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The Tomb in Seville by Norman Lewis

The Tomb in Seville

by Norman Lewis

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Rather a strange book, published posthumously so, regretfully, the last book we shall be able to read and enjoy from this engaging author.

It is not that the writing or prose is strange – just the perception of what the book means to the professional reviewers and blurbers. “Witty”, they said and “A delightful cross between P.G. Wodehouse and Henry James”. I found nothing humorous about the start of the Spanish Civil War or of the entrapment, delays, corruption and frustrations of the author and his brother-in-law trying to travel to Seville to pay respect to his father-in-law’s family resting place. Perhaps, because of my own often equally frustrating trips in my international travels, I missed the jokes – empathy obscured them? I saw nothing witty in being shot at – despite holding up their hands – when trying to return to their hotel, or in the tearing of the author’s legs on barbed wire or of seeing citizens gunned down into the gutters of Madrid.

So, this reader at least found no Bertie Wooster moments and the author is, as always, far less boring than Henry James!

Instead I found a lyrical treatise on a country he obviously fell in love with “at first sight” and a moving account of the peoples of an earlier Spain, about to tear each other asunder in blood, bone-crushing terror and war.
  John_Vaughan | Aug 18, 2012 |
If it's Spain you want, put your trust in the renowned travel writer Norman Lewis, whose book ''The Tomb in Seville'' begins in 1934, at the moment when the miners of Asturias rose in armed revolt against the government of Spain. With shooting on the streets of Madrid, the government declared a state of alarm: a curfew was imposed and all public transportation came to a halt. But two young travelers -- Lewis and his brother-in-law -- were determined to continue on their journey to Seville. They begin by walking 110 miles to Zaragoza: ''We moved across boundless plains of billowing rock purged of all color by the sun. Distant clumps of poplar seemed to have been drawn up into the base of the sky in an atmosphere of mirage and mist. . . . At our approach an anomalous yellow bloom shook itself from a single tree, transformed into a flock of green singing finches. . . .

''An eagle detached itself from a boulder and flapped away towards the mountains.''
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786716878, Paperback)

While the rumblings of oncoming war shook a divided Spain, Norman Lewis and his brother-in-law Eugene Corvaja traveled through the Spanish countryside to the family tomb in Seville. Nearly seventy years later, in prose that is witty, understated, and poignant, Lewis describes the duo's travels first to Madrid, then through the bloody insurrection of October '34, and finally via the length of Portugal to Seville. Once there, they find the Corvaja tomb, but it is nothing like they expected. In this, his last book before his death in 2003, Lewis conjures up the country he returned to time and again in his writing, and displays the spirit of pure fascination that has inspired generations of readers. He recalls covering a hundred miles on foot, sleeping in caves, dodging sniper fire, and attempting to dissuade the communist-leaning Eugene from joining the People's Army. Yet Lewis's sweetly infectious enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of a country holding on to its glorious past in the face of a violent future never wanes. For the avid and the new Norman Lewis reader alike, The Tomb in Seville is a vibrantly fresh tale of a historic time and place.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:09 -0400)

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'The Tomb in Seville' is an account of a journey Norman Lewis made in 1934 with his Sicilian brother-in-law Eugene Corvaja. Their destination was the cathedral in Seville, site of the Corvaja family tomb.

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