Page 150 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

Basic HTML Version

138
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
again he struggled to earn a meager living. In time, Carmona was
hired by David Fresco to work in his printery. The idea brewed
within him to start a newspaper of his own, in order to help make
people laugh and enjoy life more. On July 24, 1908, David Fresco
rushed into the printery and announced that Abdul Hamid had
proclaimed the Constitution of Turkey and that there would be
no more censorship. Carmona found a partner, Abraham Behar,
and obtained the necessary licenses; fifteen days after the procla­
mation of the Constitution, he founded his humorous newspa­
per,
El Jugeton.
HIS WRITINGS
Dr. Robyn Loewenthal in her doctoral dissertation
(Elia
Carmona’s autobiography: Judeo-Spanish popular press and novel pub­
lishing milieu in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, circa 1869 -1932 ,
University of Nebraska — Lincoln, 1984) has suggested that
Carmona’s autobiography may also be classified as a novel. In her
dissertation, she includes the complete text of the autobiography,
transcribed into Latin letters. It is pleasing to learn that Car­
mona’s writings are gaining interest in the scholarly world.
Had Carmona done nothing else than publish
El Jugeton,
his
literary achievement would have been noteworthy. His was one of
the longest lasting Judeo-Spanish newspapers. Carmona’s wit,
independence and sense of irony won him an appreciative audi­
ence. He was not reluctant to criticize the “establishment,” nor
was he ashamed to ridicule himself.
But Carmona’s writing went far beyond his newspapers. Dr.
Loewenthal has compiled a bibliography of Carmona’s works
which includes fifty-nine entries besides
E lJugeton.
Most of these
works were fiction.
Carmona’s novels are filled with excitement, adventures,
crimes, love, unlikely coincidences. His purpose was to entertain
his audience, so he wove colorful and fast-moving stories. They
may not be among the world’s best literature, but they are cer­
tainly interesting from a cultural and historic point of view.
For example, his novel
Los dos hermanicos
(The two siblings,
Constantinople, 1921) was Carmona’s twenty-ninth novel. It tells
a story which ostensibly happened in Istanbul in 1913. The story
is about a brother and a sister who are orphaned at a very early
age. The daughter, Estreyica, is adopted by a childless Jewish