Jaunā Gaita nr. 81, 1970
The first essay in this issue „The Portrayal of Nature in the Work of Four Poets" is by Valda Melngaile (Boston College), our literary editor and a poet in her own right whose first book of verse appeared this winter. In this essay Melngaile analyzes the imagery of nature in the poetry of the late Linards Tauns, Gunars Saliņš, Baiba Bičole, and Astrīde Ivaska (four distinguished poets whose work has been closely associated with Jaunā Gaita). Her analysis leads to the following conclusions: in Tauns' poetry nature appears as a garden which for the city dweller that Tauns was could only be recalled as a vision never to be recaptured in reality except in death when the stones of the city „will be perforated by blossoms, like a field of wheat." In Saliņš' poetry nature is assigned a more active part. Like. Tauns, Saliņš is a poet of the city and equally an apocalyptic visionary, but, in the view of Melngaile, he frequently allows nature its victory over the asphalt of the city, in a true and immediate sense rescuing himself and the reader from the abstractness and artificiality of the city to a pastoral world "where life and pulchritude bubble over the brim." Bičole, in contrast to the male poets, is at one with nature (she is "surrounded by nature"), but her experience, according to the commentator, is nevertheless a tragic one. Her relation to nature is a primitive one and therefore not serene. She is at one with nature in a sense that she is abandoned to nature.
Astrīde Ivaska, according to Melngaile, finds herself in an equilibrium with nature, and she signifies a new beginning after the three perversions of nature: estrangement (Tauns); abstract reconstructing (Saliņš); and abandonment to it (Bičole). In Ivaska's poetry neither the poet nor nature celebrate victories over each other. Nature for Ivaska inspires thought and contemplation.
The next essay is by L. Apkalns (Germany), and in it the work of Latvian architect J.R. Plāte is assessed. The author points out the modernist trends in Plāte's work and argues that he was in tune with functional constructionists, his contemporaries in the early part of this century, such as Walter Gropius and others. Apkalns finds the poet J. Rainis one of the inspiring factors in the work of Plāte. In the fifth installment of Uldis Ģērmanis' study of Jukums Vācietis, the Red Army Commander, the author discusses various evaluations of Vācietis by his contemporaries and portrays the life of the Latvian riflemen during the years before the revolution.
Our editor Gunars Irbe gives an evaluation of Johan Bergenstråhle's film "A Baltic Tragedy" which was made from the controversial novel by Per Olov Enquist. The basis for the novel and the film is the Swedish government's return of 146 Latvian prisoners of war to the Soviet Union after WW II. The Latvians had served in the German army and during the final days of the war had escaped across the Baltic Sea to Sweden. Irbe finds the film a series of question marks to which numerous answers can be given, but the movie itself does not provide these answers. Irbe however does resent some outright attempts to falsify the happenings in which the movie makers had engaged.
Short stories in this issue are by Henrijs Moors (New York) and Ints Liepa (Cleveland, Ohio). Eglons Spēks (Sweden) has supplied the third chapter from his novel The Oiltanker Victoria to round out the prose contributions. Poetry is supplied by names well known to the pages of JG: Olafs Stumbrs (Los Angeles), Andrejs Irbe, Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia), Ausma Jaunzeme (Stanford, Calif.) Lidija Dombrovska Larsena (Denmark), and Juris Zommers (Toronto, Ont.).
For a reportage on some recent cultural and political events JG goes to Paris, Montreal, and Stockholm. Lidija Dombrovska-Larsena reports on Henri Matisse's centennial exhibit in the Grand Palais in Paris. Juris Mazutis reports about the death of Quebec's Labor Minister Pierre Laporte from Montreal. The noted Swedish literary joumal Horisont this year devoted one whole issue to the literature of the Baltic States. JG editors have collected notices about that issue of Horisont from the press in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. From Stockholm Gunars Irbe reports about an opinion poll on the Swedish public's knowledge about the return of Latvian prisoners of war in 1945.
Book reviews in this issue are by Olģerts Puravs (Champaign, Ill.), H. Lejiņš (Denton, Texas), I. Briedis (Australia), and G. Irbe. Puravs reviews the novel Putni (The Birds) by our editor Tālivaldis Ķiķauka. He finds the work an exhilarating one although not without faults. Lejiņš reviews novels by Vladimirs Kaijaks and Hermanis Kreicers. The reviewer finds both works calm but satisfying, full of kind wisdom. Briedis reviews the works by Salnais and Dziļums, both noted novelists of the old school. Both authors cast a retrospective look at the Latvian past and the reviewer finds them providing new perspectives about it. Irbe reviews two Swedish language works: by Theodor Kalliafatides Utlänningar (The Foreigner) and the translation of the popular Czech novelist's Milan Kundera's novel Zert (The Joke). Although Sweden has, for some time, been a popular place for exiles, Kalliafatides' work is the first one, the reviewer notes, by an immigrant to Sweden about Sweden.
Imants Sakss in his regular column Sounds and Reverberations has collected responses from the press in Latvia and abroad about three Latvian Song Festivals that JG reported about in the last issue.
Cover design by Ilmārs Rumpēters (Glen Ridge, N.J.), vignettes by Jānis Gorsvāns (Anaheim, Calif,).