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Prosperous Minorities in the Literary Corsair Economy

Brahín in Los cautivos de Argel and David in Guzmán el Bravo

Michael Gordon    University of North Carolina, Wilmington, USA    



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.

June 11, 2018
Oct. 27, 2017
July 18, 2017

Keywords: CaptivesLope de VegaAlgiersTunisJews

Copyright: © 2018 Michael Gordon. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.