Jaunā Gaita nr. 244, marts 2006

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JG 244


Dr. Janīna Kursīte's engaging essay on the influence of Latvian exile literary works, including those printed in JG, on Latvian writers living under Soviet rule, is based on her lecture at our journal's 50-year anniversary event in Toronto, Canada. Kursīte is the author of many scholarly works and holds a deanship at University of Latvia's Philology Faculty.

Two veteran contributors to JG are represented in the poetry section - Gunars Saliņš with his impressions of works by Matisse, Picasso and Giacometti in New York's MoMA and Lolita Gulbe's poetic musings about Long ago parted lovers. Uldis Bērziņš, one of Latvia's foremost poets, demonstrates an unusual linguistic virtuosity in his Kā sapnī noredzēts (As Seen in a Dream).

Marianna leviņa continues her memoir of the poet Ateksandrs Pelēcis, describing the publication of his first poetry collection in 1943. leviņa and Pelēcis were fated to go their separate ways when the former found herself in a postwar refugee camp in West Germany, the latter was conscripted into the Latvian Legion during the German occupation and eventually was exited to Siberia where he spent 23 years.

Latvians have long argued about what might have happened if Latvia (Estonia and Lithuania, also), like Finland, had resisted the Russian occupation in 1940. Novelist Ainārs Zelčs has taken this to its logical conclusion and written a novel where the Latvian nation, headed by its president, did just that. A fragment from this forthcoming novel appears in this issue.

Rolfs Ekmanis discusses the work and the political activity of the 2005 Nobel Prize winner in literature, the playwright Harold Pinter, who in his Nobel Lecture upbraids the imperialistic foreign policy of the United States and refers to its invasion of Iraq as an „act of blatant state terrorism." Laimonis Mieriņš describes the work of British finalists for the 2005 Turner Prize and, also, reviews a major art exhibition in Riga last fall, entitled „Latvian Art in the Second Half of the 20th Century."

Sigma Ankrava, head of the "Department of Modern Languages at the University of Latvia, contributes an article on the view of time in various cultures and historical eras. Jānis Krēsliņš, a cultural historian and a poet, as well, expresses his sharply critical thoughts about some recent books, written and published in English by authors of Latvian descent. Indiana University professor Aija Veldre-Beldava's review article on the diverging sociocultural and sociolinguistic configurations found in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is based, to a large extent, on the fall 2005 issue of the Journal of Baltic Studies (JBS).

In the book-review pages, economist, Gundars Ķeniņš-King, gives an overview of the JBS Winter 2005 issue and, separately, examines two recent studies on Latvia's municipal government. Other works reviewed are the collected works (Vols. 5 and 6) of Dzintars Sodums, known as an iconoclast and slayer of sacred cows (Juris Silenieks); the writer, translator and diplomat Anna Žīgure's biography of her grandmother, the poet Elza Stērste (1885-1976), who was sent into Siberian exile at the age of 65 - for the „crime" of translating French literary works into Latvian (Astra Roze); an elegant commemorative book, compiled and edited by 0ļģerts Grāvītis, about his colleague, the composer and musician Arnolds Šturms (1912-1999) (Biruta Sūrmane); literary scholar Biruta Gudriķe's biography of novelist Alfreds Dziļums (1907-1976), who died in exile in Sweden (Sūrmane); Anita Liepa's novel, based on her own life story under Russian occupation (Roze); and Sandra Upeslācis' novel in English, A Visitor from Latvia (Anita Liepiņa).

Juris Žagariņš, in his regular Internet column on current events, presents a discussion about those tens of thousands of young Latvians who are leaving their homeland to search for employment in more prosperous EU countries. The Marginalia offers a generous selection of commentaries about recent Letonica (books, music and art events, cultural award recipients, etc. ), and notes on étonnante Lettonie (Surprising Latvia) -- Latvian art exhibitions, concerts, opera performances and other cultural events in Paris and other French cities in the autumn of 2005.

The paintings and drawings reproduced are by Laimonis Mieriņš and Ilmārs Rumpēters. The photographs of Uldis Briedis and Gunārs Janaitis document the „Riga Barricades" in January 1991, when Soviet special forces went on a shooting/killing spree in Riga and, before that, in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Ilze Valdmane

Jaunā Gaita