The first entry of a journal which provided the material for some of the best travel writing of the 20th century.  While I am enjoying other Leigh Fermor books on his later travels, I don’t think they match the sweep or freshness of those recounting his walk across Europe.  Perhaps because he took in more terrain, or a wider range of cultures, or a younger sensibility.

Elsewhere he mentions the loss of a journal, which still hurt him years later, like an old wound.

‘When he had cleared away, I took a new and handsomely-bound journal out of my rucksack, opened it on the green baize under a pink-shaded lamp and wrote the first entry whie the cruets and the wine bottle rattled busily in their stands.  Then I went on deck.’

 

Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts (London: Penguin Books, 1977), p. 31

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