Jaunā Gaita nr. 114, 1977

JG 114

Our 114th issue is rich in poetry. I.Cedriņa, V. Arvis , A. Kārkliņš, N. Kalniņš, A. Kraujiete , G. Saliņš , and L. Auzinš . Gunars Saliņš gives us a superbly structured poem occasioned by a performance of Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites". Using the cross as the governing image, and varying that theme in dizzyingly imaginative but always convincing ways, the poet moves from a perception of the cross as the crystallization of fear and despair which the singer, by means of her artistic power, sings out of herself into the surrounding darkness, through a multiplying of crosses that, intended to protect form a cage instead, to her trancendent ascension of the scaffold as the cross has been fully internalized and shines through her voice -- "transparent, light." Aina Kraujiete also deals with the cross and suffering in her two poems - one, from her Solzhenitsin cycle, showing a man going beyond what he thinks endurable through reminding himself of Christ's suffering by drawing clumsy crosses in the prison camp earth with an emaciated, festering foot. Her other poem, as taut and economical as the first, is entitled A Portrait of the Rebel's Mother," another sacrificial figure.

Soviet Latvian master, I. Ziedonis, is represented by a fragment of his essay "Talking through Roots", and it ponders the mysterious diffusion of artistic energy within culture, the only seemingly capricious mutations of talent. This is accomplished through a celebration of the undying genius of the great Latvian poet A. Čaks, who knew how to "dissolvehimself in his people," fertilizing the cultural soil for future growth of talent. Irēne Blūmfelde's short story „The Letter" portrays the doubts and self-tortures of an executive who has fired his lovely young secretary Rose, egged on by the envious tale bearing of the other employees who are disturbed by her aloofness and difference, symbolized in her lyrical correspondence with her lost cat. J. Mazutis starts his highly informative account of "The Quebec Problem in Historical Perspective." The question did not arise suddenly; nor can it be resolved quickly. Historical knowledge is necessary for its proper understanding. The polished and stimulating essay is to be concluded in the next issue. The prominent Latvian painter Jānis Kalmīte is the subject of an interpretive essay by his daughter Lelde, also an artist and uniquely situated through her family relationship and her ethnic background as well to explicate her father's work. She sees ethnic elements as central in his art and World War 2 as a critical precipitation of his genius, but his latest works, she believes, reach universal human significance. In turn, M.Rozentāle introduces the career and accomplishments of this young and promising painter herself, a career that has already shown marked success. The penultimate instalment of A. Ezergailis' interview with author Modris Zeberiņš centers on the influence of James Joyce on the creative universe of Zeberiņš (immensely stimulating, leaving its mark on Zeberiņš' new novel, but also destructive through his atomization of paradigms), and on the early experience of Zeberiņš in Rīga, in a household, a time, and a place that was full of magic and excitement. There are 2 essays dealing with Latvian politics. Žanis Unāms (Germany) writes on Latvian statesman A. Klīve's memoirs (1976) which cover the years of independence from the subjective vantagepoint of this parliamentarian of the Peasant Union. Unāms finds the work impressive in scope, but decries some factual lapses and a lack of unity of time and action. Noted author and editor Pāvils Klāns (Denmark) in his cogent essay (a shortened version of his commencement talk at the Latvian school in Münster) "The Place of the young Latvian -- Left of Center?" defines the Latvian émigré political spectrum mainly on the basis of attitudes toward Soviet Latvia. While showing empathy and understanding towards the older generation's rejection of it, Klāns argues for adjustment to contemporary realities and needs. Instead of outdated ideology, one should accept an open pragmatic stance on relations with Soviet Latvia. The younger generation appears to have a fresh and realistic approach to this matter and other Latvian political problems, and thus its "left" orientation (as distinguished from the ideological and emotional conservatism of the older émigré Latvians) is promising. The frank and searching essay will be concluded in the next issue.

The lively arts are represented by two essays -- one on the social importance of the theater in Latvian émigré life and one on an interesting and unusual event -- the exhibition of Soviet Latvian ballet and art in Greece in the summer of 1976. Aina Vāvere (Australia) in the first half of her essay (to be concluded in the next issue) makes a structural investigation of the Latvian émigré theater using current models of analysis. She seems to be reaching optimistic conclusions about its possibilities. Her arguments are based on solid fact and reasonable inference. Ilze Šedrika (U.S., and worthy former occupant of this perch) gives us a spirited account of the Latvian ballet's triumph in Athens where they presented a well rounded repertory including traditional pieces as well as ballets based on Latvian themes. The 114th issue also includes an extended press survey. It is a careful and judicious culling of various Latvian publications (American, Soviet, Canadian, Australian) clustering mainly around the debate about the degree to which active and vital cultural relations with Soviet Latvia are desirable, or even possible. The debate is conceived as a telling illustration of the overwhelming problem of establishing a real dialogue (between Soviet and émigré, between generations, various views, personalities), and at this the presentation succeeds admirably.

The cover is by Ilgvars Steins.



Jaunā Gaita