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. A Time of Gifts Patrick Leigh Fermor John Murray £, pp One of the most romantic books of the twentieth century, Patrick Leigh Fermor’s. 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.

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Many years later I read several of Fermor’s essays but it was only after reading his obituary in The rolling wooded range of the Bakony Forest had advanced north from the heart of Transdanubia, and the corresponding promontory on the northern shore — the last low foothills of the Marra mountains, whose other extremity subsides in the north eastern tip of Hungary — jutted into the water under the little town of Parkan.

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor | : Books

His head is stocked with enough cultural lekgh and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure. Some advocate geo-engineering – the large-scale engineering and manipulation of the world’s environment e.

In Fermor’s steadier hands, however, there’s only one allusion to “those kinds of girls” and he politely declines, thank you. On to the downside. Alcohol can be Romantic, too, not just an addiction. Springing close from the floor from reversed and bisected cones, they sailed aloft curving and spreading across the wide arch of the ceiling: This book contains the travel writings of There had been days, I was told, when horsemen on the way to the indoor lists rode in full armour up these steps: He describes the people he meets, the generosity, and often in detail the food and the drink.

With his wishes for godspeed in my ears and an internal bonfire of Bols and a hand smarting from his valedictory shake, I set off. Patrick Leigh Fermor also provides an alternative cultural history of central Europe. He’s clearly drunk on the history of the Danube basin and he has a gift for making languages interesting on the page even for those who do not speak them.

He left London for Rotterdam and from there travelled — mostly on foot — to Constantinople. Recently expelled from school for the unpardonable crime of holding hands with a local girl, and insufficiently inspired by the prospect of Sandhurst and a career of peacetime soldiering, the year-old decided to head east on foot.

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It’s after all. The journalist Allison Pearson recalls when she was sent to Crete to meet him when he was 83 to write an article on him. About Patrick Leigh Fermor. The author’s inexhaustible willingness to be distracted, his susceptibility to detours geographical, intellectual, aesthetic, and occasionally amorous, constitute, if anything, an essential and self-conscious component of the style that has won him such an avid following.

In Germany Hitler had recently come to power but most of his abuses were not yet evident. Oct 05, Bruce rated it it was amazing. She just about remembers drinking more in 48 hours than she had for the previous 20 years and waking up under a bar. I learned a great deal just looking up the architectural or religious words and phrasings I did not know; I was mystified by the place-names once he dropped from the Rhine and picked up his pace along the Danube and into the Slavic countries.

So why does this dude sound like he just rode in on a hansom cab from the Congress of Vienna? In The Rhine, he sets out by bicycle from the Netherlands where it enters the North Sea, following it through Germany, France and Liechtenstein, to its source in the icy Alps. In this book, we learn about their swimming feats, from tackling the km River Eden to setting the world record for swimming in the Arctic. He had the foresight to arrange a number of introductions on the continent.

Inat the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an extraordinary journey by foot – from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople.

A Time of Gifts

In any event, in none of the instances does Fermor appear to use it properly, but rather as a simple euphemism for ride, which is really just bad writing all around. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in A Time of Gifts and continues through Between the Woods and the Waterhe lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. There are, of course, beautiful descriptions of nature, as in this observation of skaters: And there are lost faces: Writing the book decades after the fact, in a baroque style that is always rigorous, never flowery, he was able to inject historical depth while still retaining the feeling of boyish enthusiasm and boundless curiosity.

This ridiculous guy right here. To be just, Leigh Fermor is marvelous when it comes to surfaces and particularities.


Three times in the book Fermor has occasion to use the term Caracol, a cavalry maneuver which utilized the pistol and which saw brief use during the Wars of Religion but swiftly fell out of favor as reducing the shock value of the charge itself and generally being less valuable than just riding up and sabering people. Quotes from A Time of Gifts. Both jails and mayors of the small villages and friends introduced by other friends offered him a bed and a meal.

The one I liked most was the Andreas-Hofer-Lieda moving lament for the great mountain leader of the Tyrolese against Napoleon’s armies, executed in Mantua and mourned ever since. Post was not sent – check your email addresses! Following the white parallelograms the lines of the willows dwindled as insubstantially as trails of vapour. Twenty miles east of this bridge, the Danube reaches a most important point in its career: It’s straightforward and to the point.

Romantic journey

I found his observations and descriptions to be uncannily accurate. Hopefully but not likelyI will be able to restrain my new-fatherhood joy and not include him in every subsequent review Mammoth columns were rooted in the flagstones and the sawdust. Writing the account of the journey would take much longer.

Between the long adventure itself and its eventual publication, Patrick Leigh Fermor had led an improbably rich and full life.

The infrastructure required to support these cities will be a massive challenge for city planners and governments. I only harp on this because it was one of the innumerable obscured words in the book that by coincidence I happened to be familiar with, and because I can’t help but think that many of these linguistic bric-a-brac, if investigated might reveal a similarly bby provance. Particularly interesting was how one almost watches him pick up German, writing about the change of dialects along the way.

The whole kingdom was revealed. In lateat the age of eighteen and recently gently expelled from school, Leigh Fermor decided to walk to what he always calls Constantinople. View all 7 comments.

After the war he began writing, and travelled extensively round Greece with Joan Eyres Monsell whom he later married.