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 An unpublished chronicle, the manuscript of which was seen by Rodrigo Caro, is also mentioned, but dodgy dates and plain commonsense point to nineteenth century authorship.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.”
- Extracts from the letters of Don Fernando to various kings and princes of the world
Zazie@Cocanha has scanned extracts from two versions of the highly amusing Cartas d’el Rei D. Fernando, O Catholico, a varios reis
- In praise of toads
George Sandford has left a fascinating comment on this post, which deals with an amusing 19th century literary-historical hoax–purported correspondence between
- A riffraff in the Rif
We all know, don’t we, that riffraff is from Middle English riffe raffe, from rif and raf, one and all, from
- By their suits ye shall know them
Sartorial contrast in Spain’s civil wars
- John Gay’s Fable 40: The Two Monkeys
They are shocked by their reception on attending Southwark fair: Men laugh at apes, they men contemn; / For what are