Jaunā Gaita nr. 77, 1970

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JG 77


In the second installment of the monograph The Commander from Zemgale (which deals with Colonel jukums Vācietis of the Latvian Rifles who was named the first Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army and subsequently executed in the Great Purge), Uldis Ģērmanis (Sweden) skilfully establishes the background to the events he analyzes and describes. After outlining the Westem and Latvian scholars' various interpretations of the revolutionary events, he focuses his attention on Soviet historiography and comes to the conclusion that scholarship in the USSR has always reflected the efforts of the state to force history to serve predetermined aims. In the prewar period as well as the war and postwar years, when history came under total state control, historical scholarship (especially in the non-Russian areas) was determined by expressions of militant Great Russian chauvinism. This was the time whem Russians were proclaimed the first among the peoples of the USSR, when the Soviet regime sought to eradicate the expression of non-Russian nationalist sentiment and to emphasize the cultural hegemony of the Great Russian people, and also the time of the Great Purge when almost all non-Russian Bolsheviks, including many Latvians who held significant pasts in the CPSU, the Govemment, and the Red Army, were shot. Until the XX Party Congress (1956), the history of the revolutionary years was grossly distorted and the non-Russian contribution (including that of the Latvian Rifles) to the revolutions of 1917 was passed over in complete silence.

A Latvian Agent Between Hitler and Stalin is a suspensefiil and hitherto unknown espionage episode which took place in Berlin from August 1940 to June 1941. Vilis Skultāns (Germany) who recreates this dramatic picture of double spying, has utilized materials released only recently by the German Political Archives. Andris Urdze's (Germany) interview with Latvian youths from Western Europe and North America raises a number of important questions, opinions, and speculations about contemporary émigré values.

A reader seeking genuinely creative work, will find it in abundance in the poems by Astrīde Ivaska (Oklahoma), Herta Krauja (New York), Baiba Bičole (New Jersey), Ausma Jaunzeme (Califomia), Velta Sniķere (England), Andrejs Irbe (Sweden), Valentīns Pelēcis (Minnesota), and the prose pieces by Ilze Šķipsna (Texas), Eduards Freimanis (Canada), and Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia).

JG 77 coverage of recent books features Māra Kalmane's (Australia) favorable review of Shameless Old Men, a novel characterized by sincerity and richly detailed descriptions of the home and family of a Latvian emigrant in Califomia. Its author, Anšlavs Eglītis (Califomia), is one of the most prolific Latvian prose writers. The short story collection, The People of Sermūkšļi County, by lrma Grebzde  (Canada), is laced with the flavor of rural Latvia. However, her work is in no way regional,so argues Oļģerts Puravs, University of Michigan. Latvia serves merely as the setting from which her fiction expands outward in its implications. Juris Silenieks of CarnegieMellon University reviews the 1968 editions of the prose works Nephews (originally published in 1922) and The Iron Fist (1920) by Kārlis Zariņš and Anna Brigadere respectively, as well as three new short-story collections from Riga - Harijs Galiņš' The Auction of Death, Alberts Bels' I Myself on a Plain, and Andris Jakubāns' My white Guitar. The reviewer is pleasantly surprised at the performance of the young generation authors Bels and, especially, Jakubāns whose stories appear to be above all art, seemingly little concemed with the „function" or with the degree of direct and officially demanded „usefulness" to the Soviet readers. According to Arvīds Ziedonis of Muhlenberg College, The Poetry of Rainis, by the Soviet Latvian literary historian Emma Andersone, is too polemical to add any significant insights to the existing scholarship on Jānis Rainis (1865-1929). Ziedonis is the author of the first booklength study in the English language of this very great Latvian poet, The Religious Philosophy of Jānis Rainis (1969). Haralds Biezais of the University of Uppsala discusses Studies in Folklore, by the late Arturs Ozols (University of Latvia), whose work is devoted to fundamental theoretical questions regarding folklore, a historical view of the Latvian folklore activity, and to various categories of Latvian folklore. Biezais also comments on Latgalian Folklore, published in Munich. In Art and Life (Västerĺs, Sweden), Ģirts Ārvaldis has demonstrated a readiness to judge and label everything and everyone. This is the main reason why Gvīdo Augusts (Califomia) has covered the margins of this doctrinaire attack on modem art with question marks and negative comments.

This issue's cover is by Jānis Gorsvāns (California).

Jaunā Gaita