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At the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the rich account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep and intelligence, Leigh Fermor’s book explores a remarkable moment in time. Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead, as he walks through a Europe soon to be forever changed—through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, to Teutonic and Slav heartlands, through the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, and down to the Danube.
At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, A Time of Gifts is also a portrait of a continent already showing ominous signs of the holocaust to come.
The journey that Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on in 1933—to cross Europe on foot with an emergency allowance of one pound a day—proved so rich in experiences that when much later he sat down to describe them, they overflowed into more than one volume. Undertaken as the storms of war gathered, and providing a background for the events that were beginning to unfold in Central Europe, Leigh Fermor’s still-unfinished account of his journey has established itself as a modern classic. Between the Woods and the Water, the second volume of a projected three, has garnered as many prizes as its celebrated predecessor, A Time of Gifts.
The opening of the book finds Leigh Fermor crossing the Danube—at the very moment where his first volume left off. A detour to the luminous splendors of Prague is followed by a trip downriver to Budapest, passage on horseback across the Great Hungarian Plain, and a crossing of the Romanian border into Transylvania. Remote castles, mountain villages, monasteries and towering ranges that are the haunt of bears, wolves, eagles, gypsies, and a variety of sects are all savored in the approach to the Iron Gates, the division between the Carpathian mountains and the Balkans, where, for now, the story ends.
In the winter of 1933, eighteen-year-old Patrick (“Paddy”) Leigh Fermor set out on a walk across Europe, starting in Holland and ending in Constantinople, a trip that took him almost a year. Decades later, Leigh Fermor told the story of that life-changing journey in A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, two books now celebrated as among the most vivid, absorbing, and beautifully written travel books of all time.
The Broken Road is the long-awaited account of the final leg of his youthful adventure that Leigh Fermor promised but was unable to finish before his death in 2011. Assembled from Leigh Fermor’s manuscripts by his prizewinning biographer Artemis Cooper and the travel writer Colin Thubron, this is perhaps the most personal of all Leigh Fermor’s books, catching up with young Paddy in the fall of 1934 and following him through Bulgaria and Romania to the coast of the Black Sea. Days and nights on the road, spectacular landscapes and uncanny cities, friendships lost and found, leading the high life in Bucharest or camping out with fishermen and shepherds–in the The Broken Road such incidents and escapades are described with all the linguistic bravura, odd and astonishing learning, and overflowing exuberance that Leigh Fermor is famous for, but also with a melancholy awareness of the passage of time, especially when he meditates on the scarred history of the Balkans or on his troubled relations with his father. The book ends, perfectly, with Paddy’s arrival in Greece, the country he would fall in love with and fight for. Throughout it we can still hear the ringing voice of an irrepressible young man embarking on a life of adventure.
More than a history or travel journal, however, this beautiful short book is a meditation on the meaning of silence and solitude for modern life. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an existence whose quietness is only varied by the silent meals, the solemnity of ritual, and long solitary walks in the woods—the troubled waters of the mind grow still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a state of peace that is unthought of in the ordinary world.”
This is Patrick Leigh Fermor's spellbinding part-travelogue, part inspired evocation of a part of Greece's past. Joining him in the Mani, one of Europe's wildest and most isolated regions, cut off from the rest of Greece by the towering Taygettus mountain range and hemmed in by the Aegean and Ionian seas, we discover a rocky central prong of the Peleponnese at the southernmost point in Europe.
Bad communications only heightening the remoteness, this Greece - south of ancient Sparta - is one that maintains perhaps a stronger relationship with the ancient past than with the present. Myth becomes history, and vice versa.
Leigh Fermor's hallmark descriptive writing and capture of unexpected detail have made this book, first published in 1958, a classic - together with its Northern Greece counterpart, Roumeli.
Roumeli is not to be found on present-day maps. It is the name once given to northern Greece—stretching from the Bosporus to the Adriatic and from Macedonia to the Gulf of Corinth, a name that evokes a world where the present is inseparably bound up with the past.
Roumeli describes Patrick Leigh Fermor’s wanderings in and around this mysterious and yet very real region. He takes us with him among Sarakatsan shepherds, to the monasteries of Meteora and the villages of Krakora, and on a mission to track down a pair of Byron’s slippers at Missolonghi. As he does, he brings to light the inherent conflicts of the Greek inheritance—the tenuous links to the classical and Byzantine heritage, the legacy of Ottoman domination—along with an underlying, even older world, traces of which Leigh Fermor finds in the hills and mountains and along stretches of barely explored coast.
Roumeli is a companion volume to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s famous Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese.
The adventures of Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor, Britain’s most beloved traveler, began in 1933, when he embarked on a walk from Holland to Constantinople—the entire length of Europe—at the tender age of eighteen. Sleeping in barns, monasteries, and, on occasion, aristocratic country houses, the young adventurer made way his through the Old World just as everything was about to change.
Words of Mercury collects pieces from every stage of Leigh Fermor’s life, from his journey through Eastern Europe just before the outbreak of the Second World War—described in gorgeous, meditative detail—to his encounter with voodoo in Haiti, to a monastic retreat to Normandy to try to write a book. Also included is the story of one of his most well-known exploits from the war—his planned and executed kidnap of a German general under British orders. Ever the student, “Paddy” also wrote extensively on his encounters with polymaths, linguists, and artists all over the world.
Over the course of his illustrious lifetime, Leigh Fermor wrote several acclaimed travel books, countless essays, translations, and book reviews, many of which are compiled in this anthology. His unique experiences out in the world fed his insatiable curiosity and voracious appetite for scholarship. His tales, written in a singular, elegant style, have inspired generations of writers and continue to shape the language of travel.
An NYRB Classics Original
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s only novel displays the same lustrous way with words as his beloved travel trilogy (A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water, and The Broken Road), the memoir of his youthful walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. This slim book starts with the meeting of an English traveler and an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman on an Aegean island. He is captivated by her painting of a busy Caribbean port in the shadow of a volcano, which leads her to tell him the story of her childhood in that town back at the beginning of the twentieth century. The tale she unfolds, set in the tropical luxury of the island of Saint-Jacques, is one of romantic intrigue and decadence involving the descendants of slaves and a fading French aristocracy. Then, on the night of the annual Mardi Gras ball, a whole world comes to a catastrophic and haunting end.
Handsome, spirited, and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one of the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a wonderful friend.
The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy’s twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four, and the correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper, and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner. The letters exhibit many of Fermor’s most engaging characteristics: his lust for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance, and his tendency to get into scrapes—particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving.
Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron’s slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham’s Villa Mauresque; and hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight. The letters radiate warmth and gaiety; many are enhanced with witty illustrations and comic verse, while others contain riddles and puns. Every one of them entertains.
Editados por Colin Thubron y Artemis Cooper, los textos reunidos en este libro ponen el broche de oro a una de las experiencias viajeras más memorables del siglo pasado.
«Leigh Fermor es un autor exquisito entre los escritores de viajes». Sunday Telegraph
«Las exuberantes descripciones y el lenguaje líquido convierten a este libro en una obra maestra para paladearla». Sunday Express
Fermor äußerte sich zu Lebzeiten nie ausführlich zu den Ereignissen auf Kreta, und so erstaunt es umso mehr, dass sich in seinem Nachlass dieses Manuskript fand, in dem er spannungsreich die Entführung auf seine eigene unnachahmliche Weise beschreibt.