Jaunā Gaita nr. 76, 1969
Olģerts an Juris Rozītis
A hopeless incommunicability and a tormented soul filled with bizarre fantasies, realities and paradoxes characterize My Father Used to Be..., an antinovella by Oļģerts Rozītis, and the experimental vignettes The 69th Parallel, by his son Juris (both residing in Australia). In the short first-person account Here, Benita Veisberga (San Francisco) is plagued by the elusive nature of truth. Veisberga's book I, Your Tender Lamb (1968), portions of which originally appeared in this journal, brought her the Jaunsudrabiņ Prize in Prose in 1969. Our editor Astrīde Ivaska (University of Oklahoma) writes not only memorable poems (she has been awarded the 1969 Zinaīda Lazda Poetry Award for her book of verse The Winter's Share, 1968), but also prose as evinced by her sensitive and colorful travel impressions of Finland and Spain.
The contributors to our poetry section are also familiar to JG. While Aina Kraujiete (New York) evokes all the torments of separation and exile, Ausma Jaunzeme (Stanford) strikes a social note on contemporary irrationality.
The first installment of the monograph The Commander from Zemgale, by the historian Uldis Ģērmanis (Sweden), is the major nonfictional contribution. This detailed and systematic study deals with the life and the historical significance of a Latvian Rifles colonel, Jukums Vācietis (1873 - 1938), who was named the first Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army. Subsequently, accused of treason and conspiracy as part of Stalin's intrigue against Trotsky, he was executed during the crescendo of the Great Purge. As source material Ģērmanis has used newspaper reports, political brochures, legalistic documents, governmental proclamations, official speeches, many collections of memoirs about World War I and the revolutionary events during the critical years 1917-1921, diplomatic documents of various Westem countries, including the Political Archives of Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other documentary evidence. Moreover, the author has interviewed many contemporaries and eyewitnesses of the events described. He regrets that Soviet archives of the revolutionary epoch have not been made available to Westem historians.
The former Latvian Minister of Financial Affairs, Voldemārs Bastjānis, in his article Economic Development in Independent Latvia, is in essential disagreement with much of Prof. Arnolds Aizsilnieks' argument (as expounded in his recent book An Economic History of Latvia, 1914-1945) that the abolishment of the large landed estates as a result of the Agrarian Reform of 1920 caused disturbances in agricultural production. Bastjānis also defends Latvia's attempt to maintain the officially declared value of the lats for a few more years by not going off the gold standard in 1931, together with Great Britain and other countries.
Fifty years ago the German architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus at Weimar to prove that art and engineering need not remain estranged from each other as they had been in the 19th century; that, on the contrary, each could benefit from the other. In this connection, Laimonis Mieriņ (England) outlines the entire doctrine of functionalism. Edgars Andersons (presently a distinguished Professor of European History at Livingston University) favorably reviews Res Baltica, a collection of twelve essays by ten perceptive scholars, written in honor of the memory of Dr. Alfred Bīlmanis (1887- 1948), a prominent Latvian diplomat, historian, and journalist. The most extensive study in this volume, The Idea of Independent Latvia and Its Development in 1917, by Ģērmanis, originally appeared in our magazine (no. 58-62). History of Latvia Revisited, by Nikolajs Vīksnin (Philadelphia), in the opinion of our editor Andrievs Ezergailis (Ithaca College), reveals that history is not dead, but aggressively, challengingly alive. The same reviewer refers to Acta Baltica VII, another collection of essays by scholarly hands published by Germany's Institutum Balticum, as an open-minded and respectable volume. Gunars Irbe (JG co-editor since the summer of 1956, and an imaginative writer who also writes for a wide range of Western periodicals on literary and cultural matters) has contributed a review article on two books published in Swedish - Arnolds Spekke's Några ord om lettisk litteratur (A Few Words About Latvian Literature) and Kai Laitinen's Finlands moderna litteratur: Konturer, huvudlinjer, resultat 1917-1967. While the first book, he so argues, is never more than a sketchy and often trite and verbose account of Latvian literary heritage, ironically Laitinen's book, though devoted to modem Finnish literature, offers a truer picture of the state of 20th-century Latvian literature. In several articles in the 13th volume of the annual publication Baltische Hefte, Agnis Balodis (Sweden) hears a precise and unmistakable echo of the words An deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen. Juris Mazutis (Montreal) discusses Pierre Trudeau's Federalism and the French Canadians, which contains nine essays written between 1954 and 1968, and Juris Silenieks (of Carmegie-Mellon University) examines the East European issue of the international literary quarterly Books Abroad (Winter 1969).