99. 21 August 1996 [NM] (Alma encerrada; controversy with Carr)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Dr Eric III, your juicy letter of the 13th.

   Encerra means nothing. Aqui esta encerrada el alma – here is enclosed (locked up) the soul... Not buried, which would be enterrada, as in French. Cerrarsierra etc is to shut. Encerrada, shut in and even locked up. The sex is feminine, encerrada although 'el alma', the soul, is masculine. Tho' why the soul should be closed in a tombstone because the body is buried there...? To await the last judgement, I suppose? The notion of 'enshrined' is not contained in 'encerrado'.

   Yes one might as well give up on fame. But at least your ideas are making their way. I've seen mine on Bacon reported with all sorts of mistaken twists, though nothing as funny as the DT's remark about you. Still, Bacon too is making his way.

   I really don't advise your getting into controversy with Carr over Don Quijote. I don't know how many pages I've written him summing up evidence, to no purpose. (I sent you copy of a couple of them, I think, early on) I was interested, and read DQ again along with many of the notes of Menendez Pidal (author of the greatest scholarly edition). The arguments against Carr are legion. I enclose page 3 of my last letter to him, which you might like to glance through. Bacon c'd not have known the personal story of Cervantes's capture and life in Algiers, nor could he have had the intimate acquaintance Cervantes had, as tax-collector, of villages and inns all over Spain - the shape of a hill, the particular make of silk textile, etc – a knowledge few Spaniards had at the time. Carr brushed me off with that same scorn he uses on you. 'Not one person has so far come forward with a single fact or document which shows that I am wrong. Neither have you.' And how c'd I account for the fact that Sancho was beaten 33 times? - 33 being the numerical value of Bacon.

   Most conclusive, however, and sufficient in itself to destroy his whole thesis: Shelton in what was, as he confessed, a rush job, made many gross mistakes. E.g. he translated 'trance' meaning emergency as English 'trance', ('the trances of warfare'); 'sucesos' meaning events, as 'successes' and 'talante' meaning mood, as 'talent'. He writes: 'they tortured the prisoner, till he confessed his delight', in reality his crime, for which the Spanish is 'delito' (like 'delit' in French). The twists and turns Carr goes through to avoid this issue are excruciating. On the delito he writes: 'The likeness between 'delight' and delito is of exquisite suggestion, and forthwith a frolic humour impels Shelton to record that 'he confessed his delight'. Here it does look as if Shelton had made an error - and of course that he, not Cervantes, was the translator... But two alternative scenarios exist. Shelton, as translator, could have deliberately mistranslated the word, as it certainly fits the mood of deliberate irony and obvious use of eulogy where scorn is expected, when the reader is riot supposed to read the passage literally. Alternatively, Shelton as author could be deliberately choosing his word ironically, and Cervantes, the translator, could be rejecting the irony and reverting to a more prosaic, ordinary vocabulary. Anyway under torture a determined man could proclaim his delight, his satisfaction in the actions which led to his downfall'. All is now clear! These lines are from his book on the subject (for which, owing to the prejudices of orthodoxy, he can't find a publisher). I've seen a number of chapters, but not one word of sense. Every mystery he claims to solve has a perfectly simple and economic solution.

   He quotes my father quite wrongly as mysteriously linking Don Quijote with Hamlet – which my father did, without any mystery whatever, as between opposites. And of course Carr relied and ceaselessly repeated my father's tongue-in cheek suggestion to the Baconians that the book was really the work of Cide Hamete ben Engeli (a take-off of the introductions of many Historias de Caballeria) meaning Sir Little Ham son of the Englishman. On this point he has an unanswerable argument: in Shelton's translation a ref. to the authorship of Cide Hamete occurs –  33 times!

   If you don't want to go thro' all this again, you might like to say you understand your friend Mrs M has sent him a good deal of evidence, but gave up writing since he didn't answer any of her points. However the only way to stop him is to resort to silence. Which of course will convince him that he has won the day against you, as he has against me.