Attias, David ben Moshe. La Guerta de Oro [“The Garden of Gold.”] Text in Ladino, with appearance of French, Italian and Greek. Engraved alphabetical plate. ff. 64, (3). Previous owner’s marks, edges worn, leaves loose, few stains. Contemporary calf, rubbed. 4to.Vinograd, Livorno 149; no copy located in WorldCat.
Livorno: Giovanni Vincenzo Falorni, 1778.
One of the most important works of Ladino literature - The earliest secular text written in Judeo-Spanish. Contents are as varied as they are innovative, ranging from proverbs and fables to treatises on physiognomy and infertility. Also includes a guide to the rapid mastery of the Greek and Italian languages. The author, David Attias, was a Sephardic Jew, born an Ottoman subject in Sarajevo, who spent most of his life as a merchant in the Tuscan port city of Livorno. He penned this ground-breaking anthology with the aim of promoting secular education among Ottoman Jewry, introduce to them the rationality of Western European culture. Attias argued that Ottoman Jews needed to overcome their provincialism if they were to successfully compete with western Europeans in business. Indeed he encouraged his readers to see themselves less as “Levantinos,” and more as “Spanish” - the ancestral home of their forefathers, hence the advocacy here of studying European languages. At this time, Sephardic rabbinic leadership, concerned over the relative ignorance of Ottoman Jews, actively promoted a program of religious education. Attias openly challenged the rabbis by declaring that not all youngsters were suited to exclusive Torah study. There is also a strain of early modern feminism, wherein Attias recognizes the essential educational role the female plays in the home: He encouraged his male readership to share this text with their (often illiterate) wives, who would in turn, advocate practical moral guidance to their young sons. The first book written in the vernacular language of Ladino that did not deal with a religious topic. See Matthias Lehmann, "A Livornese `Port Jew` and the Sephardim of the Ottoman Empire," in: Jewish Social Studies Vol. 11 (2005) pp. 51-76.