Auteur: Fred Romano

Fred Romano est écrivain, et vit aux Baléares. Son blog : Son cyberoman Edward_Amiga : Deux romans, Le film pornographique le moins cher du monde (Pauvert, 2000) et Basque Tanger (Editions Scali, 2006) et un recueil de nouvelles, Contaminations (Pauvert, 2001).


I am neither an historian nor an academic, but a writer. As such, I dedicate myself to research and serious investigation of the small details of life, my main source of inspiration. It was these way, including amazing circumstances, I was put in contact with the work we are about to cover, Topography and General History of Algiers, a unique original book that refused to disappear. On January 2, 1997, I bought at the flea market in Barcelona an old ring 20 pesetas, which, once appraised, proved to be gold, diamonds and from the 17th century. This jewel led me to the corsairs of Mallorca, so I learned of the existence of the pirate kingdom of Algiers and began to search for documentation on this historical period. Living then in Barcelona, ​​it was quite naturally that I was at the Library of Catalonia, which had just reopened its doors. Old librarians, seeing me desperately searching for sources worthy of interest in the pirate kingdom of Algiers, advised me to ask for a book from the reserve, in consultation. For a long time concealed under the Francoist dictatorship, which wanted to exile all the books of the Library of Catalonia in Salamanca, the Topografía e historia general de Argel was part of a legacy of 3000 works offered to the nascent Library of Catalonia in 1917. Its owner, Isidre Bonsoms i Sicart, had legally bought it during his business trips to North Africa around 1900. In the library reserve I instantly fell under the spell of the manuscript. I measured the difficulty of the task, the book dating from the early days of printing (1612). I asked for a digital copy, so I could study it more precisely. But in 2002, the disease made its shattering entry into my life and the doctors predicted that multiple sclerosis would leave me only six months to live. I choose to go and live these last months on a small isolated island, Formentera, with for luggage the digital copy of Topografía e historia general of Argel, and my cane, having become invalid. Thus, it was as a lame woman that I became acquainted with the one-handed slave. The original text left no room for doubt: subtle clues woven it on all sides and clearly indicated to the world its true author, Miguel de Cervantes. Although the text was signed by a certain Haedo, it was evident that the foreword ridiculed this phantom author in a cervantine way, revealing the bastardy of his surname or explaining how the homonym archbishop of Palermo had killed three of his servants. I went to the tomb of the family of De Haedo, in a remote valley of Biscay (« located in the Val de Carrenza »), as mentioned in the foreword of Topografía e historia general de Argel. There I found the tomb of the Archbishop of Palermo, but nowhere was a homonymous nephew mentioned, not even in the registers of the church. The introduction of the king of Spain, Philip III., very flattering, revealed the exceptional character of the text, the king threatening with a heavy fine (10,000 maravedies) any publication that did not include this royal publication license, quite unusual. But Cervantes was the hero of Lepanto, the invalid who had been wounded in battle by defending Juan of Austria, the brother-in-law of the King of Spain, and then being held as a slave for five years in Algiers, abandoned by the Royalty. Philip III., unable to protect him from the Inquisition, had forced him to sign his work under another name: the sovereign owed him the royal protection of his work. I was so enthusiastic that I almost forgot about my illness, having far exceeded the fatal six months. However, news from the social networks almost put an end to my research. There already was a translation to French of Topography and General History of Algiers, which had just been published (1997) by Bouchène editions in Algeria. Nevertheless, my correspondent did not seem to be well acquainted with the original copy preserved in Catalonia and was obliged to remind me that it was a reissue, a text crowned by all the honors and dating from 1870, the work of Adrien Berbrugger and Dr Monnereau. I managed to get the book of Editions Bouchene. What was not my amazement when I realized that the first two chapters of the work, however fundamental: the foreword and the royal license (the administrative document legalizing this intellectual property) had been plainly and simply suppressed!!! The other touches on the text deprived it of all interest, it became impossible to detect Cervantes’ yet recognizable style, but on the other hand, this deprivation unwittingly emphasized his true nature, since all the voices composing it were better perceived, once all that belonged to the author had been removed, such as the very revealing remark about shoehorns, which can only be the work of Cervantes, the only one-handed slave of all Algiers, obviously suppressed in the 1870. Even the original title, although fabulous, had not been respected: Topography and General History of Algiers, where we will see strange cases, scary deaths and exquisite torments. How had Adrien Berbrugger allowed himself to disfigure Topography and General History of Algiers, to the point of rendering incomprehensible this text magisterial? He was, however, the author of a French-Spanish dictionary. But Berbrugger was also the private secretary of the Comte de Clauzel, general-in-chief of the African army in Algeria, and champion of civilizing colonization, and thus founded the library of Algiers, exclusively fueled by the looting carried out by the French army. It is this sad sire who falsified this text breathtaking of modernity, taking from it whole chapters (including the royal license), suppressing all the details, all the indications that Cervantes, the one-handed slave, a true author, had left as indelible signature. The crook went so far as to add details of his invention (such as the Roman town of Icosium, which was non-existent in the original and which Berbrugger boasted of having discovered). It is impossible to believe in such reckless giddiness or blunders. Through his castrating translation, the message is launched: what dominates in Algiers is chaos, fortunately France has arrived at the right time to learn civilization to the barbarians. Without a doubt, this was a pernicious attempt to rewrite History, in order to dismiss Algerians from their own culture and that they were « suspended in their dreams » … Note that Adrien Berbrugger , In his destructive work, had been careful not to publish the Spanish royal license. In view of this, the work of the latter and all its subsequent publications are illegal and subject to the fine provided for in the Spanish royal license. Maria Antonia Garces, professor of Hispanic philology at Cornell University (USA), based on this illegal 1870 translation, considers Antonio de Sosa the author of Topography and General History of Algiers. Apart from the fact that this theory demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the work, since Antonio de Sosa’s only proof of life exclusively lies in « Topography and General History of Algiers », since Antonio de Sosa, a Cervantes character, cites Jewish authors banned by the Inquisition and retraces the history of Islam in the Maghreb, far from the beatific image of the Catholic scholar promoted by Garces, a mere continuation of the scam practiced by Berbrugger. For the latter took care that the only original book, the very one he had « translated » to French, disappeared forever from Algeria, selling it to the Catalan Isidre Bonsoms i Sicart, businessmen and collector of books, and in his book published in 1870 he made no reference to the original, A. Berbrugger remaining the only moral authority on Topography and General History of Algiers for eternity. 150 years later, in 2011, Maria Antonia Garces asked for and obtained a US $ 150,000 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities to translate the two other volumes of the illegal version of 1870 of Topography and General History of Algiers (the full version Includes five volumes). The license to publish this book (a royal edict of 1612 which has never been revoked) promises a fine of 10,000 maravedis for any publication « at all times and in all places » not including it. Updated to today’s date, the fine would amount to 17 million euros, payable to the Spanish Crown.

Fred Romano

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