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The Great War, Independence, and Latvian Literature
The Great War, Independence, and Latvian Literature

Author(s): Benedikts Kalnačs
Subject(s): History, Language and Literature Studies, Cultural history, Studies of Literature, Latvian Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Keywords: 1918; Baltic history; the Great War; historical representations; Latvian literature; Pauls Bankovskis

Summary/Abstract: The article focuses on the representation of the year 1918 in Latvian literature.On November 18, the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed, and in the yearsto come international recognition of the state’s sovereignty followed. In retrospect, thisevent stimulated a number of salutary descriptions and interpretations and certainly providesa milestone in the history of the Latvian nation. It is, however, also important to discussthe proclamation of independence in the context of the Great War that brought a lot ofsuffering to the inhabitants of Latvia. Therefore, a critical evaluation of the events precedingthe year 1918 is certainly worthy of discussion. The article first sketches the historical andgeopolitical contexts of the period immediately before and during the Great War as wellas the changed situation in its aftermath. This introduction is followed by a discussion ofthe novel 18 (2014) by the contemporary Latvian author Pauls Bankovskis (b. 1973) thatprovides a critical retrospective of the events leading to the proclamation of the nationstate from a twenty-first century perspective. Bankovskis employs an intertextual approach,engaging with a number of earlier publications dealing with the same topic. Among theauthors included are Anna Brigadere, Aleksandrs Grīns, Sergejs Staprāns, Mariss Vētra, andothers. The paper contextualizes the contribution of these writers within the larger historicalpicture of the Great War and the formation of the nation states and speculates on thecontemporary relevance of the representation of direct experience, and the use of writtensources related to these events.

  • Issue Year: 463/2018
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 9-21
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English