Basque Literary History


Edited by Mari Jose Olaziergi  

Basque Literary History provides an overview of the evolution of Basque literature, the sociohistorical events that marked it, and the place it holds within Basque society from its oral roots and its "inception" in 1545 with Linguae Vasconum Primitiae by Bernard Etxepare (the first book printed in Basque) to the modern day. It studies "Basque literary history" from the understanding of Basque literature as part of a system-a literary system- to which it belongs and from which it receives meaning and direction. Like all languages and literatures, Basque literature has been conditioned by the relationship between language and literature. In the Basque case this is exacerbated by the subordination of Basque literature to the historical situation. Until the end of the twentieth century, to write Basque literature meant mostly to cultivate the Basque language to the extent that authors would inscribe in their works a defense of the language to prove its versatility and compare it to other, more literary-cultivated languages. In this context, a core aspect of Basque literary history's purpose is the wish to establish literature's autonomy in the context of social and cultural life. Authors, when they create literary universes, no longer feel like mere apologists of a minority language that is peripheral amidst the din of Western European literatures. These authors write in a minorized language, but one that is coming of age and hopes to function as an autonomous system in the context of Basque society and aims to get its voice heard in the World Republic of Letters. 

Chapter subjects include: oral literature; "bertsolaritza"; literary production from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries; modern narrative, poetry, theater, the essay, children's and young adult literature, translated Basque literature, and literatures written by Basque writers in other languages than Basque. With a preface by editor Mari Jose Olazieregi and an introduction by Jesus Maria Lasagabaster.