Sunday, July 29, 2007

Patrick Leigh Fermor

I think it is sad that google mostly only references Patrick Leigh Fermor as a travel writer. Granted it does note "literary" in several places, but I think that diminishes what would be his writing. It rivals Joyce, Proust, and Nabokov easily. The languor of Proust, the building of character like Nabokov, and the die hard spirit of Joyce. I just finished A Time of Gifts yesterday and then just dipped into Between the Woods and the Water. It makes me very happy that he is rumoured to be working on the third, to bring him the rest of the way to Constantinople. I am glad he was knighted and all, and that he is revered as a travel writer, but I don't think it should be through the lens of travel, it should be through the lens of the greatest writing of all time. Really and truly beautiful stuff. Europe pales (but is brought alive by the same) when compared to his words. A magnificent feat. I never really have wanted to travel to Germany before, would have been down on the list of places I would visit, but he really makes it and its people, especially during such a dark time, be a place I would want to visit. One of the harrowing aspects of this book, The Time of Gifts, is that the backdrop of the reality of that world clashed with his view of the beauty of it. It really sharpens what was going on and alluded to by him, when he could write of it with such sensitivity. It also brings to light the reality of the real people he met, rather than the big picture of history. It made me think more than once in the last few days, about the daily goings on of the people here, me too, when a horrid war is raging out of our range. Maybe out of the current war, will be a book of the Iraq or Afghan people, written in the same sort of way. How life does go on, while reality rages, and the the stories of history are written. I prefer the writings of the man on the ground, meeting the people, and seeing how they lived. Fermor did this well.

Because I have found him, I will have to read it all. Cuz that is what I do. Highest recommendation for his amazing, beautiful writing.

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