A Century of Basque Narrative Prose: From Ballads to Modern Novels

Century of Art


While narrative prose was active, storytelling without paper, printing press, or recording devices was very common. To make rhymes or verses, however, one had to rely on memory. To facilitate the work of explanation, repetition, parallelism, refrains, songs, and keywords were used.



  • Traditional stories are less organized.
  • They can be epic (historical) or lyrical (sentimental).
  • They are associated with the life events of older people.
  • Most were collected in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Some are known in full, others partially.
  • It is not unusual for the same ballad to have more than one version, and dialectal variations also occur.

In Basque ballads, I called the youngest boy, Janik tells the story of a ship lost at sea and the crew who, in desperation, decide to draw lots to kill one of them, eat his flesh, and survive. The story of the sinister stick is explained.

The difficult situation is described through interviews and the following techniques are also used to explain the situation:

  • Numbers game.
  • Despair in the passage of time.
  • Realism using raw details.
  • Stylistically, fast connection of ideas without using conjunctions.

Short, measured words have been used. The size is a model, unnecessary elements have been rejected, there is no filler, and the inserts are for people going over memories.

Rhyme, however, is a glove. It is questionable whether there can be rhyme in Nasaia.


From the 18th century onwards, literary narratives gained attention, and the ballad remained a model of courage until the 19th century.

In other words, the most outstanding characteristics of these short stories full of fantasy are that animals become people. The satirical and moral purpose is mastered, and the lessons are finished.

Alegilariek use simple and understandable language for educational purposes. Basque alegilariek act in verse and prose, and the authors are almost all Greek (Aesop), Latin (Phaedrus), Spanish (Iriarte, Samaniego, Alava in the Canary Islands), and so on. These are the sources of Basque Alegia.

Some Basque Alegia:

Juan Antonio Mogel (1745-1804)

Juan Antonio Mogel was originally from Markina-Xemein but worked as a priest in Eibar. He is the author of the excellent work Peru Abarka. The work earned him a reputation as one of the best Basque writers.

In Peru Abarka, however, other topics were also discussed. JAMogel discussed religion, the origins of the Basque language, philosophy, etc., both in Basque and Spanish.

But we are especially interested in a relatively long series of stories that the translator-adapter worked on. Juan Antonio wrote them together with his nephew, Vincent, but at the same time, the work was stimulating for his uncle. Vincent Mogelenak wrote in Guipuzcoan, while Antoniorenak wrote in Bizkaieraz.

The language processing and the criticisms of the work refer to the difficulty and praiseworthiness of the work.

Antonia Vicente Mogel (1782-1854)

The first woman writer in Basque literature, niece of Juan Antonio. Vincent wrote only one work: Good story, a collection in Guipuzcoan.

It is written in an easy-to-understand and entertaining language, aiming to reach the largest possible readership. She was twenty-two years old when she wrote Ipui onak.


The evolution of narrative in Basque took place in the 19th century. From the late 19th century onwards, the novel became the most important form of narrative explanation.

This fictional narrative written in prose focuses on the main character(s), place(s), and plot. These elements make up the novel, and their skillful interplay guarantees the quality of the work.

The 19th century is the golden age of the novel. Realism is the period of the century. It is said to be a time for action, for freeing the heart through interpersonal relationships, philosophical reflection, and a reflection of the conflicts and anxieties of the people.

Works published at the end of the 19th century leave their mark. What is clear, therefore, is that the writer tells the same beauty as late literature.

During the 20th century, narrative and literature flourished and had an interesting life. Novels published by the end of the 19th century:

  • Peru Abarka (1881), Juan Antonio Mogelena.
  • Pello Mari (1889), Joan Batista Elizanbururena.
  • Once Upon a Time (1893), Resurrection Mary Azkuerena.
  • Flower of Auñamendi (1898), Txomin Aguirre.

Resurrection Mary Azkue (1864-1951)

He was born in Lekeitio. Priest. He died in Bilbao, after a long time at the Basque Academy. During the long years of his life, he carried out essential work for the analysis of the Basque language.


His works include lexicography, grammar, and very popular literary works. Respectively:

  • Basque Izkidea. Grammar of Basque (1891)
  • Dictionary Vasco – Spanish – French (Basque – Castilian – French Dictionary) (1905)
  • Morphology Vasca (Basque morphology) (1923), study of the Basque language
  • Multi Country (1935-1947), collection of popular knowledge.
  • Once Upon a Time (1893), novel.
  • Lost Sheep (1919), novel.


