Jaunā Gaita nr. 100, 1974

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JG 100

This issue marks Jaunā Gaita's hundredth anniversary. During almost twenty years of uninterrupted publication, from rather difficult beginnings (here humorously recalled by its first editor, Valters Nollendorfs) to its current place as the leading Latvian literary and intellectual joumal in exile, JG has never avoided controversy. It has published articles of every shade of opinion on artistic, political, and social issues; encouraged literary experimentation and publicized young authors and artists; it was the first to reprint and review literature from Soviet Latvia. During the late '5O's, JG scandalized conservative readers and even incurred official censure by publishing works that some saw as undermining the very foundations and ideals of Latvian society in exile - an uproar difficult to comprehend today. In this issue, several young contributors needle the journal for having become establishmentarian... The abundance of material prohibits detailed analysis here, therefore most contributions are only briefly mentioned.

Poetry. A total of 19 poets are represented: Baiba Bičole, Andrejs Eglītis, Margita Gūtmane, Astrīde Ivaska, Gunars Janovskis, Juris Kaža, Aina Kraujiete, Valdis Krāslavietis, Juris Mazutis, Lalita Muižniece, Valters Nollendorfs, Gundars Pļavkalns, Baiba Rirdāne, Ojārs Rozitis, Olafs Stumbrs, Velta Toma, Māra Treimane, Ingrīda Vīksna and Aina Zemdega.

Prose. Indra Gubiņa's psychological short story "One Ray of Sunlight", is traditional in form; Benita Veisberga's "Orinda Notes" is a series of fragments and personal impresions. The mood ranges from macabre humor (Eduards Silkalns' "Dead Animals") to a blend of realism and lyricism (Eglons Spēks' "Variation of Ināra"). Irēne Blūmfelde's and Lidija Dombrovska's short stories also are published.

Literary criticism. Valda Melngaile analyzes the work of a group of modern poets who emphasize experimentation with words, language, and sound over meaning. They use words as a game, a magic formula to express the inexpressible. However, behind the word-games one can glimpse great seriousness of purpose, or a sense of emptiness, helpnessness, or dehumanization. Terēze Lazdiņa explores alliteration in the work of seven contemporary poets. She not only tabulates their consonant frequencies, but traces how certain sounds favored by a particular poet can also reflect his psychological attitude toward life. Ojārs Krātiņš argues that the purpose of criticism is not to discover the author's "true" intention, but to reveal a multiplicity of viewpoints influenced by each reader's perceptions and convictions.

Art. Painter Gvīdo Augusts discusses in an interview erotic elements in art and also speculates about some ancient Latvian customs. (An interesting companionpiece is Kārlis Draviņš' critique of erotic Latvian folksongs). Reproductions of works by numerous contemporary artists are included also.

Music. An interview with avant-garde composer Gundaris Pone brings out his artistic and ideological affinity with Luigi Nono and his conviction that music must be international, functioning not as l'art pour l'art, but always created within a social context. Andris Vītoliņš' witty analysis of Jānis Norvilis' adaptations of Latvian folk tunes finds much to praise and much to criticize. Vītoliņš especially disagrees with Norvilis' theorizing, such as his forced attempts to find harmonic relationships between folk melody structure and such techniques as counterpoint and fugue. Jānis Zālītis argues that pop-rock music is an inseparable part of contemporary life.

History. Uldis Ģērmanis' carefully researched and documented analysis of several uprisings against bolshevik rule in 1918 illuminates yet another aspect of the turbulent and complex history of the Russian Revolution. Bruno Kalniņš' description of Ulmanis' 1934 coup in Latvia, which ended democratic rule, takes the form of a personal memoir and personal manifesto against the authoritarian regime established.

Social and Political Issues. Haralds Biezais discusses the phenomenology of "freedom" not as an abstract concept, but as the inclination - and right - of every human being to realize his life to the fullest, physically and mentally. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga urges that Latvian national identity in exile can only be preserved if it is seen as a dynamic, progressive force, not an attempt to perpetuate the past. Also included are two symposia on cultural, social, and political problems of concern to Latvians. In one, prominent representatives of various intellectual and artistic fields as well as cultural organizations - history, literature, theatre, press, linguistics, theology, etc. - discuss significant changes in Latvian society, Latvian press, and significant developments in science and art. Another symposium consists of recent high school and college graduates seriously involved in various Latvian youth organizations and activities. Despite a variety of viewpoints and political opinions, all are obviously commited to preserving their Latvian identity, although the courses of action advocated may differ. Two of its radical "young leftist" members, Ojārs Rozitis and Mārtiņš Būmanis, also contribute separate essays criticizing the "petit-bourgeois" nature of čmigrč society and its institutions - including Jaunā Gaita.

The cover is by Ilgvars Steins (Toronto, Ont.). The vignettes are by Jānis Gorsvāns.


I. Š.-L.

Jaunā Gaita