Journal of Romance studies

The world literary system and planetarity in Bernardo Atxaga’s Obabakoak

Journal of Romance studies (2021), 21, (1), 49–68.


The bascophone reception of Bernardo Atxaga’s Obabakoak has claimed its universality as one of its main merits. This can be seen as a symptom of the desire for external recognition commonly found in minoritized cultures. This article analyses the type of relationality that Obabakoak envisions between the community of bascophone culture and the wider world of global culture. I rebut the suggestion that Obabakoak is an artifice to achieve international consecration in return for a deliberately self-exoticizing image of the Basques. I show instead that Obabakoak undoes hierarchies of cultural and literary value and projects both the world literary system and the realm of worldly human relations onto a plane that incorporates the two seemingly incompatible principles of equality and radical alterity. These principles constitute a type of relationality that can be identified as the core of the notion of planetarity, which also harbours the undecidable choice between the vernacular and the cosmopolitan.

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Author details

Mercero, Gorka