THE ART AND SCIENCE OF BOOKS

16th Century LITHUANIAN BOOKS

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HE FIRST LITHUANIAN BOOKS WERE PUBLISHED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 16TH CENTURY DURING THE SPREAD OF THE REFORMATION.

This new attitude towards the written word indicated a qualitative change in national consciousness and culture. The first Lithuanian book – the "Catechism" by Martynas Maþvydas (1547) – did not lag far behind the first books published in the other vernaculars of Central and Eastern Europe and even preceded some of them.
 
Because of historical circumstances, most Lithuanian books of the 16th century – twelve in all, including the first one – were published in the Duchy of Prussia, where the smaller part of the nation lived. The author of the first Lithuanian book in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Mikalojus Daukða (1595).
 
These first Lithuanian books are priceless: they are the earliest monuments of our language and culture. The importance of these 16th century books for linguistic research is indicated by the fact that they have been reprinted (from the end of the 19th century to the present) not only in Lithuania, but also in Germany, Poland, and the United States; in addition, scholars throughout the world have published numerous studies. Of the Lithuanian books published in the 16th century, only a few copies of sixteen of them have survived. The others have been lost or have not yet been found. This fate befell the sole copies of the first and second part (1566, 1570) of the hymnal by Martynas Maþvydas: they were lost during World War II. Original copies of eight 16th century Lithuanian books have been preserved in the libraries of Lithuania. Most of them are held by the Vilnius University Library. Six other unique books had been preserved in the libraries of Poland, Germany, and Sweden.

 

16th Century LITHUANIAN BOOKS

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1. Maþvydas, Martynas. CATECHISMUSA PRASTY SZADEI, MAKSLAS SKAITIMA RASCHTA... – Königsberg, H. Weinreich's printing shop,1547. – [79] pp.

The first Lithuanian book, prepared by the Lutheran priest and rector of Ragainë parish Martynas Maþvydas. This is the first primer, catechism, book of hymns in Lithuanian. The foreword "Knigieles paczias byla ..." is the first original verse in the Lithuanian language.

It is assumed that the number of copies printed was approximately between 200 and 300. Only two copies are extant and they are preserved at the Vilnius and Torun (Poland) University libraries.

Reprints:
Göttingen, 1874; Kaunas, 1922; Heidelberg, 1923; Kaunas, 1947; Chicago, 1963; Assen, 1971 ( with translation into English); Vilnius, 1974, 1993, 1995.

 

2. GIESME S. AMBRASZEIJAUS BEY S. AUGUSTINA... – Translated by MARTYNAS MAÞVYDAS.– Königsberg, H. Weinreich's printing shop,1549. – [13] pp.

The book includes three hymns. It was found by Z. Celichowski in 1897 in the binding of "Postil" (1556) by J. Seklucjan.

The only original copy is preserved at the Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kurnik.

Reprints:
Poznan, 1897, Kaunas, 1922; Heidelberg, 1923;Vilnius, 1993.

 

3. FORMA CHRIKSTIMA... / Translated from German by MARTYNAS MAÞVYDAS. – Königsberg, J. Daubmann's printing shop,1559. – [42] pp.

Description of the christening rituals, translated from German. Doubts regarding the authorship have been clarified by J. Safarewicz, who succeeded in deciphering the acrostic "Martinus Maswidas" composed of the first letters in the line in the stanzas of "Giesme duchawna".

The only copy is preserved at the Torun University Library, Poland.

Reprints:
Göttingen, 1874; Kaunas, 1922; Heidelberg, 1923; Vilnius, 1993.

 

4. Maþvydas, Martynas. GESMES CHRIKSCZONISKAS, GEDOMAS BASZNICZOSU PER ADUENTA IR KALEDAS IK GRAMNICZU. – Königsberg, J. Daubmann's printing shop,1566. – [96] pp.

The first part of the book of hymns, compiled by his cousin B. Willentas after M. Maþvydas death. Many hymns are selected from the collection by M. Luther (Geistliche Lieder, 1553), others are translated from Latin, Polish.

The only original copy existing was up to World War Two preserved at the Königsberg State Archives; it had been found there by J. Gerulis in 1921. The text of the book of hymns is now published according to the facsimile edition.

Reprints:
Kaunas, 1922; Heidelberg, 1923; Vilnius, 1993.

 

5. Maþvydas, Martynas. GESMES CHRIKSCZONISKAS, GEDOMAS BASZNICZOSU PER WELIKAS IR SEKMINIAS IK ADUENTA. – Königsberg, J. Daubman's printing shop, 1570. – [350] pp.

The second part of the book of hymns, which was also compiled by B. Willentas, a cousin of M. Maþvydas.

The only original copy of the book in existence prior World War Two was preserved at the Königsberg State Archives and had been found there by J. Gerulis in 1921. The text of the book of hymns is now published according to the facsimile edition.

Reprints:
Kaunas, 1922; Heidelberg, 1923;Vilnius, 1993.

 

6. EUANGELIAS BEI EPISTOLAS... PERGULDITAS... PER BALTRAMIEJU WILLENTA. – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1579. – 224 pp.

Part of the New Testament. Only a single copy of this book has remained and is preserved at Vilnius University Library.

Reprints:
Göttingen, 1882.

