Literature. – After the Second World War, the frequent themes at the time of independence (1918-40), oriented towards national identity and the destiny of the individual, had little space. Among the authors who continued their creative activity in the Soviet era (1940-41, 1944-90) we remember E. Birznieks-Upītis (1871-1960) who, in the wake of R. Blaumanis (1863-1908), developed forms and themes of realism in his narrative works Pelēka akmens stāsti (“Tales of the Gray Stone”, 1897-1907) and in the vast autobiography Pastariņa dienasagrāmata (“Last Diary”, 1922-24).
Among the poets stand out J. Sudrabkalns (1894-1975), author of Brāļu saimē (“In the family of brothers”, 1947); V. Lukss (1905-1985), whose epic collections are remembered such as Augsim (“We will grow up”, 1948), Pavasaris (“Spring”, 1954) and later Asins raudze (“Blood mark “, 1970) ; A. Grigulis (1906-1990), poet and storyteller, known for the Uz Kuru ostu? (“Towards which port?”, 1945); A. Balodis (1908-1987) who wrote Dzīvības sējēji (“Sowers of Life”, 1948). By A. Čaks (1901-1950), already famous singer of the ” Latvian fusiliers ” in Mūžības skartie (” Touched by the eternal”,, “Gift of Heaven”, 1980) saw the posthumous light.
That of ” critical realism ” was in Latvia the only literary tradition that survived the advent of Soviet domination, later merging into ” socialist realism ”. During the 1950s writers who had not had particular notoriety in the two decades of national independence often enjoyed considerable fame. This is the case of S. Edžus (1860-1941), of the essayist R. Pelše (1880-1955), of the novelist V. Lācis (1904-1966) already author of the trilogy Putni bez spārniem (“Birds without wings”, 1931- 32) and the novels Zvejnieka dēls (“The fisherman’s son”, 1933-34), Vētra (“Storm”, 1946-48), Uz jauno krastu (“Towards the new shore”, 1952) where he transfused his personal experience of the war. However, the most representative figure of these years was A. Upīts (1877-1970), critic, publicist and prolific storyteller: among other things we owe the large family saga, located at the turn of the two centuries, Robežnieki (“I Robežnieki “), and, after the war and exile in Kirov, the novels Zaļā zeme (” The green earth “, 1945) which earned him the Stalin prize and Plaisa mākoņos (” A clearing in the clouds “, 1951) centered on the description of the Riga proletariat. Many other authors in recent years produced works variously inspired by ” socialist realism ”. The writer A.(“The race of work”, 1941), Pret kalnu (“Towards the mountain”, 1948) and Dzirksteles naktī (“Sparks in the night”, 1951). Of J. Grants (1909-1970) we remember the collections of stories inspired by the Second World War such as Mazās upes sākums (“At the sources of the brook”, 1945), Aiz mums Maskava (“Behind us stands Moscow”, 1954). Ž. Grīva (1910-1982) published short stories about his experience in the Spanish war collected in Viņpus Pirenejiem (“Beyond the Pyrenees”, 1949), and subsequently the novel Mīlestība un naids (“Love and hate”, 1963). Among the poets who enjoyed notoriety in these years, M.(“The train of death”, 1944) and of the collection Rīga, es mīlēju tevi (“Riga, I loved you”, 1968); P. Vilips (1901-1979) who, after praising the reclamation of the steppes, moved on to intimate themes in the novels Lapas ugunskurā (“Leaves on the bonfire”, 1960) and Avota lāses (“Gocce di Fonte”, 1966).
