Page 152 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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the story of the shipwreck, including a statement that the Jewish
fellow had died. The rabbinic court, after much deliberation,
decided that the bride should be permitted to marry someone
else, since it could be assumed that her bridegroom had died in
the shipwreck. A new bridegroom was found, and the wedding
day arrived.
But guess who comes to town? The original bridegroom. He is
dressed in European style clothes, his face is clean-shaven, and he
speaks Italian. He reintroduces himself to his father, and goes to
the wedding. Before the wedding, he protests that the ceremony
should not be allowed since it had not been proven conclusively
that the original bridegroom was dead. When the non-Jewish
thief is called to give his testimony, the original bridegroom con­
fronts him. The thief was confounded. The original bridegroom
married his bride. The other bridegroom was also married that
day to an orphan cousin of the original bridegroom. So everyone
turned out happy.
These stories give an idea of Carmona’s creative writing. His
language is flowing and simple, interspersed with Judeo-Spanish
proverbs and folk sayings. It is difficult to read Carmona’s works
without smiling, even when the stories themselves have so many
tragic details.
Elia Carmona obviously loved to write and to entertain his
readers. He also loved to complain about his work, with a special
ironic humor. In one of his short stories (“Una Nochada de Elia
Carmona” ;(A night of Elia Carmona;), 1925) he tells his readers
that he was born on a Friday morning. “They say of old that one
born on a Friday must be very sharp. It must be that this is not
true, since had I been born very sharp, I never would have chosen
the position of a Jewish journalist . . . I pray to God that I live
many years, because if I have a nervous breakdown, I don’t
believe there would be another bonehead in our nation who will
want to do this hard labor for such a low wage.”
Much more work remains to be done on the life and writings of
Elia Carmona. He is a preeminent representative of a dynamic
generation in modern Sephardic history. As a central figure in
modern Judeo-Spanish literature, Carmona has left us an
impressive legacy.