Anšlavs Eglītis (1906–1993) was a Latvian writer, journalist, and painter, the son of writer Viktors Eglītis and teacher and translator Marija Stalbova-Eglīte. The artistic environment of his family and home life, in addition to his sustained interest in the world of literature and art while growing up, were immensely important to his growth and development as a writer. Eglītis and his contemporaries appeared on the Latvian literary scene in the 1930s, at a transitional time between literary generations. It is interesting to note that the author’s books often contained his own illustrations, drawings, and other graphic design elements. He emigrated to Germany in 1944 and to the United States in 1950, where he became a film critic. Eglītis is rightly referred to as the most prolific Latvian refugee author, with more than 50 books to his name. These are typified by their linguistic expressiveness, urban landscapes, poignant characterisations, sharp irony, and captivating storylines. His novel Līgavu mednieki (Bride Hunters; 1940) holds a special and lasting place in Latvian literature and has been recognised by critics as one of the most significant and unique works of its time. His so-called “artist’s novel” Homo novus (1946) was also a success. These works are especially meaningful in the history of Latvian literature because of their depictions of cultural life in Rīga and their vibrant range of younger characters, as well as their colourful descriptions of artists and their milieu during this time. The author continued his tradition of precise, fine-grained, detailed character descriptions in the works he wrote later in exile.
Books to fall for
Homo novus (Homo novus)
Anšlavs Eglītis wrote his novel Homo novus in the early 1940s, and the author hoped it would encourage the movement of Latvian painting onto a new path. In the novel, Eglītis shows the Rīga art world in the 1930s as seen through the eyes of a “homo novus”: the new arrival Juris Upenājs. The plot is moved along by coincidences, engaging events, the bohemian lifestyle, and the artistic creation process. The novel portrays the entire arc of the artist’s career, from a humble debut to the later accolades. The work also depicts the emergence and development of a new generation, encountering everyday difficulties. Eglītis does an excellent job in characterising the “gallery” of painters/artists in the story, skilfully detailing their outward appearance, their clothing, and their behaviour.
Latvian literature specialist Viktors Hausmanis has written that “in this novel you can read a perfect description of the bohemian life of Rīga artists, with all of their drinking, arguments, conversations, while also being taken on a walk through all of Rīga’s pubs and restaurants, wiling away several days planted next to a glass. Eglītis has been able to depict all of this with his characteristically attractive style, which is filled with life, vitality, and wit.”
Bride Hunters (Līgavu mednieki)
Bride Hunters was the novel which first brought Anšlavs Eglītis, the giant of Latvian literature, his considerable popularity. Its key qualities include exceptionally witty writing and excellent descriptions of its characters and settings. At the centre of the novel are the different paths taken by three friends – Eplats, Ķurzēns, and Dušeļs – as they struggle to achieve happiness. Eglītis refers to these three fortune-seekers as “bride hunters” because they believe the quickest way to become rich is to marry well. The author gives a wry description of the Latvian elite of the 1930s – shop owners, consuls, bank employees, student fraternity members – and takes the reader through the restaurants and cafés that abounded in Rīga at that time. Bride Hunters is a living testament of Rīga, its people, their lives, mores, relationships, ways of thinking, language, approach to life, desires, and longings.
About poetry of Anšlavs Eglītis // Latvijas Sabiedriskie Mediji, 2016 [LV]
Zigmunds Skujiņš writes about Anšlavs Eglītis // Diena.lv, 2006 [LV]
Kristīne Matīsa, Homo novus atjaunojošais spēks, review of Homo novus adaptation // Diena.lv, 2018 [LV]
1983, Ēriks Raisters Award
1980, World Federation of Free Latvians Award
1977, The Culture Fund Award for Five Days
1968, The Culture Fund Award for Shameless Men
1954, The Culture Fund Award for A Human from the Moon
1940, The Culture Fund Award for Beautiful David
Иностранная литература 3 (2019)
Иностранная литература 3 (2019) (Ārzemju literatūra)
Title: Иностранная литература 3 (2019)
Title*: Ārzemju literatūra
Иностранная литература, Russia
Literary magazine on foreign literature