Article IV about the Enslavement of Christians by Muslims in Literature:French Novelist Lesage and Islam

| March 10, 2012 | Comments (0)

Western Christians enslaved by the Muslims between 1500-1800

Between 1500-1800 at least one million and even 1.25 million were enslaved.That is the conclusion of Robert Davis.His scholarly book on the theme is “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 “(2004). It was the done by the Muslim Moroccans,Tunisians and Algerians.

About 90% of those enslaved were men, and the women were destined to be sex slaves in a harem.Only 5% of them, like Miguel de Cervantes and St. Vincent de Paul, were ransomed or escaped.

Here are articles about Davis’ book:

Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747)

He is the novelist who wrote the best picaresque novel in French, “Gil Blas” (1715-1735), which is his masterpiece. He also wrote “The Lame Devil” (1707) and the comedy ” Turcaret “(1709).

But first, what is a picaresque novel?

The picaresque novel (from Spanish pícaro, “shwred”) was created in Spain in the sixteenth century and was most successful in that country. It is an autobiographical account of the history of a miserable hero, usually of young people living on the margins of society. The hero has adventures that are often extravagant and picturesque,and the hero comes in contact with all segments of society.

The first picaresque novel “The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes”

Lazarillo means “little Lazarus” in Spanish and was published anonymously in 1554. The identity of the author is debated, but recent findings tend to confirm that this would be Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, a Spanish nobleman.

Mateo Alemán (1547-1620), Spanish, and the second picaresque novel “Guzman de Alfarache”

The work contains an equivalent amount of picaresque adventures and moralizing sermons. It is designed, right from the prologue, as a doctrinal sermon addressed to a sinful society and was received as such by his contemporaries. It is therefore a hybrid between entertainment and moral discourse.

Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) and the 3rd picaresque novel of quality

It is by a Spanish writer of the 17th century, one of the most important figures of the Golden Age of literature in Spain.The picaresque novel is “El Buscon, Life of the Adventurer Don Pablos “.

The Two Versions of the “The Lame Devil”

Luís Vélez de Guevara (1579-1644)

He wrote the first “Lame Devil”, where the hero is transported by a devil to the roofs of houses, to see what is happening inside and have the opportunity to tell an adventure with no connection with one that came before.

Lesage had read the novel and wrote his own version where the central idea is the same, but it is a free imitation,more French in spirit.

Hans Jakob von Grimmelshausen (1622-1676)

He is a German writer who wrote “The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus,” the greatest novel of 17th century Germany. Largely autobiographical, written on the model of the Spanish picaresque novel, Simplicissimus Simplicius tells the absurd and humorous tribulations of his hero through the vicissitudes of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), where 33% of the population of Central Europe  was killed or 8 million, from 21 million in 1618 to 13 million in 1648.

The first novel of Latin America was a picaresque novel

José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi (1776-1827) and “El Periquillo Sarniento” (1816)

It tells of the adventures of Pedro Sarmiento, known as “Periquillo Sarniento/The Itching Parrot”, a Creole of Mexico, who lives as a student, friar, notary, barber, doctor, beggar, soldier, count, thief and pharmacist.It is a very funny satire of colonial Mexico.

“Gil Blas” (1715-1735), the only picaresque novel where the hero becomes the slave of Muslims

Most of the adventures take place in Spain.The novel narrates in the first person how Gil Bias, born in poverty, having been educated by his uncle, leaves Oviedo at the age of 17 to study at the University of Salamanca.He gets mixed with scoundrels of every kind and he himself practices knavery.

He becomes the king’s favorite and secretary of his prime minister, Gil Blas has no concern for the interest of the State,just like everyone else around him.In the end he retires to his castle to enjoy a fortune with his family.

Gil Blas is enslaved by Muslims

It is in Book 5, Chapter 1 of the novel.He is captured by Muslim pirates

Gil Blas becomes the lover of the beautiful wife his master Soliman

1.Our hero is taken to Algiers and sold as a slave.

2.He is purchased by the Pasha Soliman,who has as a wife a very beautiful girl,from Kashmir, India,called Farrukhnaz.

3.Farrukhnaz falls in love with Gil Blas, sends him a letter and a diamond, with a declaration of love. They become lovers.

Gil Blas becomes Muslim and Rich

1.But the lovers are discovered one day by Soliman.Farrukhnaz is cool and calm and says she was trying to convert Gil Blas to Islam, that was the reason he was in her room.

2.Soliman asks Gil Blas if it is true and Gil Bias does not answer anything,he is in shock,and Soliman takes the silence to mean a YES. Gil Bias is freed because he “converted” to Islam.

3.Soliman even gives a job to Gil Blas and Gil receives a lot of money, secretly,from Farrukhnaz, and in six to seven years becomes rich.Gil Blas even has same sex slaves to satisfy him.

Gil Bias is almost imprisonned because of a dog and the adventuress of his mother

1.He had a dog that died and which Gil Blas loved, to who he gives a solemn funeral.Someone denounces him, because there are hadiths or sayings of Muhammad where dogs are cursed.

For the reader who wants to read the Hadiths, read the article “Muhammad and Dogs”

2.Gil Blas finds Lucinda his mother and Beatriz his sister in the slave market of Algiers.They had been captured by Muslim pirates. He buys them and frees them.His mother decides to marry an ex-Christian, a Muslim, but Gil Blas does not agree. The mother becomes a Muslim and decides to denounce her son, who was planning to escape from Algiers to Europe with Beatriz.Gil Blas escapes with Beatriz anyway and they arrive safely in Italy.

Read the Three Former Articles on the Theme

“Article I about the Enslavement of Christians by the Muslims in Western Literature:Lord Byron”

“Article II about the Enslavement of Christians in Literature:Cervantes and Algeria”

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