Jaunā Gaita nr. 64, 1967

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JG 64

On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was proclaimed. "Henceforth we shall rank among the nations," said George Cartier, one of the Confederation's founding fathers. To highlight the commemorative celebrations marking Canada's Centennial Confederation, Expo 67, proclaimed as the greatest show on earth, presents a study of "Man and His World," i.e., how man adapts and controls his environment. In designing our cover, JG art director Ilmars Rumpeters was inspired by the exposition symbol based on the ancient sign of men at worship - here joined in pairs to signify friendship and support and arranged in a circle to represent the earth.

The two prose writers presented in this issue, Gunars Janovskis (b.1916) and Guntis Zarins (1920-1965) won the North American Latvian Cultural Fund Prize for the best work of literature in 1967 and 1963, respectivaly. Janovskis' short story "Within a Hairbreadth" strikes the same peculiar note of restrained hysteria, speedy wit, gloomy humor and rough intensity that marks his other works. Zarins' novella "Don't Look Back" is a sequence of hallucinatory images,succeeding one another at high speed. T'his talented author, who met untimely death by committing suicide in London, has been credited with introducing literary existentialism into Latvian letters. But Ausma Medne (who teaches philosophy at the University of Sidney) points out in her essay "Philosophical Leit-Motifs in Guntis Zarins' Works" that the writer's creative output, though moulded by his contact with French existentialist literature and philosophy, is neither the result of an imitation of Sartre (whom he is known to admire), nor any other representative of the Philosophical School of Paris. Zarins' existentialism has a typically Latvian flavor. Speaking from a philosophical milieu in an informal fashion, Medne shows that Zarins, unlike Sartre, did not create his works upon the massive foundations of any academic philosophy but rather as a result of cognitions acquired through his own emotional experiences, primarily during World War II. Furthermore, though far from being an optimist, the Latvian writer was a much more optimistic interpreter of human nature than his mentor. Zarins wrote about the people and environment he knew best: Latvians in exile. But his central themes are universal - a search for the meaning of life and one's own identity, incommunicability of human feelings, and self-deception, caused by a tendency to avoid unpleasant truths.

Irma Berzina in "Translator's Notes" offers a survey of the developments of poetry in Germany after the dark sterile Hitlerian years and permits the reader a glance at representative poems by sixteen contemporary German poets: Karl Krolow, Guenter Eich, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Marierose Fuchs, Paul Celan, Helmut Heissenbuettel, Guenter Grass, Peter Huchel, Johannes Bobrowski, Hilde Domin, Nelly Sachs, Elisabeth Borchers, Astrid Claes, Hans-Juergen Heise, Friedrich Christian Delius and Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

One of the old generation's leading Latvian architects and the former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Latvia, Dr. Pauls Kundzins, in his essay "Search for New Trends in Today's Architecture" traces the major steps in the evolution of modern architecture.

Jazeps Grodnis, a member of the Latvian National Council of Canada, in the fourth article in the series "Thoughts About the Latvian State" insists that not moral principles, but self-interest and power determine the action of states. Consequently no country will openly speak up on behaif of the colonized Balts. Of the four possible ways they might regain national freedom - UN interference, revolution, evolution, war - to him only war seems likely. Unlike Dr. Bruno Kalnins - who in JG 60 made a persuasive case that given time the Soviet state might evolve out of tyranny into freedom - Grodnis has no harrowing thoughts on nuclear holocaust.

"The best poetry should evoke suggestions which please and satisfy but do not exhaust themselves on the hardness of intellect," wrote the American poet Richard Eberhart. Most poems in Baiba Bicole's volume The Loosening (1966), published in the U.S.A., and a great many in Vizma Belsevica's collection Sea Aflame (1966), printed in Riga, Latvian SSR, evoke suggestions which please and satisfy, implies the poet and critic Gundars Plavkalns (Australia) in the Book Review Section. He also maintains that Arnolds Apse's prose works in which he handles words with a skill not granted to many practitioners of the art, stand far above his poetry collection Sunflowers. What makes Zane Zemdega's short-story collection The Road of Destruction valuable is more its clarity of vision than its merit as literature, so argues Rudite Emira. The critic Dr. Pavils Vasarins (Hamilton, Ont.) discusses three books published last year: You Are Holding the Sky in Your Hands, by Tonija Kruka, Behind the Golden Curtain, by Otto Krolls, and I Am Returning to Myself, by Paula Jeger-Freimane, who mixes intense personal feeling with craftsmanlike knowledge. Professor Edgars Andersons, who has written widely on Baltic affairs examines critically the contents of the fifth annual volume of Acta Baltica (1966) . Dr. Jazeps Lelis discusses with great skill the volume of essays Latvian Culture through the Ages (ed. Dr. Haralds Biezais).

Among the Balts, their recent history never fails to arouse passionate feelings; it has been the object of interminable discussion, heated disagreement, and agood measure of myth-making. It is not surprising that In Those Days, the memoirs of Dr. Edgars Krievins (former Latvian ambasador to pre-war, Germany), have been one of the most talked about books in the Latvian exile publishing season. It is reviewed in our pages by Peteris Dardzans.

Canada, like most countries of the New World, throughout her history has absorbed many transfusions of new and different national strains, including Latvians who took passage as early as the 1890's at various European ports in ships bound for Halifax, Montreal and Quebec. There they contributed their strength, their work, and their faith, thereby giving richness and color to Canadian life. Also in some fields, especially since the political emigration after World War II, they added to Canada' culture. Osvalds Akmentins summarizes his forthcoming study of early Latvian immigrants to the Canadian Confederation. Talivaldis Kikauka, who resides in Hamilton, Ontario, records his conversation with one of the postwar immigrants, the Latvian artist, Gundega Cenne. She completed her formal art training in Montreal, Que., and now resides in Owen Sound, Ont. Cenne, who has exhibited her works with success in the galleries of Toronto and New York, says the most interesting things with genuine sophistication about the art of painting and the life of art. In "Quick Notations About Expo 67", Kikauka examines with interpretative originality "the greatest international exhibition in the history of the world."

Canadian Pavilion at Expo
"Henceforth we shall rank among the nations."

Jaunā Gaita