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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

A brief history of Basque literature

There is no doubt whatsoever that Larramendi was the first to promote Basque culture. Although he wrote very little in Basque, his writings created an awareness and a vocation. He was a cultural leader and a language apologist who sparked off controversy.

In addition to the literature that emerged in the 18th century in connection with the teaching of the Catechism, mention must be made of two works written for the theatre:

  • Acto para Nochebuena written by Pedro Ignacio Barrutia, a clerk from Arrasate (Mondragon, Gipuzkoa): one of the best works in this genre.
  • El borracho burlado written by Francisco Xabier María Munibe, the Count of Peñaflorida (1723-1785). This is a comic opera written in Basque and Spanish.

Manuel Larramendi (1690-1766)

Concerned about the way Basque was being insulted and scorned Manuel Larramendi’s aim through his work was to cultivate an appreciation of Basque speakers by attacking those who insulted it from outside.

Larramendi threw himself into the controversy and that was why he wrote mostly in Castilian (Larramendi’s bibliography).

Politically he has been regarded as a supporter of the Fueros or ancient Basque Laws and Privileges and the forefather of Basque patriotism. But his contribution does not end there, because he left an indelible mark as a grammarian and a lexicographer. Moreover, his main aim was to turn Basque into a language of culture and that was why he encouraged and supported many Basque writers. These writers formed the Larramendi School.

From Larramendi’s time onwards written Basque in the Southern Basque Country achieved a dignity it had hitherto never enjoyed.

Father Larramendi’s followers

It has already been stated that many authors started writing with the support of Larramendi. Among them were two Jesuits: Agustin Kardaberaz and Sebastian Mendiburu. Father Larramendi also greatly influenced Juan Antonio Ubillos.

If the centre of 17th century Basque literature was the Northern Basque Country, then in the 18th century it moved to the Southern Basque Country. And if the 17th century writers wrote for a well-read, sophisticated audience (for the court of Navarre and the bourgeoisie of Lapurdi), then Larramendi’s followers wrote for the ordinary people (farming society).

Idazleak Ikastetxeetan
Liburuak Gozagarri 2017
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Literatur Jarduerak
2011 Euskal Idazleen Elkartea
Zemoria kalea 25 · 20013 Donostia (Gipuzkoa)
Tel.: 943 27 69 99
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