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The Chaste Wife

Karmona, Elia, Alpert, Michael
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Five Leaves Publications
Published: February 1, 2009
ISBN: 9781905512669
166 pages

£8.99

A rare translation from a forgotten language and culture

Ladino is a Romantic language derived from Old Spanish. As a Jewish language, it is influenced heavily by Hebrew and Aramaic, and other languages where Sephardic expellees settled around the world, primarily throughout the Ottoman Empire. The Ladino novel was a new form of literature for the Ladino-speaking populations of the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Palestine, which appeared towards the end of the 19th century and died out towards 1930 as its reading public declined.

Elia Karmona’s La Mujer Onesta (The Chaste or Faithful Wife), published in Constantinople in 1925 is one of roughly a dozen Ladino novels in the British Library’s collection. La Mujer Onesta is superior in literary worth to the average Ladino novel, many of which were translations and adaptations of foreign romantic works.

A bilingual edition in Ladino and English. There is a renewed interest in Ladino with its music and history being performed and studied.

Ladino literature has rarely been republished in accessible editions, originals being difficult to find and existing in archives

Elia Karmona was a typographer, journalist and editor of the comic paper El Djugueton (Constantinople). He wrote around 60 novelettes and novels, published in Cairo, Jerusalem and Constantinople. Michael Alpert is the author of Secret Judaism and the Spanish Inquisition, also published by Five Leaves. Price: £14.99.

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