Lithuanian Culture Institute
Lithuanian Culture Guide, Prose

Jurga Ivanauskaitė


Jurga Ivanauskaitė (1961–2007) remains one of the most loved Lithuanian writers, in spite of her untimely death. A graphic artist by training, she maintained her double vocation throughout her life, working in various fields in the visual arts, as well as writing. She made her debut with the short story collection Pakalnučių metai (Year of the Lily of the Valley) in 1985, which became the book for a whole generation, and still has a cult following. She first visited India and studied Tibetan Buddhism in 1994, which led to an important period in her work, during which she wrote her Tibetan trilogy. After that, she wrote two novels focusing more on Lithuanian realities and often painful social issues, and started writing poetry. Her last book of poems was published just days before her death, even though a few smaller pieces were published posthumously. One of her last works was a script for a film based on her earlier novels, and in 2011 a film came out based on her novel Miegančių drugelių tvirtovė (The Fortress of Dormant Butterflies). Still sorely missed by her readers and friends, Jurga Ivanauskaitė left behind a loyal readership, serious critical and academic interest, and a strong influence over literature and social life in Lithuania.

Ragana ir lietus (The Witch and The Rain). Vilnius: Vaga, 1st ed. 1993; Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2nd ed. 2002,  3rd ed. 2012. – 351 pp.

This book, which was later to be translated into six languages, caused a real stir of discontent when it first came out. The still-prudish post-Soviet society found it too daring, in terms of nudity and sexuality. It contains three main plotlines. In the first, a young woman tells her analyst about her love and passion for a celibate Catholic priest. The second is a story of a medieval witch who is locked in a dungeon. The third tells of Mary Magdalene and her love for Jesus Christ. The stories are linked thematically: a woman’s search for God through love and passion, her place in God, and her ‘right’ to God’s grace, no less than a priest’s or a monk’s. Though decried as anti-Christian and pornographic when it first appeared, the book is in fact a very deep and thorough reflection on religion and its understanding of love.

Selected translations

Russian: Bедьма и дождь. Translated by Alexandra Vasilkova. Kaliningrad: Phoca books, 2020

Macedonian: Вештерката и дождот. Translated by Gjorgji Krstevski. Скопjе: Антолог, 2016

Slovenian: Čarovnica in dež. Translated by Klemen Pisk. Maribor: Založba Pivec, 2014

Italian: La strega e la pioggia. Translated by Pietro U. Dini. Novi Ligure: Edizioni Joker, 2013

English: 108 Moons: selected poems. Translated by Paul Perry and  Rūta Suchodolskytė. Dublin: Workshop Press, TAF Publishing, 2010

Czech: Čarodějnice a dešt. Translated by Gabriela Šroubková. Praha: Mezera, 2006

Swedish: Haxan och regnet. Translated by Jonas Öhman. Stockholm: Tranan, 2005

German: Die Regenhexe. Translated by Markus Roduner. Munchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2004

Croatian: Vještica i kiša. Translated by Loreta Vasilj. Zagreb: Profil international, 2003

Estonian: Noid ja vihm. Translated by Mihkel Loodus. Tallinn: Olion, 1997

Latvian: Ragana un lietus. Translated by Talrids Rullis. Riga: Preses nams, 1994