In 1929 at the age of 35, Walter Starkie walked through Roumania and Hungary in the company of gypsies, he made his way into their society by playing his violin and whereever possible lived amongst them. It is a fascinating account of a way of life and countries that have since undergone huge changes. This is one of those half forgotten travel books that deserves greater recognition, it paves the way for Laurie Lee and Patrick Fermor. Perhaps a better title would have helped! Starkie must have been a fascinating man, check out his biography on Wikipaedia
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating Accounts from a Lost Era15 Nov. 2007
John J. Turley
- Published on Amazon.com
Walter Starkie (1894-1976) was an Irish scholar. He was conversant in several languages and also a proficient violinist. He might have remained comfortable in Ireland as a university lecturer, save that he was a little eccentric had a passion for wandering. Against the wishes of his family, Starkie left his home in 1929 and went to Central Europe for several months to wander among Gypsies. The 35-year-old Starkie was armed only with his wits, a backpack, and a decent violin. As he traveled alone and often by foot, he met many helpful locals along the way who would cheerfully put him up for a night. He supported himself mostly by fiddling. Starkie wandered from the Hungarian Puszta (Great Plain) into the distant forests of Transylvania, becoming acquainted with lots of interesting people: friendly villagers, exotic Gypsy fiddlers, traveling circus performers, and the occasional landed nobility. A gifted writer, Starkie provides a wondeful description of these people in their element. He partook in their Gypsy music, wine, and inevitable evening revelries. Being just another 'vagabond fiddler' as he called himself, Starkie easily made friends and was rarely, if ever, in danger. It is heartbreaking to ponder how many people that Starkie befriended were not long after murdered in the Holocaust or otherwise killed or displaced by war. The fascinating world that Starkie describes for us is truly gone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Raggle Taggle Starkey25 Aug. 2012
James Donal Faulkner
- Published on Amazon.com
This is the best travel book I have ever read, including the one I wrote!
Mr Starkey was a highly erudite and a fearless man. His openness to adventure meant that, unlike so many writers, he actually had something to recount. And his erudition means that he did this very well.