Roumeli is not to be found on maps of present-day Greece. Seduced by the strangeness and beauty of the name, Patrick Leigh Fermor has taken the title formerly used to describe Northern Greece to cover his random wanderings through this exotic region. Sharing in the celebrations of a wedding among the Sarakatsan Nomads, sleeping in the monastery of St Barlaam high on the mountainside, sitting by the fireside sipping ouzo and devouring a succulent leg of lamb and retsina-soaked apples, he recalls his travels amid the people of Northern Greece and, delving into history, produces a blend of past and present.
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Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was an intrepid traveler, a heroic soldier, and a writer with a unique prose style. 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 lived 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.
Patricia Storace is the author of Heredity, a book of poems, Dinner with Persephone, a travel memoir about Greece, and Sugar Cane, a children’s book. She lives in New York.
"...Mani and Roumeli remain extraordinarily engaging books. This is partly thanks to Leigh Fermor’s ability to turn an insight into a telling phrase...and partly thanks to his capacity to weave a compelling story out of sometimes unpromising material. One of the best tales of all is the hilarious digression in Roumeli on the attempted recovery of a pair of Byron’s slippers from a man in Missolonghi, on behalf of Byron’s very odd great-granddaughter Lady Wentworth...When you see through all the nonsense about Hellenic continuity, there is, underneath, a much more nuanced account of the ambivalences of modern Greece, its people and its myths (its own myths about itself and us, as much as our myths about it)." — Mary Beard, The London Review of Books
"Recommended to those who admire exotic people, unbookish intelligence and captivating style." — Gilbert Highet
"Here it all is once again: brilliance, the felicitous profusion, the exuberance of learning and information. . . .Roumeli is not a beginning and middle and end book, but a series of pictures loosely related, mainly placed in Roumeli, in the north of Greece. Its unity, however, is not geographic so much as psychological. It deals with secluded ways and people—communities but not minglers—people who either by the necessities of their crafts or the strength of their traditions have kept to their own stream, side by side but not deeply affected by the changes around them....Placed as we are at probably the most sudden turn in history, any writing that deals with what has so short a time of survival ahead adds, as it were, a museum interest to its own intrinsic qualities. These pictures of Greece are things that a coming generation will look for in vain among the realities of their day." — Freya Stark, The New York Times
“Patrick Leigh Fermor has written great travel books besides Roumeli and Mani, but I like to think that his extraordinary style is especially well suited to the subject of Greece, that the beautiful cragginess and almost blinding brilliance of his prose correspond particularly to that country’s rugged, dazzled landscapes. Here Fermor establishes an ideal of travel writing: no one responds to a people and a place with more erudition and sensitivity.” —Benjamin Kunkel
“[Leigh Fermor] becomes fascinated by the last true nomads of the region, the Sarakatsáns. His description of their wanderings is, for me, the best sort of literary geography lesson, and has even more geopolitical relevance now than when he wrote it.” - Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Geographical
Praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor:
"One of the greatest travel writers of all time”–The Sunday Times
“A unique mixture of hero, historian, traveler and writer; the last and the greatest of a generation whose like we won't see again.”–Geographical
“The finest traveling companion we could ever have . . . His head is stocked with enough cultural lore and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure.” –Evening Standard
If all Europe were laid waste tomorrow, one might do worse than attempt to recreate it, or at least to preserve some sense of historical splendor and variety, by immersing oneself in the travel books of Patrick Leigh Fermor.”—Ben Downing, The Paris Review
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1984. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140095047
Book Description Penguin Books, 1984. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 140095047