Review: Released letters. Captivity, writing and subjectivity in the Mediterranean of the Spanish imperial era by Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez

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Domínguez, Julia
Domínguez, Julia
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World Languages and Cultures
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World Languages and Cultures

Letras liberadas is a complementary work, easy to read, for all those interested in the Spanish-Muslim confrontation in the western Mediterranean since the late sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century. The book is of special interest for text scholars who recreate the experiences of Spanish men and women, direct victims of that conflict, who were turned into captives and transferred to Muslim territory, specifically to Algiers and Constantinople. The author makes clear from the beginning that she does not intend to reconstruct with her analysis the history of Spanish captivity, but to analyze the textual representation product of that captivity through the analyzed works: Topographia and general history of Algiers by Antonio Sosa (1612),Captives and works by Diego Galán from the late seventeenth century and the plays by Miguel de Cervantes The treatment of Algiers, The Baths of Algiers, The Spanish gallardo and The great sultana . All of them are texts written by captives and excautives where the experiences of the captivity are recreated and the impact that the experience had in the configuration of the identity of these authors. From a detailed analysis of the texts mentioned, the author raises what will be the main theme that unifies and gives cohesion to released letters, that is, the conflict present in the texts whereby "their authors must face the challenge of communicating their experience and knowledge and, simultaneously, negotiate their reintegration into the Christian world while trying to understand their own transformations, revealed in their writing" (fifteen). For the Hispanist, this problem converts the textual space into what it describes as a "search, repositioning, negotiation and personal and artistic recreation scenario" (13). Nor does it leave aside the analysis of the figure of the Other whose "uncomfortable but inevitable" relationship profoundly affected the configuration of Spanish subjectivity during the time. Hence, one of the purposes of Letras liberadas is to approach these texts to "unravel the mechanisms of writing that are used to represent the complex contact with the Muslim world"


This article is published as Dominguez, J., Letras Liberadas. Cautiverio, escritura y subjetividad en el Mediterráneo de la época imperial española. By Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez. Bulletin of Comediantes. 68.2 (2016): 164-167. Doi: 10.1353/boc.2016.0031. Posted with permission.