Jaunā Gaita nr. 263. ziema 2010

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JG 263


GUNARS SALIŅŠ (1924-2010) shed the mortal coil this summer, to go, as Latvians say, Beyond the Sun. We feature a selection of his poetry, followed by remembrances and words of homage from his fellow writers Baiba Bičole, Kārlis Vērdiņš, Jānis Krēsliņš, Sr., Uldis Bērziņš and Sniedze Ruņģe. Saliņš was a central figure of the Hell’s Kitchen group of Latvian exile artists and writers, who, in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, never lost touch with their Latvianness even while drawing inspiration from the loud cosmopolitan contrasts of New York City. Never before published photographs by Gunārs Janaitis show Saliņš and artist Fridrichs Milts revisiting Hell’s Kitchen on a very grey day in 1989. In the poem “Eat of me, drink of me” (translated into English by his daughter, singer Laila Saliņa), Saliņš speaks of a place... where one no longer treasures / mere trifles and farewells, / but only death’s pleasures.



  • Poet and translator Ingmāra Balode (“I Do not Write Obituaries”) pays eloquent homage to Saliņš and also to another exile poet, Olafs Stumbrs (1931-1996), whose earthly remains were interred in his family plot in a cemetery in Rīga last summer.

  • In a separate article Balode comments on the life and art of Kurts Fridrihsons (1911-1991), as revealed in his personal letters to his wife from a Soviet labor camp (1951-1956), selected and published by Gundega Repše, one of Latvia’s foremost prose writers.

  • Having, in the previous issue, reviewed the attitudes of Latvian writers in the West toward the writings of their colleagues in Russian-occupied Latvia, Eva Eglāja-Kristsone, in part VIII of her serialized study of Latvian cultural contacts across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, looks at official Soviet attitudes toward exile literature.

  • Rolfs Ekmanis comments on a voluminous collection of studies on literary and cultural contacts among the three Baltic nations, edited by Benedikts Kalnačs at the University of Latvia Institute for Literature, Folklore and Art.

  • How to teach history to secondary school students − didactically, so as to strengthen national identity? Or analytically, so as to develop critical thinking? Aldis Austers reports on current practice in Latvia and in other countries in Europe, and recommends discussion of reform.

  • Mummery − celebration involving elaborate masks and costumes − is an important part of Latvian folk custom. Juris Šlesers reports and comments on a recent study of the subject by Aīda Rancāne.


  • Interviewed by Sarma Muižniece-Liepiņa, our art editor Linda Treija reveals, among other things, that, as of this fall, she has been elected Chair of the Association of Latvian Artists in America.

  • Three of Linda’s paintings are reproduced in color as well as an abstraction by Jānis Kalmīte. Black and white photographs by Uldis Briedis commemorate the renewal, 20 years ago, of national freedom in Latvia. Six full-figure character portraits of ordinary citizens of the town of Kuldīga are from a set of 40 taken by Modris Rubenis, also some 20 years ago. According to Vilnis Auziņš, Head of Latvia’s Photography Museum, Rubenis’ documentary photography, underappreciated during Soviet rule, is now finding popular acclaim in a touring exhibit organized by FotoForma. The cover design by Indra Ekmane depicts participants at the 10th Latvian Youth Song and Dance Festival in Riga, July 2010.


  • Uldis Siliņš’ memoir of life in Displaced Persons Camp, Alt-Garge, Germany in 1945, “Looking Back with a Smile”, contains excerpts about camp life from the British and German press.

  • Rolfs Ekmanis in his appreciation of Tony Judt (1948-2010) accents the British-born historian’s prediction that the 21st century will be neither the Chinese, nor the American Century, but the Century of Europe, also, Judt’s view that the US, in order to survive, must move towards a more egalitarian European model.

  • The Marginalia section contains the usual kaleidoscopic compendium of news shorts, carefully selected to be relevant to all Latvians the world over.

  • The featured discussion in the Kiberkambaris section, “Stockholm Syndrome and George Soros”, tries to come to grips with the fact that Latvia has been and continues to be subject to powerful foreign influences, some for the worse, and some for the better.


  • Ilze Jansone’s Insomnia, a novel that promotes understanding of homosexuality in contemporary Latvia – reviewed by Aina Siksna

  • Leons Briedis’ collection of poetry Viļņi tuksnesī (Waves in the Desert) – Juris Silenieks

  • Lidija Dombrovska’s novel Aurorā pa Austrāliju (Australian Travel by “Aurora”) – Juris Silenieks

  • Vilis Vītols’ Savējiem: Pārdomas, pieredze, atziņas (To My Compatriots: Reflections, Experience, Observations), lessons on how to live right – Astra Roze

  • W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, translated from the German by Silvija Ģibiete – Heini Dubre

  • Journal of Baltic Studies (June 2010) – Gundars Ķeniņš Kings.

Jaunā Gaita