LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 20, No.3 - Fall 1974
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1974 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE LONESOME PATRIOT IN THE PROSE OF LATVIAN WRITER AIVARS RUNGIS*
University of Wisconsin Madison
It may be a coincidence but definitely not an accident that the word pats (self, own) appears at the conclusion of the three published books of exile Latvian writer Aivars Ruņģis (born 1925).
Ruņģis' first novel Vai, bāliņi, tālu jāsi...1 (Kinsman, Will you Ride Afar...) first was serialized in the Latvian youth magazine Jaunā gaita (The New Way) between 1955 and 1958. In 1963 it appeared as a. book.2 It describes in detail an episode from the January, 1945, Soviet offensive on the German Eastern front in what is now part of Poland. An inexperienced, minimally trained company of Latvian Legionnaires3 arrives at the front positions as the battle breaks out and soon finds itself encircled by the quickly advancing troops and tanks of the Red Army. As the company, isolated from the rest of the army, attempts an escape, most of the men die in battle. In the end, twenty-eight men, only four of them uninjured, reach the German lines. The German commanding officer refuses to help his Latvian comrades when he finds out that they cannot bolster his own troops. The novel ends as the Latvian lieutenant enters the room where his men are resting:
"Sergeant," he said, "come with me. We have to find transportation for our injured ourselves." 4
The novel received scant critical notice in Latvian periodicals, probably to some extent because of its initial serialization and to some extent because of its rather traditional style.
Ruņģis' second novel, however, was greeted with critical acclaim as a stylistic breakthrough á la Joyce (though Rungis denies ever having read Joyce). It, too, ends with a sentence containing the word pats. One of the two main characters, the "one with the impossible name" (from Latvian literary mythology), Sprīdītis Tiltiņš, has just found his real life (and mythological) heroine Lienīte and wants to take her to the church on Whitsuntide morning so that everybody would see "what we have in mind," when Lienīte asks:
"But what will you do with the wicked witch?"
"With that one? I'll take care of her by myself," said Sprīdītis.5
The title of this second novel and that certainly is no accident is Pats esi kungs, pats (Be you own Master, your own).
Ruņģis' third book, a collection of stories entitled Tik pie Gaujas, tik pie Gaujas (Only on the Banks of Gauja) begins and ends with a factual framework. But the last story, "On the Banks of Gauja 2," in which a Latvian immigrant sitting in a Chicago movie house and fighting emptiness remembers his long-lost love back home, ends with the words:
I am as empty as a blown up balloon at a fair. Sometimes I even run out of questions to ask of myself.6
One of the semantic functions of the Latvian pronoun intensifier pats is to isolate its referent and render-it unique. The sentence "We have to find transportation for our injured ourselves" differs from "We have to find transportation for our injured" in that the latter neither includes nor specifically excludes other possibilities. The former specifically excludes them. By the word pats in his statement the Latvian lieutenant makes the isolation of his men total. Sprīdītis specifically excludes help in overcoming the wicked witch pursuing him in the guise of non-Latvian seductresses, both past and present. For the man in the Chicago movie house the isolation is inward-directed: the use of the word pats in his last statement suggests total alienation of the self from the bases of its existence.
The isolation of the individual in modern mass society, his alienation from social and political processes, and his accompanying loss of identity are among the most important and prevalent themes in twentieth-century literature. By employing these themes Ruņģis marks himself as a modern writer. What distinguishes him, however, from many other modern writers, both Latvian and non-Latvian, is his success at lending these themes a specifically national character. His alienated individuals are not simply alienated as human beings but are at the same time alienated as members of a national group. Their search for identity is at the same time a search for a specifically national identity.
At first glance this may seem to conjure up shades of a Latvian-style Blut-und-Boden prose of which there are enough examples on record. This type of national literature, proceeding from a nationalistic ideology, subordinates the individual to the idea of the nation; the individual is valuable only as a functional member of the nation or as an example of national virtues and never in his own right. The sum in the nationalistic ideology is more important than any of its parts.
For Ruņģis this literary model is unacceptable. His writing can, on the contrary, be viewed as a coming to terms and overcoming of it. It is true, Ruņģis' protagonists are searching for and finding their strength in national identity, but they do so by asserting their individuality rather than by subordinating themselves to the demands of a nationalistic ideology. In Ruņģis' writing the relationship of the individual and his nation itself is oftentimes problematical and can result in conflicts. National identity is not present a priori; it has to be attained in each individual case. And in this process the individual can easily become isolated and lonely in his own nation which, paradoxically, is or should be the source of his strength as an individual.
