Jaunā Gaita nr. 68, 1968
The cover ddsign for JG 68 is by Jānis Gorsvāns, as are the illustrations for the literary section, the frontispiece and a prose work. Gorsvāns is a painter by training (he graduated from the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles), a commercial artist by occupation (Art Director for a California company), and a writer by inclination (his prose sketches are scattered in various periodicals). He is as progressive in his writing as he is in his painting. The story in this issue is delightful in its fresh perception and effortlessly shifting point of view.
Another painter, Laimonis Mieriņ (Leeds, England), who has designed several covers for JG, contributes an essay on the interaction of colors. To him it is not only the most effective means of expression in the fine arts, but also the most difficult, relative, and personal one. He believes that in our age, interest in and experiments with color are central to every serious artist, exerting also a profound influence on contemporary life through applied arts and communication media.
Noting the 100 birthday of the great Latvian woman poet and dramatist Aspazija (1868-1943), JG publishes 2 essays by 2 young woman poets. Ausma Jaunzeme (Stanford) draws comparisons between Aspazija's restless concern with the basic questions of human existence (as expressed in Saules meita) and Goethe's Faust. Aspazija also mediated between Western European and Latvian culture, and her influence on her husband, the poet and dramatist Rainis (1865-1929) has not been fully recognized. Valda Dreimane, who recently earned a doctorate from Harvard University for her work on Brecht, analyzes Aspazij a's world view. She sees it as centered in a proud individualism. Yet this individualism is not closed in on itself,but is rather in constant passionate interaction with the 2 circles surrounding it - the intimate as well as the social sphere. In Aspazija's use of imagery (storm, fire), Dreimane shows her involvement with the Revolution of 1905 and her extraordinary role as inspirer of a whole nation. Yet it is in her love poetry that she expresses most clearly her uncompromising belief in the human spirit and its ability to transcend the vicissitudes and narrow boundaries of life.
The historian Uldis Ģērmanis (Stockholm) discusses the position of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party at the end of 1918. He finds this a particularly trying period for the LSDWP and one that has so far received little attention. By analyzing editorials and articles in its ewspaper, Sociāldemokrats (Nov. 21 - 31,1918), Ģērmanis throws light on the reasons that forced the LSDWP to leave the Latvian National Council.
This issue brings to conclusion. the article by Dr. Rolfs Ekmanis (Arizona State University) on the activities of Latvian Communist writers in the U.S.S.R. during WW II. He shows them busy encouraging both partisan activity against the Germans and better work methods behind the lines, as well as extolling the elder brother" (the Russian nation) and its leader, Stalin. Andrejs Upīts produced works of some literary merit in the historic genre.
The short stories by Valdis Avots and Henrijs Moors complement each other. Both blend present and recollected reality and show the first-person hero caught in an atmosphere of estrangement from his surroundings. The poetry section presents new verse by Astrīde Ivaska, Juris Kronbergs, and Gundars Plavkalns.
Gunars Irbe reviews very favorably Eighteen (Västerås, 1967), the third book by the painter and writer Margarita Kovaļevska. It received an honorable mention for 1967 from the General Goppers Foundation. For The Flower of Disaster (New York, 1962), she received the Jaunsudrabiņ prize. The present volume is taken in almost unchanged form from the author's diaries and notebooks of her eighteenth year. Another painter under review is Lidija Dombrovska-Larsen (Copenhagen). Irbe finds her passionate defense of contemporary (Latvian) art, On the Threshold of the Studio (Copenhagen, 1967) courageous and illuminating, although she is fighting a losing battle against exile society. The desire to preserve established values is its deepest instinct, bringing with it a distrust toward innovation. Fortunately the painter is less dependent on its dwindling numbers than the writer. Irbe's third review concerns itself with the novel You Came at Night (Brooklyn, 1967) by Ernests Aistars. Its theme is the psychological adjustment of Baltic immigrants to the U.S., but it falls short of, say, Vilhelm Moberg's novels about Swedish immigrant life.
A collection of popular songs of Old Riga, ed. by Andrejs Johansons (Brooklyn, 1967) is greeted as an interesting document in a review by Ilmārs Briedis. It should prove illuminating for the student of literature, history, cultural history, sociology, economics even, not to mention its relevance to the sphere of popular expression known as camp.
A worthy memorial to the Latvian educator Dr. Ludis Bērziņ has been erected in the collection of essays The Coverlet of Stars (A.Dravnieks, ed., Brooklyn, 1967). Dr. Haralds Biezais (Uppsala) discusses the contributions by members of the family, associates, and former students. Beyond their significance as a testimony of a dedicated life, they also are invaluable to the student of the educational system and the cultural history of Latvia.