Latvia Literature in the 1940's

The decade 1930-40 recorded a fruitful and happy development of Latvian literature, due in part, as regards the education of young people, to the literary magazine Daugava, edited by Jānis Grīns. Among prose writers who grew up before the war, Kārlis Zariṇš stands out for his powerful realistic invention, balanced composition and sober style of his stories. After the internal changes in the state structure of Latvia, i.e. after 1934, descriptions of rural life abound in the narrative, but none of them reach the level of Straum ē ni by E. Virza, now translated into several languages. The regionalism is also luxuriant in which Jānis Jaun-Sudrabinā and Jānis Veselis emerge, the Latgalia writers Jānis Klidzejs and Alberts Sprūdžs and the poet of the land, once of the Livi, Frićis Dziesma.

A more cosmopolitan character is demonstrated by the works of the two writers of the young generation Eriks Adamsons and Anšlāvs Eglītis. Mirdza Bendrupe (Storms of God) also belongs to their group, while Iona Leimane (The Heir of the Werewolves, Mother’s Tribe) tries to breathe new life into the semantic riches of the ancient Latvian language.

Unlike the philosophical-mythological character of Rainis’ dramatic works (some of which are translated into different languages), the more recent playwrights pay greater attention to the formal side of their compositions: thus Mārtinš Ziverts, skilled and original also as a playwright.

More varied and richer is the art of poets. Among them, Jānis Medeniś (born in 1903) stands out for originality of versification and expressive power, followed closely by Vilis Cedriṇš (1914-46). Andrejs Eglītis (born in 1912) has established himself in the patriotic genre, especially with his latest collection of poems Sullo scudo. Among the poetesses of this generation, Zinaida Lazda (born in 1902) and Veronika Strēlerte deserve prominence.

The political events of the last few years had a notable influence on Latvian literature. The Latvian monthly magazine managed to bring together several writers during the German occupation (1941-45). Subsequently they divided into two groups: those who remained at home (Andrejs Upītis, Jānis Sudrabkalns, Aleksander Čaks) and those who emigrated, most of which are gathered in Germany and Sweden, grouped, despite the serious material difficulties, around to their own literary magazines. The most promising among the prose writers and poets of the last generation are Anna Dagda, Ingrīda Viksna, Lija Kronberga, Dzintars Sodums; among the critics and historians of literature J. Rudzītiś, A. Johansons, A. Bičolīs, A. Plaudis, O. Sprogere; among the essayists Zenta Mauriṇa.

Latvia Literature in the 1940's