Once Upon a Time and Lost Sheep are novels. Azkue is a novelist, but the name of his work and the congregations are very low near the aztertzailearenaren.

The first work is about customs and humor. Plot: Maripa and Txanton are a couple and own a winery. Katalin, the shepherdess, is in love with her friend’s husband, but her father does not look favorably on Catherine’s marriage. During the novel, Catherine’s father – Txiliri – attributes maneuvers and JUKUTRIA to approve the marriage.

In Lost Sheep, the characters communicate with each other through letters about the problems of religion. Concerned about the need for unity of the Basque language, they consist of Turan, which could be reduced based on the unity of thought.

In Lost Sheep, Turan and completed defended the practice through teaching, so the work has a greater interest in language than in literature.

Go Batista Elizanburu (1821-1891)

He was born in Sara and died there, having become a captain in the French army.


Elizanburu was a tender and romantic poet. His work is not verbose, but he is known today for his poetry and songs.

The unfinished novel, Pello Mari, has a framed structure. In other words, the main narrator presents the story, and the protagonist tells us some of it himself.

It is a collection of stories, formed in different sections. The stories are interspersed through the main thread, creating a layered effect. The basic story is a unique work, and long passages, called analepsis – flashbacks – are inserted into it to a certain extent. This allows the following scale to be achieved:

  • Pello’s life.
  • Stories told by Pello.
  • Chat in progress at Pello’s party.

The language is very close to the characteristics of oral language, and the author uses meta-humor to keep the reader’s attention throughout the work. It is written in Lapurdian.

XX. Century narrative


The novel is the youngest of the literary genres. It was enhanced in the 19th century, especially during the period of realism, with the rise of the bourgeoisie and the urban environment.

It is a very open and broad genre associated with the world. As a result, it shows a unique vitality today.

The novel of the 19th century was decisive because realism and naturalism had completely passed. The 20th century shows maturity.


  • Author’s point of view and position
  • Instead of the omniscient writer, the author passes the secret to the characters, and this is the adventure of telling the narrative.
  • Many readers appear to see just like that, without alternating opinions.


It is now common for the novel to be sequenced in sections or chapters, but not necessarily with gaps. For example,”Time of Silenc” by Martin Santos or”Otto Pett” by Lertxundi.

In fact, the most important changes have been made in the structure, including the main part of the structure. Some of these changes are:

  • Counterpoint techniques: combining and alternating more than one narrative thread, carrying the point of view of the characters. The authors can only see and say these are the only konstatazioa.
  • The use of time, mixed instead of linear, to take advantage of the chronology. Analepsis.

Person narrative

The narration of the story from the perspective of many characters is used. The first-person narrative and the second-person narrative have their own characteristics and peculiarities, and the author uses the opportunities provided by the use of these people.

Interviews and monologue

The games to know about interviews are:

  • Direct style: When receiving a direct dialogue.
  • Cross-style: Usually developed using the third person.
  • Cross-free style: The style is said by someone, but without verb assistants, menderagailurik, and/or dashes.
  • Internal monologue: One of the most successful techniques of the 20th century. Thanks to its use by the great novelists of the century. Among them are: J. Joyce, W. Faulkner…


Description is of great importance in naturalism. Descriptions of objects, works of authors, some of the characters are of sufficient importance.

Style Innovation

Trends in the 20th century novel can be seen:

  • Report a novel, ads, … from the record is inserted.
  • Letter forms are used in games.

Reader’s complicity

The novelist will try to find complicity with the reader, strengthening the relationship with the reader.

Basque origin of the novel

After the abolition of the fueros in 1876, the Basque cultural movement for the recovery of the Basque language began at the end of the 19th century. Poetry, flowers, and cultural activities such as games flourished.

The Euzko Party is known for its political change, progress, and momentum.

Oldar Esnatzea also came from this narrative, and its influence on poetry and politics was weaker.

We will study two sections of the period from the end of the 19th century to 1957:

Novel of tradition

The novel of custom. It extends from the end of the century to the end of the Civil War in 1936. The Basque-age novel, the novel, reaches its peak.

