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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 31, Issue 1, 2003

Dalia Satkauskytė
Pages 261-268

The myth of the nation of poets and mass poetry in Lithuania

There are two problems discussed in the article. The first one is the phenomenon of mass literature and semiotic approach to it. According to Lotman, mass literature of the 20th (and 21st) centuries is not so much an object of semiotics as of sociology. However, it is possible to consider mass literature of earlier times as an object of semiotics of culture. Lotman discusses Russian mass literature of the 18th and 19th centuries as such an object in the article “Massovaya literatura kak istoriko-kulturnaya problema”. Considering mass literature a dynamic factor of the semiotic system, Lotman distinguishes its main features: a high degree of automatization and syndrome of retardedness. In the second part of the article the author discusses the phenomenon of mass poetry in contemporary Lithuania. This kind of mass literature is much more similar to the phenomenon discussed by Lotman than to the mass literature of the postmodernist epoch. Lithuanian mass poetry employs the codes of national romanticism (the end of 19th century) and considers itself an ignored part of high culture. This sort of poetry unknown to Western societies exhibits archaising tendencies in the modern postsoviet culture.

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