Page 169 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

Double Quincentenary
Armistead, “Judeo-Spanish Traditional Poetry in the United
States;” Diane Matza, “Tradition and History: Sephardic Contri­
butions to American Literature;” and Frances Hernandez, “The
Secret Jews of the Southwest.”
Although without any direct reference to the Americas, the mas-
terwork of Ben Zion Netanyahu,
The Origins of the Inquisition in
Fifteenth Century Spain
, must be mentioned here.9 Starting from
his fundamental conclusion that the Marranos were Christians,
(enunciated in his earlier book), Netanyahu examines the question
of why Spanish Inquisitors should have been engaged in persecut­
ing their fellow Christians. At the root of the origins of the Inqui­
sition he finds rivalry induced by the conversos’ exceptional success
in public life, King Ferdinand’s decision to ally himself with anti-
convero forces, Church policies which did little to inhibit the
preaching of rabble-rousing priests, and the emergence of racism
as a political weapon. This latter idea was later to resonate omi­
nously in the Spanish setdements in the New World. For those
wishing to follow the current debate over the meaning and scope
of the expulsion, Henry Kamen’s
Inquisition and Society in Spain
required reading.10
Novelists and story-tellers found the theme of 1492 irresistible,
and a whole new genre of the Jewish pfcaro came into existence,
best exemplified by Homer Aridjis’
1492: The Life and Times of
Juan Cabezon ofCastile
11which spins an adventure yarn with Jew­
ish and converso protagonists set against the background of fif­
teenth-century Spain. Marcos Aguinis’
La gesta del marrano
up the story of Francisco Maldonado de Silva, one of the few mar­
tyrs of the Inquisition of whom we may be certain that he was a
practicing Jew.12Brazilian physician and novelist Moacyr Scliar re­
vived memories of the Portuguese Inquisition in the surreal tale of
9. New York: Random House, 1995. See also Netanyahu’s
The Marranos of
Spain According to Contemporary Hebrew Sources
(originally published 1966;
reprinted Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprint Co., 1973)
10. University o f Indiana Press, 1985.
11. New York: Summit Books, 1991.
12. Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta Argentina, 1991