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Continuing the journey on foot across Europe begun in A Time of Gifts Between the Woods and the Water begins where its predecessor, A Time of Gifts, leaves off--in 1934, with the nineteen-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor standing on a bridge crossing the Danube between Hungary and Slovakia. A trip downriver to Budapest follows, along with passage on horseback across the Great Hungarian Plain, and a crossing of the Romanian border into Transylvania. Remote castles, villages, monasteries, and mountains that are the haunts of bears, wolves, eagles, gypsies, and sundry religious sects are all savored in the approach to the Iron Gates, on the border of Yugoslavia and Romania. This ruggedly beautiful and historic stretch of the Danube has since been lost beneath the waters of an immense hydroelectric power plant--as indeed so much of the old Europe that Leigh Fermor's pages so vividly evoke was soon to be destroyed in World War II. Patrick Leigh Fermor is a writer of inexhaustible charm, learning, and verbal resource who possesses a breathtaking ability to sketch a landscape, limn a portrait, and bring the past to life. Between the Woods and the Water, part of an extraordinary work in progress that has already been acclaimed as a classic of English literature, is a triumph of his art. For this tale of youthful adventure is at the same time an exploration of the dream and reality of Europe, a book of wanderings that wends its way in and out of history and natural history, art and literature, with the tireless curiosity--and winning fecklessness--of its young protagonist, even as it opens haunting vistas into time and space.
The Mani, at the tip of Greece's--and Europe's--southernmost promontory, is one of the most isolated regions of the world. Cut off from the rest of the country by the towering range of the Taygetus and hemmed in by the Aegean and Ionian seas, it is a land where the past is still very much a part of its people's daily lives. Patrick Leigh Fermor, who has been described as "a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Graham Greene," bridges the genres of adventure story, travel writing, and memoir to reveal an ancient world living alongside the twentieth century. Here, in the book that confirmed his reputation as one of the English language's finest writers of prose, Patrick Leigh Fermor carries the reader with him on his journeys among the Greeks of the mountains, exploring their history and time-honored lore. Mani is a companion volume to Patrick Leigh Fermor's celebrated Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece.
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.
In 1933 Patrick Leigh Fermor was eighteen. Expelled from school for a flirtation with a local girl, he headed to London to set up as a writer, only to find that dream harder to realize than expected. Then he had the idea of leaving his troubles behind; he would "change scenery; abandon London and England and set out across Europe like a tramp . . . travel on foot, sleep in hayricks in summer, shelter in barns when it was raining or snowing and only consort with peasants and tramps." Shortly after, Leigh Fermor shouldered his rucksack and set forth on the extraordinary trek that was to take him up the Rhine, down the Danube, and on to Constantinople. It was the journey of a lifetime, after which neither Leigh Fermor nor, tragically, Europe would ever be the same, and out of it came a work of literature that is as ambitious and absorbing as it is without peer. The young Leigh Fermor had a prodigious talent for friendship, keen powers of observation, and the courage of an insatiable curiosity--raw material from which he later fashioned a book that is a story of youthful adventure, an evocation of a now-vanished world, and a remarkable unfolding of the history and culture of Central Europe. Taking in not just haylofts but mountain heights, country houses as well as cottages, with stops along the way in the great cities of Hamburg, Munich, Vienna, and Prague, A Time of Gifts is a radiant evocation of people and places and one of the glories of modern English prose.The story of Patrick Leigh Fermor's trip continues in Between the Woods and the Water.
While still a teenager, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his way across Europe, as recounted in his classic memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. During World War II, he fought with local partisans against the Nazi occupiers of Crete. But in A Time to Keep Silence, Leigh Fermor writes about a more inward journey, describing his several sojourns in some of Europe's oldest and most venerable monasteries. He stays at the Abbey of St. Wandrille, a great repository of art and learning; at Solesmes, famous for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of La Grande Trappe, where monks take a vow of silence. Finally, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike landscape, where he seeks some trace of the life of the earliest Christian anchorites. 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."
In the late 1940s Patrick Leigh Fermor, now widely regarded as one of the twentieth century's greatest travel writers, set out to explore the then relatively little-visited islands of the Caribbean. Rather than a comprehensive political or historical study of the region, The Traveller's Tree, Leigh Fermor's first book, gives us his own vivid, idiosyncratic impressions of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, Barbados, Trinidad, and Haiti, among other islands. Here we watch Leigh Fermor walk the dusty roads of the countryside and the broad avenues of former colonial capitals, equally at home among the peasant and the elite, the laborer and the artist. He listens to steel drum bands, delights in the Congo dancing that closes out Havana's Carnival, and observes vodou and Rastafarian rites, all with the generous curiosity and easy erudition that readers will recognize from his subsequent classic accounts A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water.
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