Translation in Diaspora: Sephardic Spanish-Hebrew translations in the sixteenth century
In this essay, I discuss three Hebrew translations made by Sephardic Jews writing in from a position of a double diaspora (from ‘Zion’ and from Sepharad, or Spain): Joseph Tsarfati’s Celestina by Fernando de Rojas, Jacob Algaba’s Amadís de Gaula by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, and Joseph Hakohen’s Historia general de las Indias by Francisco López de Gómara. These Sephardic translators sought to appropriate these very popular Spanish texts and place them in the service of a Jewish literary culture, one whose values were often at odds with those of the original authors and readers of the Spanish originals. At the same time, the Sepharadim were deeply identified with Iberian vernacular culture, and these translations were a form of cultural capital upon which they traded in the broader Jewish context of Western Christendom and the Ottoman Empire. The lens of diaspora can help us to better understand Sephardic translation from Spanish to Hebrew by focusing on the significance of language use, cultural identity, and Jewish literary culture in the Mediterranean world of the sixteenth century.
- Wacks, David