J. RAINIS, Castagnola

Edited by V. MATISS and G. GRINUMA, Edizioni Città di Lugano, 2015 (Pagine storiche luganesi 26)

Fleeing for his life after the revolution of 1905, Janis Rainis left his homeland and found refuge in Castagnola, Switzerland. Rainis arrived in Castagnola as a revolutionary leader and newspaper editor; when he left Castagnola fourteen years later in 1920, he was Latvia's greatest living writer and spiritual founder of the Latvian state.

In his book of reminiscences entitled Castagnola, written during Rainis's last return visit to Switzerland in 1927, it becomes clear that for him, Castagnola was much more than just another point in the physical topography of his life, much more that just a location where he had spent his exile years. "Has it turned into a symbol for me?" asks Rainis in the closing lines of this book, and the resounding answer is yes, the Swiss village of Castagnola, in the canton of Ticino, was a compelling and meaningful symbol for Rainis.