Jaunā Gaita nr. 65, 1967
JG 65 poetry section is entirely in feminine hands. Aina Kraujiete has contributed a cycle of poems, entitled Songs of Sorrow. Like her recent volume of verse, From the Unpaid Paradise (1966), the lamentations of her „twentieth-century Orpheus" are a music of imagery as well as sound. Ināra Kasvante's three poems project a mood of melancholy. Syntactical freedom and freedom of diction and imagination characterize the poems of Ausma Jaunzeme.
In the prose section, Benita Veisberga presents her Fragments through an apparently unorganized succession of images and ideas connected by association. Also episodic in nature, but more traditional, is the historical tale The Orphan, by Nikodēms E. Bojārs. In this narrative a page from early Baltic history has been recreated with its historical minor and major characters, with historical color in speech and costume, with suspense and action. The scene is Avignon in 1331, and Riga and the regions of Vidzeme and Zemgale in 1340. Dr. Bojārs' account of the early Balts will soon appear in book form. His interests, however, are not limited to Eastern Baltic history;, as a research chemist he has written many scientific articles for professional journals.
Andrievs Ezergailis in The March 1917 Revolution in Riga very ably recreates the March days as the Latvian capital saw them. In addition to the rich variety of documentation, the young historian has sharpened his account with many absorbing extras, thus producing much enlightenment along with his thoughtful investigation. To us it seems especially valuable because eyewitnesses and participants were too often under too great a strain to be able to recall events accurately, and a great many of them, all across the political spectrum, wanted to deceive themselves or their readers when they wrote later. The fifth article in the series, Thoughts About the Latvian State, is by Dr. Jānis Peniķis, who teaches Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Unlike some previous contributors, he avoids prophecy but does point out that in order to have a meaningful dialogue, it is most important to know how Latvians „from the other shore " visualize an independent Latvian state.
He criticizes the unreality of his fellow political exiles who, infused with the highmindedness of their own ideals, have elected to play God by trying too frequently to impose their thinking on their less fortunate compatriots. However, with a note of sadness he admits that at the present time an invitation to Latvians in their homeland to participate in this significant debate is unlikely to produce results. The article Literature in Estonia, by Malle Jürma, is concerned with certain aspects of recent Estonian literature.
That the competence of the present generation of Latvian émigré fiction writers is admirable is shown by three recent prose works discussed in our book review section. A fresh set of literary affinities has entered Latvian literature with Aivars Ruņģis' experimental novel Yourself, Be a Master Yourself. According to our contributing editor Gunars Irbe, it splendidly displays various facets of a remarkable, original literary personality.
Juris Silenieks (a professor of French literature at Carnegie-Mellon University) considers the short-story collection Shadows in Yellow Glass, by Irma Grebzde, a definite narrative accomplishment, although too often her protagonists are shown as social units and not as individuals. Gundars Pļavkalns finds that the historical novel King Solomon, by Jānis Sarma (the oldest living Latvian exile writer), is a mighty book on a mighty theme. Despite some shortcomings, Sarma's narrative gift does justice to epic material and the famous Old Testament personages are interesting and various. Another academic personality, Dr. Juris Veidemanis, reviews the seventh volume of the esteemed scholarly annual Archīvs, published in Melbourne and edited by Dr. Edgars Dunsdorfs (University of Melbourne). This volume deals with two major topicsLatvian theatre in exile and problems of higher education. It also contains an eightyfive-page directory of Latvian scholars abroad. The prose writer Jānis Klīdzējs has some arresting thoughts about The Global Affair, a collection of caricatures by Eduards Keišs, a Latvian cartoonist who has been lauded by Winston Churchill, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and other celebrities.
Where the cultural commissar exerts crushing influence in imposing conformist values most writers are forced to become „political advertisers". Clear proof of this, argues Dr. Paulis Birznieks (of Washington's Georgetown University), is rendered by six volumes of verse recently published in Riga. They are Fields of Young Morning, by Imants Auziņš, Their Address-Taiga, by Ojars Vācietis, Ice Burns with a Flame, by Jānis Plotnieks, Airfields in the Sun and Clocks, by Vitauts Ļudēns, and When Aspens Blush, by Laimonis Vāczemnieks.
In the section Echoes, Laimonis Mieriņš discusses the Soviet art exhibition in London (July 4 - September 1, 1967) that included thirteen Latvian painters. B. Siliņa finds that the volume of novellas entitled ln Exile, by Gunars Janovskis, who writes about „miscreants, wretches, and dregs of humanity", contains similar views. Osvalds Krātiņš comments on the rags to riches story (Textile of Riga, Stockholm, 1966) of the Latvian industrialist Roberts Hiršs.