Page 146 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
includes original Judeo-Spanish plays, as well as translations into
Judeo-Spanish. (It also includes a small number of works written
by Sephardim in other languages). Nearly all of the plays were
published during the second half of the 19th and the first several
decades of the 20th century. This unprecedented creativity in
drama was paralleled by an unprecedented burst in journalistic
activity. Michael Molho, in his volume
Literatura Sefardita de
Oriente
(Sephardic literature of the Orient, Madrid, Barcelona,
1960), lists dozens of Judeo-Spanish newspapers which were
published throughout the Sephardic world. M.D. Gaon’s bibliog­
raphy of the Judeo-Spanish press, published in 1965, identifies
over 300 newspapers and magazines. They appeared in Constan­
tinople, Smyrna, Adrianople, Salonika, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia,
Rumania, Austria, Eretz Israel, Egypt, New York, and elsewhere.
These newspapers provided not only news, but also literary mate­
rial, serialized novels, translations, essays, editorials, religious
instruction and much more. There also emerged a genre of
Judeo-Spanish periodicals which was devoted to humor and sat­
ire. One of the most popular of these was
ElJugeton
(The Jester),
edited by Elia Carmona, founded in 1909.
Not only was there a flurry of activity in dramatic and period­
ical literature, but also in Judeo-Spanish poetry and fiction.
Books and pamphlets were published and were circulated
throughout the Sephardic world. More and more individuals
began to create literature in Judeo-Spanish, and they found audi­
ences for their works.
One of the towering figures in the Judeo-Spanish literature of
the time was Elia Carmona (1869-1931). Carmona was perhaps
the most prolific Judeo-Spanish author. He published his
humorous newspaper from 1909 until shortly before his death.
He also wrote dozens of novels, as well as some poetry and short
fiction. He was a man of unbounded literary energy.
On the 18th anniversary of his newspaper, Carmona wrote an
autobiographical pamphlet entitled
Como nacioElia Carmona
(Elia
Carmona’s upbringing). Through this work, we gain an insight
into Carmona’s own life, as well as into the general cultural situa­
tion of Sephardic Jewry at that time.
Carmona opens his autobiography with a letter to his readers
thanking them for their support over the years. He explains that,
unlike his many fictional works, this book is a true story, telling
about the fifty-five years of his life. “In this story which I am pres­