Los misterios de Sevilla – a lost text?

Posted by cdelano on October 31, 2011 in Cristina Delano, Guest Blog tagged with

Thanks again to Claire and Dale for inviting me to be October’s guest blogger. In this last post, I’d like to discuss a mystery that has come up in researching my book project.

When I first conceptualized this project, I focused on the mysteries of Madrid and Barcelona. The primary reason was practical: Madrid and Barcelona are Spain’s largest cities and the home of most of nineteenth-century Spain’s literate population. There are several misterios written about both cities that appeared throughout the nineteenth century.

The second reason was the two cities represent competing experiences of modernity; Madrid has historically been the political and hegemonic center of Spain, while Barcelona experienced a stronger economic and industrial modernization. In a certain sense Madrid and Barcelona have been involved in their own Gothic family narrative; much of the narrative of Barcelona’s imaginary deals with real or felt repression from Madrid. Part of Barcelona’s resentment towards Madrid has stemmed from the belief that Madrid is an illegitimate capital and the cause of all Spain’s ills. The two cities’ rivalry is also inscribed in the struggle that has marked Spain’s political history: the choice between a strong centralized government in Madrid, or the preservation and expansion of regional autonomies.

My current vision of this project is to include mysteries from two other Spanish cities:  Cádiz and Sevilla. I quickly found a Cádiz folletín, Los misterios de la Puerta de Tierra. The Sevilla novel, Los misterios de Sevilla (1845) by Emilio Bravo y Romero, has proved to be more elusive.

Due to the anti-clerical content of his novel, Bravo y Romero was sentenced to 30 days in prison. After his release, he published a manifesto against the authorities and was deported to Cuba in 1848. Bravo y Romero received amnesty in 1849 and began what would become an illustrious legal career. He became president of Spain’s Tribunal Supremo and presided during the trial of the infamous Madrid murder known as “The Crime of Fuencarral Street”.

Los misterios de Sevilla is a phantom text; I have not been able to find it in any major library. There are many references to the novel in contemporary newspapers and chronicles due to its notoriety. I t is possible that all copies of the book were destroyed, especially if it angered the Church. Several of Bravo y Romero’s later legal and literary works have survived. I’m hoping that the novel is just hiding an archive somewhere. I would be fascinating to read a novel that caused so much trouble for its author.  I am also curious to see what mysteries Bravo y Romero created for Sevilla and how he perceived the conflicts of the day. It is a delightful serendipity that an urban mystery writer would later participate in one Spain’s most famous urban crime stories.

It has been exciting to do the detective work to try to track this book down. Hopefully this text wants to be found.

Thanks again!


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