- An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612) ed. by María Antonia Garcés (review)
- Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
- Cervantes Society of America
- Volume 33, Number 1, Spring 2013
- pp. 219-223
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- Additional Information
Volume 33.2 (2013) 219 Reviews his connections with the Cervantine intertext, including the captive’s tale and Cervantes’s five years of captivity in Algiers. Underscoring structural and conceptual similarities in the groupings, she notes the blending of voices, truths, interruptions, digressions, and so forth, testaments to the notion of fiction as a mediating space. Byrne’s book is hardly the first study of Don Quixote to accentuate multiperspectivism, but the juxtapositions demonstrate extensive and fruitful archival research. The emphasis on history and the law offers an extension of Cervantes’s formulation of a new, and novel, genre of fiction. Byrne gets to the heart of realism as a mode of projecting society—and reality —and, as such, as a counter-narrative to literary idealism, to the varieties of romance. Don Quixote is like the law, in the sense that it calls for a search for truth yet recognizes that events and individual cases constantly should be revisited and, when necessary, reinterpreted, as circumstances change. Cervantes is daring and fair; he “does not shy away from any facet of his era’s legal discourse, but rather takes it head-on, albeit frequently sub rosa, and subversively” (147). The book contains copious notes (58 pages), an admirable bibliography (20 pages), and an index. Byrne’s study is compelling, insightful , and a bit more, for it may make readers reshape Cervantes’s story, and Cervantes’s history, in their minds. Edward H. Friedman Vanderbilt University firstname.lastname@example.org Garcés, María Antonia, ed. An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s TOPOGRAPHY OF ALGIERS (1612). Trans. Diana de Armas Wilson. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P, 2011. 440 pp. + 18 ilustr., ISBN: 978-0-268-02978-4. Two Cervantes scholars, María Antonia Garcés and Diana de Armas Wilson, have joined forces to prepare the first English edition and translation of Antonio de Sosa’s 1612 Topografía de Argel. This eyewitness view of the place and its people transports the reader to the North African city as Cervantes would have known it. It appeared in print as part one of the five-partTopografía e historia general, though the princeps—published in Valladolid by Diego Fernández de Cordova y Oviedo—credited the recently-deceased Archbishop 220 Cervantes Reviews of Palermo, Diego de Haedo. Since Cristóbal Pérez Pastor, Hispanists have been piecing together evidence to prove that the true author of all five parts was the Portuguese cleric Antonio de Sosa, who spent five years there as a captive (1577-1581), during which time he befriended Cervantes. This edition of the Topografía represents a major advance in the field, since an earlier French translation by Doctor Monnereau and Louis Adrien Berbrugger (1870-71) abridges key passages, while the Spanish edition by Ignacio Bauer y Landauer (1927-29) lacks annotations. From start to finish, the edition attests to an intense collaborative labor. Garcés conducted archival detective work, prepared the annotations, glossed unfamiliar terms in fourteen different languages or dialects, and crafted a detailed introduction. Wilson, for her part, prepared the English translation. Their collaboration continues now with the preparation of an English translation of the second part of the 1612 volume, the Epítome de los reyes de Argel. Garcés is also preparing a Spanish-language edition of the same. My comments here build on an earlier review that I wrote for Al-Qantara (33.2 : 563-79). The constraints of a journal for scholars of the classical period of Islam justify a second installment, which evaluates this study from the perspective of early-modern literary studies. Turning, to begin, to the 1612 princeps, we see how its publishers spoke to the same blend of fear and fascination that shaped Cervantes’s Algiers plays. The sub-title promises “casos extraños, muertes espantosas, y tormentas exquisitos .” Yet the strangest caso of all is the book’s authorship. Here, Garcés pieces together a cloak-and-dagger tale from detective work in Sicilian ecclesiastical archives, the Vatican Secret Archives, and the Archivo General de Simancas. The story she reconstructs could anchor a novela bizantina, albeit one set in...