Dialogues of Henrikas Nagys with the younger generation of Lithuanian post-war exile poets

  • Manfredas Žvirgždas
Keywords: Exile; Žemininkai; Conflict of generations; Poetry; Patriotism; Existentialism; Solidarity


The poet of Lithuanian post-war exile in Canada, a member of the Žemininkai group Henrikas Nagys (1920-1996) was a controversial personality; until the 1960s he participated in the congresses of diaspora liberal intellectuals, introduced the aesthetics of Western Modernism and Existentialism to the younger audience. On the other hand, he emphasized the importance of linguocentric patriotism and the poet’s responsibility in the face of history. Nagys’ sister Liūnė Sutema and his friend Algimantas Mackus belonged to the later generation of Lithuanian exiles who directly experienced the crisis of identity and preferred the freedom of individual expression to declarations of collective solidarity. “The generation of outsiders” paid much attention to the mythological dimension of language, motives of folklore, a pessimist view of diaspora’s future, and catastrophist presentiments of history breaking in two. Conservative strategies of culture were essential to Nagys: he stressed the imperatives of memory-awakening, the intellectual mobilization of community, and the canonization of literary heroes.