Jaunā Gaita nr. 232, marts 2003

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JG 232

Juris Silenieks, JG contributing editor, concludes his memoir Gotenhafen Elegies about the 1945 sinking of the German cruise ship Wilhelm Gustloff, packed with 9000 plus people, by a Soviet sub in the Baltic Sea. Among the victims - mostly women, children and old people fleeing the final Soviet Army push into Germany - were the author's mother and teenage sister. In connection with this worst maritime tragedy in history, prof. Silenieks also analyzes Germany's Nobel Prize - winning (1999) author Günter Grass' documentary novel Im Krebsgang (2002; English edition - Crab Walk, 2003) about the same disaster.

Rolfs Ekmanis interviews singer-poet Uldis Grasis, discussing the changes that he has seen in Latvia and the exile community over the past half-century.

Aija Priedīte-Janelsiņa contributes an article about Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a renowned literary critic, and concludes that Reich-Ranicki, through his education and experiences in World War II and the Warsaw ghetto, has no real home other than his intellectual home of German literature.

Ojārs Spārītis, a professor of architecture in the Latvian Academy of Art in Rīga, describes the rebirth of Latvian ecclesiastical architecture and how students are contributing to the interiors of new and restored churches.

Anna Žīgure, recently Latvia's ambassador to Finland and the granddaughter of poets Edvarts Virza and Elza Stērste, contributes an article about Virza. Because Virza was so closely associated with Latvia's president (1936-1940), Kārlis Ulmanis, and his nationalistic views, Virza's poetry was especially despised by the Soviet establishment and his work completely disappeared from libraries and literary discourse.

Juris Žagariņš has selected the views of a single person, Aleksandr Krasnitskij, on the lack of a Russian TV channel for Russian-speaking inhabitants of Latvia, who have access only to Russian TV that originates in Russia. Krasnitskij feels that this contributes to the alienation of Latvia's Russian-speaking inhabitants from the Latvian mainstream.

The review section of this issue includes Rolfs Ekmanis' description of prof. Janīna Kursīte's latest book, Dzejas vārdnīca (A Dictionary of Poetry, 2002), as an erudite work that impresses the reader with the lightness and playful expression that one finds in the poetry of Pushkin or Čaks, or in the music of Mozart. Benedikts Kalnačs summarizes the last six issues of the literary monthly Karogs for 2002, while Ekmanis looks at the second issue of Latvian Literature, a periodical that introduces Latvian belles-lettres to English - speaking readers. Prof. Gundars Ķeniņš-King reviews the Journal of Baltic Studies for winter 2002, which had the theme Mapping Baltic History, The Conflict of Northeastern Europe. He also reviews an article by Aldis Purs in The Global Review of Ethnopolitics entitled "The Price of Free Lunches: Making the Frontier Latvian in the Interwar Years" (June 2002). Ilmars Bastjānis-Krasts discusses the literary output of Dzintars Sodums, particularly his Blēžu romāns (Rogues' Novel, 2002) - about the experiences of a conscript in the Latvian Legion fighting against the Soviet Army, 1943-1944.

Aina Siksna's play Žēlupīte (Brook of Sorrows), begun in JG 231, is concluded in this issue. The poetry section includes works by Uldis Bērziņš, one of the pre-eminent contemporary Baltic poets and probably the most prolific translator of poetry into Latvian. Among other works, he is in the process of translating the Koran (Qur'ān) into modern Latvian. Ilona Salceviča's survey of Latgallian literature since the collapse of the USSR, continues in the issue.

Franks Gordons expresses his admiration for a member of the anti-German/anti-Soviet Latvian Resistance during World War II, Leonīds Siliņš, who also organized the escape of many Latvians to Sweden at the end of the war. Juris Zommers describes the work of Jānis Valdmanis and Niks Ozoliņš in the Latvian Videotape Studio and Library, which has been documenting the Latvian community in North America for over 20 years. Both were awarded the Jānis Bieriņš Prize for 2002 for their achievements. Anita Liepiņa summarizes the career of film maker Dzintra Geka, whose film Children of Siberia was declared the best Latvian documentary of 2001.

Nikolajs Bulmanis contributes his impressions of the Rīga art scene in November 2002.

The cover of this issue is by Ilmārs Rumpēters, and the color reproduction is of a painting by Daina Dagnija, who spent many years in the USA, but now lives in Latvia. Art photography is represented by Uldis Grasis and Alfs Raudis.


Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita