Imaginary correspondence between Ferdinand the Catholic and Suleyman the Magnificent

I’ve been merrily dilettanting away recently with a couple of literary robberies and forgeries, so it’s good to see that Zazie over at cocanha found a really great one.

What he has are extracts from a book published in 1842 in Porto, Portugal under the promising title, Cartas d’el Rei Don Fernando, O Catholico, a varios reis e principes do mundo, e suas respostas: colligidas e comentadas por Frey Antonio Farfan de los Godos, comendador na Ordem de São João de Jerusalem, no anno de 1499 (buy it for me here if you you’re feeling well-off ;-) ).

“Brother Antonio the Goth, of those who maintained their Christian faith in Northern Morocco from the eighth to the fourteenth century, when they returned to Iberia” may sound like an invention, but he actually turns up via Google Print in Hijos de Sevilla ilustres en santidad, letras, armas, artes, ó dignidad By Fermín Arana de Varflora (1791) as author of Discursos en defensa de la Religion Catolica contra la secta de los Alumbrados, printed in Seville in 1623. An unpublished chronicle, the manuscript of which was seen by Rodrigo Caro, is also mentioned, but dodgy dates and plain commonsense point to nineteenth century authorship.

If Father Antonio sounds like a complete load of Borges, then the gag is 100% Borat: Ferdinand writes to the Pope, the Ottoman Sultan, and diverse cannibals and cyclops suggesting that it is high time that they adopt the true faith and come and live in Spain.

The heathens reply, protesting their inability to comply–for example, the inhabitants of the pole, for all the attractions of peninsular weather, have encountered insoluble transport problems. Suleiman (the chronology is flawed: Ferdinand died before he came to power) is particularly eloquent: “My desire is that you and all the Christians become Moors.”

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  1. Hi Klabeul!

    Thank yoy very much for the notice. I’m a “she” a female /zazie dans le metro, from Raymond Queneau”. I’v the pics from some folios of the original manuscript that is here, in Portugal, and I’v bought the little book from Hesperia libros.

    You have a great blog


  2. Meus apologies: sei menos sobre a literatura francesa do que sei sobre o português. I’m impressed that someone as young as Zazie writes such a good blog ;-)

  3. ahahahhaha

    Don’t make fantasies. Zazie dans le metro is just a nick, I’m an egypcian mummy


    Thanks you, Kalebeul and Marry Christmas

  4. I stumbled upon this thread a few minutes ago — I am descended from the family – “Farfan de los Godos”.

    We have a wealth of information about the origins of the family prior to its first recorded presence in Trinidad where I was born which is concurrent with the story that the family or clan (I believe 80 knights and their families)was originally held hostage by the Moors after the defeat of the Gothic Spanish King by the Moors – a later king during the time of the Reconquest of Spain brought this clan back to Spain where they lived in poverty. Some of the family traveled out the New World with Cortez. Some entered monasteries and convents as well. Much of the information is also available on the net.
    The family coat of arms bears 3 toads for they family cleaved to their faith as the toad cleaves to the damp earth.
    Regards – George

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