  • The root of the romantic novel. Sensitive to the view of customs.
  • It is set in the countryside and among seafaring people, idealizing life.
  • The weight of the Catholic religion is vast.
  • They are descriptive, or have a weak plot. The storyteller always tends to be omniscient.
  • Basque writers are encouraged to write their consciences.

Txomin Aguirre (1864-1920)

Txomin Aguirre was born in Ondarroa. He was a priest and chaplain of the Zumaia convent and earned his living there. His work for a peaceful victory facilitated his skills in preaching and writing.

He was also a fan of tranquility, longanimity, neatness, and dignity.

He was a member of the Basque language organization from its foundation.

He is the author of three works:

  • Flower of Auñemendi (1898), historical and romantic novel.
  • Mises (1906), traditional novel.
  • Garoa (1912), traditional novel.

– Mises

This is his second work.

It is set in the world of fishing. It depicts the customs and lifestyle of Ondarroa. The love story revolves around Angel and Mañaxi, who are in love, while Jose Antonio, an Indian-American who has become rich from temporary work, returns and becomes a third party in the love triangle.

The work is written in Bizkaian.

Mises’ style brings:

  • Long sentences, establishing the character of the rhetoric.
  • Very careful and selected use of the lexicon, a pleasure of careful purism.
  • Many adjectives, which give the text seriousness and maturity. Pairs of adjectives are used in the descriptions.
  • Txomin Aguirre is very skilled in the use of wordplay, comparisons, and paradoxes.

– Garon

While Mises is set in the world of the sea, Garoa is a reflection of rural life.

The work is written in Guipuzcoan. Plot:

Joan is the lord of the village of Zabaleta. The eldest daughter, Jose Ramon, is married to the house. The second son, Ignatius, marries a neighbor, and the third, Juan Andres, goes abroad. The boys fight and riot for Malentxo’s sake.

Finally, Male becomes a nun, John dies after being thrown out of the sheepfold, and Joseph, an orphan, is left blind in a quarry. Later, Paul marries.

In Garon, you can see all the beauty of Aguirre the novelist:

  • He has to invent a language for size.
  • He masterfully uses literary resources.
  • The interviews are exemplary in their vitality and appropriateness.

Features include:

  • Didacticism, the desire to educate the reader.
  • Attention to the reception and the Basque language: careful language.

The style is calm, prudent in the selection of words, using sweetness, rhythm, and playfulness in every phrase, achieving a knowledge-orekagune of vitality and peace of mind.

Today, it still maintains its strength and value as a model of prose writing.

The influence of Spanish writers such as José María Pereda from Cantabria can be seen in Agirrerengan.


In 1957, Jose Luis Alvarez Txillardegik published Leturia’s Secret Diary, which opened the modern era of the Basque novel, which is still in full swing today.

According to critics, modernity is a process, a dialectical process that has taken place in the history of the novel. It ensures that the characteristics of modernity in the novel can be found in the following four elements:

  • Subjectivity: The world stands out because of the concept of self.
  • Fragmentation: The world is retained because of its own, and therefore, is inevitably fragmented.
  • Irony: It is a way of criticism, a critical way of looking at reality.
  • Thoughtful: In favor of accepting criticism, it is a reflection of the attitude and openness to accept changes in expression.

But other Basque authors also led to innovation in the novel:

  • They have university studies.
  • Young people will start writing.
  • They are mostly from an urban environment.
  • They have a close knowledge of European literature.
  • Many of them are new to Basque.
  • There are also heterodox cultural tastes.
  • Commitment to the Basque language is a clear demand.
  • They want to modernize Basque literature and bring it into line with European currents.

The novel of the modern era can be divided into the following subcategories:

  • 1957-1969
  • 1969-1976
  • 1976 onwards

Two authors have highlighted the contribution of this period: Miranderena and Jon Txillardegirena.

Jose Luis Alvarez TXILLARDEGI Plaza (San Sebastian, 1929)

TXILLARDEGI is an engineer, novelist, linguist, and worked as a journalist for a year. He is best known for his work on grammar. He has been in exile for a long time due to political fluctuations. Here are his works:

  • Leturia’s Secret Diary (1957)
  • Peru from Leartzako (1960) existentialist novel
  • And about Ivy (1965) collection of articles
  • Elsa Schelen (1969) philosophical novel dealing with the times: Marxism, the Vietnam War, religious talk.
  • Select language and thinking (1972) study of the Basque language
  • On the other hand, Wind (1988) novel. Existentialism is once again at the heart of the author’s work, this time from a poetic perspective.
  • Eraserheads (1988) ideological point of view, this book is a landmark in the author’s work.
  • Wells (1999) historical novel, set in Carlism.

