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Between the Woods and the Water (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 3 Oct 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books; First Printing edition (3 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781590171660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171660
  • ASIN: 1590171667
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,867,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Those for whom Paddy's prose is still an undiscovered country are to be envied for what lies ahead-hours with one of the most buoyant and curious personalities one can find in English." -- "The New York Sun"
"Mr. Fermor...is a peerless companion, unbound by timetable or convention, relentless in his high spirits and curiosity." -- Richard B. Woodward, "The New York Times"
"We are aware at every step that his adventure can never be duplicated: only this extraordinary person at this pivotal time could have experienced and recorded many of these sights. Distant lightening from events in Germany weirdly illuminates the trail of this free spirit." -- "The New York Times"
"The young Fermor appears to have been as delightful a traveling companion as the much older Fermor a raconteur." -- "The Houston Chronicle"
"["A Time of Gifts," "Between the Woods and the Water"] are absolutely delightful volumes, both for those who want to better understand what was lost in the violence of Europe's 20th-century divisions and for those who appreciate the beauty and thrill of travel writing at its best." -- "The Houston Chronicle"
"Leigh Fermor is recognizably that figure many writers of the past century have yearned to be, the man of action." -- "The Guardian"
"He was, and remains, an Englishman, with so much living to his credit that the lives conducted by the rest of us seem barely sentient-pinched and paltry things, laughably provincial in their scope, and no more fruitful than sleepwalks. We fret about our kids' S.A.T. scores, whereas this man, when he was barely more than a kid himself, shouldered a rucksack and walked from Rotterdam to Istanbul." -- Anthony Lane, "The New Yorker"
"Even more magical...through Hungary, its lost province of Transylvania, and into Romania...sampling the tail end of a languid, urbane and anglophile way of life that would soon be swept away forever." --Jeremy Lewis, "Literary Review"
"In these two volumes of extraordinary lyrical beauty and discursive, staggering erudition, Leigh Fermor recounted his first great excursion... They're partially about an older author's encounter with his young self, but they're mostly an evocation of a lost Mitteleuropa of wild horses and dark forests, of ancient synagogues and vivacious Jewish coffeehouses, of Hussars and Uhlans, and of high-spirited and deeply eccentric patricians with vast libraries (such as the Transylvanian count who was a famous entomologist specializing in Far Eastern moths and who spoke perfect English, though with a heavy Scottish accent, thanks to his Highland nanny). These books amply display Leigh Fermor's keen eye and preternatural ear for languages, but what sets them apart, besides the utterly engagin persona of their narrator, is his historical imagination and intricate sense of historical linkage... Few writers are as alive to the persistence of the past (he's ever alert to the historical forces that account for the shifts in custom, language, architecture, and costume that he discerns), and I've read none who are so sensitive to the layers of invasion that define the part of Europe he depicts here. The unusual vantage point of these books lends them great pregnancy, for we and the author know what the youthful Leigh Fermor cannot: that the war will tear the scenery and shatter the buildings he evokes; that German and Soviet occupation will uproot the beguiling world of those Tolstoyan nobles; and that in fact very few people who became his friends on this marvelous and sunny journey will survive the coming catastrophe." -- Benjamin Schwartz, "The Atlantic
""This is a glorious feast, the account of a walk in 1934 from the Hook of Holland to what was then Constantinople. The 18-year-old Fermor began by sleeping in barns but, after meeting some landowners early on, got occasional introductions to castles. So he experienced life from both sides, and with all the senses, absorbing everything: flora and fauna, art and architecture, geography, clothing, music, foods, religions, languages. Writing the book decades after the fact, in a baroque style that is always rigorous, never flowery, he was able to inject historical depth while still retaining the feeling of boyish enthusiasm and boundless curiosity. This is the first of a still uncompleted trilogy; the second volume, "Between the Woods and the Water," takes him through Hungary and Romania; together they capture better than any books I know the remedial, intoxicating joy of travel." -- Thomas Swick, "South Florida Sun-Sentinel"
"Recovers the innocence and the excitement of youth, when everything was possible and the world seemed luminescent with promise. ...Even more magical...through Hungary, its lost province of Transylvania, and into Romania... sampling the tail end of a languid, urbane and anglophile way of life that would soon be swept away forever." --Jeremy Lewis, "Literary Review"
"A book so good you resent finishing it." --Norman Stone
"The greatest of living travel writers...an amazingly complex and subtle evocation of a place that is no more." -- Jan Morris
"
"Praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor:
"One of the greatest travel writers of all time"-"The Sunday Times"
"A unique mixture of hero, historian, traveler and writer; the last and the greatest of a generation whose like we won't see again."-"Geographical"
"The finest traveling companion we could ever have . . . His head is stocked with enough cultural lore and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure." -"Evening Standard"
If all Europe were laid waste tomorrow, one might do worse than attempt to recreate it, or at least to preserve some sense of historical splendor and variety, by immersing oneself in the travel books of Patrick Leigh Fermor."--Ben Downing, "The Paris Review"

