Žemaitė is a Lithuanian Virginia Woolf. She created her own self, becoming a pillar of the national literature and a source of inspiration for generations of women. ”
UN CEDAW Committee, Chairperson
Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge
Professor at Vytautas Magnus University
“In an age when women’s rights around the world are increasingly threatened, Marriage for Love: A 19th Century Lithuanian Woman’s Fight for Justice, serves as timely inspiration, showcasing how one woman successfully challenged patriarchal norms and ideologies and helped bring about change. Žemaitė was a revolutionary thinker, writer, and activist who unflinchingly depicted the plight of women and other members of the underclass through her short stories and speeches. The selection of works in Marriage for Love is admirable, serving as an excellent introduction to individuals unfamiliar with Žemaitė and deepening the knowledge of those who have been reading her for years in their native Lithuanian. The translations are masterful, no mean feat given the fact that Žemaitė wrote her short stories in a complex and colorful Lithuanian dialect. The two translators, Violeta Kelertas and Maryte Racys, are to be commended for bringing Žemaitė the wider audience she so richly deserves.”
White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life
Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University
About the Author
Violeta Kelertas is a literary critic, translator, and editor who analyzes the literary scene in Soviet and post-Soviet Lithuania. Formerly the PLB Endowed Chair of Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she is now an affiliated professor at the University of Washington. Her translations from the Lithuanian range from the poet Vytautas Mačernis’s “Visions” to the anthology of short stories, “Come into My Time: ” Lithuania in Prose Fiction 1970-1990 to a Valdas Papievis story, “Echo, or the Sieve of Time,” recently published in the July-Aug. 2019 issue of the Kenyon Review. Currently she is translating an early Papievis novel, Bryde, dealing with the partisan war after the war in Lithuania.
Maryte Racys is a librarian at the Seattle Public Library. She studied English Literature at Victoria University Toronto and completed graduate studies in Library Sciences at the University of Toronto. She has been a professional librarian in two countries for forty-five years. She completed training at the Academy of Theater Arts in Toronto, Canada and has had a lifelong interest in Eastern philosophy.
How did a penniless nineteenth-century farm woman with an alcoholic husband, seven children, and little education, living in a rural backwater of the tsarist Russian empire far from any centers of culture manage to become the initiator of literary prose fiction in the Lithuanian language and write six volumes of stories, plays, and letters? Not only that, but she also distinguished herself as a feminist activist against patriarchy, especially the centuries-long tradition of arranged marriages. During the First World War she traveled the United States for five years, giving speeches from Chicago to New Hampshire for the cause of relieving the famine and suffering of her war-torn country.