The Beginnings of Ladino Literature

The Beginnings of Ladino Literature

Moses Almosnino and His Readers
Borovaya, Olga
Distribution: World
Publication date: 03/13/2017
Format: Hardback 11 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02552-4
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Moses Almosnino (1518-1580), arguably the most famous Ottoman Sephardi writer and the only one who was known in Europe to both Jews and Christians, became renowned for his vernacular books that were admired by Ladino readers across many generations. While Almosnino's works were written in a style similar to contemporaneous Castilian, Olga Borovaya makes a strong argument for including them in the corpus of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) literature. Borovaya suggests that the history of Ladino literature begins at least 200 years earlier than previously believed and that Ladino, like most other languages, had more than one functional style. With careful historical work, Borovaya establishes a new framework for thinking about Ladino language and literature and the early history of European print culture.

Author Bio

Olga Borovaya is Visiting Scholar in the Mediterranean Studies Forum at Stanford University. She is author of Modern Ladino Culture: Press, Belles Lettres, and Theater in the Late Ottoman Empire (IUP).


Olga Borovaya uncovers previously unacknowledged or misunderstood aspects of the literary, philosophical, and historical underpinnings of early Ladino literature. An impressive and erudite work.Like the best scholarship, Olga Borovaya's book is quietly revolutionary and serves to open up many new conversations in various fields.

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Table of Contents

Note on Translations, Transcriptions, Titles, and Proper Names
Prologue. Jewish Vernacular Culture in Fifteenth-Century Iberia
1. Ladino in the Sixteenth Century: The Emergence of a New Vernacular Literature
2. Almosnino’s Epistles: A New Genre for a New Audience
3. Almosnino’s Chronicles: The Ottoman Empire Through the Eyes of Court Jews
4. The First Ladino Travelogue: Almosnino’s Treatise on the Extremes of Constantinople
5. Rabbis and Merchants: New Readers, New Educational Projects
Epilogue. Moses Almosnino, a Renaissance Man?
Appendix. The Extremes of Constantinople

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