Lithuanian Futurism

Žvilgiai nuo kalno [Glimpses from the mountain].

Kaunas: Išleido “Vėtra” Studentų Literatų Ratelis, 1930. Octavo (17.5 × 12.7 cm). Original pictorial wrappers (unattributed); 71, [1] pp. About very good; very light staining and wear to overlapping wrapper edges and spine extremities.

First and only book by the author, with a highly appealing understated typographic cover design, possibly by the author himself. Pranas Kasperavičius (1912–1938) was a prodigy born in the Northern Lithuanian village Meldiniai (population fewer than 200). Born into the family of a local farmer who had some experience in the book trade, Kasperavičius finished school at sixteen, while attending gatherings of the Panevėžys literary circle “Meno kuopa,” led by Matas Grigonis and Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė. A scholarship later allowed him to study Lithuanian philology in Kaunas. During this time, he was not interested in joining already existing poetic movements, where writers such as Kazys Inčiūra, Antanas Venclova, and others were already exploring their creative powers. Kasperavičius founded his own literary movement, “Vėtra” (“The Storm”), which published the present work.

In this experimental book, Kasperavičius used emergent poetic elements to describe what he saw and felt in and outside of his native village. He saught for maximally expressive means in order to conflate his monotonous village life experience with the new, modern energetic city life. He relies not only on rhythmic asymmetry and on using letters to shape sculptures and figures, but also draws on typographic symbols to convey images: dots for dripping water, elongated dashes for the wind. This book might be a small step for world avant-garde poetry, but it is a giant leap for an eighteen-year-old Lithuanian poet from the Meldiniai thorp. 

Kasperavičius was outraged by the lack of interest in his book and found himself unable to continue on the career of a poet. He studied veterinary medicine and, after stays in Riga and Vienna, returned to his native village. Shortly after his return to Lithuania, Kasperavičius took a severe hit to the head from a Nazi soldier: he had refused to return the greeting “Heil Hitler!” This beating further exacerbated existing mental illness and several years later, at age 26, the Lithuanian village futurist committed suicide.

According to the Lithuanian National Library, one of 1000 copies printed. Not in Jankevičiūtė, Lietuvos grafika (The Graphic Arts in Lithuania, 1918–1940). As of May 2020, we cannot locate any copies outside of Lithuania via KVK, OCLC.

Book ID: 50723

Price: $1,250.00