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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

A brief history of Basque literature

In the 1980s many things happened in the world of Basque letters. On the one hand, the Basque Writers' Association (EIE) was founded in 1982 and this was followed five years later by the birth of the Basque Translators, Correctors and Interpreters Association (EIZIE). On the other, if the previous decade was characterised by the avant-garde and experimentalism, at this time the most important task of writers was to move closer to reality. This move, however, took place in a number of ways. In Joan Mari Irigoien's case (Oilarraren promesa, 1980; Poliedroaren hostoak, 1983; Udazkenaren balkoitik, 1987; Babilonia, 1989; Consummatum est, 1993) he took the Magic Realism of South America as the starting point for his novels. In his works he reflected the conflicts that arose when the Basque Country based on tradition (reflecting fairness) came into contact with the non-Basque world devoid of faith (evil). The stories, like Gabriel García Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, present the viewpoint of a number of generations in an endeavour to explain the development of the idyllic world more effectively.

Marquez's influence, in particular his Chronicle of a Death Foretold, is also noticeable in Anjel Lertxundi's novel Hamaseigarrenean, aidanez (1983),. However, the Orio-born writer broke with Irigoien's idyllic viewpoint when he spoke of the loneliness of the woman condemned to living in a closed, farming atmosphere. By then Lertxundi had already had a number of books published (the books of short stories Hunik arrats artean and Aise eman zenidan eskua), but his most perfect work of that period was Hamaseigarrenean, aidanez and together with Atxaga's Bi anai (1985) they were the most significant works of the 1980s. In his work Bi anai Atxaga was to paint the farming world in all its harsh reality but within a framework of fantasy. In fact the voices of four animals explain the details of a tragedy that befell Paulo together with his backward brother Daniel. And cruelty is the main feature in Pako Aristi's trilogy (Kcappo, tempo di tremolo, 1985; Irene, tempo di adaggio, 1987; Krisalida, 1990) which tells of incest, rape, murder and savage sexual relations.

In the meantime Xabier Gereño (Hiltzaile baten bila, 1971; Espioitza, 1977; Gudari bat, 1977) and Gotzon Garate (Esku leuna, 1978; Goizuetako ezkongaiak, 1979; Elizondoko eskutitzak, 1981; Muskilak, 1980; Izurri berria, 1982; Alaba, 1984) worked mainly on the detective novel. At the same time we have Xabier Kintana's Ta Marbuta (1984), and Itxaro Borda's Basilika (1984) introduced the exploits of the detective Amaia Ezpeldoi. Ezpeldoi was to reappear in the novels Bizi nizano munduan (1996) and Amorezko peña baño (1996). The narrative of Juan Luis Zabala (Zigarrokin ziztrin baten azken keak, 1985; Kaka esplikatzen, 1989) and of Pello Lizarralde (E pericoloso sporgersi, 1984; Sargori, 1984; Hatza mapa gainean, 1988) was to be different. The two works were to be within the realms of modernity, but alongside the first writer's inward-looking, reflective style, Lizarralde's sophisticated, objective prose stood out. During the same period Aingeru Epaltza was to publish his Sasiak ere begiak baditin set during the First Carlist War [1833-39].

When the decade was about to come to an end Atxaga once again made his presence felt. His collection of stories Obabakoak published in 1988 left readers and critics alike speechless and a year later he was to receive the Spanish National Literature Prize. The Obaba literary geography first appeared in the story Camilo Lizardi erretorearen etxean aurkitutako gutunaren azalpena which was awarded the "Irun Hiria" literary prize in 1982 and this fantastic setting gave a thematic unity to a number of stories like Sugeak txoriari begiratzen dionean (1984), Bi letter jaso nituen oso denbora gutxian (1984), and to the already mentioned Bi anai and to Obabakoak.

Liburuak Gozagarri 2018
Literatur Jarduerak
Idazleak Ikastetxeetan
Gure Programak
2011 Euskal Idazleen Elkartea
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