Cervantes in Algiers
A Captive's Tale
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Vanderbilt University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN during the difficult period of mourning that followed the death of my beloved son Álvaro José, my firstborn and closest interlocutor. It is ironic that a book on the effects of trauma on Cervantes, one planned before the fatality that took my son’s life, ended up being composed in the midst of what may be the worst of traumas: the...
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RETURNING TO SPAIN AFTER FIGHTING in the Battle of Lepanto and other Mediterranean campaigns against the Turks, soldier Miguel de Cervantes was captured by Barbary pirates and taken as a captive to Algiers. The five years he spent in the baños [prison houses] of Algiers (1575–80) left an indelible impression on his work. From the first plays and...
1. The Barbary Corsairs
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MANY CRITICS HAVE ALLUDED to the marks left on Cervantes’s thoughts and works by his North African captivity. “Fue el más trascendental hecho en su carrera espiritual” [it was the most transcendental event in his spiritual career], says Américo Castro, referring to this catastrophic experience, while Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce argues that the capture by Barbary pirates...
2. Writing Algiers: Masters, Slaves, and Renegades
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“DEL CAUTIVERIO Y HAZAÑAS de Miguel de Cervantes se pudiera hacer una particular historia” [On the captivity and heroic deeds of Miguel de Cervantes, one could write a particular history]. These are the words of Antonio de Sosa in his Diálogo de los mártires de Argel (180). Certainly, this history begs to be written. My study, which explores...
3. Staging Captivity: El trato de Argel
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AS WE SAW IN CHAPTER 2, the Informaci�n de Argel can be read in ways that transcend the social and legal dimensions of its twelve affidavits. This deposition may be viewed as a fundamental testimony that permits the survivor to continue living after his liberation. Testimony thus constitutes a historical event in itself, one that signals the beginning of a historical...
4. An Erotics of Creation: La historia del cautivo
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THIS IS PERHAPS THE PLACE to rethink the mysterious links that associate the dungeon—the prison—with literary invention in Spain’s major writer. Let us recall that in his prologue to Don Quijote, the author affirms that this book was engendered “en una cárcel, donde toda incomodidad tiene su asiento” [in a prison, where every misery is lodged]...
5. “Anudando este roto hilo” [Tying up this Broken Thread]
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IN A BOOK PUBLISHED a year before his death, Primo Levi remarked that “it has been observed by psychologists that survivors of traumatic events are divided into two well-defined groups: those who repress their past en bloc, and those whose memory of the offense persists, as though carved in stone, prevailing over all previous or subsequent experiences. Now,” says...
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Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2002