The Book of the Knight Zifar

The Book of the Knight Zifar: A Translation of El Libro del Cavallero Zifar

Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 328
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    The Book of the Knight Zifar
    Book Description:

    The Book of the Knight Zifar(or Cifar), Spain's first novel of chivalry, is the tale of a virtuous but unfortunate knight who has fallen from grace and must seek redemption through suffering and good deeds. Because of a curse that repeatedly deprives him of that most important of knightly accoutrements -- his horse -- Zifar and his family must flee their native India and wander through distant lands seeking to regain their rank and fortune. A series of mishaps divides the family, and the novel follows their separate adventures -- alternatively heroic, comic, and miraculous -- until at length they are reunited and their honor restored.

    The anonymous author ofZifarbased his early fourteenth-century novel on the medieval story of the life of St. Eustacius, but onto this trunk he grafted a surprising variety of narrative types: Oriental tales of romance and magic, biblical stories, moralizing fables popular since the Middle Ages, including several from Aesop, and instructions in the rules of proper knightly conduct. Humor in the form of puns, jokes, and old proverbs also runs through the novel. In particular, the foolish/wise Knave offers a comic contrast to the heroic Knight, whom he must continually rescue through the application of common sense.

    Zifarwas to have an important influence on later Spanish literature, and perhaps on Cervantes' great tale of a knight and his squire,Don Quixote. All those with an interest in Spanish literature and medieval life will be grateful for Mr. Nelson's excellent translation, which brings to life this extraordinary early novel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6415-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    I have felt for a long time that an English version of theBook of the Knight Zifarshould be available to more than just the limited number of persons interested in medieval Spanish, that it should be in reach of the many readers who are intrigued by the novels of chivalry and their origins. Since this famous novel appeared in Spain more than three hundred years before the world-renowned and much translated masterpieceDon Quixote de la Manchaof Miguel de Cervantes, whose hero resembles in many ways the Knight Zifar, I think it only fitting that this first...

  4. The Book of the Knight Zifar
    • Prologue
      (pp. 1-6)

      In the time of the honorable Pope Boniface VIII, the year of jubilee began on the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the year 1300.¹ It is called the centenary year because it comes every hundred years and the next year of jubilee would be celebrated during Christmas of the year 1400.² In the aforementioned year 1300, many full pardons were granted as far as the power of the pope could reach. The papal bull of our lord the pope proclaimed that all those who could go to the city of Rome for a period of fifteen days to...

    • BOOK ONE The Knight of God
      (pp. 7-100)

      The story relates that this knight had as his wife a lady named Grima. She was a worthy and virtuous lady, uncommonly submissive to her husband and the keeper and guardian of his home. So adverse was her husband’s fortune that he was never able to advance his estate to the extent that was proper. They had two small sons who encountered great dangers, as you will hear later, as did their parents. The older boy was named Garfín and the younger Roboán. But God, through His mercy, who is the director of all things—seeing the good intentions of...

    • BOOK TWO The King of Mentón
      (pp. 101-153)

      “Daughter,” questioned the king, “do you know who broke the siege of the town?”

      “Sire,” she said, “you should know him, but I do know this much about yonder knight; he killed the son of the king of Ester, who was the first to challenge him, and I truly believe he killed the others and lifted the siege.”

      When the son of the count heard this, he said, “Sire, it seems to me that this is all God’s doing, and since it is so, with God’s blessing, let them be married.”

      “We agree,” the others said.

      Then the story relates...

    • BOOK THREE The Instructions of the King of Mentón
      (pp. 154-226)

      “My sons, it is very true that whatever good and perfect quality we possess, we received from the almighty God. From Him we received our being, and it is the most noble being that we can receive, since we are made in His image and His likeness, which confers on us the quality of grace to attain that goal for which He created us, which is eternal glory; and since we owe so much to Him, for we received all good things from Him, let us place all our love in Him. Thus before all other things, you will follow...

    • BOOK FOUR The Adventures of Roboán
      (pp. 227-312)

      “Surely He so wishes it,” said Roboán. “What God inspires us to begin, we ought to consider as successful, for He has never begun anything which was not completed in the manner in which He planned to complete it. Just as you see that God began by favoring us, there is no reason why we should doubt that He will continue to give success in everything. And I ask you for the love of God to find it in your heart to forgive me and to send me away and not detain me, for my heart tells me that you...