The Bible in Spain
by George Borrow
English, published in 1842 (221,590 words) (620 pages)
The Bible in Spain, subtitled "or the Journey, Adventures, and Imprisonment of an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula" published in London in 1843 is the most famous work of George Borrow (1803-1881). It was so popular it ran through several editions even outselling Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843).
The work is unique among contemporary books describing Spain because it relates numerous unusual personal encounters Borrow had with Spaniards from the prime minister to beggars and frequent encounters with Gypsies. This was the first widely-read book with accurate first-hand information on Gypsies (though more completely described in his first work The Zincalí (1841), it was not a commercial success). All this took place during the Carlist Civil War during which time few foreign people traveled in Spain.
Prosper Mérimée was moved to write his story Carmen (the source for Bizet's opera) as a result of reading in the book a story about a man on whom Mérimée based don José.
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