Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas

In the Shadow of Altars

    In 1931 during vacation in Nice (France) V.Mykolaitis-Putinas had written the first two parts of his most important work - a novel "In the Shadow of Altars" (The three parts of the novel was published in 1933). At that time this was the greatest literary and public sensation, because the novel was written by a talented writer and was based on his personal drama. However, the novel is not an autobiography of V. Mykolaitis-Putinas. In his autobiography the author wrote about the main hero of the novel Vasaris: "I do not deny that there is a strong spiritual resemblance between Vasaris and myself - similar thoughts, doubts, some life parallels, but that is all... The life of Vasaris is similar to mine only in very few details".
    The novel "In the Shadow of Altars" realistically describes the process of emotional and intellectual maturation of a creative personality, talks about important issues of spiritual life. The central figure of the novel is a poet and a priest Vasaris. The contents of the novel consists of the psychological analyses of his personality. Vasaris has a tender soul, he is a dreamer full of poetic inspiration, an idealist who hates hypocrisy and could not bare the limited obligations of a priest. He tortures himself by understanding that his poetical gift does not match his assumed duties and that he cannot learn about real life. From the studies in the seminary he feels that his nature resists the vocation of a priest, but lacks will to sever the links with priesthood at once.
    The novel "In the Shadow of Altars" had started a new route in the history of a Lithuanian novel. Putinas has created a complex psychological image of an intellectual character, in a simple and natural form has written a work of high integrity and has shaken the limited folklorism and wandering formalism from the Lithuanian literature. "In the Shadow of Altars" still remains one of the best psychological novels in Lithuanian literature.