The return to Lithuania of Francesco Cataluccio.
A great expert on Eastern Europe, after many years, Francesco Cataluccio returns to Lithuania, a small nation of three million inhabitants both at the centre and on the margins of Europe. A place where nature comprises of impenetrable forests, rolling hills, sparkling rivers, lakes and lagoons as far as the eye can see, and which Thomas Mann chose as his holiday destination, amid towns where the baroque architecture competes with the clouds. A country with a natural landscape and a history that cannot easily be forgotten, and indeed a sense of nostalgia and the strong desire to return have always accompanied those forced to leave it, like the famous video maker and poet Jonas Mekas; the pre-historical scholar Marija Gimbutas or the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and Polish-language poet Czesław Miłosz.
Yet it is impossible to return: the splendid Lithuania of yesteryear is no longer, destroyed by German violence and then by Soviet dominion. The largest Jewish community in Europe was wiped out. But what survived are the extraordinary stories that people recall and the tales of larger-than-life characters, leading us across a natural and human landscape made up of shreds, signs and diehard traces.
After regaining independence in 1990, Lithuania underwent a surprising cultural development: suffice to think of the contemporary arts scene, or the magical theatre of Eimuntas Nekrošius. Lithuania is still very much waiting to be discovered.
Francesco M. Cataluccio (born 1955 in Florence) studied philosophy and then spent a long time wandering around Poland and Central Europe. He has curated the works of Witold Gombrowicz and Bruno Schulz. His books include: Immaturità. La malattia del nostro tempo (Einaudi, 2004; 2014); Vado a vedere se di là è meglio (Sellerio, 2010); Chernobyl (Sellerio, 2011); L'ambaradan delle quisquiglie (Sellerio, 2012); La memoria degli Uffizi (Sellerio, 2013); In occasione dell'epidemia (Casagrande, 2020). He contributes to Il Foglio, Il Post and doppiozero.