This alienation from and struggle for integration in a national society would alone suffice for interesting literary problems. But Ruņģis does not stop there. His protagonists are not blessed with a simple world; they not only have to contend with their national environment as the locus of their conflicts but have to face the endangerment of this very environment by outside forces. Thus the identity problem is both individual and national at the same time.
One of the external forces threatening the national environment is the exile situation. The exiled individual has lost the source of his strength in his native environment; his integrity is endangered from all directions by the temptation to submerge into the mass civilization of his adopted country. Particularly endangered is the creative individual. As a writer for a dwindling group of émigrés, Ruņģis is acutely aware of the dangers of total alienation and isolation. There is a scene in Pats esi kungs, pats in which a Latvian writer demonstrates the ultimate symbol of this isolation, an eLAeM (Laughter and Applause Machine) that makes an audience dispensable by substituting that marvel of modern media of communication, canned laughter and applause. But Ruņģis is not merely taking a swipe at this invention and its import; its significance for the vanishing breed of exile writers is much more ominous. While for the world at large such a machine is but a convenient substitute for a live studio audience only, in Ruņģis' novel it is intended as the ultimate substitute for all audience which, like the exile writer, is a vanishing breed.
Even more ominously the national environment is threatened back home by a flood of Russian immigration to Latvia.7 Again Ruņģis chooses the creative artist to convey the point most poignantly. His story "The Nightingale" tells of a composer who seems to be doing well in Soviet Latvia. Unexpectedly he is jarred by a letter from a friend in America: it reminds him not only of the great hiatus in his personal and professional life, the disruption of war and the change from an independent Latvian to a Soviet Latvian regime, but also of his youthful love. He remembers the special quality of the voice of his beloved and the word-plays she had been fond of; they remind him of the singing of nightingales and of his "Nightingale
Symphony" that he had been composing when-------In search of the past he takes a train to the banks of Gauja. But his linguistic - folkloristic - musical reveries keep being interrupted by the "sloshing of the Russian language" around him. The past cannot be recaptured. He never gets to Gauja to hear the nightingale's song again but takes the next train back to the city.
This double-jeopardy of the individual is one of the most intriguing aspects of Ruņģis' writing. Self-assertion in the face of such odds is highly problematic and can easily become a futile endeavor, but Ruņģis refuses to endow his characters with nihilism. Even in defeat the self remains for his characters the ultimate indestructible unique unit that may be unable to act but that still remains intact with the potential to act or at least reflect on and realize its situation. Though Ruņģis' composer seemingly gives up the past with all of its rich associative fabric of meaning, his story still ends with the assertion: "How would it be if I tried nevertheless: the potential for all changes after all lies in the human being himself.8 And though running out of questions to ask of himself, the Latvian in the Chicago movie house still at least realizes the situation he cannot change.
Further analysis will bear out and amplify these points.
Ruņģis' first novel Vai, bāliņi, tālu jāsi can be viewed as an anti-war novel or, more exactly, as a war novel that takes issue with typical war novels in the nationalistic vein. There is none of the typical atmosphere of decorum et duke est pro patria mori in Ruņģis' work. Every death of a Latvian soldier is depicted as the death of an individual, and every death is accompanied with the question what for? At the same time each individual soldier's death is amplified on the national background as a small-scale national tragedy. Do these men die for an independent Latvia as was believed by wide circles during the years following the German occupation of Latvia in 1941?9 Do they die for an abstract idea of a nation while in the service of another nation whose nationalistic ideology had proclaimed its own physical and spiritual superiority to others? At the end of the novel one of the soldiers summarizes the feeling of futility:
At this moment I neither can nor want to guess what will happen to our native country. We really don't have it any more. But tell me when did it really belong to us completely? It seems that from times unknown the Latvian soldier has fought for it with the Prussians, with the Russians, with the Swedes. For his country! Not for his country as a patch of sandy soil or the grassy strip between his ancestors' fields but as an idea. It is nothing new for the Latvian soldier to die defending his country on a distant, empty, foreign plain where the sun bleaches the soldiers' bones.10
This is said not on Latvian soil but somewhere in Pomerania between the armies of two of the Latvian nation's ancient enemies, the Germans and the Russians, one of whom now, paradoxically, is "friend" and the other "foe." The roles could easily be reversed and actually were, since there were Latvians fighting on the other side as well. It is clear that Ruņģis' soldiers would not hesitate to give their lives defending their own soil, but the defense of one's own soil becomes a problem in the crossfires of ideologies and interests of larger nations. Ruņģis' soldier is a doubly tragic figure: because he has lost faith in an ideology that allows easy identification with one's nation and because he is physically threatened with extinction in a foreign land with foreign allies who are bent only on saving their own skin. This tragic realization is developed throughout the novel and hits with full force with the last sentence: "We have to find transportation for our injured ourselves." And despite it the life force of the self asserts itself in the end.
