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Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece [Paperback]

Patrick Leigh Fermor
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 July 2004

Patrick Leigh Fermor's Mani compellingly revealed a hidden world of Southern Greece and its past. Its northern counterpart takes the reader among Sarakatsan shepherds, the monasteries of Meteora and the villages of Krakora, among itinerant pedlars and beggars, and even tracks down at Missolonghi a pair of Byron's slippers.

Roumeli is not on modern maps: it is the ancient name for the lands from the Bosphorus to the Adriatic and from Macedonia to the Gulf of Corinth. But it is the perfect, evocative name for the Greece that Fermor captures in writing that carries throughout his trademark vividness of description. But what is more, the pictures of people, traditions and landscapes that he creates on the page are imbued with an intimate understanding of Greece and its history.

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Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece + Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese + Between the Woods and the Water: on Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland - The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates
Price For All Three: 20.97

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (19 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719566924
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719566929
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Mani and Roumeli: two of the best travel books of the century (Financial Times)

A masterpiece softened by warm, human understanding (Sunday Times)

Marvellous... we are fortunate to have these unforgettable reports from the fields and the marshes, the peaks and the chasms, the taverns and the waterfronts of the Roumeli (Observer)

A wandering scholar but with a difference: unlike the celebrated travellers of the past he has become part of the country he describes (Sunday Times)

He is in the first flight of writers on Greece (The Times)

John Murray is doing the decent thing and reissuing all of Leigh Fermor's main books ... But what else would you expect from a publisher whose commitment to geography is such that for more than two centuries it has widened our understanding of the world? (Geographical Magazine)

Bringing the landscape alive as no other writer can, he uses his profound and eclectic understanding of cultures and peoples ... to paint vivid pictures - nobody has illuminated the geography of Europe better (Geographical Magazine)

'Extraordinarily engaging . . . thanks to Leigh Fermor's ability to turn an insight into a telling phrase . . . a compelling story' (London Review of Books)

Leigh Fermor is a writer's writer, a man whose prose is frequently and justifiably likened to poetry. He writes like an angel in other words -- and angels don't date (Justin Marozzi, Financial Times)

'A Book For... The Greek islands' (Justin Marozzi, Financial Times)

Book Description

Now in John Murray B-format, the famous exploration of Northern Greece by the great twentieth century travel writer known to generations for A Time of Gifts

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seductive and brilliant 23 Nov 2010
By AJ-99
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patrick Leigh Fermor is the greatest living Englishman; admittedly the competition isn't very stiff at the moment. This book is of course brilliant. It is full of 'flowery language' and by page 50 you will have given up everything else in life to get on with it. The only thing it lacks is a sustained PLF flight of fancy like the Last Emperor of Byzantium riff or world-spanning cock-crow from 'Mani', or certain passages from the On Foot to Constantinople books; otherwise it is every bit as good as them.

Among other treats he gatecrashes a wedding of the elusive and mysterious Sarakatsans; visits the Boliarides of the Kravara, a tribe of cunning and far-travelling mendicants, learns their unique cant and hears tales of their glory days conning the credulous the length of Eastern Europe; penetrates the clifftop monasteries of Thessaly; propounds his theory of the Romois-Hellene split in the Greek national psyche; reminisces of his time on Crete during the war; and tells the story of the remarkable Lady Wentworth and Byron's lost shoes. He magically evokes the charm of the people and the beauty of the landscape, and his own charm and brilliance, his infectious enthusiasm and insatiable curiosity, shine out constantly, and you learn something new and wonderful on every page.

If you're already a Leigh Fermor addict you don't really care about this review, and only poverty, coma, or being trapped down a mineshaft have prevented you buying this book already. If you aren't, all you need to know is that he's the best travel writer of the past hundred years, and quite arguably the best writer in any field living.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant author 24 Nov 2010
Paddy Leigh Fermor is one of the most rewarding and enlightening travel authors ever. I must admit, I sit reading his books with a dictionary beside me, but half the time you can work out the meanings with a bit of thought and it all adds to the tremendous feeling of enrichment. Roumeli is a must for anyone travelling in Greece who wants to look beneath the modern superficialities. If you enjoy Thesiger, you'll love this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern Pausanias ? 21 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A Leigh Fermor classic and wholly absorbing and delightful. There is no historical byway or curiosity which escapes his notice or his pen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A common feature of PLF's writing is an experimental approach to style which can chop and change with the wind ! This said, the overall effect is never less than quite remarkable even if it actually entails a diminished readership ! He can be abstruse, arch and sometimes actually archaic by 21st century standards, but his prose is never less than superb. He is perhaps occasionally overwrought with the morphosis of words within languages and dialects, but his involvement is pleasantly mischievous as much as scholarly, and he always avoids becoming a pedant. I do not feel it is necessary for me to go through the contents of this book as the reviewer AJ-99 has already done this very skillfully and I would advise anyone reading this to turn to his copy. In conclusion I would simply suggest that anyone with an academic and/or poetic frame of mind will probably get the most out of reading this book, but others will find it quite rewarding if they are passionate about Greece.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wordy and obscure, with some excellent pieces 10 Dec 2010
I have much enjoyed Patrick Leigh Fermor's books on his walk from the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam and am still awaiting the final leg.

