#Non-fiction A Time of Gifts
- Author: Patrick Fermor
- Title: A Time of Gifts
- Published: 1977
- Title: quote van Twelfth Night (poem by L. MacNeice)
- Illustration: John Craxton
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- If you are looking for a nice rambling
- …colorful travelogue this is not the book for you.
- The travel diaries (1933) have been combed through
- and embellished to create this book in 1976.
- The narrative lacks a spark of spontaneity because
- Fermor’s travel thoughts have been resting for many years
- and the book suffers from many rewrites before it was
- …finally published.
- In all fairness, the book was received with
- tremendous enthusiasm (1976).
- It won:
- Thomas Cook Travel Award
- International PEN/Time Life Silver Pen Award
- W.H. Smith Prize (1978)
- So…you may still like this book
- …but I did not.
- Nicest passages are during Fermor’s walks
- through the countryside from village to village.
- No history, no hangovers, no libraries, no castles with
- moat and polished wood floors
- …just nature.
- Book oozes a special kind of personalized disorder!
- Fermor blends history, literature, biography, myth
- with his visits to cathedrals, libraries, pubs with or
- without a hangover!
Strong point: ‘The Hook”…that kept me reading
- Ch 1: Low Countries: good…
- Vivid images of boat leaving the estuary of the Thames River
- …describing Dutch landscape and interiors with comparisons
- of great paintings Brueghelish
- ….skaters, hunters in the snow.
- Fermor keeps his writing centered on his travels
- …no long daydreams or history.
- Up the Rhine:
- The book does not flow
- ….gets bogged down
- in Fermor’s musings:
- Fermor interjects the travel narrative
- ….with memories, historical trivia:
- …going back fourteen years (pg 43)
- …memories of school learning (pg 82)
- …theater for so much history (pg 92)
- …landsknechts in time of Emperor Max I (pg 96-101)
- Fermor admits it himself
- …slowing the narrative down!
- “…I must try to convey, even if it slows things
- up for a couple of pages.” (pg 123-133)
- The Danube: Seasons and Castles
- Brooding over one’s ignorance of painting (pg 147-156)
- …again slowing down.
- The Danube: Approach to a Kaiserstadt
- …let us run quickly through
- ..the relevant part of the story (The Tempest)
- …again slowing down (pg 170-171)
Fermor fills Vienna (3 week visit)
- …with anecdotes
- …not much wandering around the town.
- Hangover after last days of Carnival
- …visit to Akademie Library…
- …more musings about history and maps.
The Edge of the Slav World = …all history
- Cathedrals are always important part of the narrative
- (Cologne, Vienna, Prague)
- …but we end up with …another hangover
- …another library in The Old University
- …more history.
Slovakia: A Step Forward at Last
- Sorry, my eyes glazed over during this chapter
Marches of Hungary
- Fermor …cites direct long passages of his diary
- …perhaps he was too tired ( as I am now) to elucidate
- on this chapter.
- As a young man, the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor
- walked from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.
- A Time of Gifts (vol 1) ends on the
- Maria Valeria Bridge in Slovakia.
- Fermor has difficulty leaving Slovakia
- and plunging into Hungry
- …but he must move on.
- I’ve really lost interest (57%)
- I kept up with Fermor from
- December 1933 …leaving England
- and just lost interest in February 1934
- in the little village of Maidling Im Tal, Austria
- Just skimming to finish the book.
- The BEST travel book I’ve read was
- Deep South (2015) by Paul Theroux!
- Now, that was an excellent book
- …worth your reading time!