Ruņģis" second novel takes up where the first leaves off: with the self. It can be called an in-depth study of the Latvian self in all of its variations. The title of the book stems from a poem by Jānis Rainis (1865-1929), probably the greatest Latvian writer in modern Latvian literature's hundred years. The poem's last two lines say:
Fight your own battles, help, think, consider yourself and weigh;
Be your own master, your own fortune then will come your way.11
The novel explores this notion of creative self-sufficiency and the obstacles real and imagined that stand in the way of achieving it. In its execution it is a complicated 24-hour journey of the author through the labyrinths of Toronto's Latvian community after his car breaks down on the superhighway. He is rescued from his predicament by a hyperactive and hyper talkative "ethnically correct" Latvian, Jānis Elkonis who plays a kind of Vergil to Ruņģis' Dante. To complicate matters further, the story line of the author's quasi-folkloristic hero Sprīdītis Tiltiņš 12 takes its own course.
In one of the most memorable passages of the novel Elkonis relates his nightmarish dream of an encounter in Riga with the Soviet Latvian poet Ojārs Vācietis. They attempt to communicate with each other across a table, but their attempts are obliviated by a Janus-faced, IBM Selectric typewriter type of head13 flitting around at top speed and shouting forth stock slogans of political propaganda, exile Latvian, Soviet Latvian, universal:
be firm and unyielding don't let yourself be confused don't listen to the propaganda of the Communist henchman hahaha of the Moscow puppet hahaha sold himself out thirty pieces of silver bloody hahaha farmhand's son exploited, sucked dry be prepared for the class struggle of the proletariat fall in, 'te-e-ention, e-e-eyes left! 14
The more the two try to talk directly to each other, the louder and faster the Janus-faced Agitator shouts into his microphone, drowning direct communication in a flood of ideological propaganda. The scene is highly meaningful to Latvians and others who find themselves in a similar situation: On the one hand the Marxist - Leninist ideology of Soviet Latvia blocks communication with exile Latvians outside the ideological parameters. On the other: nationalistic ideologues in exile attack and view with suspicion any attempts to communicate with Soviet Latvia that are not based on accepted stereotypes and fraught with nationalistic phraseology.
But this is not merely a national problem. It is seen in much broader context by Ruņģis' Vergil Elkonis. In another passage, an essay, he comments on the problem of the individual in the modern world in general:
the larger a society and a state becomes, the smaller in direct proportion becomes and feels the individual living in it; the individual loses his sense of loyalty and his sense of belonging to the society as a totality;
the smaller the individual becomes, as it were, shrinks and feels, the smaller becomes the scope of his loyalties;
therefore our modern time is marked by a passionate desire of. man to belong somewhere after all, somewhere he can fulfill the same old virtues: honor, honesty, faithfulness, and dependability...15
The integrity of the individual is the highest human ideal for Ruņģis. At the base of this integrity lies the wholeness of the personality which, in turn, comes from man's ethnic heritage, from his ancestry, his land, in short, from his direct and concrete attachment to his origins. War, political ideologies, but above all, the development of an anonymous mass society attack and destroy this integrity, alienate the individual from his origins and thus dehumanize him. This process of dehumanization becomes especially clear in Ruņģis' Tik pie Gaujas, tik pie Gaujas.
The title has symbolic significance: a Latvian not only wants to be on the banks of Gauja, as the popular song says, but only on the banks of Gauja can he truly be a Latvian. Only in his land is he close to his origin and live a full, productive life. The composer's inability to return to Gauja symbolizes the sterility of his personal and creative life. But the same symbolism pervades all seven stories of the collection. In almost all of the stories forces intrude that pervert personal integrity.
