A Time of Gifts
On Foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube
By Patrick Leigh Fermor
The great travel classic, first published in 1977 and recounting an epic journey of nearly 50 years before, reissued in paperback with an Introduction by Jan Morris
In 1933, at 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 is the first volume in a trilogy recounting the trip, and takes the reader with him as far as Hungary.
It is a book of compelling glimpses - not only of the events which were curdling Europe at that time, but also of its resplendent domes and monasteries, its great rivers, the sun on the Bavarian snow, the storks and frogs, the hospitable burgomasters who welcomed him, and that world's grandeurs and courtesies. His powers of recollection have astonishing sweep and verve, and the scope is majestic.
In December 1933, at the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) walked across Europe, reaching Constantinople in early 1935. He travelled on into Greece, where in Athens he met Balasha Cantacuzene, with whom he lived - mostly in Rumania - until the outbreak of war. Serving in occupied Crete, he led a successful operation to kidnap a German general, for which he won the DSO. After the war he began writing, and travelled extensively round Greece with Joan Eyres Monsell whom he later married. Towards the end of his life he wrote the first two books about his early trans-European odyssey, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. He planned a third, unfinished at the time of his death in 2011, which has since been edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper and published as The Broken Road.
- Other details
- Publication date:
15 Mar 2004
- Page count:
[Fermor's] gloriously ornate account of that epic journey is a classic of what we might call the 'literature of the leg' — Robert Macfarlane, Waitrose Weekend
Nothing short of a masterpiece — Jan Morris
A treasure chest of descriptive writing — Spectator
Not only is the journey one of physical adventure but of cultural awakening. Architecture, art, genealogy, quirks of history and language are all devoured - and here passed on - with a gusto uniquely his — Colin Thubron, Sunday Telegraph
Every page of this book is distinguished by an image, a metaphor, a flash of humour always original and sometimes as incisive as a laser beam. — Vincent Cronin
A tremendous journey ... and he's fabulous company — Manchester Evening News
This is a traveller's tale at its infectious and informative best; vividly remembered and beautifully written — Church Times
John Murray is doing the decent thing and reissuing all of Leigh Fermor's main books ... But what else would you expect from a publisher whose commitment to geography is such that for more than two centuries it has widened our understanding of the world? — Geographical Magazine
Rightly considered to be among the most beautiful travel books in the language — Independent
Bringing the landscape alive as no other writer can, he uses his profound and eclectic understanding of cultures and peoples ... to paint vivid pictures - nobody has illuminated the geography of Europe better — Geographical Magazine