Jaunā Gaita nr. 221, jūnijs 2000

JG 221

The last six months saw the death of five influential members of the post World War II Latvian exile cultural community. The valedictory articles in JG 221 celebrate their life and achievements. Haralds' Norītis surveys the career of Reinis Zusters, who emigrated to Australia, which became the subject of his widely recognized art. Helēna Hofmane describes the achievements of publisher Hugo Skrastiņš whose imprint Tilts published over 400 titles, including first editions of many JG contributors. Astrīda Stahnke describes Valija Runģe's drive to continue her writing projects to the very last days of her life, while linguistics professor Lalita Muižniece surveys Runģe's output of books and articles which constitute an invaluable source for the study of Latvian cultural life in exile over the last fifty years. Knuts Lesiņš was, in the estimation of Juris Silenieks, a rare modern Renaissance talent, excelling as a pianist and as one of the most popular writers of his generation. The late Tālivaldis Ķiķauka likewise had multiple talents, writes Anita Liepiņa, both as an artist and an award-winning author.

Tālivaldis Ķiķauka in "Literature", one of his last works, ironically describes the vain efforts of a writer to create an erotic story about a young Latvian political refugee and a French-Canadian girl. The poetry section opens with deeply moving poems of loss and farewell by Dzintars Sodums, dedicated to his recently deceased wife. The passage of time also figures in the poems of Juris Rozītis and Lidija Dombrovska. New talent is represented by Ilze Savicka from Latvia's eastern province Latgale or Latgallia.

Jānis Gulbītis surveys the style, editorial viewpoints and personalities of the editors of the Latvian newspaper Latvija, later Brivā Latvija (Free Latvia), published in Germany (recently in England) since the close of World War II By the early 1950's. Latvians from the Displaced Persons camps in the American, British and French occupation zones of Germany had begun to find their way to their new homes overseas A three-story house in a Boston suburb became a beehive of activity, where actors from visiting theater groups, musicians, artists, all flocked to noisy late-night after-performance parties Ilmārs BastjanisKrasts paints a vivid portrait of this fascinating period.

The Latvian publishing house Memento in Stockholm has released a facsimile edition of the 1705 German-Swedish-Polish-Latvian dictionary (Wörter=Büchlein/Wie etzliche gebräuchliche Sachen auff Teutsch, Schwedisch, Polnisch und Lettisch zu benennen seynd) of which only two or three copies are known to exist. Linguistics professor and bibliographer Benjamiņš Jēgers traces its history. Dr. Ojārs Spārītis, the Director of the reconstructed medieval Black Brotherhood Building (Melngalvju nams), traces its recent history, from its destruction by fire in 1941 as a result of Russian-German hostilities, complete razing by Soviet authorities in 1948, and its grand reopening in December 1999.

Was General Sir Alfred Burt, the Head of the Allied military mission to the new Republic of Latvia, a sincere friend, who played a vital role in its fight for existence in 1919, or someone who exploited the situation for his own benefit? Valdonis Frickauss dismisses historian Edgars Andersons negative views as doubtful.

This issue covers three important art exhibitions. Laimonis Mieriņš reveled at the Anthony van Dyck's 400 year anniversary exhibit in London. Voldemars Avens judges the Baltic art show in New York excellent in its choice of artists, who, unfortunately, were not exhibited to their best advantage. Eleanora Šturma, on the other hand, reviews very favorably the exhibit of the "Latvian Four", all women (Gerda Roze, Indra Avena, Zane Treimane, Gita Treimane), at the Sarah Lawrence College. From the world of music Biruta Sūrmane comments on The New York Times article concerning the achievements of two worldacclaimed Latvians-the composer Pēteris Vasks and the violinist Gidons Kremers and his newly founded chamber ensemble Kremerata Baltica.

In the book review section, Anita Liepiņa discourses about the book of memoirs of Brunis Rubess (with Nora Ikstena) - a Latvian, a Canadian, and a VW CEO Jānis Krēsliņš surveys the publishing history and reception of Uldis Ģērmanis' popular history of Latvia, Latviešu tautas piedzīvojumi. Prof. Juris Silenieks reviews two recent poetry collections - Jānis Gorsvāns' Speaking While Being Mute and Pēteris Zirnītis' The Forbidden Psalm, both demanding, but rewarding, works. Finally, Gundars Pļavkalns' review article discusses Gundega Repše's prose work Red.

In Kiberkambaris or Cyberscope, two academicians, Gundars Ķeniņš Kings and Jeffrey Sommers, exchange views on the politics of macroeconomics, or what comes after shock therapy in Central/Eastern Europe and Russia.

The frontispiece is by Reinis Zusters, the cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters, and the art photograph on page 44 is by Ilga Sūna.

Juris Zommers

Jaunā Gaita