Maybe the most powerful of these stories is "The Latvians," told by a former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp in Latvia.16 He falls in love with a Latvian girl who is imprisoned because of denunciations by a couple of farmers' sons whose advances she resisted. She is forcibly raped at the camp and selected for an officers' house of prostitution in Riga. As she is taken away, the narrator fulfills her last wish: to spare her mother humiliation he arranges in his capacity as a messenger for an official letter of notification that her daughter has died. In the story this clandestine act becomes an act of revenge on the captors, a kind of restoration of one's integrity in defeat. But the story does not only talk about the destruction of individual's integrity. The tragedy of the individual is simultaneously a tragedy of the nation.
In "The Latvians" the connection between the individual's fate and that of the nation even humanity is formalized by the use of the title and several excerpts from Garlieb Merkel's (1769-1850) book Die Letten (1796), which deals with the intolerable condition of the Latvian serfs under their German landlords and which became a constant reference of Latvian nationalists during the period of National Awakening in the latter half of the 19th century:
Their character was ruined, their spirit trampled upon, their fairest flowers destroyed for all times to come.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hear the sad fate of Liefland and weep for the fate of humanity that it hides.17
Even though the story "On the Banks of Gauja 2" consists of a stream-of-consciousness narrative of an individual Latvian émigré, his individual problem, too, becomes part of the national problem:
Latvians, scattered in the world: in strange lands, among foreign nations Latvians... in German, English, French bedrooms the last act of your tragedy is taking place the last battle your demise in strange lands in the whole world lies scattered and splattered your seed ...18
This is the last inexorable tragic consequence that not only the protagonist has to face he is unhappily married to a non-Latvian but that has to be faced by all exile Latvians. This final consequence cannot be avoided; it is only possible to realize it or to fail to realize it. But such realization leads also to a realization of one's total alienation from the true sources of his integrity and thus the meaning of the present:
I don't think I ever wanted anything more in this life than Aija Zīle
receiving my seed and raising my sons on the banks of Gauja.19
Having lost his hold on the present, the individual becomes alienated from himself he runs out of questions to ask himself, for there are no answers.
Sexuality runs as a theme through the collection. Ruņģis was attacked for his explicitness in sexual matters,20 but sexuality for Ruņģis does not exist for its own sake. It is a symbol of his message: sexuality can be a positive force if it involves not only mutual understanding but also the sense of mutual creation; sexuality can be a negative force if its bases are merely instinctual.
Sexuality is used several times as a negative symbol of forces within the nation itself that threaten and destroy not only individuals but with the individuals the fabric of national integrity. In the story "Nepabeigtā pagātne" (Past Progressive),21 which is "The diary of a young Latvian woman" from the last days of World War II in Germany, the writer gradually realizes that her new husband has abandoned her:
He has raped me and abandoned me in a strange land. Only for his sake I suffered through this wedding in a chance house among strangers, along the roadside, so that our life would not start as whoredom. That is why he should have returned for my sake. We would have continued our life together, started a family.22
This is not merely an individual tragedy: what has been destroyed is not only an individual and her integrity but the potential of a future family. An individual's tragedy is that of a nation, especially that of a small nation whose very existence depends on the integrity of the family and on the birth of each individual child.23
These internal forces can become impersonal and faceless and thus even more threatening. If a denunciation by unsuccessful suitors starts the chain of events for the girl in "The Latvians," it ends when the girl makes a choice as if it were any of the officers' house of prostitution: the one for Latvian officers. Sexuality has lost all its potential to create; it has become a destructive force.
No less threatening despite the satirical treatment is one of the last scenes described in Pats esi kungs, pats following Elkonis' essay on man's intense desire to belong somewhere. Where? Ruņģis depicts a meeting of an ultra-secret society of "Latvian Idols". Here he satirizes the mystification and the leadership cult that such organizations thrive on. At the same time he shows the dangers to which an individual exposes his integrity by subjecting himself to mystification and blind faith in leadership just to belong somewhere. The final stages of the all-night underground meeting degenerate into a spin-the-bottle-and-undress-the-girls game more and more reminiscent of a dark corner of the nether regions of hell. Just as Sprīdītis' Lienīte is about to lose the last vestiges of her clothing, appropriately enough, the rooster crows, "the Great Devil and all the little devils and witches heard the rooster crowing," the magic spell is broken, the witching hour is over, and Sprīdītis leads his Lienīte away into the Whitsuntide sunrise, to church.24
The lack of considerateness by members of a nationality for the individual integrity of other members is tantamount to national suicide in Ruņģis' view. The existence of a small nation and the existence of an individual as an individual are dependent on each other and on their ability to maintain their mutual integrity. The word pats with its frequent recurrence in Ruņģis' works underscores this point.
