Jaunā Gaita nr. 80, 1970

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JG 80

This issue of JG may be taken as a typical one for its variety of fare. For the combative reader, there are the polemical essays by Prof. A.Aizsilnieks /Stockholm/ and Pāvils Klāns /Copenhagen/. Aizsilnieks takes to task the critic of his book /The Economic History of Latvia/ Voldemārs Bastjānis /Boston/. Aizsilnieks thinks Bastjānis' criticism was wrong-headed and full of errors, ascribing to him statements that he had not made. Aizsilnieks defends the correctness of using economic principles as criteria in writing economic history, as opposed to Bastjānis' contention that Aizsilnieks neglected to consider political realities. Klāns analyzes the trip of the distinguished poetess Velta Toma /Toronto/ to Soviet Latvia, along with her ideas about life under Communism. Klāns' article is largely a response to an interview with Toma printed in JG Number 68. Klāns argues that it may be fatuous to think of two Latvian cultures, one is Latvia and the other in exile, but he points out that it is even more foolish, even perilous, to think that the political differences can be disregarded and smoothed over by trips to Latvia.

For the readers interested in the status of the Latvian theater, there is Alfred Straumanis' /Voorhees, S.C./ essay „The Latvian Theater on Clay Feet". It is a provocatively argued assessment of theater in Latvia and in the exile communities. The author thinks that the problems of theater under Communism are similar to our own: the problem of finding new plays and the difficulty of making theater a meaningful experience to the young generation. The author, however, does recognize that the major problem in Latvia is a political one while our own is the difficulty of distinguishing between amateurism and professionalism.

For the devotees of history there is the continuation of Uldis Gērmanis' /Stockholm/ monographic study of Jukums Vācietis, the first commander of the Red Army. In this installment Ģērmanis covers the WW I era and the formation of the Latvian Riflemen's regiments, which came to play a significant role throughout the years of revolution and the Civil War.

Maksis Čulītis /Toronto, Ont./ writes about the meandering life of a Latvian composer, educator and pianist Harijs Ore, who from 1920 until now has been living and teaching music in Hong Kong. The Latvian community had not heard of him for decades, until 1967 when he initiated a correspondence with a fellow Latvian composer T. Ķeniņš /Toronto, Ont./. The ensuing correspondence forms the basis of this article, in which many facts about Ore's life and work are clarified.

For lovers of poetry there is a generous offering of verse, most of which is by names familiar to the reader of JG: Andrejs Irbe /Stockholm/, Aina Kraujiete /New York/, Astrīde Ivaska /Norman, Oklahoma/, Irma Bērziņa /Cologne, Germany/, Karina Eglīte /England/, and Ivars Lindbergs /San Franeisco/. A short story is contributed by recently deceased Olģerts Rūsis - „Policeman's Notebook", in which the hero inadvertently solves the mystery of a professional thief in a Latvian provincial town. Along with the plot of the story, the author also depicts the provincial setting.

The song festivals are periodic cultural events in the Latvian community, a tradition that goes back to the 1870's. This year there were three festivals: The Canadian festival in Toronto, the western regional one in Los Angeles, and the all-Latvian one in Riga. JG editors offer some apercus about the events in an essay „Three Latvian Song Festivals in the Summer of 1970". The regular column: SOUNDS AND REVERBERATIONS by our music editor Imants Sakss is also devoted to the song festivals.

In the book review section our regular reviewer Gundars Pļavkalns /Australia/ considers a volume of poems by Fricis Dziesma whom the reviewer believes to be a very good minor poet. Prose works are reviewed by Magdalēne Rozentāle /Minneapolis/ and Ilmārs Briedis /Australia/. Rozentāle reviews a collection of sea stories by Eglons Spēks. In Spēks' prose she finds especially fine descriptions of nature, while on other aspects of the author's artistry she is noncommittal. Briedis reviews two books by a controversial novelist Aīda Niedra, The Apple of Sin, which is a reprint of an early work, and In Europe Again, a recent novel. The reviewer is no friend of Niedra's fiction. He is especially critical of her neologisms and her writing of dialogues, which he considers stilted. In sum, however, he finds her a significant novelist. Agnis Balodis /Stockholm/ reviews the memoirs by Miķelis Valters, Memories and Dreams, and by Felikss Donass, On Political Crossroads. While both were diplomats, Valters has also an imposing cultural achievement behind him as a political theorist and a literary critic. The reviewer finds Valters' memoirs most satisfying, while Donass', he thinks, are too anecdotal. Balodis also reviews Lilija Zariņa's recollections The Red Mist about life and her years at the university in Communist Latvia from 1945 to 1957 when she escaped to the West. The reviewer considers it a compelling work which: "...gives shattering and alarming evidence about the dissolution and destruction of a flourishing and prosperous family." Laimonis Mieriņš /England/ reviews Latvian SSR State Academy of Arts, a commemorative work published in Riga which the reviewer finds well illustrated. Juris Veidemanis reviews Ethnic Minorities in the Soviet Union, edited by Erich Golhagen. The reviewer likes the scholarship of the work but concludes that many questions about minorities in the Soviet Union are still unanswered.

Cover design by Ilmārs Rumpēters (Glen Ridge, N.J.).

Jaunā Gaita