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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

A brief history of Basque literature

On the threshold of bourgeois democracy and as the separation between sociopolitical and cultural groups gradually became established, the publishing of works of literature increased.

During this period writers aimed to go after free literature which was concerned with literary creation. In 1975 Bernardo Atxaga and K. Izagirre produced the literary journal “Panpina ustela”. In it appeared the early features of this new, autonomous way of writing. As these writers say, literature is not the servant of everything that goes on around it; literature does have its own dynamics. Literature is a form of expression, it creates enjoyment, it is a form of communication.


Bernardo Atxaga and K. Izagirre were the ones to give an impetus to the new trend in poetry. Nevertheless, this trend was made up of a group of young poets writing poetry with difficult syntax and free, dark, arcane language. Their works expressed the complex, personal internal world: love, painful intimacy and the condemnation dirty, false society… There was great variety in the level of what these young poets produced: easy, done by way of experiment, readable, boring, lacking in originality…

In this poetic trend we can mention J. Cazenave’s Zutaz amoroski (1978), A. Azkue’s Poemak (1981), J. I. Lasa’s Alizia eta biok (1982) and Andaluziari ene bilduma (1984), and J. L. Otamendi’s Egunsenti biluzia (1980) and Azken undinaren kaira (1983).

In this first fairly widespread wave one has to mention the poetry of J. Sarrionandia, A. Lasa and T. Irastortza. M. Ertzilla’s Hitzik aunitz idatzi dut (1977) and G. Aleman’s Iraganaz (1980) also belong this appealing, delightful trend.

There were changes in viewpoints and writing styles during this period, poetry did not stop being the expression of the people’s history, situations, problems and aims: J. L. Davant wrote Makila gorria (1980) and Denboraren aroak (1982). J. A. Irigarai in his work Kondairaren ihauteria (1978) uses symbolic-mythical resources and the historical-ethnographic core of the people. It goes right to the roots of the Basque Country. I. Zabaleta’s work Bertsoaren ezpata (1979), in contrast, can be regarded as a symbolic structure done in the drama mould. In Euskararen fereka (1982) he tells the story of the people who experience the mystery of love and attraction but who are forced to fight. In his work Arrotzarena-Neurtitz neurgabeak (1983) J. Arrieta expressed the suffering of the people.

In this type of poetry with a symbolic or allegorical structure many measured and rhyming frameworks, old verses, verses, proverbs and popular songs emerge. The following stand out: A. Irigoien’s Herrian gara bizi (1979) and Orbel eta orri (1980). P. Urkizu’s Dorrejilko kanta (1977) and I. Borda’s Bizitza nola badoan (1984).

There are important writers in this trend which concerned itself with the situation of the country and which aimed to be a messenger: M. Erdozainzi-Etxart’s patriotic social humanism, Hinki-hanka (1978). K. Santiesteban’s Hitzak (1983), dramatic, combative, stirring social existentialism written in the baroque style. The full-blown poetry that arouses Basque awareness, etc. portrayed by P. Iztueta in his works Herbestean (1979) and Ibiltari (1979). He makes the leap from Christian existentialism to the poetry of social commitment.

To end this section on poetry special mention has to be made of the poetic activity of two writers: through M. Zarate’s Higidura berdez (1977) and Bizipenen bultzadaz (1978), true, sensible, balanced poetry full of references to the country, etc. And X. Amuriza’s Menditik mundura (1977), a creation on the fringes of popular literature through his skilful use of Basque.

Liburuak Gozagarri 2018
Literatur Jarduerak
Idazleak Ikastetxeetan
Gure Programak
2011 Euskal Idazleen Elkartea
Zemoria kalea 25 · 20013 Donostia (Gipuzkoa)
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