Jaunā Gaita nr. 250. septembris 2007

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JG 250


PROSE. The concluding installment of Marta Landmane's World War II novella Neskumsti, meitenīt! (Don't grieve, lassie!) tells about a young woman's failed love, her escape from Latvia before the return of Soviet occupation forces, and her exile years in England.

POETRY. There is something essential in Ingmāra Balode's poetic intelligence that makes itself beautifully audible. Alberts Eglītis' narrative poem depicts a 1944 battle episode on the Eastern front.

LITERARY CRITICISM. While literary historian Viesturs Vecgrāvis (University of Latvia) embraces the entire poetic oeuvre of Aina Zemdega in his article, professor emeritus Juris Silenieks (Carnegie-Mellon University) examines critically two of her posthumously published volumes - the poetry collection Nakts dzejoļi (Night poems) and travel reminiscences Septiņjūdžu zābakos (Seven-league boots). Franks Gordons' cultural essay provides an overview of the literary Bērziņš family - the poet and multilingual translator, Uldis Bērziņš, whose latest opus magnum is a translation of the Koran from Old Arabic into Latvian, and previously, Old Testament texts from the original Hebrew, as well as numerous translations of Turkish literary works. Uldis' wife, Dr. Jelena Staburova, a Stradiņš U. sinologist, has translated the works of Confucius into Latvian. Their daughter Una is currently studying the Chinese and Tibetan languages and their son Ansis has "assimilated" himself into the ethnic Letgallians of Eastern Latvia (see his internet portal www.latgola.lv). Dr. Aina Siksna's delightfully readable scholarly study of the effects of the refugee experience on the literary themes of the Baltic exile writers who found refuge in Sweden after WWII, goes beyond a simple record of the past - it helps define the perception of all displaced people then and now, for better or for worse. Among the authors whose work she analyzes are Andrejs Gunars Irbe, Veronika Strēlerte, Andrejs Eglītis, Richards Rīdzinieks, Margita Gūtmane, Dzintars Sodums, Pāvils Johansons and Uldis Ģērmanis - all contributors to JG at one time or another.

HISTORY. After Radio Nacional de Espańa discontinued broadcasts in Baltic languages (1965) and before Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe began broadcasting to the USSR in Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian (1975), young Baltic exiles had an earnest plan (which was never acted on by the stagnating leaders of the exile establishment) to purchase a radioship that would cruise in international waters along the Baltic coastline in order to broadcast Baltijas Balss (BB - Voice of the Baltics) programs to the inhabitants of the Baltic region. By the early 1970s the BB enthusiasts transferred most of their energy and skills to the Baltic Appeal to the United Nations (BATUN), an organization which worked very effectively in raising awareness of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states at the United Nations. This little-known episode, researched by Rolfs Ekmanis, is a fascinating tidbit of Cold War history.

VISUAL ARTS. Laimonis Mieriņš describes the recent Latvian art scene, including the exhibits: Echoes of Fauvism in Latvian Painting 1910 - 1980; the controversial Eight Rooms by Ieva Iltnere; and French Personalities 1934-1960 - photographs by Philippe Halsmann (1906-1979), who was born and educated in Riga and lived most of his adult life in Paris. Art historian Gundega Cēbere introduces the artist Leonīds Āriņš (1907-1991), who was officially neglected during the Soviet era. This section also presents an evaluation of Vija Celmiņa's exhibit A Drawings Retrospective at the U. of California, Los Angeles. We have reproduced several of Āriņš' works, an oil painting by Viestarts Aistars, and two exquisite art photos by Juris Kornets, author of Saris in the Sun: Portraits and Landscapes (2006). The cover is by Haralds Norītis.

JG CYBERSPACE editor Juris Žagariņš, discussing the evolution of electronic publishing, expresses scepticism about literary critic Sven Birkerts' prediction (in his The Gutenberg Elegies, 1994) that printed literary books will become obsolete with the rise of e-publishing. Žagariņš concludes with a detailed description of On Demand Books "Espresso Book Machine" that can download, print and even bind books from the Internet on an individual basis. Professor Žagariņš' regular Internet feature Kiberkambaris reflects socio-political contradictions in Latvia.

BOOK REVIEWS include Juris Rozītis' Displaced Literature: Images of Time and Space in Latvian Novels Depicting the First Years of the Latvian Postwar Exile (reviewed by Lalita Muižniece); Gundega Repše's fictionalized diary Vara rati (Copper wheels) (Aina Siksna); Vilnis Bankovičs' Los, los! Davai, davai! - a memoir of WWII and its aftermath (Juris Silenieks); Astrīda Beinare's historical novel Kaupo un svētais grals (Kaupo and the Holy Grail) (Lia Šmite); Valentīns Jakobsons' Breakfast at Midnight - a memoir of life in a Siberian labour camp (English translation by Biruta Sūrmane) (Inta Ezergaile); and Journal of Baltic Studies No. 4(2006) and No.1 (2007) (Gundars Ķeniņš-King).

The MARGINALIJA covers a broad range of topics, from the deaths of the world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and Russia's president Boris Yeltsin, to the removal of Alyosha, the bronze statue of a Red Army soldier in the centre of Tallinn, to its proper place - a Soviet military cemetery.

LV., R.E.

Jaunā Gaita