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A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danubeby Jan Morris
Synopses & Reviews
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 barnswhen 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 theDanube, 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 awork 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 insatiablecuriosity--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 radiantevocation 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."
About the Author
Patrick Leigh Fermor was born in 1915 of English and Irish descent. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in A Time of Gifts (1977) and continues through Between the Woods and the Water (1986), he lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. His books Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966) attest to his deep interest in languages and remote places. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania, and fought in Greece and Crete. He was awarded the DSO and OBE. He now lives partly in Greece in the house he designed with his wife Joan in an olive grove in the Mani, and partly in Worcestershire. He was knighted in 2004 for his services to literature and to British–Greek relations.
Jan Morris was born in 1926, is Anglo-Welsh, and lives in Wales. She has written some forty books, including the Pax Britannica trilogy about the British Empire, studies of Wales, Spain, Venice, Oxford, Manhattan, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Trieste, six volumes of collected travel essays, two memoirs, two capricious biographies, and a couple of novels—but she defines her entire oeuvre as “disguised autobiography.” She is an honorary D.Litt. of the University of Wales and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
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