National Reading of "On the Niemen" by Eliza Orzeszkowa in Vilnius

A National Reading Day was held on Thursday at the 'Sakwa' café in Vilnius, which is run by the local Polish community. Around 60 people took part in the reading of Eliza Orzeszkowa's novel Nad Niemnem (“On the Niemen”), organised by the Polish Institute and the Polish Embassy in Vilnius.

"It brings warmth to one's heart when looking at the pages of this book, when one realises that here in Vilnius, we are about 200 kilometres away from the place where the action of the novel takes place", Polish Ambassador to Lithuania Konstanty Radziwill told journalists.

The reading of excerpts from the novel On the Niemen was preceded by a lecture by Dr Irena Fedorowicz of Vilnius University on Eliza Orzeszkowa and her connections with Vilnius. Among other things, Orzeszkowa was the founder of a bookshop and publishing house in the city; while living in Grodno, she often attended theatre performances in Vilnius, and she was also invited to give lectures there.

"She felt at home here. We know that when she came to Vilnius, she was provided with horses and a carriage, this was provided by Count Tyszkiewicz, so that she could move freely around Vilnius," Dr Fedorowicz pointed out.

During her last stay in Vilnius in 1909, the writer decided to donate her manuscript legacy to the collection of the Society of Friends of Science in Vilinius, of which she was a co-founder. Currently, part of this collection is kept in the Vilnius Library of the Wróblewski Academy of Sciences of Lithuania, and another part is kept in the Historical Archives.

A tradition of the Vilnius edition of the National Reading Day is the participation of the Polish Theatre "Studio" in Vilnius. This time, too, the reading of On the Niemen was initiated by the actors.

National Reading Day has been held in Vilnius for almost 10 years and is very popular. The event is also organised by individual Polish schools and Polish communities.

The National Reading Day campaign has been organised since 2012 on the initiative of the President of Poland.

source: Polish Press Agency (PAP), Aleksandra Akińczo