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Donatas Sauka


Donatas Sauka

Sauka Donatas, literary scholar.
Was born in Mažeikiai, on October 13, 1929.
In 1953 he finished studies of Lithuanistics at Vilnius University. In 1951-1953 he was an editor of the State Publishing-house of Imaginative Literature, in 1956-1993 – a lecturer of Vilnius University, professor.
Since 1988 – the member of LWU.

My father was a widely traveled and noticeably older than my mother, literal and rational minded and still using his Linkuva dialect. My mother was more emotional and did not imagine her life without collection of people and insistently turned the wheel of the family towards her Samogitian background. The father rarely got down to some permanent activity – he served here and there, tried to trade, worked at a cooperative of a rural district. He saved money with every last ounce of strength to cover a debt for the bought 10 hectares of swamp, where he wanted to spend his declining years. However, it went up in smoke: he lacked both health and persistence of agriculturalist. As the family could not subsist on the earth, he set to work again as an accountant and bookkeeper.
So, I am neither a child of countryside, nor a real town-dweller. Somewhere in a middle. Perhaps, due to this unspecified middle, I did not have a distinct vision of my childhood – either pink, or smutty.
My Primary School was in Aukštaitija region – in Kėdainiai and Šėta, gymnasium – in Telšiai. A principal of the gymnasium and a teacher of literature was S. Skeivys for a time. And I am thankful to him for the first emotional impulses and for doses of sound irony in the uncomfortable atmosphere of the postwar period.
In 1948 I enrolled into Vilnius University and graduated it in 1953, acquiring a speciality of the Lithuanian philology. The postwar time of political slogans had involved a crop of my course into its whirl less than my older friends. But even we had no doubts, that the ideological activity was more important than studies. I myself was a strong activist in my crop.
Being a student, I worked at the then State Publishing-house of Imaginative Literature almost three years, where I edited books for children under the leadership of A. Liobytė. I took pleasure in the redaction practice no less than in seminars of J. Lebedys and M. Lukšienė, philosophizing of E. Meškauskas and special course of V. Mykolaitis. At that time I also translated some books (by G. Moric and B. Polevoj). Being encouraged by my friend of a course J. Lankutis, I also tried to write reviews, but rather faintly.
Studies, then post graduate course – it was the 6th decade – the times, when aesthetics rid of the sociological captivity. We, young people, having read a lot of the central literary press, thought we came up with the most progressive idea: I noticed a response of that enthusiasm in my first published study Creation by Salomėja Nėris (Salomėjos Nėries kūryba) (1957). However, I failed to make a capital of that enthusiasm, as, being left in a Department, I had to give lectures on folklore; that science was not moving yet from the empirical point. The first fifteen years of the pedagogical work was a scandalous interval in my biography: I taught subject I did not understand, nor groped a core of it and its immense extent drove me to despair. Peculiarity and Value of Folklore (Tautosakos savitumas ir vertė) (1970) gave a certain guide for myself. Later, I also wrote a textbook of folklore (in 1982, translation into Russian in 1986), designed for the present and partially already graduated students – let it, though behind time, step into the breach of the former studies. I understand folklore firstly as a verbal art: I tried that words in my books would have some artistical suggestion as well.
A work of a lecturer takes the whole individuality: you are either a sort of pedagogue or you are nobody at all. The most interesting thing in teaching is, of course, seminars – the ground of minds communication. But they were interesting earlier. At the present time, seminars are just distress, already perhaps ten years: a student is rather afraid of publicity and does not feel mature for an independent opinion as well. The extent of a student’s aesthetical impresses is also contracting: even literature of the near past seems to him psychologically alien. My The Wonder of Žemaitė (Žemaitės stebuklą) (1988) should be understood almost as an educational work – as an invitation to discuss about the past.
So, though decades slip away among books, I receive an impulse for a certain action only from the life itself. If I do something, I do it only being forced by objective necessity. If I wrote something, I wrote only because I could not help writing.


Salomėjos Nėries kūryba 1921-1940. - Vilnius: National Fiction Publishers, 1957. 
Tautosakos savitumas ir vertė. - Vilnius: Vaga, 1970. 
Своеобразие и художественная ценность литовского фольклора: (Литовская. лит.): Автореф. дисс. на соискания учен. степени д-ра филол. наук (10.01.02). - Вильнюс: Вага, 1971.
Lietuvių tautosaka: textbook. - Vilnius: Mokslas, 1982. 
Литовский фольклор: поэзия народного творчества. - Вильнюс: Вага, 1986. 
Žemaitės stebuklas. - Vilnius: Vaga, 1988. 
Noriu suprasti: essay. - Vilnius: Vaga, 1990. 
Jurgis Savickis: XX amž. lit. šifras. - Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1994. 
Fausto amžiaus epilogas: monograph. - Vilnius: Tyto alba, 1998.

Translations from English language:
Oskaras Vaildas. Pasakos vaikams: "Lakštingala ir rožė" ir kitos pasakos.  - Vilnius: Egmont Lietuva, 2001.
Stebuklingas ragas: anglų pasakos. - Vilnius: Alma Litera, 2006.

National Culture and Art Prize Laureate of the 1998.


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