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Reviews355 Kaplan, Gregory B. The Evolution of Converso Literature: The Writings of the Converted Jews of Medieval Spain. Gainesville: UP ofFlorida, 2002. 161 pp. ISBN 0-8130-2475-7 Despite its title, this book focuses on selected passages from literary works by four or five converso authors from fifteenth-century Castilla. Works on converso writings such as this are sometimes presented as a kind of novel gesture. There may be something to this, but they seem also to bring to the fore the question of academic traditionalism or historiography. By 1875, when Don José Amador de los Ríos published the first volume of his Historia social, política y religiosa de los judíos de España y Portugal, some basic patterns of research on converso literature were already in place, their influence to some extent assured. This member of the Real Academia de la Historia, prominent professor, and Dean at the Universidad Central, not only had by that time a voluminous corpus of publications to his name, but had also been involved in matters which were at the intersection of contemporary politics, ideology and culture. Gisela Ripoll López summarizes this succinctly. Speaking of the famous Guarrazar Treasure and its twenty-two Visigothic crowns -found by a Frenchman in 1858 and acquired a year later by the Musée de Cluny- she mentions Amador de los Ríos's further excavations on behalf of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Four more crowns were discovered. According to her, "In 1940, Spain and France -specifically the governments of Francisco Franco and Philippe Pétainagreed to an exchange of national treasures.... Although three crowns remained in France, since 1943 the others have been part of the collections of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional" (53). Negotiations of identity through contact with the French; questions of precedence, rank and postposition; the role of medievalism in narratives of the nation and vice versa: all these issues are present as early as the nineteenth century. Amador de los Ríos, the cultural hero and discoverer of the material icons of Spanish identity after the French, had also collected an impressive number of instances of converso authors and the titles of their works, in which he had postulated a common tendency. The list began with Samuel de Marruecos's Epístola, written, according to Amador, in 1066, and continued on to Luis Vives in the sixteenth century. It is by no means clear that Amador de los Ríos read all the books he cited. Rather, he relied on secondary sources, bibliographical lists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and particularly on a derivative of the latter compiled in 1806 by the Portuguese bibliographer, Antonio Ribeiro dos Santos. For Amador, the "propios La corónica 31.2 (Spring, 2003): 355-59 356ReviewsLa coránica 31.2, 2003 hijos" of "la raza hebrea" had taken the initiative and execution of antiJewish writing (I, 5). A strong commitment to the adjective and a romantic, or regeneracionista, search for psychological character traits ("vergonzosa cobardía", "perpetua zozobra", "miserable recelo", etc.) served to construct a certain unity in these writers from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries (I, 16). They and their works could, therefore, be treated as "a literature". The main directions of the study ?? converso literature had been inexorably laid down. The narratives of the nation were constructed by appeal to the converso character without excessive sophistication. It is clear that, by selecting converso writings, Amador de los Ríos was trying to deflect accusations of bigotry no less than Serrano y Sanz's selection of putative conversos as objects of historical research aimed to deflect accusations of the cruelty of the conquistadors . Does this critical tradition live in its variants or has there been any movement? To be sure, many authors have been added to, or subtracted from, Amador de los Ríos's 1875 list. Many of the psychological traits have been replaced by others. But the list endures. And here one notices again certain patterns. "Jewish neurasthenia", a French tool in the "critical" approach to converso texts has a curious similarity to notions of madness in the Iberian context of criticism...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 355-359
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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