This book, however, was hard work. I have a fair knowledge of Greek and Greece but found many of the references so obscure as to be meaningless. There are, particularly later in the book, however, some memorable tales and it is worth sticking at it to read them.

I also found the transliteration into Roman characters from Greek most unhelpful - Greek with translations would have been much better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Talent 17 April 2014
By Jefroc
A book written in the mid sixties but seemingly largely based on his travels with his wife (not that you would be too aware if this from reading the book) in the fifties. Fermoy features certain aspects of Greece north of the Gulf of Corinth and particularly the Sarakastans the nomadic shepherds whose culture and lifestyle were rare at the time of writing and now almost certainly simply memories of some still living; the monasteries of Meteora; the last days of Byron in Missolonghi and the peripatetic begging expertise of those from the villages of the Krakora found just north of the western end of the gulf.

It is a book that reminds me often of Hancock’s line “if that is what he meant why didn’t he say so” as Fermoy’s scholastic references and often arcane and obscure vocabulary can if, one succumbed, send you to the dictionary and laptop every other line. That said, very refreshingly, he does not patronise the reader (did he ever?) and once the mood and flow of his writing becomes once more familiar so does the book become more valued and valuable. Not a casual read but an immensely worthwhile recording of memories of a disappearing, if not lost, world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost excellent - but not quite 31 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I read (and reviewed) Patrick Leigh Fermor's companion volume 'Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese' I found myself disappointed with the way in which, for many, many pages, we were taken on a journey far beyond Greece, the Peloponnese and Byzantium as he recounted - in great and erudite detail - the ancient history of the entire region and the role played by the Gods of classical mythology. In those pages the mountainous regions of Mani and its inhabitants simply ceased to exist.

'Roumeli', as I'd hoped, is very different and is a beautifully written and fluent description of the people (frequently near nomadic) he meets on his journey. In these pages Paddy draws a fascinating and skilful pen picture of the history, customs and languages - to say nothing of their genuine and open friendship - of the inhabitants. He also takes us to the war-torn mountains of Crete and, with equal fluency, describes the months he spent as an SOE officer living with the guerrillas and fighting the Nazi invaders.

Chapter 5 of the book is a delightful and amusing tale of an evening spent - after an excellent meal with an acquaintance he'd met on the journey - in a lamp-lit taverna with a group of near-ancient locals as they describe the begging skills and contortions that, over the years, had become almost a way of life in that part of Greece. At the end of the chapter Uncle Elias leaves them `with a wide and flattering wave of the hand and vanishes into the dark'. It's pure Paddy.

Then comes Chapter 6 (my Kindle tells me I've read 87% of the book) enigmatically entitled 'Sounds of the Greek World'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Patric Leigh Fermor
" Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece" where most of us do not manage to get to. Described in his unique way I feel I have actually been there. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Trish. NIBLOCK
5.0 out of 5 stars Holiday time read in Greece.
Beautifully written and provides a wonderful insight into post war Greece, Highly recommended, I always rated Paul Theroux as my favourite travel writer however PLM now has that... Read more
Published 7 months ago by R. W. Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars Roumeli.
This is not his best book in my humble opinion, nor do I really appreciate his rapid changes from describing the wild terrain of Greece to sudden long harangues on Greek Mythology,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr John Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing and a lost world
Ordered this as a replacement for my much-loved and well-travelled eighties copy; this one has a stunning illustration on its cover, too! Read more
Published 8 months ago by History Girl
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but hard read.
Reading Patrick Leigh Fermor stretches the intellect to its maximum but I found it difficult to keep my concentration up to the required level. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Antony Ferris
3.0 out of 5 stars Roumeli by Patrick Leigh Fermor
This is not as wonderful as Leigh Fermor's earlier books. It's quite hard to get into and one is bedazzled and bemused by his use of words most of which one has to look up. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jacintha Hutton
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