Prosperous Minorities in the Literary Corsair Economy
Brahín in Los cautivos de Argel and David in Guzmán el Bravo
Spanish literature written by captives or about captivity in North Africa distinguished itself from the majority of Spanish Golden Age works because of its positive portrayal of Jews. Not only were these literary representations benevolent, but they were also quite realistic. Like many of their historical counterparts, the literary Jews Brahín (Los cautivos de Argel) and David (Guzmán el Bravo) practiced their religion clandestinely in Spain before moving to the Maghreb, where they enjoyed greater freedoms and privileges, including the ability to legally own Christian slaves. Multiple 17th-century autobiographical accounts from Spanish captives in Algiers and Tunis can serve as historical templates to corroborate the precarious, yet simultaneously prosperous, situation of those two literary Jews. Finally, the similarities found in historical sources and these two North African works challenges the notion of Lope de Vega being unequivocally anti-Jewish.
Keywords: Captives • Lope de Vega • Algiers • Tunis • Jews