aunā Gaita nr. 162, aprīlis 1987

JG 162

The focus of this issue is on religion and language, the first a subject that more often divides than unites our community, the second, some claim, our only reason for being a nation. 1987 is the 150'th anniversary of the birth of Atis Kronvalds, a leading figure in the Latvian National Awakening (Tautas atmoda). His principal contributions to this movement were the modernization of the Latvian lexis and the promotion of education as an essential component of personal and national development. JG honours him on the first page of this issue. The final article of this issue, a review by Valdis J. Zeps of Līga Streipa's learning materials Easy Way to Latvian, also looks at language, examining an exile community's efforts to keep its language alive, at least as a second language, among its members.

Two expressions of Christian messianism are highlighted in an ironic juxtaposition in this issue: two poems, by Valdis Krāslavietis (USA) and Inārs Brēdrichs (Australia), sardonically commemorate the violent "Christianization" of Latvia by Bishop Meinhard and the Teutonic Knights in the 12'th century, while Emīls Krieviņš describes Brazil's large Latvian Baptist community, which emigrated from Latvia in the 1920's. This community, which even in the 1970's published its bulletins in Latvian and held Latvian-language services, itself gave rise to an offshoot, the agricultural community at Rincon de Tigre in Bolivia, established in 1946, which has developed into a prominent missionary, medical and educational centre.

The early death of one of Latvia's finest young poets, Klāvs Elsbergs (1959-1987), is marked with the publication of a memorial poem by Gunars Saliņš (USA), "parting words" from poet Anna Rancāne (Latvia), and several of Elsbergs' own poems. A poem by Juris Kronbergs (Sweden) expresses an exile's disorientation and helpless horror toward the recent history of his country: "What am I then? / A purged viewer, / who has just watched a play in the Theatre of the History of Tyranny? / Or / a bewildered fly in Russia's window to the west?" Poetry in this issue is also by Anita Dzirne (USA), Elga Leja (Australia), and Kahlil Gibran, as translated by Astrīda Stahnke. Aina Siksna (Sweden) sends a story about a meeting between a Catholic priest from Rīga and a Latvian girl in the fictional West German town of Burkenberg, which has a Latvian school, literary museum, and various other attributes giving it a remarkable similarity to the real city of Münster, one of the main centres of Latvian exile life.

Does family heritage affect a person's decision to pursue a literary calling? In Latvian literature this certainly appears to be true. Sarma Muižniece is the third generation of poets in her family, the Ruņģis' and Johansons' families have each given several fine writers, and Anšlavs Eglītis' father is the eminent poet Viktors Eglītis. These are only a few of our literary "dynasties"! In this issue Irina Ozoliņa profiles three writers in the Ābele family: Kārlis sr., who was a writer of plays and epic poems, as well as a scientist, his wife Elza, a poet and novelist, and their son Kārlis jr., a contributing editor of JG and a poet who was among the first of the young generation in exile to express scepticism toward the accepted rationales of our community.

Our book editor Mārtiņš Lasmanis has assembled a large collection of reviews for this issue: ten in all. Besides Zeps' review mentioned above, we have reviews by Juris Silenieks of Astrīda Stahnke's biography, in English, of the early feminist writer Aspazija, and of Benita Veisberga's childhood memoirs, I. Brēdrichs' review of Gunārs Janovskis' latest collection of short stories, Lasmanis' own review of Velga Krile's 1985 poetry volume Don't cheat me, and L. Muižniece's review of the reissued Poētika by Kārlis Dziļleja. H. Zālītis' looks at the reissue of Pēteris Apkalns' book of sermons, J. Gulbītis reviews Adolfs Šilde's collection of biographical studies of Latvian statesmen, T. Puisāns reviews Veronika Barkāne's memoirs of growing up in rural Latgale, and Anita Siksna describes the "fan's" biography of popular musician Raimonds Pauls by Jānis Peters.

Ilmārs Krasts contributes a review of the performance in Los Angeles by 4 actors from the Academic Drama Theatre of Rīga of the modern Latvian play Olivers by Harijs Gulbis. The actors performed the play in seven cities in the United States. Nikolajs Bulmanis presents his interview with the painter Džemma Skulme last fall during her show in Pittsburgh. His review of the show itself appeared in JG 160. Eriks Pārups continues his series on the Latvian resistance, and Māra Gulēna describes her impressions of last winter's Divreizdivi seminar in Michigan, a week of intensive workshops in Latvian culture and politics.

The frontispiece is by Ēvalds Dajevskis, the cover is by Voldemārs Avens, and a cartoon by Elmārs Dambergs (Dadzis) appears on page 47.


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Jaunā Gaita