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Voices of the Old Sea Paperback – January 3, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786716908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786716906
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lewis really goes deep, like a sharp, polished knife."

From the Publisher

8 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book I have read by Norman Lewis (d. 2003), and I can now appreciate the encomniums on the book covers and first page: "one of the best writers . . . of our century" (Graham Greene); "magical storyteller"; "the best, and most underrated, English travel writer of the 20th century"; and on and on in a similar vein. VOICES OF THE OLD SEA is an account of three summers that Lewis spent in a subsistence-level fishing village along the Costa Brava coast of Northeast Spain in the late 1940s. As things happened, it also is an account of the beginning of the end of centuries-old ways of life, swept aside by modernization and capitalism.

Lewis does not really decry the changes that slowly begin transforming his particular pocket of rural Spain. Indeed, he rarely casts judgments, other than occasional aesthetic ones. He is somewhat self-effacing. Rather than imposing himself on his hosts and environs, he blends in, and as a result otherwise insular and superstitious locals begin to open up to him and allow him to observe and participate in activities from which outsiders usually are excluded.

But the value and appeal of VOICES OF THE OLD SEA is not so much in its subject as in the telling. Lewis was a superb writer, with a gentle sense of humor and irony. The publisher lauds Lewis as "the father of modern travel writing". If only that were truer. If only more modern travel writers had Lewis's skill and his modesty.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
describes a lost world--a tiny village on the Spanish Mediterranean coast subsisting on fishing and the harvesting of cork. The book is simple and evocative. The reader creates the tragedy himself or herself with the certain knowledge that Lewis is detailing a world, and way of life, that have now ceased to exist.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has read anything by Norman Lewis knows that he is unquestionably the world's greatest living travel writer and one of the best who ever lived. I have read everything he has written and this is my favourite. It combines stylish simplicity and poetic resonance to create a haunting evocation of a lost time and place. A masterpiece.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dorji Ajarn Sensei San on February 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Literate, traveller, teacher, observer, the mold of this type of travelling and beautiful prose will not be seen again, please appreciate his genius and take heart
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NoVAReader on July 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly great travel writing. Prior to the 1950s, Lewis visited the coast of Catalonia several times to get away from England and to experience more of the country he loved. His stories are gentle, respectful accounts of the people he met and the friendships he made. He gives the reader a special view of life in coastal Catalonia (now known as the Costa Brava) that existed before it was transformed into a hot European tourist destination.

He also gives the reader a first-hand look into the transformation as it happened. The fishing stopped. Centuries old local customs and unusual traditions vanished in just in a few years. Traditions were replaced by expediency. The simple life was replaced by profit-seeking. Authentic life experiences were replaced by manufactured ones, mainly designed to meet the false expectations tourists had of Spain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HeyNonny on October 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although "Naples, 44" is often cited as Norman Lewis' best work (and is well worth reading), "Voices of the Old Sea" is saturated with all the best attributes of Lewis' writing, i.e., a keen descriptive eye, humor, and empathy with the people/culture described. The setting, Mediterranean Spain ... the time, before the tourists came. It's a fascinating look at a society that no longer exists ... with all it's quirks, eccentricities, traditions, and ways of viewing the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Hearn on June 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book is an absolute joy. To tell you why, or even what it's about, would be to ruin the fun. It's a book you simply have to start and in which you relish each vignette; it's not a wildly exciting story, or something you'd miss a train stop because you couldn't put it down.

Instead, it's simply a brilliant piece of writing; witty, smart, fun. You go with Lewis and enjoy with him a strange, dark sense of humor that takes pleasure in the most wonderful things, and a world which no longer exists.

It's also a book that is something of a secret joy; you can't really describe to others what is so great about it. I've known only a few other Lewis fans, and we all came to him in the same way: we found an old copy of a book of his somewhere in a free bin or a stack being thrown away. Tattered cover with a page or two missing, we read the first one and then quickly got online to find everything by him we could.

I've since given away multiple copies of this book, always with the same line: "Just read it." To say, "it has this great scene about a cat town and a dog town" or "there is a stuffed dugong in the bar" doesn't give the same effect as describing a scene from a great mystery or action novel.

Instead, you start at the beginning, hesitantly, and by page three relish each sentence. When you reach the end, you are sad, and wish it were longer. There are very, VERY few books that I wish were longer. This is one.
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