Jaunā Gaita nr. 160, decembris 1986
This issue contains the debuts, outside Latvia, of 2 promising young writers. Eva Rubene is the first Latvian author I have encountered to use an uncompromisingly "punk" idiom in prose, as seen in her story "Three days of freedom" initially published in Literatūra un Māksla in 1983. The story is a chronicle of the degradation and amorality of a young person's daily life. It hits the innocent reader like a fist in the stomach, and one wonders how much of it reflects current realities in the Soviet Union. Rimants Ziedonis (yes, the son of Imants Ziedonis) writes in an idiom equally as contemporary as Eva Rubene's. His poetry, thank goodness, is not shocking, but full of insights delivered in an ironic, introspective, yet pleasantly accessible style.
This issue also features a story on the fates of 2 veterans of the Vietnam War, by Henrijs Moors, a short fantasy by Lolita Gulbe (Canada), and poetry by Astrīde Ivaska, Aina Kraujiete, and Pēteris Cedriņš (all USA).
Edīte Zuzena contributes a fine study of Aleksandrs Čaks' love poetry (to be concluded in the next issue), attempting to find the relation between his poetry and life, searching for Čaks' real meaning in the line "and I shall always love / But it will be my own love - I crave eternity." Was Čaks craving for "eternity" a desire for an idealized, absolute Love, in the manner of Rainis, or a wish to find a true mate, a woman who would be his equal and his complement in intellect and sensibility? Zuzena concludes that the latter is the case, and that Čaks did, indeed, find this woman in the person of Milda Grīnfelde.
Another literary portrait in this issue is that of physician, journalist, essayist, and poet Jānis Liepiņš, contributed by Mārtiņš Lasmanis. Liepiņš is concerned with Latvia's "demographic problem", the accepted Soviet euphemism for the tragic decline in Latvia's native population, and with a healthy style of life. Critics have accused Liepiņš of selfrighteousness, but Lasmanis argues that Liepiņš' work displays freshness of thought, deep integrity, and a genuine concern for the welfare of his countrymen.
In our last issue we covered the recent Song Festival in Toronto, Canada. Osvalds Liepa continues in this issue, commenting on the spontaneous singing of "Pūt, vējiņi" at the end of the main concert (which has been turned into a minor scandal by the Latvian press), on the political style of Tālivaldis Kronbergs, and on the play that was commissioned by the festival from Anšlavs Eglītis. Tālivaldis Ķiķauka contributes a brief portrait of his exceptional father, Prof. Pēteris Ķiķauka (1886-1966), whose speciality was the poetry of ancient Lesbos, and who achieved world-wide recognition for his studies in this field. The first part of Prof. Ķiķauka's autobiographical essay, describing his childhood in a railway worker's family, is presented in this issue.
Ivars Lindbergs notes the 20'th anniversary of the founding of the "Little Theatre" of San Francisco, and discusses its contribution to Latvian theatre, as well as the highlights of its 26 productions. The "soul" of the group for its 20 years has been actor and director Laimonis Siliņš, who also works professionally in American theatre.
Imants Sakss notes the 80'th birthday of choral conductor Haralds Mednis, while Nikolajs Bulmanis describes the recent exhibition of the work of Džemma Skulme and Juris Dimiters (both from Latvia) near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although the exhibition consisted mainly of the work of these 2 artists, it also had 4 paintings by Skulme's father Oto Skulme, photographs of her mother Marta Skulme's sculpture, and 5 paintings by Ojārs Ābols, providing a family context for the 2 featured artists. Bulmanis criticizes several aspects of the display, particulary the unlikely pairing, for presumably commercial reasons, of 2 painters of such distinct styles, simply because they happen to be mother and son. Bulmanis praises the artistic integrity and quality of both artists' work, but the work of Skulme seems to have made a much deeper impression on him - he describes her main subject, simple yet monumentally powerful female figures, as "an archetypal symbol of Latvian survival...at the same time contemporary and folkloristic, the quintessence of timelessness."
Ēriks Pārups continues his series on the Latvian resistance during the Second World War, defining the terms and limits of resistance, and describing the total lack of preparation by the Latvian government for the likely eventuality of a Soviet occupation, leaving the Latvian people unaware of what was taking place and unprepared for any organized underground resistance. He documents the traitorous complicity of the Latvian military elite in secretly joining the German military establishment, allowing the Germans to exploit Latvian hatred of the Communist for their own ends.
The cover of this issue is by Ilmārs Rumpēters. Jaunā Gaita gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Jānis and Hilda Mieriņš foundation toward the purchase of the computer system used in setting page 1 of this issue and this column.