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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

A brief history of Basque literature

As with poetry, narrative writing was marked by experimentalism in the 1970s. By that time Txillardegi and Ramon Saizarbitoria had established the bases for the modern Basque novel, but in very different ways: while the former concentrated on content (even going as far as producing a totally philosophical discourse), style became the main concern of the latter. In Egunero hasten delako published in 1969 the course that Saizarbitoria was to take was already clear, in other words organising the stories through a series of shots. Examples of these are Ehun metro (1976) and Ene Jesus (1976); the first was made by following the Nouveau Roman technique and the second was clearly influenced by the structuralists of the 1960s. In Ehun metro, to portray the last one hundred metres covered by an ETA member fleeing from the police, the first and second voices are interspersed with a third one which is more neutral. Shots of places and times change continually and passages of the childhood of the main character and the vicissitudes of a second character who witnesses the events are added to the chronicle of his escape. The pace is very lively at times; at other times, very slow. In Ene Jesus, in contrast, the main character is in bed awaiting death. So as not to get bored he makes up stories, but finds it difficult to follow a coherent thread and in the end all the stories get mixed up to form in an incomprehensible stream.

Saizarbitoria in fact used the expression "incomprehensible stream" when he wrote the preface to Patri Urkizu's novel Sekulorum sekulotan (1975). That is where the first fruits of the avant-garde, experimental Basque novel were to come from together with the works Zergatik bai (1976) by Koldo Izagirre and Ziutateaz (1976) by Bernardo Atxaga. Throughout Urkizu's story there was not a single comma or full stop; that untidy discourse did not even abide by the rules of chronology. In the case of the works of Atxaga and Izagirre hybridisation was the main feature with no division between the genres. But there was an internal coherence between the components nevertheless.

Other works that could be regarded as forming part of the experimentalist trend were Arantxa Urretabizkaia's Zergatik Panpox (1975), Joxe Austin Arrieta's Abuztuaren 15eko bazkalondoa (1975) and Manu Militari (1987) as well as Ibon Sarasola's ultra short novel, which ends when a cigarette has been smoked, Jon eta Ane zigarro bat erretzen (1977). Zergatik Panpox describes an ordinary day in the life of a woman with her baby after her partner has left her. The main thread of the story consists of the woman's thoughts. The recounting style is close to that of James Joyce's Ulysses. In Arrieta's novels the recounting style is the most salient feature of the way past stories and memories are brought close to the reader (one is connected with the war and childhood, and the other with military service).

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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