INTRODUCED BY JAN MORRIS
‘[This] gloriously ornate account of that epic journey is a classic’ ROBERT MACFARLANE
‘The feeling of being lost in time and geography with months and years hazily sparkling ahead is a prospect of inconjecturable magic.’
In 1933, aged eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on his ‘great trudge’, a year-long journey by foot from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. Three decades later he wrote A Time of Gifts, the sparklingly original account of the first part of this youthful adventure, which took him through the Low Countries, up the Rhine, through Germany, down the Danube, through Austria and Czechoslovakia, and as far as Hungary.
Alone, carrying only a rucksack and with a small allowance of only a pound a week, Fermor had planned to sleep rough – to live ‘like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar’ – but a chance introduction in Bavaria led to comfortable stays in castles, and provided a glimpse of the old Europe of princes and peasants.
Hailed as a masterpiece, A Time of Gifts is in part a coming-of-age memoir, but it is also a rich and compelling portrait of a continent that – despite its resplendent domes and monasteries, its great rivers and grand cities – was soon to be swept away by war, modernisation and profound social change.