"Lisbon: City of the Sea" is a beautifully written portrait of a much loved city, from its origins in Greek legend to the present day. Malcolm Jack vividly captures the rich and unique history of this haunting and attractive port whose prominent position on the Tagus estuary has inextricably bound its character with the sea. Lisbon is a city of steep inclines and complicated, unsymmetrical streets that criss-cross the hills only in the Baixa area near the river and in the more modern, northern part of the city does any form of a grid system appear. It has enjoyed a political history that has directed Portugal's focus more overseas than inland towards continental Europe, in part because of Spain's geographical position. Thus, the city has been stretched in one direction toward Brazil and in another toward the Cape of Good Hope and from there to Asia and the East. Beginning with its earliest inhabitants, Jack traces the city's life through its imperial success in the sixteenth century and the devastating earthquake that humbled the city and shocked Europe in 1755 to its current position as a vibrant and successful European capital.
Lisbon's romantic atmosphere has captured the imaginations of foreigners through the ages. Poets, writers and musicians have all drawn inspiration from different parts of Lisbon. This sensitive exploration of the city's many aspects draws out its cosmopolitan nature, as well as its colourful culture and self-image and brings us closer to understanding its true spirit. Engaging and accessible, this book will appeal to Lisbon's many visitors as well as anyone interested in European history.
Malcolm Jack has written about eighteenth-century philosophy and literature and has edited the works of both Lady Wortley Montagu and William Beckford. His most recent book, Sintra: A Glorious Eden, was published in 2002. He has had a home in Portugal for many years.