Monuments of old Lithuanian writing
About authors and their works:
Catechism published in 1547 in Konigsberg by Martynas Mažvydas became the first Lithuanian book containing the first original Lithuanian poetical text and music. One of the two known exemplars in the world (stored at Vilnius University and Torun (Poland) University libraries). The XVI c.Catechism was written purely for education purposes. It was intended to spread literacy and Lithuanian word in all strata of society.
Jonas Bretkūnas is considered one of most important authors of Lithuanian writing. We would not err in affirming that J. Bretkūnas‘ works prepared the soil for Kristijonas Donelaitis’ writing. The so called Postilla was the first half original work of Lithuanian literature. In it J. Bretkūnas included his own sermons as well as works of most famous protestant theologians. The book discloses the idea of humility, presents the system of castes, it also teaches how to be obedient to your Lord.
Mikalojus Daukša – is the progenitor of Lithuanian writing: he was a well educated humanist of XVI c., he knew excellently the Latin language, and made career as a clergyman. The purport of M. Daukša‘s writings may be related to the Catholic Reform and by its content it did not differ from religious texts. Nevertheless M. Daukša‘s Katechismas arba mokslas kiekvienam krikščioniui privalus is exceptional by its language and patriotic ideas.
Konstantinas Sirvydas (Širvydas) is considered to be the first Lithuanian linguist .of merit in XVII c.: he was the best proficient in Lithuanian language. In 1629 the dictionary Trijų kalbų žodynas (Dictionarium trium linguarum) was issued. It is important to note that with this dictionary the author introduced into the literary language words created by the author himself as well as by other authors and they are being used up to now: e.g. mokytojas (a teacher), gydytojas (a physician), iškalba (eloquence), pratarmė (preface). Daniel Klein is well known for his first printed grammar of the Lithuanian language written in 1653 - (Grammatica Litvanica). The author states in his introduction that it is easier to learn Lithuanian grammar by practice rather than theoretically. D. Klein showed that the same features of grammatical system are characteristic to both Greek and Latin languages therefore the Lithuanian language is not an exception in this context.
Jonas Jaknavičius was a Jesuit associate of K. Sirvydas. He was well known for his cultural activities unfortunately he has not left any publication by his name. The book Lenkiškos ir lietuviškos evangelijos (Ewangelie polskie y litewskie) – the oldest 1647 edition has been attributed to him.
Mykolas Olševskis issued a book Broma atverta ing viečnastį (Gates opened to the eternity) in 1753. The first edition of this collection of sermons was printed in 1753 at Vilnius Franciscan printing house (with Latin dedication), and the second in 1759 at the Jesuit Academy printing house. Until 1851 this book has been reissued 17 times. It was also translated into the Polish language Brama otwarta do wieczności which had also several editions.
Mykolas Pranciškus Karpavičius – an outstanding XVIII c. preacher of the Republic of Lithuania and Poland, who churned out trenchant speeches to the tribunal, judges as well as to the whole public. In his Pamokslai (Sermons) he advocated theories of natural law and public contract and, emphasized the importance of education and religion to the reformation of society.
Simonas Stanevičius may be considered one of the outstanding cultural figures of is XIX c. – the classic of fable genre. Šešios pasakėčios (Six fables) – the book published in 1829 would be the one to reflect the style and talent of S. Stanevičius as a fable writer.