While the origins of Basque literature in Euskara were linked to the ecclesiastical world and religious education, from the nineteenth century on it began to change with the introduction of new genres such as the novel. One of the forerunners of the novel in Euskara was Peru Abarka by Juan Antonio Mogel (1745-1804), written with the clear goal to demonstrate the clarity and value of Euskara to the Spanish-speaking Basque Enlightenment community in the early nineteenth century.
From this work on, the Basque novel has had an interesting evolution. One could say that, from being a fortress whose function was to define Euskara and Basque identity, nowadays Basque narrative has become an autonomous and totally eclectic activity, with a place for all sensibilities and worldviews. One might say the same of both Basque poetry and short stories. In order to understand this evolution, we should bear in mind those factors that made it possible, for example, the co-official status of Euskara in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, the creation and growth of Basque publishing houses and other kinds of institutions, and so on.
As regards the literature of the Basque Country written in other languages, one must say that they rarely normally appear face to face with that produced in Euskara. Specifically, some will believe it problematic for all literatures to appear on the same level, when we know very well that the Euskara literary system is not as powerful as that of Spanish, French or English. It is not our aim to superficially address the sociolinguistic situation in the Basque Country, but we feel that if we want to do justice to those people that feel connected geographically to what is termed the Basque Country, one must take into consideration its diversity (including its linguistic diversity). In other words, we ourselves want to acknowledge that not just Euskara, but Spanish, French and English are also our languages.
Basque literature expert
This is the introduction to the “Basque Literatura in the Twentieth Century” book, you can find the complete book here:
Ezkerra, Estibalitz, XX. Mendeko euskal literatura / La littérature basque du XXème siècle / Basque Literature in the Twentieth Century, Donostia-San: Etxepare Euskal Institutua, 2012 (French version funded by the Basque Cultural Institute)