 

7. Luther, Martin. ENCHIRIDION: CATECHISMAS MASZAS... / Translated from German by BALTRAMIEJUS VILENTAS. – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1579. – [81] pp.

The translation of the so-called small catechism by M. Luther, first printed in 1575 (not retained). One (defective) copy of the 2nd edition is extant and preserved at Vilnius University Library.

Reprints:
Göttingen, 1882; Hague-Paris, 1969 ( with translation into English).

 

8. Bretkûnas, Jonas. GIESMES DUCHAUNAS... – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1589. – [142] pp.

The book of hymns compiled by the priest of Labguva (and later of Königsberg Lithuanian parish) contains 76 hymns. Most of them are selected from the M. Maþvydas book of hymns.

The only copy is preserved at the Uppsala University Library (Sweden). Photocopies and microfilms are kept in different Lithuanian libraries.

 

9. Bretkûnas, Jonas. KANCIONALAS NEKURU GIESMIU... – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1589. – [64] pp.

Collection of hymns comprising 17 texts selected from M. Maþvydas book of hymns. The only copy is preserved at the Uppsala University Library (Sweden). Photocopies and microfilms are found in different Lithuanian libraries.

10. KOLLECTAS, ALBA PASPALITAS MALDAS... / Translated from German by JONAS BRETKÛNAS. – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1589.– [32] pp.

The first prayer-book in Lithuania, composed from the selected texts of M. Maþvydas book of hymns.

The only copy is preserved at the Uppsala University Library (Sweden). Photocopies and microfilms are kept in different Lithuanian libraries.

 

11. Bretkûnas, Jonas. POSTILLA... D. 1 – 2.– Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1591. – [8] ,431 [2]; 525, [2] pp.

The first printed collection of sermons, which was of great significance for the development of the Lithuanian spoken language and the written literary style. Six copies of the "Postil" are found in Lithuania – three of them are preserved at Vilnius University Library and one in each of the following libraries: Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Library of the Institute of Literature and Folklore; and Rokiðkis Ethnographical Museum.

Only one copy preserved at the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences is without defects. Eleven copies are found abroad – nine in Poland and two in German libraries.

 

12. Ledesma, Jacobus. KATECHISMAS...– /Translated from Polish by MIKALOJUS DAUKÐA. – VILNIUS, 1595. – [108] pp.

The first Lithuanian book printed in the State of Lithuania. A catechism by the Spanish author J. Ledesma was translated by M. Daukða from Polish. The original is slightly expanded and revised by the translator with regard to the Lithuanian reader.

The only copy is preserved at the Vilnius University Library.

Reprints:
Sankt-Peterburg, 1886; Göttingen, 1929; Vilnius, 1995.

 

13. Petkevièius, Merkelis. POLSKI Z LITEWSKIM KATECHISM...– VILNIUS: M. Petkevièius publishing shop, 1598. – [4], 187, [65] p.

The first book of evangelical reformists in Lithuania. With parallel Polish and Lithuanian text. The book includes hymns translated from the works of the famous Polish poet J. Kochanowsky.

The only copy is preserved at the Landesbibliothek Gotha, Germany.

Reprints:
Kaunas, 1939.

 

14. Wujek, Jakob. POSTILLA CATHOLICKA / Translated from Polish by MIKALOJUS DAUKÐA. – VILNIUS: Akademija's publishing-house, 1599. – [10], 627 , [5] pp.

Translated from the collection of sermons by the Rector of the Vilnius Jesuit College J. Wujek. It is believed that not more than 500 copies of the book have been published.

Five copies are still intact. Four copies are preserved in Lithuania – two of them at Vilnius University Library and single copies are found at the Martynas Maþvydas National Library of Lithuania and the Library of the Institute of Literature and Folklore. One copy is found at the Vatican Library.

Reprints:
Kaunas, 1926.

 

15. Rej, Mikolaj. POSTILLA LIETUWISZKA... D. 1 – 3 / Translated from Polish by JOKÛBAS MORKÛNAS. – VILNIUS: J. Morkûnas Printing-House, 1600. – [8], 230; [2], 231 – 389; [2], 86 pp.

Translated from the postil of the famous Polish Renaissance writer and poet M. Rej. The Postil was published by J. Morkûnas, one of the most famous bookbinders in Vilnius and owner of a printing shop.

Six copies are extant. Four of them are found in Lithuania, two in each of the following libraries: Martynas Maþvydas National Library of Lithuania and Vilnius University Library. Only one (kept at the National Library) has a title page. Two more copies are found abroad – at Torun University Library, Poland; and at the Landesbibliothek Gotha, Germany.

 

16. Adamus, Francisci. MARGARITA THEOLOGICA = ZEMCZUGA THEOLOGISCHKA / Translated from German by SIMONAS VAIÐNORAS. – Königsberg: G. Osterberger's printing shop, 1600. – [28], 270 p.

Two forewords of this book are of great importance. In the foreword by Zacharijus Blotnas 'Skaititojop" ("For the Reader") the author discusses the difficult conditions of preparing Lithuanian books. The foreword of the translator Simonas Vaiðnoras is considered as the beginnings of Lithuanian literary criticism.

Three copies are retained – one in each of the following libraries: Vilnius University Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and at the Landesbibliothek Gotha, Germany.


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