Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga: The Identity of a Nation usually Stands in its Language

‘It took centuries for other nations to switch from spoken to written literature, but Latvian literature had to leap over many stages’ says the former president of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga in a recently published video interview within the project ‘Library’. An interview with the ex-president is the fifth one published within the Baltic International Bank project focused on popularising reading.

‘For people, the comprehension of what makes it a nation is built through literature. Therefore, when sincerely learning a foreign language, it is necessary to study the beginnings of literature. In order to understand any literature, one must see the development of it. It is the consciousness of the whole nation’ in an interview about the importance of literature says the former president. ‘Literature has impact on the national self-awareness, as well as an impact on the development of other forms of art. Literature practically depicts its time in history’.

In the video Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga not only speaks of the impact literature has on a nation’s self-awareness, but also reveals how her personal relationship with books developed. The story begins at a time when she started learning to read and leads further until now – through times when she received books for studying well in middle school, through high school and university years, when Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga’s reading interests shifted towards detective novels and science fiction, until current time when the books she has received as gifts and that contain remarks from the authors themselves have become some of the dearest in her personal library.

The full interview with Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga alongside other stories from the writer Nora Ikstena, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church Zbigņevs Stankevičs, the Director of the National Library of Latvia Andris Vilks and The Director of the Latvian National Library Foundation Kārina Pētersone can be seen in the project’s homepage Next year ‘Library’ plans to also release interviews with the Chairperson of the Supervisory Board and the Bank’s shareholder Valērijs Belokoņs, a poet and translator Uldis Bērziņš, an Art historian and expert in heraldry Imants Lancmanis, writer Māris Bērziņš and Head of the National History Museum of Latvia Department of ethnography – Sanita Stinkule.