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The Tomb in Seville: Crossing Spain on the Brink of Civil War

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  147 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
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 finall ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 11th 2006 by Da Capo Press (first published 2003)
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Mike Robbins
Jan 19, 2014 Mike Robbins rated it it was amazing
I have heard Norman Lewis referred to as the first really modern travel writer, but I wonder if that is true. Whether or not he was the first, however, the sheer volume and quality of Lewis’s work do mark him out. The Tomb in Seville was his last book and was published posthumously in the autumn of 2003; he had died several months earlier at the age of 95.

Lewis was born in 1908, in London, but to Welsh parents. Both were ardent spiritualists, and his upbringing (described vividly in his first vo
César Lasso
This is a very entertaining book. Norman Lewis, an English traveler and journalist, describes his visit to Spain in 1934. To me, that is doubly motivating – on the one hand, you read travel literature and, on the other, the descriptions are referred to a world that no longer exists. Actually, the destination of the author’s adventure across the Iberian Peninsula (Spain + Portugal) was Seville, and my father was born there one year after the author’s visit.

There’s something I should mention about
Simon Hollway
Dec 19, 2015 Simon Hollway rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Those expecting an elegiac swansong from Lewis' last book, should stop at the border, retrace their steps and visit the Cowardesque stylings and deliciously arch wit of A Dragon Apparent. Lewis penned Tomb in Seville at the grand old age of 95 and, sadly, it's more a brief, last gasp than a show-stopping monologue.

A pleasant, if insubstantial read, that spasmodically relives being caught up in the first few intermittent days of the Spanish Civil War but goes no further than describing a few bull
Danielle McClellan
Apr 16, 2016 Danielle McClellan rated it really liked it
Shelves: spain
I loved this memoir of crossing into Spain at the moment that the Civil war was beginning. Apparently this was Lewis's last book, and it retraced the events of his journey over seventy years later. Clearly, Lewis worked from excellent notes because this memoir is vivid and immediate. Lewis has a wry sense of humor and creates the world of Spain with beautifully honed details.
Tim Weed
Mar 12, 2013 Tim Weed rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written travelogue of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Lewis' descriptive powers are second to no travel writer I've read, and the story is leavened with a dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Spain and/or travel writing.
Juan Hidalgo
Oct 13, 2014 Juan Hidalgo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesante y muy ameno libro que ofrece una visión de España en los preámbulos de la guerra civil de 1936. Para viajeros y autores como Norman Lewis, en aquella época, visitar este país debía ser como trasladarse a lugares mucho más lejanos y remotos dadas las condiciones de vida en aquel entonces, aunque hay fragmentos y descripciones que parecen demasiado exóticos (bosques como junglas inexploradas, costumbres rurales bastante llamativas...)

Esto podría deberse a una mala interpretación de los
Jun 27, 2013 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
First, an apology to this book. I was about 3/4 finished when I lost the book. It took over a month for it to resurface and I think the continuity of the story suffered.

Two young men, Norman Lewis and his brother-in-law, Eugene Corvaja, travel across Spain. They say that their goal is to find the Corvaja ancestral tomb in Seville, but the trip is the true goal. Eugene is a naturalist and some of my favorite parts are when he enjoys looking at wildlife – I wish there were more of these and that t
Apr 30, 2012 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-memoir
Not as enjoyable as Naples ’44 but it did help distract me as I took a multi-hour, weather-delayed bus trip from DC to NY on the day before Thanksgiving. It is as well-written as the Naples book, but his experience here simply isn’t as compelling.

A quotation (Kindle location 575):

Setting out from the hotel, we are anxious not to surrender to an overdramatisation of the events, covering the first few hundred yards as if enjoying a leisurely morning stroll. We were converted by the sight of a well
The Tomb in Seville, is a real literary treat. Norman Lewis has a precise eye, the kind that reminds you of Hemingway's impressive In Our Time vignettes. Like Hemingway, Lewis couples finely drawn (and pregnant) images and events to a clear and understated prose. Such a combination recalls the best efforts of Rebecca West, Graham Greene and, going back, Turgenyev. To some extent I found The Tomb in Seville superior to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, though the comparison is somewhat uneven. I thin ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Cathryn rated it really liked it
I was curious what Spain was like on the brink of the Civil War that culminates in Franco's fascist regime, and this book provides an unsuspected glimpse of that time in the tale of two undaunted travelers on a mission to find a family crypt on the great cathedral in Seville. They encounter the early spasms of the civil war and must take slow detours or endure delays in sleepy towns or cross over into Portugal when the the trains shut down intermittently (or the borders close). It is fascinating ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As much as I enjoyed this narrative recalling the author's travels through Spain at the beginning of the civil war, I'm not so sure that it holds up for anyone who has not already constructed some sort of personal fantasy of Spain.

