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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: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 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: #209,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

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

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This is a sad story of tragic loss.
John the Reader
Lewis is the author of many travel books and was particularly fascinated by primitive cultures in the modern world.
Joseph the evilcyclist
Lewis was a superb writer, with a gentle sense of humor and irony.
R. M. Peterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 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 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John the Reader on August 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a sad story of tragic loss. Great reading or rather writing, of course, and obviously moving, but sad to be so fully and eloquently shown a way of life so rewarding, yet so tranquil in its simplicity, so totally destroyed by "development". Farol; a simple fishing village in the old Spain, had the misfortune of being on that coast eventually exploited and destroyed as the "Costa Brava". The author, after a rather tough time in WWII sought out a retreat in the then isolated region just as it was identified by the Spanish government and local entrepreneurs as being "suitable for substantial development as a holiday destination". Which development, of course, not only destroyed the village, its daily life and annual cycles, but the whole culture of the inhabitants.

Lewis painstakingly, over three seasonal domiciles, earned acceptance from the fisher-folk, carefully not to transgress local taboo - no leather on the boats - he gained a grudging place, and was reluctantly given recognition, as an almost honorary local, even to his own "beautifully wrecked" chair outside the local bar. He sought a `sense of place' just at the time that it was torn from the villagers, and their age-old dependence on their local shamans and natural leaders.

The story of that journey to acceptance and the all too rapid evaporation of the mores of such simple rustic values by the corruptions of development and tourism - headed mainly by a former bandit of this arid region with its villages of cat lovers contesting with the village of dog owners - is a fascinating read. As Cyril Connolly wrote ... "Lewis is able to write about the back of a bus and make it interesting"

Here Lewis had a far more significant subject - a community in its still hopeful death throes in the path of `progress'.
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