Another striking aspect is the style of Ruņģis' writing, especially in the later works. It is so steeped in the Latvian folkloristic idiom that much of it must be classified as untranslateable and untransferable into another language and its specific idiom. The story "Nightingale," for example, employs a triadic pattern of repetition that echoes musical rhythms and cords and at the same time Latvian magic sayings and folksong patterns. The same close association between music and folklore occurs also on the semantic level with skillful interweavings of linguistic variations from nonsense syllables to folk-song lines including this virtuoso imitation of a nightingale's song:
Filip filip tak tak tak tarak tarak tarak vat vat vat diderot diderot diderot trr trr trr džijē džijē džijē teceret teceret teceret džīīītarak džīīītarak džīīītarak25
Thus the composer's story itself becomes a composition.
Even where Ruņģis does not attempt such linguistic intermingling of various levels of narrative, his narrative manner, even in the first book, can only be described as penetrating: he does not dwell on events and appearances but tries to uncover motivations and minute individual details.26 He pays a great deal of attention to minutiae: he likes to repeat and reinforce words and phrases, to state a verbal theme and run it through several variations. This quality of Ruņģis' prose has been felt to be artificial and overdone, and he has been criticized for dominating his work to the extent that his characters do not appear as psychologically distinct entities.27 This is, of course, a true but at the same time mistaken observation. Ruņģis is not interested in psychology per se but in an analysis of the bases of human behavior in his relationship to the society at large. He is not interested in depiction of character per se but in revealing through character the causes of national and human problems:
I, being a Latvian among other nations, experience the fate of an individual in modern civilization in which more and more distinctions will disappear, creating the great question: how to endure with one's own characteristics and traits,28
so says Ruņģis' Vergil Elkonis. So seems to say Ruņģis through Elkonis.
His formula for the solution of both the national and human dilemma is simple: not to search for the lowest common denominator for all the parts to be added up into a national or human sum but rather to leave the individual fractions unresolved with all their characteristic denominators. Their sum will not increase or decrease thereby but will consist of independent parts. This calculation may not be the simplest but it is not impossible. Ruņģis, for one, does not admit its impossibility in his writing.
* A revised version of the paper read at the First Conference on Baltic Literatures at Ohio State University, 31. January 1 February 1970.
1 The title comes from a Latvian folk-song dealing with the fate of a soldier.
2 (Lincoln, Nebraska: Vaidava, 1963).
3 The Latvian Legion under German command was formed in 1943 from individual Latvian units formed both voluntarily and by various means of coercion after the German occupation of Latvia in 1941, which followed a year of Soviet occupation and rule. Although the Legion was officially called "voluntary", eventually all troops were recruited by (illegal) draft. Ruņģis' novel is based on actual experiences as a legionnaire. See: Arnolds Spekke, History of Latvia (Stockholm: Zelta ābele, 1957), pp. 405 ff.
4 Jaunā gaita, III, No. 16 (1958), 145. " Seržant, viņš teica, nāciet man lídz! Ievainoto transports jāizkārto mums pašiem. " This and the following translations are by the author of the article.
5 Pats esi kungs, pats ([New York]: Grāmatu draugs, 1967), p. 176. " Bet ko tu darísi ar ļauno raganu? Vai ar to vai? Gan ar to es tikšu galā pats! Sprīdītis teica."
6 Tik pie Gaujas, tik pie Gaujas ([New York]: Grámatu draugs, 1968), p. 187. "Es esmu tukšs ka gada tirgū uzpūsts balons. Dažreiz man pietrūkst pat ko jautāt pašam sev."
7 There is ample evidence of Russian immigration in Soviet statistics. If the last census of independent Latvia showed a percentage of 75% Latvians versus 10% Russians, the proportion had changed to 57% Latvians versus 30% Russians in 1970. Most of the increase of Russians is to be attributed to immigration from other parts of the Soviet Union. See Andrivs Namsons, "Nationale Zusammensetzung und Struktur der Bevölkerung Lettlands nach den Volkszählungen von 1935, 1959 und 1970," Acta Baltica, xi (1971), 61-86.
