Rainis and Aspazija Mutual Correspondence 1894-1929

Rainis and Aspazija Correspondence spans over 35 years of the creative life of these two poets. The collection contains 2 499 letters in Latvian, Russian and German: of these 1 154 items were written by Aspazija to Rainis, and 1 345 – by Rainis to Aspazija. The correspondence between these two personalities of global scale provides an irreplaceable and invaluable source within the context of Latvian history and culture and the research perspective. We are honoured to have this possibility to remind this part of our heritage and acknowledge its national significance.

The argument for documentary heritage signification

Rainis and Aspazija correspondence coincides in time with a long and crucial period of Latvian history; it reflects the role of these poets in Europeanization of the national culture, cherishing the very idea of the national country and establishing the independence of the Republic of Latvia.  The collection contains nothing but original manuscripts of the both poets, which guarantees its authenticity. Owing to its amount, density of information, the content and the form, the collection represents a unique cultural value both on national and world scale. It is a part of Rainis and Aspazija archives and it is held in Literature, Theatre and Music Collection (Literature and Music Museum). The Correspondence covers essential stages of Latvian history and culture development: New Current movement in the end of 19th century; creating the national consciousness and Revolution of 1905; the years of the World War I; and the genesis, development and realisation of the national state idea.  The letters were written in different periods of the poets’ lives in Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Switzerland; they incorporate information of the local context in the most natural way by highlighting analogies and differences to the life of Latvia. The correspondence was “participated”  by thousands of the contemporaries (just few to be named: writers Rūdolfs Blaumanis, Kārlis Skalbe, Augusts Deglavs, Biruta Skujeniece; politicians Pēteris Stučka, Janis Jansons (Brauns), Miķelis Valters, Felikss Cielēns, Pauls Kalniņš); by soul mates (Goethe, Nietzsche, Schiller, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky etc.);  and by literary heroes and anti-heroes (Faust, Werther, Peer Gynt, Shakespearean heroes etc.).

The content of the manuscripts reveals the personal relationships of the poets and their creative work as well (philosophical concept of Future Human; “creative thoughts”; diaries etc.) along with their individual style, the tradition of the time, specific regional singularities of foreign languages. Many messages were written on postcards the design of which expressed the individual taste of the correspondents.

Preservation and identification of Documentary heritage

In Rainis and Aspazija Museum, a project of full edition of this most valuable correspondence has been going on for several years now. The core of the project is to reveal the written dialogue of the correspondents by putting an address next to the reply in the language of original, and then to perfect it by translation and scientific comments and indexes. The full edition is to be published in 6 volumes.

Another part of the preservation plan is to be realised in Literature and Music Museum. This strategy is aimed at providing a long term preservation and accessibility: by now the storage system has been replaced. By the end of 2010 conservation and restoration of whole collection will have been completed; in 2011 a full description of the collection is going to be fed in the Museum Objects Registration System MUPUS; 2012 will show the end of adding digital copies to the descriptions; afterwards providing them with translations and transcripts of the originals. Along with developing the public access to MUPUS a separate site for the correspondence will be worked at. The preservation of the collection is under no threat, and the museum will use all the available resources to facilitate its recognition.

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