The Importance of Transliteration in the Hebrew Amadís de Gaula

JVF Conference Papers

This article inquires into the specifics of transliteration in the 16 th century Hebrew translation of Amadís de Gaula (Book I).

The Spanish original version was considered a bestseller in the 16 th century, it was translated into several European languages, and later became one of the main inspirations for Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote. The Hebrew version of the first book of Amadís de Gaula was produced around the third decade of the 16 th century by a Sephardic Jew, Yaakov de Algaba, and printed by Eliezer Soncino in the Ottoman Empire. The unique function of transliteration in the Hebrew Amadís – specifically, its rare employment in the text – indicates a translational tension: violation of the norms of the target (i.e. Jewish) culture on the one hand and preservation of its contemporary literary and linguistic restraints on the other hand.

A close analysis of this phenomenon, I argue, may shed a light on our understanding of the developments of the Hebrew language in the 19 th and 20 th centuries, as well as the transition of Hebrew literary centers from Europe to Israel after World War II.

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