The Classical Library of Spain’s Royal Academy publishes “El Abencerraje”
Professor Eugenia Fosalba, of the University of Girona, was responsible
for the editing, study and corresponding notes which are published with
this Moorish novel by an anonymous author, which appeared in the
September 20, 2017
The Andalusian border between Christians and Muslims is the stage for this unique work, a gem from our Renaissance storytelling marked by an agile, exciting style told from a captivating humanistic vantage point. Since it was published in the sixteenth century, the Historia del Abencerraje y de la hermosa Jarifa (Story of the Abencerraje and the Beautiful Jarifa) became a very popular work and has been handed down to us today in three different versions [1561-1565] through three different authors. This edition includes them all so that readers can enjoys each version’s merits.
In the study completed by Eugenia Fosalba, the possibility is envisaged that Jerónimo Jiménez de Urrea might be the author of the oldest version of El Abencerraje, and a detailed demonstration of Jorge de Montemayor’s authorship of the most modern version is provided, as well.
The young Abindarráez, survivor of the lineage of the Abencerrajes, cloaks himself in darkness to cross the border between kingdoms. There he is caught by Rodrigo de Narváez, but despite having to face off with five Christians, he defends himself heroically. Rodrigo de Narváez finds the young Granadan’s bravery moving, so after hearing his tale, Narváez reaches a surprising decision: he decides to set Abindarráez free for three days to see if he can compete his mission, with the promise that he will return to the fortress and give himself up afterwards. Abindarráez’s tale is a story of clandestine love: his quest is to go in search of the beautiful Jarifa to marry her.
El Abencerraje remains an exciting read even today: it shows us a pact between two men who, made rivals by religion and war, are able to see everything that makes them equals in their hearts.
With El Abencerraje, 33 of the 111 titles that will form the complete collection have now been published. The others will gradually go to press over the upcoming years.
The BCRAE has received sponsorship from the Obra Social «la Caixa» and has been published by Espasa and Círculo de Lectores.