Kazys Boruta Collection
Kazys Boruta (1905-1965) was a famous Lithuanian novelist, poet and translator. The Kazys Boruta collection holds various documents: his diaries, correspondence and manuscripts. The documents illustrate the situation of the writer in Soviet Lithuania. The government tried various means to control and restrict the writer’s creative initiatives. During the period of Stalinism, Boruta was arrested, accused of collaborating with bourgeois nationalists, and imprisoned. After he was released, he had problems publishing his work.
10308 Vilnius Antakalnio gatvė 6 , Lithuania
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Name of collection
- Kazys Boruta Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection holds documents (manuscripts, correspondence, diaries) by the well-known Lithuanian writer, poet and translator Kazys Boruta. Boruta was not only a talented writer, he was also a social critic and activist. In 1968, his daughter Eglė Borutaitė-Makariūnienė and his third wife Elga Borutienė gave part of his personal papers to the Institute of Lithuanian Language and Literature. In 1990, the Lithuanian government reorganised it, and the Kazys Boruta collection became part of the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore.
During the interwar period, he criticised Lithuania's political regime sharply. He was close to various leftist organisations, was arrested, and even had to emigrate. At the beginning of the Soviet regime, Boruta enthusiastically welcomed it.
Afterwards, however, his relations with the Soviet regime during the Stalinist period were complicated and tense. His famous novel Baltaragio malūnas (The Mill of Baltaragis), published in 1945, was strongly criticised for its 'mysticism' and its ignorance of the Soviet reality. (All printed copies were destroyed by the government.) In 1946, Boruta was asked to sign an underground proclamation, together with other artists, disapproving of Lithuania's occupation. Although he did not sign it, he was arrested in 1946 for the counter-revolutionary crime of 'knowing but not informing' the authorities about the activities of the Lithuanian underground movement. He was sentenced to five years. But with the help of Justas Paleckis, Antanas Venclova and his second wife Jadvyga Čiurlionytė Borutienė, he was not deported from Lithuania, and was released from prison in 1949. Boruta was ignored by the regime, and had a lot of problems publishing his work. His situation started to change slowly after Stalin's death, during the period of de-Stalinisation.
During the Soviet period, the Lithuanian intelligentsia appreciated Boruta’s work for the folk themes and topics he used in his poems and novels. On the other hand, as a Lithuanian cultural activist, he was an example of the rebellious artist, who protested against different political regimes for artistic autonomy and creativity.
Description of content
Most of the documents in the collection are manuscripts of novels, poems and articles, and correspondence with various people, such as writers and officials. The manuscript section has 1,260 document units in the Kazys Boruta fund (no. 59). The most important part of the collection is the manuscript of the novel ‘The Mill of Baltaragis’ and a fictionalised biography of the prominent Lithuanian sculptor Vincas Grybas (1890–1941) Sunkūs paminklai (Heavy Monuments). (Grybas is known for his monuments to the famous Lithuanian cultural activists Simonas Daukantas, Vincas Kudirka, and others. He supported the Soviet regime in 1940, and was murdered by the Nazis in 1941.) Both novels have many editorial comments and corrections made by the Soviet censors, because neither met the standards of Socialist Realism. One more important document in the Boruta collection is the writer’s diary. It reflects the complicated situation of the rebellious artist in the Soviet regime, who tried to protect his personal and creative autonomy.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Borutaitė-Makariūnienė, Eglė (ed.) Susitikimai su Kaziu Boruta [Meetings with Kazys Boruta]. In Lithuanian. Vilnius: Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla, 2005. Book
Author(s) of this page
- Sirutavičius, Vladas
Gasiliūnas, Virginijus , interview by Sirutavičius, Vladas , Grybkauskas, Saulius, August 17, 2016, March 28, 2017, November 03, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection