Jaunā Gaita nr. 146, (5) 1983

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JG 146

Three members of a talented family appear in this issue: we start on page 1 with the youngest, poet Sniedze Ruņģe, who spoke at the Latvian Youth Song Festival in Cleveland. She calls on Latvians, especially young Latvians, who love to wear the traditional Latvian silver and amber jewellery, to demonstrate their commitment to their heritage by "wearing the most beautiful jewel of all - the Latvian language." Her father, Aivars Ruņģis, is the subject of an interview by Juris Mazutis, discussing the future of exile Latvian literature and exile Latvians' loss of interest in their writers. Aivars Ruņģis is a novelist, essayist, and current president of the Latvian Writers' Association (LaRA). Ruņģis was also one of the original editors of Jaunā Gaita and of the childrens' magazine Mazputniņš, and permanent editor-in-chief of the youth magazine Mēs. Sniedze's mother Valija Ruņģe completes her three-part analysis of the folk-tale types Kurbads and Lāčplēsis and discusses the literary works in which these types have appeared. Before 1920, Lāčplēsis, and to a lesser degree Kurbads, were portrayed as true mythological heroes, reaching apotheosis in Rainis' Uguns un nakts (Fire and Night) of 1910, where Lāčplēsis became a symbol of the Latvian nation. However, after World War II, Kurbads and Lāčplēsis lose their heroic qualities in the work of writers such as Dzintars Sodums, Valdis Zeps, and Baņuta Rubesa, who have turned them into tragi-comic symbols of the Latvian condition today.

Elga Rodze-Ķīsele, well-known for her political work in Australia and East Asia, argues that, despite the political freedom of Latvians in exile, their leadership attempts to impose a collective and negative way of thinking upon them, including denial of the existence of true literature in Soviet-occupied Latvia. Rodze-Ķīsele eloquently points out that Latvians in the West cannot afford to confuse the political oppressors of Latvia with its artists, who are united with their land and people, and whose "blood flows to the pulse of Eternal Latvia".

Jānis Apals continues his article on the drowned castle of Lake Āraiši, with detailed descriptions of the layout, construction techniques and interiors of the castle's buildings. Apals was the leader of the expedition to Lake Āraiši, as well as 15 other archaeological digs. His research interests are techniques of construction of ancient wood buildings and their reconstruction.

Ņina Luce marks the death this year, at age 99, of novelist Jānis Sarma, with a look at his views on art and life, as expressed in his letters to poet Erna Ķikure. Luce stresses Sarma's contribution to Latvian literature in Australia as a nurturer of young talent: "No one has tried to discover why it is that young poets and writers appeared in Melboume, where Sarma lived, but not in Sydney."

Ņina Luce also reviews Lithuanian playwright Landsbergis' play Five Posts in the Marketplace, as produced by the Latvian Theatre of Sydney, in English, in 1983, while Nora Kūla reviews the 1982 Theatre Company's productions of Brecht's In the Jungle of Cities and Aspazija's Silver Veil. Silver Veil was also reviewed by Juris Mazutis in JG 142.

Kārlis Ābele contributes the latest of his periodic synopses of exile Latvian cultural life, for the years 1981 and 1982, in music, theatre, art, and book publishing. Laimonis Mieriņš, a frequent contributor to Jaunā Gaita on the state of the visual arts in Latvia, sends a report on the Sixth International Drawing Biennale, held in Middlesborough, England, this year. 119 drawings, in the widest sense of the word, were selected from the 3500 entries. Latvian artist Boriss Bērziņš, who won second prize in the 1979 Biennale, won third prize this time for his drawing "Model on a chair" (reproduced on page 46). "Mother's portrait" by Miervaldis Polis was also shown at the Biennale.

Art editor Nikolajs Bulmanis introduces JG readers to Imants Tillers, a young artist from Australia, whose work has already received international notice. In 1981, Tillers published, in English and Chinese, a book called Three Facts. Any coherent description of the book is impossible here, but Bulmanis' summary of it certainly arouses curiosity! In conjunction with the work of Tillers, Bulmanis discusses the conceptualist art movement of recent years. Bulmanis also reports that the work of exile Latvian artists finally seems to be getting recognition in Rīga - works by Tīdemanis, Strunke, Liberts, Tone, Milts, Vidbergs, and Geistaute were seen in the Latvian State Art Museum's show of new acquisitions this past summer, and the work of Raimonds Slaidiņš (USA and Saudi Arabia) was displayed in the Architects' Building.

Imants Zilberts contributes a bibliography of reviews and articles about Sandra IkšeBergmane, the young art weaver presented in JG 145. Imants Sakss discusses some of the suggestions put forward at the first Latvian Music Camp this summer in New York State, while Juris Mazutis compares life and the Latvian exile community to a range of hills and valleys in his column "Travels - A Diary".

Poetry in this issue is by Aina Kraujiete (USA) and Vizma Belševica (Latvia). The frontispiece is a painting by the highly respected painter Augusts Annus, who this year celebrated his 90'th birthday. The cover is by Ilze Raudsepa.


Ilze Valdmane

Jaunā Gaita