Leonardas Gutauskas’s Poetry Books for Children. Reviving the Folkloric Worldview: An Authorial Style

  • Gintarė Bernotienė
Keywords: Leonardas Gutauskas, children’s poetry, illustrations, ethnic culture, intertextuality, Soviet era


The article examines the poetry books for children that Leonardas Gutauskas wrote and illustrated in the late Soviet era as a distinctive artistic phenomenon with its own evolution. In his children’s books, which resemble the livre d’artiste and differ from it only in their print runs and the printing mode, Gutauskas reveals a worldview of distinct national features, which will not go unnoticed by critics. In his original work, which relies heavily on the folklore and folk-art tradition, Gutauskas achieves an impressive harmony blending different authorial and folkloric styles. A poet and an artist at the same time, he had the opportunity to express his artistic worldview through the interconnected and complementary means of words and images and the harmonious interrelation of poetry and illustrations. These multi-layered intermedial overlaps that Gutauskas created in his texts unfold through a careful analysis of the authorial part of the text and illustrations and its constant interaction with the tradition. It enables regarding Gutauskas’s work as a meticulous process of synthesising various layers of culture, in which innovation competes with the aspiration to uphold the tradition. The reviving of the folkloric worldview is only one of the intentions that Gutauskas was committed to in his books for children. The principles of stylisation, decorativeness, and the fairy-tale quality, which come from folklore and folk art and are characteristic of his early books, are later enhanced by emphasising the elements of goodness, harmony, and beauty that transcend the framework of the ethnic tradition and are inherent in it at the same time. In Gutauskas’s later works for children, one sees more pronounced attempts to convey the ethical values of the worldview and to awaken the creative powers of the growing recipient of the books in order to harmonise the world.

Visual Art