Leila; or, the Siege of Granada (Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1838)

In Moorish Granada, Almamen is King Boabdil’s trusted adviser, but unknown to Boabdil, Almamen is a Jew. He is secretly plotting to deliver the city to King Ferdinand, who has promised equality to the Jews of Spain. Ferdinand takes Almamen’s daughter Leila hostage as guarantee of Almamen’s end of the bargain, but it quickly becomes apparent that the Christians will treat the Jews no better than the Muslims had and that Ferdinand has already reneged on the agreement. Almamen switches sides back to the Moors, through whom he hopes to recover his daughter, but Boabdil is fated to lose against Ferdinand. Leila, in captivity, has converted to Christianity. When Almamen at last discovers her and learns of her conversion, he kills her. Hated by the Christians, the Muslims, and his fellow Jews who blame him for the worsening of their already poor condition in Spain, he’s literally torn apart.

Inscription: a plate on the inside front cover says that the book was donated by John Manch to the Manch College of Music on November 23rd, 1926. Manch donated a complete set of Bulwer-Lytton, which is still intact and which I now own.

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