Jaunā Gaita nr. 103, 1975

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JG 103

Kronvaldu Ati s (1837-1875), whose words introduce this issue, was one of the most eloquent of the intellectuals whose ideas shaped the Latvian National Awakening. His assertion that love of one's native language and heritage requires heroism of spirit, but their denial marks one as a slave to materialism and foreign masters has special significance a century after his death when national survival is of uppermost concern to many Latvian writers. It is with regret that Rolfs Ekmanis notes that, in Latvia, publication of long-promised comprehensive collections of folklore has apparently been postponed; Modris Zandbergs concludes that his recent opinion poll indicates that most young people believe that Latvian schools in exile are not very successful in disseminating national consciousness and cultural heritage; and poet Ivars Lindbergs writes: "What songs shall I teach to my son? / My son is no dullard / But to him Chief Crazy Horse / Is greater / Than King Namejs..."

The second installment of Ekmanis' survey of the literary scene in Latvia during 1973 carefully enumerates and evaluates newly issued folklore materials, reprints of classical and modern authors, translations from foreign literatures into Latvian, and translations of Latvian literature into various foreign languages. One of the most significant events has been the re-issue of Aleksandrs Čaks' poetry and verse plays; unfortunately, they are marred by numerous errors, textual violations, and deceptive commentaries. Also, it is ironic that many of the authors being reprinted had to experience political persecution and suppression of their works during their lifetime. There has been a decline in translations into foreign languages; the largest number of works are being translated into Russian, and Russian translations often make Latvian literature accessible in other Soviet republics, but the quality is often unsatisfactory.

Jānis Siliņ continues his analysis of the art of Ansis Cīrulis (1873-1942). One of the most versatile of all modern Latvian painters, Cīrulis also won acclaim for his frescoes, graphics, ceramics - even metal, textile, and turniture designs - both at home and abroad. He learned and accomplished much during his two sojourns in Paris; nevertheless, in 1921 he wrote: "No matter what wonderful things one has seen and admired, it is necessary to return to oneself. I always pose the question - am I anything, can I and will I be able to accomplish anything? ... I have always weighed myself, always analyzed myself, tried to discover and understand myself wholly." Prof. Siliņ skillfully interweaves Cīrulis' stylistic development with insights into his life and personality and presents them against the background of 20th century events and 20th century art history.

Eglons Spēks is known for his sea stories; however, in "Variation of Ināra" (see first installment in JG 100) sea life is only hinted at in the sailor protagonist's thoughts. Mood is conveyed through fleeting glimpses of the landscape he traverses - Frisia, Holland, Wales, Normandy; and philosophical reflections on the meaning of human existence are made concrete by the presence of artistic and architectural monuments that speak of man's past concerns and achievements. The golden countryside which surrounds the lovers in the concluding passages, blotting out the memory of stone monuments, comes to symbolize the delicate yet permanent nature of human emotion in contrast to the poetic mood of Spēks' story, Ints Liepa's "The Message" is matter-of-fact in style and ironic in attitude. Liepa is concerned with the analysis of human motivations and the conflicts of sex vs. friendship, boredom vs. emotional commitment, middle age vs. idealistic youth. His protagonists sometimes play frivolous games, but are restrained by old-fashioned loyalty and ironic awareness of their own shortcomings.

The poetry section includes works by Aina Kraujiete, Ivars Lindbergs, Valentīns Pelēcis, and Juris Zommers. Kraujiete weaves shimmering images of crystal, water, silver, and moonlight into a somnambulistic web with a sense of simultaneous entaglement and detachment; Zommers grapples with the meaning of poetic creation, love, faith; while metamorphoais and merging - one human being into another, human life into earth, water, fire, eternity- appear, in different ways, in the metaphors of Lindbergs and Pelēcis.

In this issue Nora Kūla (Boston) and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka (Hamilton, Ont.) examine with interpretative originality two celebrations commemorating the 100th issue of Jaunā Gaita.

The cover is by Jānis Strods (Chicago)


I. .-L.

Jaunā Gaita