Jaunā Gaita nr. 163, jūnijs 1987

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JG 163

This issue of JG contains a good selection from several fields - literature, politics, music, and the visual arts. The literary section begins with two short stories by authors from Australia - Aina Vāvere's "Saulcerīte - Sola", about a girl growing up in two cultures, and Daina Šķēle's "Life's Labyrinths", a delightful piece about a housewife with a secret inner life: her soul is the reincarnation of a romantic spinster schoolteacher who lived during Latvia's period of independence. The poetry section has work by Lidija Dombrovska (Australia), Marta Landmane (England), Eduards Salna (England), Valentīns Pelēcis (USA), and Māris Čaklais, one of Latvia's finest poets and recently-appointed editor of the cultural weekly Literatūra un Māksla ("Literature and Art").

Juris Mazutis contributes an analysis of the political philosophy and achievements of Canada's Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Until 1982 Canada was a sovereign nation in a unique and somewhat embarrassing position - its constitution was not an act of the Canadian Parliament, but of the British Parliament, and any changes to this constitution, known as the British North America (or BNA) Act, required the consent of the British Parliament. Many attempts were made to "patriate" the constitution, that is, to compose a Canadian constitution that would be accepted by the Canadian and provincial governments, but Trudeau was the first to succeed in doing so in 1982, more than 100 years after the BNA Act was originally passed. Only nine of the ten provinces (Quebec refused) agreed to Trudeau's Constitution and Charter of Rights. Trudeau's place in history as the "father" of Canada's constitution is assured, but his dream of a fully integrated bilingual, multicultural nation, and a strong central government to ensure equality among all of Canada's regions, appears to have been discarded in the latest constitutional agreement, which was signed this year by all ten provinces and the federal government. Under the new agreement, Quebec is defined as a "distinct society", a concept that Trudeau always fought against.

Latvian children's literature has been blessed by the circumstance that the best writers of "adult" literature also made significant contributions to children's literature: Aspazija's wonderful children's poems, Anna Brigadere's fairy tale dramas and her childhood memoir Dievs, daba, darbs, Jaunsudrabiņš' The White Book, a collection of sketches about his childhood - these classics of Latvian literature can be enjoyed at many levels of literary sophistication and emotional maturity. Poet and novelist Margita Gūtmane discusses this phenomenon in her essay on children's literature in this issue.

The main focus of the essay, however, is on an author who wrote and illustrated only children's books: Alberts Kronenbergs (1887-1958). Kronenbergs did his best work in the period 1932-1938, culminating in the inimitable Sprunguļmuižā gada tirgus. Kronenbergs' only purpose in these books is to make children laugh with enjoyment, and he achieves this through his highly effective use of humour in language, situations, and illustrations.

Laimonis Mieriņš contributes his annual survey of the visual arts in Latvia, for 1986, to this issue. Mieriņš has often criticized Latvia's artists for their timidity and moderation. Such criticism is also starting to appear in Latvia: "Science and technology confront us with one shock after another, and we can only wonder at the way these are accepted as self-evident... However, in the field of art we continue to develop traditions that were initiated... at the beginning of this century. Misunderstandings arise not just from new directions, but even from slightly unusual departures from the ordinary." (Ģirts Muižnieks, Māksla 2). A new direction has certainly been taken by painter Aija Zariņa, whose personal show in the Artists' Building in Rīga provoked a storm of debate, although, as Mieriņš points out, in a Western context, "Zariņa's art... loses its novelty and thorny sharpness." Two works by Aija Zariņa are reproduced on page 26 of this issue.

Imants Sakss contributes a fascinating look at musical life in Latvia in the early part of this century, particulary the deadly rivalry between the two composer-critics Emīls Dārziņš and Pāvuls Jurjāns, whose accusation that Dārziņš plagiarized his music from Sibelius, led to Dārziņš' apparent suicide. Sakss demonstrates that Jurjāns unscrupulously fed Sibelius the conclusion that Dārziņš, as a self-taught musical amateur, had plagiarized his work, when even an authority such as Glazunov had stated that the work of the two composers bore no similarity in either form, internal structure, or instrumentation, and any trivial similarities that were present were simply commonly-used musical techniques.

This issue also contains O. Liepa's interview with editor Freds Launags of the new weekly Brīvā Latvija, published in West-Germany, N. Bulmanis' column on the visual arts, an introduction by Lidija Dombrovska-Larsena to Jānis Nedēļa, a young artist living in Australia, and a generous book review section. The frontispiece is by Māra Zvaigzne (Sweden), the cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters, and a cartoon by Imants Zilberts (Sweden) appears on page 60.


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