of the 19th century. Professors and investigators of Lithuanian and Baltic languages of the Koenigsberg University Martin Ludwig Rhesa and Ferdinand Nesselmann, Professor of the Prague University and the member of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences August Schleicher had done significant work for the international recognition of K. Donelaitis. At present the international bibliography of research on Donelaitis and his work consists of several thousand entries. It includes a significant number of monographs and doctoral dissertations.
K. Donelaitis is mostly researched by literature and language scholars. Researchers from other humanities disciplines have not done very much. The announced Conference is the first of this kind in book science. K. Donelaitis had not published books himself; there are no data about his personal library or readings. Therefore, the main subject of the Conference is the Prussian book culture of the historical period when the poet lived. It should include the periods of his education, studies, working as a teacher and as a priest. The papers could be written about Prussian publishing of academic works and books that are important to Prussian Lithuanians, the works of Germans and Poles, the role of the Evangelist Lutheran church in book culture, the impact of priests on the variety and quality of literacy, reading public and personal libraries. It is possible that the participants will find interesting insights about the relationship of K. Donelaitis with all these phenomena, and new data for understanding of his personality and creations.
The Conference will prioritize the following topics:
- Kristijonas Donelaitis: new data on and insights into his life and work
- Textual research of the translations of the creative texts by Kristijonas Donelaitis
- Translators of the works by Kristijonas Donelaitis, publications of the translations
- European book culture tradition of the 18th century
- Achievements of Prussian science and book publishing
- Main literary works of Prussian nations (German, Lithuanian, Polish) in the 18th century
- Reflection of the lexicography from the Prussian Lithuanian dictionaries of the 17th–18th centuries in the works by Kristijonas Donelaitis
- The role of the Evangelical Lutheran church and priesthood for the advance and change of the literacy of Prussian nations
- Kristijonas Donelaitis and his contemporaries: parallels (e.g., Latvian writer, folklorist, lexicographer, Evangelical Lutheran priest Gotthard Friedrich Stender; 1714–1796)
- Reading public, public and personal libraries
- Personal library of Kristijonas Donelaitis: attempts at reconstruction
- Cultural heritage of the Kristijonas Donelaitis historical period in the modern memory and science institutions in Kaliningrad, Olsztyn and Torun (archives, libraries and museums)
- Reading and understanding Kristijonas Donelaitis in modern times