Jaunā Gaita nr. 212, marts 1998

JG 212

Rolfs Ekmanis, in his first editor's column, casts a retrospective look as to why and how Jaunā Gaita can now celebrate its forty-third year of publication. He hopes that it will continue to welcome new talent, grapple with controversial issues and respond to its readership, fulfilling its role as a driving force in Latvian communities outside Latvia and a channel of communication with a growing readership in Latvia.

Life and death is a prominent theme in this issue. In his last poem, 'The Fog", the late Modris Zeberiņš is a small boy stumbling through fog with his father to hear a Good Friday performance of Vivaldi's "Requiem". Hjalmar Gullberg's long poem "Love story', translated into the Latvian Ventiņu dialect by Fricis Dziesma (Sweden), introduces this popular Swedish poet to Latvians. Ivars Lindbergs' (USA) wry comment on love completes this section.

We publish a second short story by Grants (Latvia), who made his debut in our last issue. A little boy living alone with his grandfather must confront his sudden death, the "big day" about which his grandfather has spoken. Tālivaldis Ķiķauka (Canada) contributes a story about a young linguistic genius who is awarded the Nobel prize.

Our late editor Laimonis Zandbergs interviewed two Latvians who are both painters and authors: Lidija Dombrovska-Larsena (Australia) and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka, who discuss this duality in their creative lives. Ķiķauka praises the prose of Modris Zeberiņš as a personal favourite. Currently the artists are collaborating by mail on a science fiction work, provisionally titled 'The Runway'.

Jānis Krēsliņš (USA) examines the achievements of Uldis Ģērmanis, who died in Sweden on Dec. 19, 1997. Ģērmanis was a historian, publicist, and a contributor to Jaunā Gaita, which published sections of his controversial study of Col. Jukums Vācietis, commander of the Red Latvian Riflemen during the Russian Civil War. In later years Ģērmanis criticized Jaunā Gaita for its handling of cultural relations with Soviet-occupied Latvia. His unflinchingly honest, often humourous, essays on political events in Sovietoccupied Latvia and on life in Latvian communities abroad have been published in several volumes.

Latvian theatre has lost a vibrant personality, Erika Prindule-Dargevica, once a leading lady in Jelgava. Viktors Hausmanis (Latvia) saw her on stage in his youth, and corresponded with her until her death last year. He has assembled a vivid picture of prewar theatre in Jelgava.

Gunārs Gulbis (Latvia) strolling through Dubulti relives his memory of the traumatic summer of 1941 - the outbreak of war, the June 14 deportations, and the advance of German military units into Riga

With a general election in Latvia approaching, Prof. Gundars Ķeniņš-King (USA) takes stock of Latvia's economy and discusses proposals for improvements. He warns against allowing greater control of the central bank by the government and possible devaluation of the Lats.

The 'Kiberkambaris" column has five participants from Latvia and two from the USA in the Internet forum SVEIKS discussing responsibility vs. freedom, identity vs. assimilation and McDonalds and Coca-Cola vs. traditional grey peas and birch sap.

Jānis Gorsvāns (USA) contributes a literary travelogue: in 1997 he and his wife headed north from Los Angeles through California for a long-awaited visit with Jānis Klīdzējs, one of the best loved living Latvian novelists. Old Sonoma Road, where Klīdzējs lives, proves difficult to find, but finally the two Jānis' meet, precisely on Midsummer Night's eve, their nameday.

Aija Janelsiņa-Priedīte (Sweden) discusses the concept of home, both physical and spiritual, in Gundega Repše's novel Ēnu apokrifs (Apocryphal Shadows). For Latvians "home" has usually meant the family farm, the land, but sometimes this fails as a spiritual home. Nina, the main character in the novel, is rootless, disconnected and lonely, and desperately searches for 'home' in her connections with the men in her life.

Laimonis Mieriņš (England) reports on the Piet Modrian retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London, England, in 1997, which displayed 70 works spanning a career from 1900 to 1944. Mondrian's metamorphosis into one of the leaders of pure abstract art evolves naturally from realistic structures in his early landscapes.

In the book review section Lalita Muižniece (USA) discusses the American Book Awardwinning A Woman in Amber by Agate Nesaule. Biruta Sūrmane (USA) reviews Māris Čaklais' collection of essays The Empire's Last Kopek, spanning the years 1991 - 1996, and offering much insight into this period. Indulis Kažociņš (England) reviews Vieda Skultāne's The Testimony of Lives: Narrative and Memory in Post-Soviet Latvia. Skultāne is a lecturer in psychiatry in Bristol, England, and her book is a compilation of interviews with Latvian mental patients. Oddly, these patients use literary allusions and references to express themselves; this may be because Latvian national identity has been largely shaped by literature.

Prof. Juris Dreifelds of Brock University in Canada has been named as the second recipient of the Jānis Bieriņš Memorial Prize for his achievements as a historian and lecturer, and particularly for his book Latvia in Transition.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters (USA) and the frontispiece is by Jānis Jākobsons.


Jaunā Gaita