Jaunā Gaita nr. 92, 1973

JG 92

This issue includes several articles about literature and the arts in Soviet Latvia, with occasional glances at their social and political background. Rolfs Ekmanis (Arizona State C.) concludes his survey of the Soviet Latvian literary scene during 1971 with a discussion of poetry and prose fiction. The output of Soviet Latvian poets continues to be impressive in quantity and quality, although fewer debuts of new talent have occurred than in the late '60's; perhaps the great popularity of poetry among the Latvian reading public has spurred the printing of a number of collections that seem a little premature. Also, under political pressure, poetry has become less forceful, socially more indifferent, increasingly permeated with a sense of passivity. Consequently, increasing attention is being given to the human individual, to personal, intimate experiences, or reflections on life's moral values. The majority of prose works, unfortunately, continue to be old-fashioned and conservative in style and ideas; however, genuine intellectualism and experimentation are evident in the work of some of the better writers, such as Bels, Jakubāns, Kalve, Lukjanskis, Indrāne, and Lāms. Bels' novel The Cage is discussed in detail in Jautrīte Saliņa's (Newark State Coll.) "On Irony in Recent Soviet Latvian Prose", an incisive analysis of the theory and practice of irony versus satire in the perspective of intellectual and social history.

Imants Sakss (Hamilton, Ont.) summarizes some recently published opinions by several leading Soviet Latvian composers about the current state of Latvian music. The general attitude seems to be that although new works proliferate, few of the scores are genuinely innovative or exciting. Also, theatres and operas are apathetic about performing new compositions; the composers' union is in a state of stagnation; and music critics use outdated, subjective critical approaches. The concluding installment of Pāvils Klāns (Denmark) „The Silent Counterrevolution" traces the historical roots of the attempts at russification and suppression of nationalistic cultural chauvinism in the Soviet Union. Klāns argues that the eradication of a language means the obliteration of national identity; and expresses the hope that the hostilities regarding contact and cultural exchange between émigré Latvians and Soviet Latvia might be overcome.

It has almost become a cliché that the contemporary aesthetic demands from poetry a "new way of looking at things", and the modern poet creates his own, unique, personal vision. The Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, to quote his translator A. Irbe, "does not use poetic means to create a new, non-existent, fantastic world, but to reveal the surprising, unexpected, ordinarily unperceived dimensions of every day existence". The poems of Ivar Ivask (translated from Estonian by Astrīde Ivaska) are striking for the economy and concentration of imagery used to reveal metaphysical tensions. Lidija Dombrovska's symbolic vision of the attempts of alienated spirit to re-integrate with the world is conveyed by a spiraling, dream-like movement of associations full of a sense of unease and disorder. Aina Kraujiete explores inwardly compelling ironies and tragedies through external means as, with highly developed psychological empathy, she analyzes several feminine minds, and Eduards Freimanis gives some surprising new twists to his treatment of old themes.

Jānis Gorsvāns, whose short story collection A Rich and Full Life was recently awarded the Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš' Prize, is interviewed by Māra Celle. Gorsvāns is also an artist, and his story "The Eternal Eve" intersperses the contemplative disclosure of ironic human situations with descriptive scenes of almost painterly detail. Lidija Dombrovska's "By the Ocean" and Irēne Blūmfelde's "The Birch" are experiments on the borderline between prose and poetry. Dombrovska conveys a sense of both beauty and terror, while to Blūmfelde nature becomes the starting point for meditation and inner exploration.

Other items of interest in this issue include Gvido Augusts' revelations about the erotic art of Sigismunds Vidbergs (and the attempts of some biographers to "moralize" or de-emphasize that aspect of his work); Rolfs Ekmanis' reviews of several scholarly and political publications; and Dr. Edgars Andersons' (California State U.) obituary of the late historian, philologist and diplomat Dr. Arnolds Spekke. The cover is by Lidija Dombrovska.



Dr. Rolfs Ekmanis (Arizona State U.) surveys the Latvian literary scene in this issue. Dr. Ivar Ivask (seated), editor of Books Abroad reports that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the recipient of the second Books Abroad / Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Photo: E. Elstiņš


Jaunā Gaita