Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, European Fiction Series)
The ancestors of Guzmán de Alfarache lived in Genoa, upstart noblemen who had grown rich in trade. Like others of his family, Guzmán’s father was a dealer on the exchange, resorting even to usury in order to add to his wealth, although he piously heard mass every morning and owned a rosary with beads as large as hazelnuts. His love of money led him into his greatest adventure, for when a partner in Seville became bankrupt and carried away some of the money belonging to Guzmán’s father, the Genoese took ship for Spain in an attempt to recover some of his lost property. On the way, his ship was captured by Moorish pirates, and the merchant was sold into slavery in Algiers. Envisioning no other way out of his difficulty, he embraced the faith of Allah and so was able to marry a rich Moorish widow. Secretly, he took possession of her money and jewels and fled with them to Seville. There, after some time, he found his former partner, recovered most of his debt, made his peace with the Church, and settled down to live the life of a gentleman, trading in money for his profit and gambling for his pleasure.
Now a prosperous man, he bought two estates, one in town, the other at San Juan de Alfarache. One day he saw the mistress of an old knight and fell in love with her. The lady was not unwilling to share her favors between her two lovers, so that Guzmán could say in later life that at the time of his birth he had possessed two fathers. When the old knight...
(The entire section is 2729 words.)
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