Jaunā Gaita nr. 242, septembris 2005

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JG 242

Jaunā Gaita was founded exactly 50 years ago by intellectually-minded Latvian university students and political activists in exile. This anniversary issue, as usual, engages the present, but also provides perspective on JG values and history from many noted cultural figures in Latvia, and also from five readers outside Latvia (England, Israel and the US). Most seem to agree that the journal has given them inspiration with its independent thought and continuous font of new ideas. Although JG was banned under Soviet rule, copies of each issue were, nevertheless, smuggled into Latvia by various means.

Ildze Kronta remembers Saulcerīte Viese (1932-2004), whose life work was the study of the poet and playwright Aspazija and the stewardship of Aspazija's papers. Viese wrote several fine biographical and critical studies of Aspazija and her work. She also addressed Aspazija's husband, the poet and dramatist, Rainis.

Marianna leviņa continues her memoir of poet Aleksandrs Pelēcis, describing his reaction to Soviet political repression and the deportations to Siberia during the first half of 1941. Pelēcis was deported himself after the return of the Soviet armies at the end of World War II.

Astrida Straumane Ramrath highlights the main points of a recent book (ed. by Biruta Abuls) about a Latvian secondary school (1945-1950) in a refugee camp in Augsburg, Germany. One of the most gifted students at the school was Leonīds Zariņš. After parachuting into Soviet Latvia for the CIA, he was captured and executed (1954) by the KGB.

The poet Uldis Bērziņš ponders the principle of collective responsibility for crimes committed by one nation against another. Lilita Zaļkalne describes a recent exhibit in Sweden of previously sealed documentary evidence concerning the Swedish surrender of German and Baltic military internees to the Soviet Union after the end of World War II. The internees were deported to Siberia and many perished there. This episode is still regarded as a black mark on modern Swedish history.

Poetry in this issue consists of some delightful miniatures by long-time JG contributor Baiba Bičole; Juris Rozītis' depiction of life as a long succession of „one plus one plus one"; and Leons Briedis' tribute poem „I Believe in [Jaunā] Gaita." Laima Kalniņa has contributed two prose sketches.

Solveiga Selga-Timpere investigates how Latvian composers have reflected their Latvian identity in their music, citing three periods as the most significant in the development of this identity - the national „awakening" of the second half of the 19th century; the period of Latvia's first independence; and the period preceding and following the re-establishment of Latvian sovereignty in 1991. Dace Aperāne describes an acclaimed performance by the New York City Ballet of a piece choreographed to Pēteris Vasks' music Tālā gaisma (Distant Light).

Anete Ivsiņa writes about Vidvuds Ingelēvičs. Despite his recognition in the international and Canadian art worlds, his work was deemed by some to be too „modernistic" to be shown at last year's Latvian Song Festival in Toronto.

We have reviews of a book of tributes to the late poet and editor Māris Čaklais (Biruta Sūrmane); a collection of short stories by Inga Ābele (Rimands Ceplis); and a fascinating book by Roalds Dobrovenskis on the life of the 16th century Danish prince Magnus, who for a brief time was the crowned king of Livonia (Lia Šmite). Several reviews look at recent periodicals from or about the Baltic area. Jānis Krēsliņš briefly describes three recent Lithuanian books - one about the Semgallians and another about the Curonians during the pre-Christian era; and a bibliographical compilation of Lithuanian books and periodicals published in exile.

Juris Žagariņš has compiled excerpts from Internet discussions on voting problems in Latvia. The Marginalia section consists of notes on Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica; Mahler's 8th Symphony and Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella at the Latvian State Opera; the Internet literary journal Omega; the Booker International Prize winner Ismail Kadare; the controversial visit of the present US leader, Bush, to Riga and many other topics.

The paintings reproduced are by Vija Celmiņa (Celmins), Raimonds Staprāns, and Imants Tillers, while art photography is represented by Ingelēvičs. The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters.

Ilze Valdmane