The “thaw” following Stalin’s death, although short-lived, favored the emergence of new themes and produced a tenacious and vital sprouting especially of poets so that the 1960s marked a further phase of growth in Latvian literature; many authors who made their debut in these years were also industrious in the following seventies and still are today. A significant example is the lyric, rich in ethical motivations, by the poet M. Ķempe (1907-1974) author of the collections Rīta vējš (“The morning wind”, 1946), Mieram un dzīvībai (“To peace and to life”, 1951) and Mirkļu mūžība (“Eternity of Moments”, 1964). But the most representative exponents are three poets born in the Thirties: O. Vācietis (1933-1983) author of lyrics of dense philosophical depth such as Elpa (“Respiro”, 1966), Antracīts (“Antracite”, 1978), Si minors (” B minor “, 1982) and the posthumous Nolemtība (” Resoluteness “, 1985); the poet V. Belševica (b. 1931), in business since 1947, who was a counterpoint during the difficult years of the Russification of the Latvian language and culture, her latest collections are remembered Kamola tinēja (“The spindle del gomitolo “, 1981) and Dzeltu laiks (“Time of Decadence”, 1987); I. Ziedonis (b. 1933) whose poetry and poems are characterized not only for national reasons but also for a propensity for introspective analysis, eg. Es ieeju sevī (“I enter myself”, 1968), Re, kā (“Look, how”, 1981). We also remember I. Auziņš (b. 1937), a poet who often draws on historical and folkloric motifs in Skumjais optimisms (“Sad optimism”, 1968), Nomodā (“In the wake”, 1975) and Atskārsme (“Understanding”, 1986). Also the work of J. Peters (b. 1939) owes much to the historical-epic motifs in the collections Dzirnakmens (“La mola”, 1968), Ceturtā grāmata (“(“The census”, 1984). During the sixties and seventies, some prominent names also emerge in fiction. With R. Ezera (b. 1930) the tendency to psychological analysis is strengthened as in the novels Aka (“Pozzo”, 1972), Varmācība (“Violence”, 1982), Nodevība (“Betrayal”, 1984). Z. Skujiņš (b. 1926) is the author of short stories such as Lielā zivs (“The big fish”, 1979) and of the novels Vīrietis labākajos gados (“The man in the best years”, 1975) and Gulta ar zelta kāju (“The read with the golden stem “, 1984). A. Bels (b. 1938) publishes historical novels about the Latvian past as Saucēja balss (“(“Men on Boats”, 1987). M. Zariņš (b. 1910), I. Indrane (b. 1927) are still mentioned as narrators; and for the satire A. Jakubāns (b. 1941); for the short story M. Birze (b. 1921), E. Vilks (1923-1976) and the next generation, J. Zvirgzdiņš (b. 1941), A. Puriņš (b. 1950), and V. Spāre (b. 1953).
The Latvian literature of the diaspora has developed differently in Sweden and in the United States where they have now been merging and now contrasting the opposite needs for continuity with the Latvian literary tradition and for the acquisition of new experiences, especially of Anglo-Saxon origin. The most significant authors of Scandinavian emigration are the poets V. Strēlerte (b. 1912), A. Eglītis (b. 1912), A. Irbe (b. 1924) and the playwright M. Zīverts (1903-1990). In the United States, the Elles ķēķis group (“Hell’s Kitchen”) stood out, rich in motifs taken from A. Čaks; the main animators of this group are G. Saliņš (b. 1924) to whom we owe Miglas krogs (“Osteria nebulosa”, 1957), Melnā saule (“Black sun”, Satikšanās (“In the encounters”, 1979) and Latvia Tauns (1922-1963) author of the collections Mūžigais mākonis (“Eternal clouds”, 1958) and Laulības ar pilsētu (“Marriage with the city”, 1964). Z. Mauriņa (1897-1978), writer and fine essayist lived and worked for a long time in Germany.
In the Eighties a new generation of poets matured, very appreciated even outside the Latvia, as evidenced by the translations of their works in several languages. K. Skujenieks (b. 1936) is the author of Lirika un balsis (“Lyric and voice”) and Sēklas sniegā (“The seed in the snow”, 1990); from the critical and publicistic pages of Paša austs krekls (“The self-woven shirt”, 1987) the importance he assumed as a cultural reference point, one proof of which is the Soviet gulag during the seventies. U. Berziņš (b. 1944), poet and translator, attentive to oriental literatures and to the acquisitions of linguistics, has published Poētisms baltkrievs (” Nenotikušie atentāti (“Accidental attacks”, 1990) and the historical poem Krišjānis Barons (1978). Also distinguished are the poets and essayists Latvia Briedis (b.1949), M. Čaklais (b.1940) and, among the poets of the younger generation, P. Brūveris (b.1957), E. Aivars (b.1956)); among the immigrants, A. Kraujiete (b. 1952). In the late 1980s, many new authors came to the fore. The entire Latvian cultural world took an active part in the growing nationalistic protest and often with prominent figures such as V. Avotiņš (b. 1947), poet and publicist, author of the collection Lēzēna mūžība (“Flat eternity”, 1986) and current president of the Latvian Writers’ Association. Karogs (“Bandiera”, 1940), Literatura un māksla (“Literature and art”, 1945), but there is a plethora of periodicals, often of dubious value. The newfound freedom of the press, however, has also allowed the publication or re-edition of many works that have been censored for a long time, or known only in hiding, or by authors of the diaspora.