Nordic Journal of Renaissance Studies 16 • 2019

Tue Andersen Nexø
Global Turk: The Muslim as the Familiar Unknown in the Global Epics of the Renaissance

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"Global Turk" examines the representation of Muslim figures in Luis Vaz de Camões' Os Lusiadas and Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. In these works, Muslims are not represented as unfamiliar and alien, but rather as well-known, almost familiar antagonists – they are instances of the supposedly well-known Other. The article argues that this happens for historical reasons – both Camões and Tasso wrote in a period where the Ottoman Empire loomed large in the European imagination – but also for reasons of genre. In these two late-renaissance epics, Muslim Others are modelled after the narrative conventions of the classical (and pagan) epic tradition, leading to strange, hybrid figures especially in Gerusalemme Liberata. The article also argues that the figure of the Muslim becomes a way of familiarizing the descriptions of otherwise strange and unfamiliar parts of the globe – the details of Indian society in Os Lusiadas, for instance.