"A Time of Gifts" by Patrick Leigh Fermor
| 📖 # 76 |
Title: A Time of Gifts
Author: Patrick Leigh Fermor
Start Date: 6/13/17
End Date: 9/5/17
# of Pages: 344
Edition: NYRB Classics paperback (2005)
Quick Take: magnificent
Source: Nick Roark
Why I Chose It: My friend Nick sent me this book, saying "[A Time of Gifts] reminded me of your 2016 gallivanting adventure across the USA. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you do as well." (I did).
Quotes: (1) "A new life! Freedom! Something to write about!" (2) "Thank God I had put 'student' in my passport: it was an amulet and an Open Sesame. In European tradition, the word suggested a youthful, needy, and earnest figure, spurred along the highways of the West by thirst for learning - thus, notwithstanding high spirits and a proneness to dog-Latin drinking songs, a fit candidate for succour." (3) "The loss of the journal sill aches now and then like an old wound in bad weather." (4) "Again, anyone bumping into me unawares, like the crone on the Ulm road, would have taken me for a drunk; in the literary sense they would have been right." (5) "Appalling things had happened since Hitler had come into power ten months earlier; but the range of horror was not yet fully unfolded. In the country the prevailing mood was a bewildered acquiescence." (6) "'Now come and tell us all about your travels.' So I did my best." (7) "The mountains, delaying the sunrise and hastening dusk, must have halved again the short winter days." (8) "I hope we may meet soon and wander once more along the silver streets of our youth." (9) "'You should have seen it before the War!' - this was the general burden of those who were old enough to remember." (10) "Prague seemed - it still seems, after many rival cities - not only one of the most beautiful places in the world, but one of the strangest." (11) "The trouble was that I had imagined - as one always does with lost property - that the contents were much better than they were."
Other Notes: A Time of Gifts is a true masterpiece of the travel memoir genre, and of books in general. Fermor so eloquently and intently communicates the experience of a young 19 year old from England traversing immediate pre-World War II Europe by foot. As he recounts the trip from a later perspective you get the vigor of his youth paired with the experience to properly journal it for a public audience. The beauty of this European experience is sober and haunting and melancholy in the fact that such a place and time may never exist there in the same way again. Over and over I was struck by his ability to just go and travel and the unconditional hospitality offered by everyone he met in every country along the way. He (p)reviews this bitterness..."the time of gifts [is gone]..." As the introduction rightly states, Fermor "has no rivals, and so stands beyond envy."