Jaunā Gaita nr. 113, 1977

JG 113

The frontispiece features the Toronto Latvian painter Arnolds Nulītis, and an article by N. Bulmanis, Jr. on Nulītis' art follows. Bulmanis stresses the innovative quality of Nulītis' abstract art and goes into the personal history of the painter, Latvian modern cultural history, and influences of modern painters of other nationalities to explain its wellsprings. This is non-representational art that has grown out of a vision of reality, a thorough training in representational techniques, and, though by no means isolated, it never imitates the international trends of modern art. Among the poets, V. Kalninš, a Soviet Latvian dissident, contributes "The Oaktree's Dream", a short, stark poem about the tree swallowing the axe and the saw that attack him. In a very different poem about the destruction of a forest, A. Irbe poses a nice rhetorical balance between the respectful attitude of a well known folksong where one twig broken from a birch tree would cover one with silver and the "silvering" of the palm of one who cuts the entire forest. B. Bičole, one of our foremost émigré poets, in her poem "The Different One" pays tribute to the artist whose delicate perception effortlessly reads the mysterious coordinates of the phenomenal world, and who creates its correlative seemingly in one miraculous sweep only to become imprisoned in the network of his own creation. In a delicate, finely wrought poem entitled "About Rocks and Stones", R. Gāle explores a problematic relationship that points up the ultimate solitude ("I cover myself with the shawl of loneliness and hear only my own trembling.") Juris Mazutis (Montreal) weaves his crosscultural experience around the musical verse of his "D'Aprés Verlaine."

In a fragment "Eve in the Garden," L.Kalniņa impressionistically presents lyrical visions of a syncretic Eve who not only partakes of the life of a Latvian peasant woman but is the Virgin as well. Daina Sķēle's "Fullmoon Night" which the author subtitles "a grotesque short story in the manner of Kafka" deals allusively, through the guise of a seemingly surrealistic nightmare, with the painful realities of the unhappy, demeaning marriage of the narrator's son. "Gunispers", a story by O. Lācis, details the bizarre conjectures and grounded fears of a husband, exiled to a single room in an inn, while behind the wall his wife sleeps with a stranger,dictatorially assigned to her by the clerk because the gender inflection of the woman's name matches it to that of the stranger and not to her husband's. The second installment of A. Ezergailis' interview with the Latvian prose master M. Zeberiņš weaves its tortuous associative path through art and music in the twentieth century and in eternity. The Harlequin's suit -- a composite of patches becomes the governing metaphor for the manifestation of archetypes in literature and music. K.Neilis' contribution addresses itself to the question "Did the Latvians evolve from the Etruscans?" It is a polemical disproving of the positive view on this, as the Etruscans would not have any interest or need to migrate to the Baltic as long as they were an entity. Had they done so later because of religious persecution, the Teutonic Knights would not have had to Christianize the Latvians, as they did. D.M. Lietiņa-Ray (Rider College, N.J.) writes about bilingual education. She cites evidence for the discrediting of melting pot theories and the new official respect for ethnicity in the U.S. Given this favorable climate the author argues, we should change from "language loyalists" to "language activists." Practical measures suggested includc support services by school and church, handbooks and other guidance for parents, and making Latvian generally acceptable for foreign language qualification.

Our frequent contributor U.Ģērmanis writes about the fate of Latvian Bolsheviks during the Stalin purges. Indicating how far-flung the Latvian theater is, two important events are recorded in this issue: the celebration in Riga, of the 70 year acting anniversary of the eminent actress Lilija Erika, and the performance of a play by Soviet Latvian dramatist Gunārs Priede in Australia. There are three responses to the essay "Content, Form, and Style" by Dr. K. Dzelzītis, printed in J.G. issue 110. J. Silenieks criticizes Dzelzītis for his offhanded dismissal of modernism and the outdated assumption of the separability of form and content. T. Ķiķauka, the well known writer and artist, cites Dzelzītis' omission of many important modernists and points out the "almost non-existent" distance between "realistic" and non-representational art. Another writer, G. Pļavkalns, believes Dzelzītis' views to be one-sided, favoring "Platonic" over "physical" poetry which,in the commentator's view, tends to exalt mediocre works lacking in concrete images but replete with a hollow sententiousness. In his rebuttal, Dzelzītis criticizes the critics for arguing ad hominem and failing to address the basic questions he has raised and reasserts his preference for "dynamic and progressively ideological and symbolic poetry." The review section features two works about Latvian participation in World War II, a topic much visible in the Anglo-Saxon press of late: The Latvian Soldier in World War II, vols. 1 and 2 which the reviewer (A. Balodis) recognizes as a needed and ambitious work but criticizes for confusing its averred function as a collection of documents with excessive and obtrusive editorial commentary; and The Forest Wolves, a description, based on notes, of the life of a German officer among Baltic guerillas from 1947 to 1950. The reviewer (I. Bite) finds the work valuable for the revelation of the typical world view of a German officer while its substance -- the description of guerilla life and battles -- is "a version suited for televison:"

The cover is by Voldemārs Avens.


Dr. Inta Ezergaile

Jaunā Gaita