Jaunā Gaita nr. 104, 1975

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JG 104

Throughout its publishing history, Jaunā Gaita has often been the first to introduce young artists and writers to a wider Latvian audience. In this issue the editors are pleased to present the work of sculptor Minjona Kļaviņa (frontispiece). She has already won numerous awards, has exhibited in U.S, galleries, and is listed in Who's Who of American Women and International Who's Who in Art and Antiques; hopefully, Latvian art lovers will also come to know and appreciate her work.

Art of another era is discussed in the concluding section of Jānis Siliņš' monograph on Ansis Cīrulis and his place in 20th century Latvian art. Prof. Siliņš, whose knowledge of Latvian art history is unequaled, published his first article about Cīrulis 50 years ago; the monograph was already completed in 1943 and, with minor changes by the author, is now being published for the first time by Jaunā Gaita. Prof. Siliņš writes: „To Cīrulis, art and craft were inseparable. It seems as if in him had been reincarnated that kind of artist of past centuries who grew up in workshops and there acquired mastery of everything..." And „All of Cīrulis' art represents passionate longing for some idealized country, better and more spiritual than ordinary reality." Consequently, Cīrulis turned to ancient Latvian mythology for his symbols, creating his own special iconography of Latvian divinities and blending myth and contemporary reality in his paintings. Prof. Siliņš traces many influences Byzantine, early Italian Renaissance, and modern - in Cīrulis' technique, and emphasizes the unique beauty, warmth, and virtuosity of his oeuvre.

The same gods that Cīrulis painted have been the subject of lifelong scholarly research by Dr. Haralds Biezais; his latest book, Die himmlische Götterfamilie der alten Letten, is criticized rather harshly here by Vaira Viķe-Freiberga in „Syncretism and Ancient Latvian Religion," Dr. Biezais believes that Latvian folklore, especially the folksongs (dainas), contains a wealth of material for studies in comparative religion. Freiberga, who has studied and analyzed the dainas extensively (see, for example JG 102 and Mosaic IV), pays due respect to Dr. Biezais' scholarship and erudition, but disagrees with some of his interpretations. She argues that many Biezais' conclusions about the nature of ancient Latvian divinities and pagan and Christian elements in the dainas are, at best, debatable, and his definiton of religious syncretism vague and imprecise.

The third and last installment of Rolfs Ekmanis' detailed analysis of the literary scene in Latvia 1973 includes poetry, prose, drama, the literature of travel, and attitudes in Latvia toward literature written in exile. Ekmanis believes that the most successful, artistically, new books of poetry published in 1973 are those by three already well known writers - Olga Lisovska, Vitauts Ļūdēns, and Jānis Peters, and analyzes at some length the intensely personal, lyrical quality of resignation in Lisovska's poems and the blending of past and present in the work of Ļūdēns and Peters. Among prose works, he singles out two especially successful biographical novels - Antons Stankēvičs' recreation of the life of playwright and short story writer Rūdolfs Blaumanis and Saulcerīte Viese's retelling of the early life of poet Jānis Rainis.

In the theatre sections, Ņina Luce traces parallels in the tragedies of Mārtiņš Zīverts and Jean Anouilh, emphasizing analysis of the tragedy of tyranny in Antigone and Vara. Kārlis Freimanis interviews Imants Sveilis about various aspects of theatre.

The poets whose work appears in this issue are already well known to readers of Jaunā Gaita - Velta Toma, Ingrīda Vīksna, Baiba Rirdāne, Margita Gūtmane, and Lalita Muižniece. Is it significant that all the poetry (as well as Laima Kalniņa's weird and beautiful stream-of-consciousness story, „Legend of the Golden Butterfly"), were written by women? The reader must draw his oun conclusions; but he might note something similar in the passionate emotional quality in Rirdāne and Muižniece; and that Toma, Vīksna, and Gūtmane use somewhat related symbols and allusions from the literary tradition, which they transpose to modern life and experience.

As most of JG readers know, the publication of several controversial articles in the 100th anniversary issue caused something of a scandal. Therefore, in this issue JG is publishing a number of cartoons that indicate the various ways in which people have viewed the controversy surrounding JG.

The cover is by Laimonis Mieriņš.


I. Š.-L.

Jaunā Gaita