Rainis (né Jānis Pliekšāns, 1865 – 1929) is a prominent Latvian poet, playwright, translator, and politician. Rainis studied law at the University of St. Petersburg. Together with Pēteris Stučka he edited a collection of epigrams and satire, Mazie dunduri/The Small Gadflies and published Apdziedāšanas dziesmas/Mocking Songs devoted to the 3rd Latvian Song Festival. After completing his studies, he worked at regional courtrooms in Lithuania and Latvia. From 1891 to 1895 Rainis was editor in chief of Dienas Lapa/The Daily Page where he worked side by side with young Latvian liberal and socialist intellectuals who came to be known as the New Current. Because of their social criticism and promotion of reforms and class consciousness, the New Current was a dissident movement subject to Tsarist crackdown. In 1897 Rainis was arrested and deported. It was during this period of internal exile that Rainis translated Goethe's Faust, works by William Shakespeare, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, Aleksandr Pushkin, et al. These translations greatly revitalized Latvian language by introducing neologisms and coining expressions, and are still among the most important works shaping the modern Latvian literary language. While in exile, he also wrote his first book of poems, Tālas noskaņas zilā vakarā/Far-Off Reflections on a Blue Evening, published in 1903. Gals un sākums/End and Beginning is imbued with G.W.F. Hegel’s dialectics. In his plays Rainis used motifs from folklore as symbols for his political ideals. Due to the failure of the Revolution in 1905, he had to emigrate to Switzerland with his wife Aspazija, settling in Castagnola, Lugano, where he wrote plays and poetry. He returned home in1920, to a now independent Latvia, where he was elected to the Saeima (Parliament), worked as minister of education and director of the National Theatre.
Rainis. Cilvēks [Rainis. The Man]. Riga: Ascendum, 2015.
Mēness Meitiņa [Moon Girl]. Riga: Jumava, 2003.
Dagdas piecas skiču burtnīcas [Five Notebooks of Dagda].1920 – 1925.
Gals un sākums [End and Beginning]. 1912.
Tie, kas neaizmirst [Those who never forget].1911.
Ave sol! 1910.
Klusā grāmata [The Silent Book]. Riga: Daile un Darbs, 1909.
Vētras sēja [Face of a Storm].1905.
Tālas noskaņas zilā vakarā [Far-Off Reflections on a Blue Evening]. 1903.
Poetry for children
Saulīte slimnīcā [The Sun at the Doctor's]. 1926.
Putniņš uz zara [Little Bird on a Twig]. 1925.
Lellīte Lolīte [Dolly Loly]. 1924.
Vasaras princīši un princesītes [Summer Princes and Princesses].1924.
Puķu lodziņš [The Little Window of Flowers].1924.
Zelta sietiņš [The Golden Sieve]. 1920.
Iļja Muromietis [Ilya Muromets].1923.
Jāzeps un viņa brāļi [Joseph and His Brothers]. Riga: 1919.
Mīla stiprāka par nāvi [Love Stronger Than Death]. 1914
Pūt, vējiņi! [Blow, dear wind!]. 1914.
Indulis un Ārija [Indulis and Arija].1912.
Zelta zirgs [The Golden Horse]. Riga: 1909.
Uguns un nakts [Fire and Night]. 1905. in English by Waveland Press in 1985.
Encyclopædia Britannica article, Latvian author Rainis // Encyclopædia Britannica [EN]
Rainis – poet and dramatist // Rainis and Aspazija Museum [EN, LV]
Rainis, authors profile // Latvian Writers' Union [LV]
Rainis, about the author // Letonika [LV]
Monument to Rainis // Live Riga [EN, LV]
Ilmārs Šlāpins, Rainis the Refugee // Satori.lv [LV]
Rainis and Aspazija in our thoughts and deeds, panel discussion // Satori.lv [LV]
Emma S. Richards, English Romanticism and the Latvian poet Jānis Rainis // Journal of Baltic Studies in Taylor & Francis Online [EN]
A new collection of Rainis' poems published and illustrated by Latvian artists // Diena.lv [LV]
Dreams of Rainis // New Theatre Institute of Latvia, contemporary performing arts in Latvia and abroad [EN, LV]