Jaunā Gaita nr. 218, septembris 1999

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JG 218

The staff and readers of JG are proud to join Prof. Rolfs Ekmanis, JG's Editor-in-Chief in congratulating Prof. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (L'Universitē de Montreal) on her election as President of Latvia. She is the first woman to be a head-of-state in Eastern Europe. In his editorial column, Nota Bene, Prof. Ekmanis notes that since 1972, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has published more than 30 articles in JG and served on its editorial board for many years. This issue (JG218 ) features her analysis of the image of the scorching sun in Latvian folk songs, part of Prof. Vīķe-Freiberga's not yet completed study, The Meteorological Sun, which is the third and final volume in her sun trilogy.

In `he prose section. Laima Kalniņa (USA) accomplishes the impossible! Her short story in emotionally charged episodes (some only a sentence or two in length) traces the life-path of a Latvian woman from childhood to later years in the USA. A final hint of a Buddhist-style rebirth as a man completes this brilliantly sketched cycle. The poetry section features work by Juris Rozītis (Sweden), Velta Sniķere (UK) and Ilze Binde (Latvia).

A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Anger (1995) by Agate Nesaule won the American Book Award and has been published in six languages. Nesaule, in her interview by Ilze Šīmane and Auseklis Zaļinskis, describes the complex origins of her book, its focus on mother/daughter relationships, especially in traumatic wartime conditions. She concludes with warm praise for the experimental dramatization of her book, as directed by Sniedze Runģe. Nesaule's autobiography, Dagmāra Ķimele's and Gunta Strautmane's Asja and Vizma Belševica's Bille were analyzed by Sandra Sebre (USA, now Latvia) in the context of post-modem and feminist literary theory. All three are haunted by childhood memories of being unloved and distant from their mothers. Perhaps because of this upbringing, all survived to be active, strong women.

By what standards can a reader judge political autobiographies? This is the dilemma confronting Israeli journalist Frank Gordon, in his evaluation of Mavriks Vulfsons' career and personal memoir Cards on the Table. In 1988, Vulfsons gained a place in Latvia's history by being the first official in Soviet Latvia to declare publicly that it had been forcefully occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940. However, Gordon, who once worked with Vulfsons, is very critical of both his career and the book.

On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the birth of the multi-talented Atis Ķeniņš, Nora Ikstena (Latvia) praises his commemorative collection of poetry, including some newly discovered material. Three of his poems appear here. In turn, her short story collection, Maldīgas romances is critiqued by Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia).

Valdemārs Ancītis (Latvia) briefly examines differences in Latvian as written abroad and accepted standards in Latvia today. He suggests a first step in uniting the two.

Former resistance fighter Leonids Siliņš (Sweden) urges the Latvian government to request compensation from Germany's industries for the 35 000 Latvians who were deported as Nazi slave-labor during World War II. He suggests that Russia should also compensate the victims of the Soviet regime.

Journalist Ēriks Hānbergs (Latvia) has written vignettes about incidents and people from his career. These include Andris Jakubāns, Velta Toma and Vera Volkeviča.

Laura Rokpelne-Mičule (USA) offers her observations on the 13th West Coast Latvian Song Festival. She was struck by the participants' long and selfless efforts and their feeling of community. Conductor Daira Cilne (USA) shares with us her daily journal for the same Song Festival.

Ingrīda Zemzare (Latvia) reports that, in spite of the dissipation of the patriotic euphoria of Latvia in the 1980's, composer and music critic lmants Zemzaris has stayed with his introspective, nationalistic ideals.

In the book section Juris Silenieks (USA) praises Velta Sniķere's efforts in her poetry collection Husks and likes the questions raised by Lidija Dombrovska in her futuristic novel Sniegšanās. Gunars Zvejnieks (Sweden) reviews the first volume of Ilmars Bastjānis-Krasts' memoirs, Pašvēsture. Jānis Liepiņš (Latvia) finds strength in Dagmāra Ķimele's and Gunta Strautmane's biography, Asja, of Ķimele's mother, theater director Anna Lācis. Asja is also discussed by Sandra Sebre elsewhere in this issue.

In the cultural highlights summary the editors note the awarding of a variety of national and international awards and honors.

Kiberkambaris addresses the question "What is Latvian Culture?" Is it our ability to apply the values of our ancestors to the challenges of modem technology? Is it what sets us apart and enables us to relate creatively to other cultures? Perhaps "it is not as important to live in Latvia as it is to live with Latvia within ourselves".

In his letter, Ojārs G. Rozītis supplements an earlier article on linguist Edīte Hauzenberga-Šturma's work on Latvian synonyms.

The frontispiece is by Uldis Āboliņš (Australia) and Inta Krūkle (USA) provides an art photograph. The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters (USA).

Jaunā Gaita