A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube

A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube


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A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube by Patrick Leigh Fermor

At the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the rich account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep and intelligence, Leigh Fermor’s book explores a remarkable moment in time. Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead, as he walks through a Europe soon to be forever changed—through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, to Teutonic and Slav heartlands, through the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, and down to the Danube.

At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, A Time of Gifts is also a portrait of a continent already showing ominous signs of the holocaust to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590171653
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 10/10/2005
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Pages: 344
Sales rank: 158,596
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

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.

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 British Empire. Her memoir Conundrum is available as a New York Review Book Classic.

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A Time of Gifts (New York Review Books Classics Series) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this story
kjlarson More than 1 year ago
Upon discovering Patrick Leigh Fermor's amazing books only recently, I have given this particular one as a gift many times. I wish I had known about him or lived in his day and age. It is inspiring and full of historical information that is far from boring. I will view any trips anywhere with my eyes more open and notice details like birds, architecture, faces and music. I have read many other books by him also., including BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER, which is part two of his journey across Europe. An amazing man who lived a full and colorful life. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book felt like traveling in time to a place that no longer exists. Though a lot of Fermor's tangents about Classic (and some European) literature and history went over my head—I am not as erudite as he was then, or had since become—I really enjoyed his rich, sensual descriptions of cities, towns, villages, fields, pubs and insides of people's houses, glimpses of other lives. Also, loved his descriptions of the art he encounters on his way. He seems to miss no detail, no smell, no association. Somehow, he was able to convey "a feel" of the place, which, of course, is a highly subjective thing. But I bought into his particular feel. The book is a little uneven and at times was a bit too slow and bogged down with too much historical detail. In fact, instead of another paragraph on the Hapsburgs, I'd rather hear even more about how the presence of the Nazis is changing people's daily lives, the economic situation. He, after all, has the benefit of the hindsight. Some places that Fermor visits blend into one (just like Fermor himself confesses happens in his memory). I suppose it's only natural. Overall, Fermor is a smart, ecstatic and funny companion and guide, and I enjoyed this journey. I would have enjoyed it even more if I was more versed in history of the region, or maybe Fermor could have explained it better (like Ian Frazier does in Travels in Siberia). I could compare this book to W.G. Sebald's "walking books": The Emigrants, Vertigo, The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz. Only the last one has what one could call a destination, an articulated goal of the journey. Sebald's books, as opposed for Fermor's, have a much slower pace and are much more "philosophical." Sebald invests more time and detail into characters, whereas Fermor portrays them more like people seen standing on a platform as he rushes by on a train. Figuratively speaking, of course. He actually tried to avoid transportation as much as possible and just walk. This is in line with his conceit.
Pombal More than 1 year ago
While not as well known as Jan Morris (a great choice to introduce the volume), Fermor is an equally engaging writer on a par with Colin Thubron. This first volume tells the story of his journey across Europe beautifully evoking the spirit of many places and the encounters with individuals that are the human faces of his journey. Exquisite prose enhanced, not diminished, by an masterful vocabulary.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book and its sequel the youthful author experiences central Europe at a critical time. The warmth and friendliness of his personality combine with the ready intelligence and his openness to experience, to give a unique preview of events that would shake the world. The anchoring in one person's view gives the events more "reality" than many presentations that take a more pretentious look at them. The author also writes extremely well, which is a decided plus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is a good book because it is about a teen just like me on a long journey across parts of Europe in 1933. I think it is ne of the beter books I have read in the past year.