8 Tik pie Gaujas..., p. 168.
9 The fact that this occupation came after the destruction of independent Latvia by Soviet occupation following the Molotov -Ribbentrop pact whose secret clause put Latvia within the Soviet sphere of influence is of some significance in assessing Latvian collaboration with the Germans. The secret clause of the pact, of course, was unknown although some complicity of the German government in the occupation of Latvia by Soviet forces in June, 1940, was suspected. At any rate, the real enemy at that time was felt by many Latvians to be the Soviet Union although it has been revealed that the Nazi plans for Latvia in no way provided for independence. Latvia was, after all, considered by German nationalists a German province. Cf. Spekke, esp. pp. 379-398.
10 Jaunā gaita, III, No. 16 (1958), 145. The passage contains allusions to Latvian folk-songs.
11 "Pats," Tālas noskaņas zilā vakarā in Raksti, vol. III (Västeras: Ziemeļblázma, 1952), p. 19. "Pats cínies, palídz, domā, spried un sver, / Pats esi kungs, pats laimei durvis ver."
12 Sprīdītis is the Tom Thumb-sized hero of Anna Brigadere's (1861-1933) play of the same name (1902). He runs away from home because he cannot stand the treatment he gets at the hands of his stepmother, lives through several fairy-tale adventures and wins the hand of a beautiful but naughty princess who, far from being thankful for having been saved from the clutches of the devil, plots Sprīdītis's demise. Sprīdītis decides in time that home is, after all, the best place and Lieníte the best girl for him.
13 Ruņģis talks of the "letter-drum of the Varityper." I have taken the liberty of changing brand names because the Selectric is better known. I do not own IBM stock.
14 Pats esi kungs, pats, pp. 136f.
15 Ibid., p. 146.
16 Tik pie Gaujas..., pp. 55-84. The concentration camp was located at Salaspils, south of Riga. The Soviets have erected a memorial at the site.
17 Ibid., pp. 54 and 86. In the Latvian translation used by Ruņģis "Liefland" appears as "Vidzeme". The Russian province Liefland consisted of the Latvian region Vidzeme and Southern Estonia. Merkei, however, writes about the Latvians in the province.
18 Ibid., p. 179.
19 Ibid., p. 187.
20 See Boleslavs Bogdanovs, "Prastību tirgus un kritika," Treji vārti, No. 14 (1969), pp. 60-62. Bogdanovs thinks that Ruņģis "trivializes sex" and with his book has created a "cheap marketable commodity"; in short, he finds Rungis' work "dilettantish." This is, however, not the general assessment of the quality of Ruņģis' book. The astute critic Jānis Rudzītis (Laiks, 4 December 1968) stresses Ruņģis' originality and uniqueness. He too, mentions Ruņģis' sexuality but hastens to add that it is by no means pornographic.
21 Tik pie Gaujas..., pp. 85-106. The title translates literally as "The Unfinished Past."
22 Ibid., p. 105.
23 This also is a current topic in the literature of Soviet Latvia. See my article "The Rite of Life: A Theme and its Variations in the Poetry of Soviet Latvia," Mosaic, VI, No. 4 (1973), pp.. 199-208.
24 Pats esi kungs, pats, p. 170.
25 Tik pie Gaujas..., p. 161. Read phonetically, stressing on the first syllable.
26 In Pats esi kungs, pats Ruņģis satirizes novels that only deal with surface events. Elkonis comments on a woman writer thus: "... her characters have no features of their own; they merely move about somewhere, somehow; there are events but no living people; there are no live Latvian people at all... In [her] works there is always something going on, something movingyou understand action! the father transfers his pipe from the right pocket to the left only an observant reader, but that is a meaningless minority, remembers that it has a hole in it; the mother dries her hands in her apron and starts to wash dishes; the children, who only yesterday took the TV-set apart, today turn it on without the repairman's intervention..." (p. 73). The italicized word is given in English in the Latvian text.
27 This is one of the criticisms Rudzītis (Laiks, 4 December) directs at Ruņģis. He feels that Ruņģis' originality is at times "manneristic" and that the reader's attention "starts splitting" between the elements of content and form, usually to the advantage of the latter.
28 Pats esi kungs, pats, pp. 111f.