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Balys Sruoga

Balys Sruoga (1896-1947) was a well-known Lithuanian poet, playwright, and literary critic. Sruoga ranks among the premier stylists of the Lithuanian language, and his work has a natural, easy poetry about it. It is colloquial and idiomatic with a folksy flavour.

Sruoga contributed to cultural journals from his early youth. His works were published by the liberal wing of the Lithuanian cultural movement, and also in various Lithuanian newspapers and other outlets. In 1914 he began studying literature in St. Petersburg, Russia, and later in Moscow, due to World War I and the Russian Revolution. In 1921 he enrolled in the University of Munich, where in 1924 he received his PhD for a doctoral thesis on Lithuanian folklore.

After returning to Lithuania, Sruoga taught at the University of Lithuania, and established a theatre seminar that eventually became a course of study. He also wrote various articles on literature. From 1930 he began writing dramas. In 1939 he began teaching at Vilnius University. In 1943, then professor of Vilnius University, he was deported to Stutthof concentration camp (along with other professors, under the charge of campaigning students against joining the Reich troops). Having returned from Stutthof, he wrote a fictional memoir book Forest of the Gods what would not only become a heart stirring document but also one of the finest specimens of Lithuanian prose.

Sruoga’s health never recovered after Stutthof, and he died in 1947.

Balys Sruoga