Centenary of the birth of Andima Ibiñagabeitia.

2006 February 7
Centenary of the birth of Andima Ibiñagabeitia.

Considered as one of the leading figures of modern Basque prose, Andima Ibiñagabeitia Idoiaga was born in Elantxobe (Biscay), on January 26th, 1906. He was an enthusiast writer and translator, and was keenly committed to promoting Basque letters, with his mind always set on making steps towards the progress of the Basque language, euskara.

After studying with the Jesuits for a few years in Tutera/Tudela (Navarre), he then continued studying at their historical and spiritual centre in Loiola (Gipuzkoa). Later on, he studied Philosophy in Oña (Burgos) and worked as a teacher in Colombia, from where he was sent over to Marneffe (Belgium), to take Theology and Canon Law lessons. It was there, where he was about to be ordained, that he left the Society of Jesus.

His above-mentioned stay at Loiola deserves special consideration. His unfaltering attachment to the Basque language was further strengthened during the five years he spent there. Overcoming all sorts of difficulties (not the least of which was the idea, predominant at that time among certain academic authorities, that Basque was acceptable only insofar as it was a tool for preaching to monolingual Basque people), a group of students was set up with the aim of improving its members’ knowledge of Basque and translating into our language the Greek and Latin classics, as well as authors from modern languages. Among the members of that group were, in addition to Andima Ibiñagabeitia, Jokin Zaitegi, Lauaxeta, Plazido Mujika, Iñaki Goenaga and others.

Fruit of Mr. Ibiñagabeitia’s effort are translations such as Bergiliren Unai eta Alor-kantak (Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics), Ovidiusen Maita-bidea (Ars amandi, by Ovidius), Izadiaz (De Rerum Natura), by Lucretius, the poems of Catullus, Jacinto Benavente’s Abere indarra (La Fuerza Bruta) and Gaitzetsia (La Malquerida), translated in collaboration with Jokin Zaitegi, and Kardenalen zauta (A ceia dos cardeais), by the Portuguese Júlio Dantas. He also translated scientific works, with remarkable accuracy. Some of that output is still unpublished, under the care of the Benedictines, in Lazkao (Gipuzkoa).

Andima Ibiñagabeitia, together with Orixe and Jokin Zaitegi, is an indispensable reference of the period subsequent to the Spanish Civil War. He sought to raise Basque to the standards of a full-scale language of culture, and it must be admitted that our language, euskara, made a big step forward thanks to his invaluable contribution.

Mr. Ibiñagabeitia died in exile, in Caracas (Venezuela), on November 2nd, 1967. Euskaltzaindia-The Royal Academy of the Basque Language, of which he was an associate member, will hold a ceremony on May 26th in Elantxobe, in commemoration of this tireless defender of our language.

To learn more about Andima Ibiñagabeitia:

Andima Ibiñagabeitia
A basic bibliography
Erbestetik barne-minez
Andimaren idazlan hautatuak