20th-century Baltic Drama: Comparative Paradigms


  • Benedikts Kalnačs Literatūras, folkloras un mākslas institūts, Latvijas Universitāte, Rīga




Estonian literature, Latvian literature, Lithuanian literature, Baltic drama, postcolonial criticism


The paper pays attention to the issues of commensurability in the development of 20th-century Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literatures. It focuses upon thematic and aesthetic patterns of Baltic drama during this time period which is further subdivided into two parts, the first and the second half of the 20th century. The discussion about the genesis of Baltic drama during the late 19th, early 20th century is followed by an analysis of the impact of the nation states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania upon the institutionalization and development of drama and theatre during the 1920s and 1930s. Special attention is then paid to the notion of socialist realism as the ideological tool of Soviet influence in its most radical form imposed on the Baltic countries during the 1940s and 1950s. The return of realism in Baltic drama from the second half of the 1950s onwards as well as the impact of more contemporary literary trends such as existentialism and the theatre of the absurd present since the late 1960s are also addressed, and the paper briefly touches upon postmodernism and postdramatic theatre as experienced by Baltic cultures during the turn of the 21st century. Alongside similar patterns of development, aesthetic specificity of each particular culture observable during this time period is also discussed. In the final part of the paper, theoretical generalizations of the development of Baltic drama in the context of postcolonial criticism are provided.


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