Jaunā Gaita nr. 213, jūnijs 1998

JG 213

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Professor of Psychology at L'Universite de Montreal, president elect of L'Academie des Arts et des Lettres , contributes a second study of Latvian Sun-Songs from her unique corpus of computerized folk-song texts. In JG 203 she examined the special role of the "sun" image in Latvian folk songs. In this issue she expands on the moral significance of the unmarried young _ woman's traditional headdress.

Our poetry section has Gunars Saliņš (USA) focusing on the Japanese tea ceremony, as seen through the consciousness of a Latvian poet, while Jānis Gorsvāns (USA) offers acerbic takes on important life issues - peeling an onion, colds, and women. Andrejs lrbe (Sweden) bitterly defines exile. Jānis Ramba (Latvia) has several poems from his new collection "Morning Coffee", and continuing our tradition of fostering new talent, we have several poems by Laimdota Grīnšteina (Latvia).

A set of articles focuses on problems of Latvian history. Nikolajs Bulmanis (Canada) relives his boyhood in the spring of 1945 during the last days of the Third Reich. His family in Lustenau, Austria joins a small group of other refugee families, which include Pauls Kalniņš, chairman of the last Saeima (Latvian Parliament). Bulmanis has vivid memories of Kalniņš funeral and of the tumultuous post-war period in general.

Jānis Kresliņš (USA) confronts persistent myths in Latvian history: conquest and Christianization starting in the 13th century; the undervalued role of the Hernhut Movement in fostering the rebirth of Latvian culture; the controversial 1905 revolution; and the persistent failure to see the futility of the bloodletting suffered by Latvians conscripted into both Russian and German armies.

Historian and gadfly Uldis Ģērmanis passed away last year. As Dr. Ulafs Jāņsons he systematically deconstructed Soviet Latvian propaganda in countless newspaper columns which are collected in several books. He was equally critical of aspects of Latvian exile society. In his farewell tribute Ilmārs Bastjānis (U.S.A.) concludes that Latvians will miss his sharp-tongued presence.

The third volume of Dzintars Sodums' (USA) idiosyncratic autobiographical prose series was published last year. The series covers his youth in newly independent Latvia during the 1920's, the Russian and German occupations, experiences behind the lines in the cul-de-sac of Kurzeme and his escape by boat to Sweden. The new volume contains an unsparing account of his 17-year stay there before coming to the USA in 1963. Our book review editor Mārtiņš Lasmanis (Sweden) analyzes the shifts in focus and style of the series and concludes that this work, along with Sodum's translation of James Joyce's Ulysses, constitute major achievements.

Andrievs Ezergailis (USA) interviews Ieva Lešinskis (Latvia), editor of Rīgas Laiks (Rigas Time), and touches upon a wide range of topics relating to recent Latvian events. Foremost is the uncertainty surrounding both the defection and later, the death of her father Imants Lešinskis, who had a high profile career in Soviet Latvia. Her visit to the USA last September was partly to clarify some of these questions. Ieva Lešinskis lived in the USA at that time and subsequently in Sweden before returning to Latvia during the breakup of Soviet rule.

Two books are reviewed which recount experiences in Latvia during the last forty years. Juris Silenieks (USA) reviews Vizma Belševica's (Latvia) autobiographical Bille Lives On, a continuation of the prizewinning Bille. The tragedy of the Russian and German occupations of Latvia during World War II is told from the viewpoint of the young girl Bille.

Kelīna Klāns' (Latvia) first novel about life in a kolhoz near Lubana Lake is notable for a vivid cast of characters, rich local lore, and unsparing description of the changing conditions of life there, writes Biruta Sūrmane (USA) in her evaluation of this work. It was one of the finalists in the literary journal Karogs and R. Gerken's third novel competition.

Dace Aperāne (USA) surveys the career of composer Pēteris Vasks (Latvia), whose international recognition has grown since 1994, when his CD's became more widely available. He has been grouped with the mystical minimalist school of composers - Henryk Gorecki, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pa'rt and John Tavener. His work has been featured in at least 11 international music festivals including the Salzburger Festspiele last year. Imants Zemzars (Latvia) provides details about Pēteris Vasks' very busy last year.

In "Kiberkambaris", a discussion in the Latvian language mailing list SVEIKS turns to the recently rediscovered Latvian communities of Siberia. These have, remarkably, maintained their Latvian identity over as much as a century and a half in isolation from their own land,

In this issue's press survey I. Rancāns (Latvia) notes the hangover of Soviet terminology in today's Latvia especially the word "republic", while California's "Ziemelkalifornijas apskats" criticizes Latvia's low budget for education.

Our editor, Rolfs Ekmanis, looks at recent cultural highlights: she new production of Verdi's Aida at the Latvian National Opera, the Riga production of Andrejs Jansons (USA) musical Laimes Reibonī, and the new Ward Television Corp. video One World: the Baltic States - Seven Years of Success and Still Growing.

Both the frontispiece and the cover are by the Chicago artist Vitauts V. Sīmanis.


Jaunā Gaita