Leturia’s Secret Diary.

This work is a transgressive work in the history of Basque novels. It leaves aside features such as religion, the strength of the rural environment as a model, or the need for the protagonist, and the first-person protagonist is full of uncertainties. John Leturia is the most conflicted protagonist in Basque literature. Joxeba’s secret diary tells the story of the love affair between him and Mary, a story that ends in failure.

The longest period of the diary takes place in Paris. Mary falls in love and marries on arrival, but in the end, she is fed up with everything, and Mary is also dead, the protagonist commits suicide.

It has four parts, depending on the season: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each era has its meaning for the protagonist’s internal situation.

  • Existentialist conception of the world. Leturia’s diary reflects on the meaning of human life and the lack of it at every turn.
  • The structure of the work is offered by someone who has received Leturia’s diary and offers it to the reader.
  • On the other hand, the work freely brings the best dictionary reforms. There are also references to authors of the time.

Jon Mirande (Paris, 1925-1972)

Mirande, born in Paris to parents from Zuberoa, is a new Basque writer.

Mirande’s life, like his work, is full of heterodox details that unify it:

  • He was a great polyglot
  • Ideologically anti-Semitic, fascist, and anti-clerical, and at the same time anti-Franco.
  • A great polemicist.

He died by suicide, which reinforces the interest in the author and his work.

Children of Kisses

This is Mirande’s only novel. The work was written in 1959, but fearing the reaction of readers, he did not publish it until 1970. The protagonist and narrator is an 11-year-old girl, Theresa, and the theme of the work is the curious pederast relationship between her and her father, a scandalous subject as heterodox.

Children of Kisses is psychological. The literary style is quite traditional and novelistic, but it also describes the intensity of feelings and the plasticity of episodes unknown in the Basque novel at the time.

The description of life and the atmosphere is very well rounded.

The influence of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe on Miranda is evident. On the other hand, the similarity to Nabokov’s famous Lolita also refers to Children of Kisses.

SECOND PERIOD: 1969-1976

Novel means of modernization of the Basque 1969.urtean curve is interesting. Emergent political opposition against the Franco 1969urte around that. Erauntsi all kinds of movement in the Basque Country and the smoke is being converted to. Gaiztotzearekin with pain and repression, demonstrations and riots in the street and are sutsuagoak.
Money that comes into the street next to the Basque daily later narrative modernotasunena Started as an indentation.
The current novel has been very useful:
New characters in the novel with the same question · and the importance of image. Anonymous narrator of the story to see what has become an absolute objectivity.
· Psychological analysis of characters, it is discarded.
· Most important form of the novel is told and how it is organized, the winner is not interested in telling the adventure, but to tell the same adventure.
· Requires readers sortzaileago causes, that is, without saying who is also the work of ondorioztatzea.
Ramon Leandro (San Sebastian, 1944)
Economics and has studied sociology-Fribourg, Switzerland. Lives in San Sebastian. This is a list of his novels:
· Because every day begins (1969)
· Hundred meters (1976)
· My Jesus (1976)
Eleven steps · (1995)
· The Heart (1996)
· Kndinskyren tradition (2003)
Every day is beginning. Bergier young girl named Giselle Riemmes to abort the trip is being made to work. After another walk, where a medical consultation, and finally, to achieve the goal.
Leandro continuous monologue has been developing the story.
Characters leads to a thread called Berritsu Kontaketaren, through the activity of non-response.
Other berritsuaren thread activity from the way abortion is Gisele: Gisele ibileren account.
Both are linked. Biañez In addition, the thread of connection between the third Sizarbitoriak two-story or story-line has become a thread.
Basically, Gisele berritsuaren and the passage of the endless flow of words have been told the work, other times referring to the combination of sociological concern.
Told in a unique ability to tell da.Kamerak duan objective vision. And the camera can not see the show, is aspergaitza berritsuaren act.
Style Light, saltaria, fast, the dialogue tends to be like. It is worth noting elipsiak use.