Jaunā Gaita nr. 75, 1969

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JG 75

The major nonfictional contributions in this issue are three articles on literary criticism and one on history. Fiction is represented by two short stories and 47 poems. The lead article is by the noted Latvian linguist Valerija Baltiņa Bērziņa (Minneapolis, Minn.) „Contemporary Poetry". She feels mildly critical about the tendency towards solipsism in our recent poetry and the desire of the poets to pursue novelty rather than explore truth and human relationships. „Contemporary poetry is going through a renaissance of a kind. As the poets of the. 15th and 16th centuries in their feeling towards life returned to the culture of the Greeks and Romans, seeking in it liberation from the confines of medieval thought...", so the author feels that the modem poet wants to escape the pressures of contemporary civilization by turning to an adoration of the primitive. More specifically Baltiņa-Bērziņa pursues themes of escape into unreality and fragmentation of our ethical forms as reflected by the middle generation of émigré poets.

Ilmars Birznieks (University of Missouri) discusses the works of Werner Bergengruen, the popular German novelist. Bergengruen is of Baltic German origin and, according to the author, the Baltic background frequently makes its appearance in his writings. The popularity of Bergengruen's fiction in post War Gerrnany Birznieks believes to rest on his old-fashioned form and his belief in the constancy of values - qualities that had special appeal in post War Germany. Arnolds Spekke, Minister Plenipotentiary, Chargé d'Affaires of Latvia, and the senior Latvian historian in emigration, has contributed a historiographical article discussing recent literature about amber in ancient history, its social significance and geographical distribution.

Next follows the second and concluding installment of our editor Rolfs Ekmanis' (University of Arizona) study „Cultural Situation in Latvia- 1968". With the careful and unbiassed scholarship that the readers of Jaunā Gaita have learned to expect from Ekmanis, he discusses Soviet Latvian prose, recent translations from foreign literature, Latvian literature translated into other languages, literary scholarship, and plastic arts. Especially valuable and unique is Ekmanis' discussion of Soviet Latvian prose works that nobody interested in Soviet Latvian literature can ignore.

Short stories are contributed by Indra Gubiņa (Toronto, Ontario) and Henrijs Moors (New York, N.Y.). Both stories explore the psychology of loneliness and fear of isolation. Poetry contributions are made by eleven poets. Most of them are names familiar to Jaunā Gaita. Juris Zommers (Hamilton, Ont.) Dainis Turaids (Sacramento, Calif.), Margarita Ausala (England) and Lidija Dombrovska-Larsena (Denmark) make their debut as poets. Previous contributors are Lalita Muižniece (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Gundars Pļavkalns (Kensington Gardens, Australia), Eduards Freimanis (Edmonton, Alberta), Juris Mazutis (Montreal), Modris Lorbergs (Toronto, Ont.), Valerija Baltiņa (Minneapolis, Minn.), Valdis Krāslavietis (Chicago).

Books of poetry are reviewed by G. Pļavkalns and K. Abele. Pļavkalns reviews Astrīde Ivaska's (University of Oklahoma) book of verse The Winter's Share which he describes as possessing musical realism; he finds her poetry artistic and sensitive. Pļavkalns' opinion of R. Mūks' book of verse Death and Otto is less enthusiastic yet he finds the poet to have talent and to be worth reading although the reviewer deplores Mūks' tendency to imitate and sermonize. Ābele reviews three mini-books of poetry by Jānis Viesiens (Stockholm), Pāvils Johansons (Stockholm), and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka (Burlington, Ont.). In Viesiens' Poetry Ābele likes the poet's honesty but thinks it lacks tension and originality. Johansons' poetry the reviewer finds highly intellectual, marked by restraint and coolness. Ķiķauka's attempt at epic poetry Ābele believes to be an interesting and significant failure. It lacks „unity and polish". Hamilkars Lejiņš (Texas Women's University) reviews two novels: the reissue of a 19th century work by Augusts Deglavs and a contemporary work by Eduards Freimanis. Both works are concerned with the portrayal of social issues and milieu and therefore the reviewer believes the works can serve as a basis for a comparison between the two eras.

Jānis Peniķis (University of Minnesota) reviews Edgars Dunsdorfs' statistical study The Third Latvia, a term that is meant to describe Latvians in emigration. The reviewer finds the choice of title misleading, but the work itself a very valuable one. Raimonds Staprāns (San Francisco, Calif.) reviews two art books published in Soviet Latvia: collections of Mārtiņš Ozoliņš' graphic works and Leo Svemps' paintings. 0zoliņš' graphic works Staprāns considers undistinguished and full of cliches. The reviewer puts Svemps' work in a higher class as having moments of virtuosity, but in Staprāns' opinion the artist has used his virtuosity for commercial ends too frequently during his life. Gunars Irbe's review of Ed.Dobelis, (ed.) Latvian History through Poetry and Art, vols 1 and 2, is brief and devastating. Alfreds Straumanis (New Paltz, N.Y.) favorably reviews the first volume of Kārlis Kundziņš' The History of Latvian Theater, which is the first major study of the topic. The reviewer is displeased with the excessive amount of ideologizing in the work.

The cover is by Ilgvars Šteins, a graduate of the Art College of Ontario. He has been awarded the Governor's Prize and is currently employed by the Canadian government in Ottawa.

Jaunā Gaita