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Don’t forget your pith helmet

Mary Beard: The Tourist Trap

18 August 2005
Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Murray, 248 pp., £8.99, July 2004, 0 7195 6692 4
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Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Murray, 336 pp., £8.99, July 2004, 0 7195 6691 6
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Words of Mercury 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor, edited by Artemis Cooper.
Murray, 274 pp., £7.99, July 2004, 9780719561061
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... in the 20th notoriously had it? The level to which this controversy has occasionally descended can be seen from a marginal comment scrawled by a racist reader in a copy of the first (1966) edition of PatrickLeighFermor’s Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece held by the Cambridge University Library. Where LeighFermor refers to the modern Greek language as being the ‘undisputed heir of ancient Greek ...

He is English, after all

Neal Ascherson: Unboreable Leigh Fermor

7 November 2013
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
John Murray, 362 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 1 84854 752 0
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... The first book ended with ‘To be continued’. The second with ‘To be concluded’. But the third book of PatrickLeighFermor’s famous walk from the Hook of Holland to ‘Constantinople’ was never completed. He died two years ago, rewriting and correcting and adding and tweaking almost to the end. The manuscript, some ...
18 December 1986
Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... James in France, D.H. Lawrence in New Mexico, Lawrence Durrell in Corfu, Michel Butor in Istanbul, Henry Miller in Greece. In December 1933, leaving his father in Simla and his mother in London, PatrickLeighFermor set off to walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. He was 19, an engaging lad, especially attractive to aristocrats who lived in castles and had similarly disposed friends further ...
6 December 1990
The Snows of Yesteryear: Portraits for an Autobiography 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by H.F. Broch de Rothermann.
Chatto, 290 pp., £16.99, November 1990, 0 7011 3666 9
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... the First World War, and Russian after the second. The Rezzoris were minor Austrian gentry administering the outposts of empire, more like the British in India than like the magnates who entertained PatrickLeigh-Fermor when he passed through the Balkans. There was Italian blood on the father’s side and Romanian-Greek and Irish on the mother’s. Rezzori is very much concerned with blood and racial ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays

8 November 2018
... End, where it remained until the seventh John Murray sold up in 2002. Here Murray’s built a list that included some of the best and most popular authors of their day, from Byron and Walter Scott to PatrickLeigh-Fermor and Freya Stark. It was Murray’s reputation for solid, conservative values that led both the geologist Charles Lyell and then Darwin to publish their potentially disruptive theories ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England

20 December 2012
The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... or those who walk for the sake of the experience. Wordsworth and Coleridge did this, and so did George Borrow, who captivated Victorian readers with his tales of Spain and Wales. In our own time, PatrickLeighFermor walked from the Hook of Holland to the Balkans in the 1930s and Rory Stewart (and dog) walked through Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Macfarlane is a member of this group ...
19 July 1984
Faces of Philip: A Memoir of Philip Toynbee 
by Jessica Mitford.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 0 434 46802 9
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... a joke. I like jokes, there can’t be too many of them for me, so I enjoyed her book, which is written with irrepressible Mitford brio. There’s a high-spirited acknowledgment of help received from PatrickLeigh-Fermor (easily the best of her correspondents) in removing from her MS such campus jargon as ‘on-going’, ‘explicate’ and ‘comedic scenarios’. I only wish he had cut out ‘long ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires

31 March 2005
Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... for its wonderful light, architectural variations on a theme and resplendent wildlife. By 1960, when this volume begins, Betjeman was feeling the anxiety of the ageing writer, well expressed by Patrick Kavanagh, a friend of his from wartime Dublin: Give us another poem, he said Or they will think your muse is dead; Another middle-aged departure Of Apollo from the trade of archer. In January 1960 ...
22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... entirely managed to break free’; in contrast Mark Amory does not hesitate to quote the blasphemous lines which caused Mark Boxer to be sent down from Cambridge. Well-matched to their subjects are PatrickLeighFermor on Lawrence Durrell (‘He put new oxygen into the air; nothing seemed impossible’) and James Lees-Milne on the last of the Sitwell gang of three (who else but Sir Sacheverell has ever ...
7 November 1985
The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... Coward, a television party ...’) In this she was at least evenhanded, asking for no more sympathy than she gave. She spent a week in a nursing-home because she’d been drinking too much; and told PatrickLeighFermor that Diana Cooper had rung her there ‘and said, “Hear you’re in a home for inebriates”: she then came along, seduced all and sundry and left after booking a bed to die in; my ...

Don’t teach me

Gillian Darley: Ernö Goldfinger

1 April 2004
Ernö Goldfinger: The Life of an Architect 
by Nigel Warburton.
Routledge, 197 pp., £30, November 2003, 0 415 25853 7
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... the film was released. Goldfinger was brought up in affluence on one of the faultlines of Europe. The family lived in Budapest and summered on the family estates in the southern Carpathians – which PatrickLeighFermor has called ‘the most resented frontier in Europe’. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the onset of political and racial turmoil, the Goldfinger family moved to ...

Herberts & Herbertinas

Rosemary Hill: Steven Runciman

19 October 2016
Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman 
by Minoo Dinshaw.
Penguin, 767 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 241 00493 7
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... went to run the British Council in Athens, where the political climate was tense as Greece moved towards civil war, but society was lively. Among his compatriots were Osbert Lancaster, Rex Warner and PatrickLeighFermor. Maurice Cardiff, the army officer who ran the council temporarily before Runciman arrived, recalls him vividly dealing with his improbable staff as they all gamely muddled through ...

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell

16 April 1981
... school, which sounds little different from most prep schools of the time. The real disaster came when he entered King’s School, Canterbury (alma mater of Christopher Marlowe, Somerset Maugham, PatrickLeigh-Fermor), from which Brooke ran away in the first week. He was sent back. The second week he ran away again. The second withdrawal marked the termination of his residence there, which had lasted ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven

19 June 1986
Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... she visited in 1935 and 1938. Freya Stark’s writing is both broader and deeper than Gertrude Bell’s, and she has an aphoristic way of concentrating layers of meaning into her sentences, which, as PatrickLeigh-Fermor has remarked, ‘always fall on their feet with a light, spontaneous and unfaltering aptness’. Gertrude’s wealth insulated her from vulgar professionalism: had she been born poor, or ...

Ach so, Herr Major

Nicholas Horsfall: Translating Horace

23 June 2005
Horace: Odes and Epodes 
edited by Niall Rudd.
Harvard, 350 pp., £14.50, June 2004, 0 674 99609 7
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... But Horace is a very special case. For a start, what he said and how he said it really matters, tremendously. David West quite rightly begins the introduction to his translation of the Odes with PatrickLeighFermor’s wonderful story, in A Time of Gifts, of himself and General Kreipe reciting the Soracte ode while gazing up at Mount Ida, during the general’s removal from Crete after his capture ...

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