I've longed to recreate, at least, the hike between Pamplona and Zaragoza that Lewis describes. The relationship between the author and his travelling companion is interesting... I wish this were a piece of fiction so that he might have pursued that theme further.
Rob Innis
Jul 18, 2012 Rob Innis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NL has some interesting adventures during his travels mostly connected to the pre Spanish civil war era in which he was making his journey. He captures the moments in succinct phrases but in such a way as to spark the imagination and create mental images of his situations. No waffle, and a good interesting read filling in some gaps of that era. Must have been an interesting man to have met and travelled with!
Jim Angstadt
Oct 06, 2013 Jim Angstadt rated it liked it
I loved Naples '44 by Norman Lewis.

This book, by the same author, is very different.

In Naples, Lewis described the Italian people and their situation, attitudes, needs, and trade-offs.

In Tomb, Lewis describes his reaction to the people of Spain and Portugal.

At first, that difference does not seem like much; but later, it seems like a lot.

One gives us a feel for the people; the other gives us a feel for the viewer. What a difference!
Becky Mears
Dec 29, 2014 Becky Mears rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not good at reading non-fiction but I wanted to read a book set in Seville whilst on holiday in Seville and this was the one one to hand. I surprised myself b realy enjoying it but then it is written in a very novelistic way. It actually took the characters such a long time to get to Sevile that I was back in Malaga by the time they got there but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of this account of a 1930's apolitical Englishmans experience of travelling in Spain during the civil war.
Apr 19, 2011 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
I think I read this book in 2003 when it was released. After reading it I'm still not sure if I ever read it. It's pretty unremarkable. I still don't get the fascination with Lewis as a great travel writer. There are some pithy comments but his writing doesn't bridge the decades or the cultural chasm of English society. I'd read his book about wartime Naples and was just as unimpressed. At least this was mercifully short.
Apr 07, 2010 Simone rated it really liked it
I read this book after visiting Spain this year and really wished that I had read it before. It is particularly interesting to read about Madrid during the civil war and about the poverty during Franco's reign.
Feb 18, 2014 Caroline rated it it was ok
Mediocre addition to the literature of Englishmen in Spain during the 30s. I don’t quite get other reviewers admiration for Lewis; I found the book detached, either really or disingenuously naive, and dull.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I'm now officially nuts for Norman. I love this guy's style and brevity. Things slumped a bit near the end of the journey, but it was so fascinating to read about how they found themselves in Madrid just as the revolution was starting. And scary, too!
Oct 29, 2009 Allison rated it liked it
Quick read and interesting. I'm now a fan of Norman Lewis!
Dec 27, 2008 Dunrie rated it really liked it
I read this quickly, staying up too late on a Sunday evening, gripped by the scene and location and moment in history. I admire the author's brevity in particular.
Feb 17, 2015 Piotr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pyszne! Kapitalna lektura i fantastyczna podróż w czasie. Całkiem serio trzeba pomyśleć o wyprawie śladami NL.
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Very solid, comfortable writing about the author's trip through Spain during the start of its civil war.
Sep 20, 2011 Rhea rated it really liked it
I'm looking forward to picking up some more of this author's books. What a lovely writer.
Jul 10, 2008 Flora rated it really liked it
Another lovely tale of early years in Spain. Takes place just before the Civil War breaks out.
Jul 11, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Fascinating first hand account of the Spanish Civil War. Other than Hemingway, this book has the ring of truth to it like no other account of that time.
Nov 02, 2016 David rated it liked it
Beautiful descriptions of old Spain and Portugal
Sebastian Magnowski
Sebastian Magnowski rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2015
Samir Omerčić
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Dec 01, 2014
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Norman Lewis was a prolific British writer best known for his travel writing. Though not widely known, "Norman Lewis is one of the best writers, not of any particular decade, but of our century", according to Graham Greene.

Lewis served in World War II and wrote an account of his experiences during the Allied occupation of Italy, titled Naples '44. Shortly after the war he produced volumes about Bu
More about Norman Lewis...

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