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A brief history of Basque literature

At the end of the 1940s when the political situation eased somewhat (even though people had to endure the censorship) S. Mitxelena’s Arantzazu Euskal Sinismenaren poema (1949) was the first work of literature to be published in the Southern Basque Country during the post-civil war period. This event and the creation of the journals Egan (Donostia-San Sebastian, 1948) and Euzko-Gogoa (Guatemala, 1950) signalled the start of a second era.

There were three literary trends in this new period: the traditional, pre-war trend, another trend which brought about a change in this traditional one, and third one which was ideologically unorthodox and innovative in the literary sense. During this time production increased as did the genres: poetry and narrative writing, drama, essay writing and journals.

Poetry and Narrative Writing:

The trends that had begun in the previous era predominated. Some poets continued to write by adopting the previous models (Irisarri, Aurraitz, B. Ametzaga, S. Muniategi and S. Onandia) and in addition to their own creations they prepared a valuable collection of Basque poetry: Father Onaindia, Milla Euskal-olerki eder, 1954.

This trend was consolidated by the return of writers who had been living abroad until that time: Orixe, S. Mitxelena, Iratzeder, N. Etxaniz, J. Etxaide and J.A. Loidi, and F. Krutwig and J. Mirande.

Drama:

Drama suffered the worst consequences of the censorship. The drama produced by the post-war generations was based on the word or the dialogue. The author described everything that had to be said and done on stage. Most of them were "costumbrista" comedies and the plots unfolded in accordance with moral criteria. The most noteworthy authors were: A. M. Labaien, A. Zubikarai, J. Etxaide and P. Larzabal.

The above-mentioned political drama of S. Mitxelena, N. Etxaniz’s religious, moralist theatre, T. Monzon’s dramas and comedies that have a poetic touch, and the numerous works of drama of E. Urruzola aka Uxola must be included in this context.

Essay Writing:

S. Mitxelena wrote the essay Unamuno eta Abendats (1958). This work attempted to turn Basque into a significant tool for modern thought. The aim of this work was to discover the common features that emerged between the Basque soul and Unamuno’s conduct and feelings. It condemned pedantry, fundamentalism, obstinacy and the politics of division and proposes unity, tolerance, diversity of opinion and sincerity for coexistence.

Journals:

Egan and Euzko Gogoa were the two most important journals at this time. They published poetry, drama, short stories, literary critiques, etc. Moreover, it was the only channel of expression for many Basque speakers.

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

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