Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.
I remember those times a little, they were my very earliest childhood memories. The very first memory was probably from... the funeral of Pranas Mašiotas, the children’s writer. He was a well known children’s writer and educator. His funeral was arranged by the Ministry of Education and I, still a small child but already familiar with Mašiotas' work like many children in those times, attended his funeral. I remember that. That was the first quite strong impression that I had experienced: a body laid out, funeral music, dimmed lights, and, alongside that, I was told that this was Pranas Mašiotas, a very well known children’s writer, which I already had somewhat... about whom I had already heard... some of his stories had already been read to me. In fact, that was when I learned to read. I learned quite early on – at the age of three. I was taught by Eglė, the daughter of the writer Kazys Boruta, a friend of my father’s. She still lives in Vilnius and is a well known physicist, several years older than me. She already knew how to read and used to come and play with me and taught me how to read while playing with me. My father and mother always used to remember how I was able to read the signs ’hairdresser’, ‘baker’ when I went out into the street, and they were amazed that I could read those signs.
Jau tuos laikus aš jau truputį atsimenu, tai mano patys ankstyviausi vaikystės atsiminimai. Pats pirmasis atsiminimas turbūt iš... Prano Mašioto, vaikų rašytojo, laidotuvių. Jis buvo žinomas vaikų rašytojas, pedagogas. Jį pašarvojo švietimo ministerijoje, ir aš dar mažas vaikas, bet jau pažįstamas su Mašioto kūryba, kaip daugelis tais laikasi vaikų, tose jo laidotuvėse dalyvavau. Tą atsimenu, man tai buvo pirmas toks gana stiprus įspudis – pašarvotas žmogus, gedulinga muzika, pritemdytos šviesos, o be to man pasakė, kad čia Pranas Mašiotas, labai žinomas vaikų rašytojas, kurį aš jau šiek tiek... apie jį jau buvau girdėjęs, jau kažkokie jo apsakymėliai man buvo skaityti. Tada aš, tiesa, ir pats išmokau skaityti. Išmokau labai anksti – trejų metų amžiaus. Išmokė mane skaityti Kazio Borutos rašytojo, tėvo bičiulio, dukra Eglė, kuri ir dabar gyvena Vilniuje ir yra gerai žinoma fizikė, už mane keleriais metais vyresnė. Ji jau mokejo skaityti, ateidavo su manimi žaisti ir bežaisdama išmokė skaityti. Tėvas ir mama visada prisimindavo kaip aš išėjęs į gatvę skaitydavau iškabas ‘kirpykla, kepykla’ ir jie labai nustebo, kad aš moku perskaityti tas iškabas.
Title: Memories of Pranas Mašiotas's funeral and of learning to read
Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.