"Those for whom Paddy s prose is still an undiscovered country are to be envied for what lies ahead-hours with one of the most buoyant and curious personalities one can find in English." "The New York Sun"
"Mr. Fermor is a peerless companion, unbound by timetable or convention, relentless in his high spirits and curiosity." Richard B. Woodward, "The New York Times"
"We are aware at every step that his adventure can never be duplicated: only this extraordinary person at this pivotal time could have experienced and recorded many of these sights. Distant lightening from events in Germany weirdly illuminates the trail of this free spirit." "The New York Times"
"The young Fermor appears to have been as delightful a traveling companion as the much older Fermor a raconteur." "The Houston Chronicle"
"["A Time of Gifts," "Between the Woods and the Water"] are absolutely delightful volumes, both for those who want to better understand what was lost in the violence of Europe s 20th-century divisions and for those who appreciate the beauty and thrill of travel writing at its best." "The Houston Chronicle"
"Leigh Fermor is recognizably that figure many writers of the past century have yearned to be, the man of action." "The Guardian"
"He was, and remains, an Englishman, with so much living to his credit that the lives conducted by the rest of us seem barely sentient-pinched and paltry things, laughably provincial in their scope, and no more fruitful than sleepwalks. We fret about our kids S.A.T. scores, whereas this man, when he was barely more than a kid himself, shouldered a rucksack and walked from Rotterdam to Istanbul." Anthony Lane, "The New Yorker"
Even more magical...through Hungary, its lost province of Transylvania, and into Romania...sampling the tail end of a languid, urbane and anglophile way of life that would soon be swept away forever. Jeremy Lewis, "Literary Review"
In these two volumes of extraordinary lyrical beauty and discursive, staggering erudition, Leigh Fermor recounted his first great excursion... They re partially about an older author s encounter with his young self, but they re mostly an evocation of a lost Mitteleuropa of wild horses and dark forests, of ancient synagogues and vivacious Jewish coffeehouses, of Hussars and Uhlans, and of high-spirited and deeply eccentric patricians with vast libraries (such as the Transylvanian count who was a famous entomologist specializing in Far Eastern moths and who spoke perfect English, though with a heavy Scottish accent, thanks to his Highland nanny). These books amply display Leigh Fermor s keen eye and preternatural ear for languages, but what sets them apart, besides the utterly engagin persona of their narrator, is his historical imagination and intricate sense of historical linkage... Few writers are as alive to the persistence of the past (he s ever alert to the historical forces that account for the shifts in custom, language, architecture, and costume that he discerns), and I ve read none who are so sensitive to the layers of invasion that define the part of Europe he depicts here. The unusual vantage point of these books lends them great pregnancy, for we and the author know what the youthful Leigh Fermor cannot: that the war will tear the scenery and shatter the buildings he evokes; that German and Soviet occupation will uproot the beguiling world of those Tolstoyan nobles; and that in fact very few people who became his friends on this marvelous and sunny journey will survive the coming catastrophe. -- Benjamin Schwartz, "The Atlantic
""This is a glorious feast, the account of a walk in 1934 from the Hook of Holland to what was then Constantinople. The 18-year-old Fermor began by sleeping in barns but, after meeting some landowners early on, got occasional introductions to castles. So he experienced life from both sides, and with all the senses, absorbing everything: flora and fauna, art and architecture, geography, clothing, music, foods, religions, languages. Writing the book decades after the fact, in a baroque style that is always rigorous, never flowery, he was able to inject historical depth while still retaining the feeling of boyish enthusiasm and boundless curiosity. This is the first of a still uncompleted trilogy; the second volume, "Between the Woods and the Water," takes him through Hungary and Romania; together they capture better than any books I know the remedial, intoxicating joy of travel." Thomas Swick, "South Florida Sun-Sentinel"
Recovers the innocence and the excitement of youth, when everything was possible and the world seemed luminescent with promise. ...Even more magical...through Hungary, its lost province of Transylvania, and into Romania... sampling the tail end of a languid, urbane and anglophile way of life that would soon be swept away forever. Jeremy Lewis, "Literary Review"
A book so good you resent finishing it. Norman Stone
"The greatest of living travel writers an amazingly complex and subtle evocation of a place that is no more." Jan Morris
"
"Praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor:
"One of the greatest travel writers of all time "The Sunday Times"
A unique mixture of hero, historian, traveler and writer; the last and the greatest of a generation whose like we won't see again. "Geographical"
The finest traveling companion we could ever have . . . His head is stocked with enough cultural lore and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure. "Evening Standard"
If all Europe were laid waste tomorrow, one might do worse than attempt to recreate it, or at least to preserve some sense of historical splendor and variety, by immersing oneself in the travel books of Patrick Leigh Fermor. Ben Downing, "The Paris Review""

Book Description

This text continues Patrick Leigh Fermor's epic account of his journey aged 18 in 1933, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Here, he travels down the Danube from Budapest, across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the sequel to 'A Time of Gifts', and continues the young Leigh-Fermor's walk through the length of 1930s Europe. Here we start from where the previous book left off, at the border into Hungary, and continue through until the Iron Gates border between Rumania and Bulgaria. I immensely enjoyed 'A Time of Gifts', and this book is the perfect companion to it. It is a seamless mix between the world seen through the eager eyes of the nineteen-year-old Leigh Fermor, and a wealth of historical, geographical, linguisitc, and anthropological information, which must have taken most of the intervening decades for him to research. The one drawback of the book is the envy it is bound to create in the reader -- envy of his ability to take a journey such as this in a time now past, and envy (for those who also try to write) at the magnificent prose with which he has captured his memories. Patrick Leigh-Fermor's place in the ranks of the great writers of travel literature is already firmly established, and this is surely one of his finest. If reading this book doesn't inspire you to embark on a journey of your own, then I can only suggest you read it again, only this time with your eyes open.
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Leigh Fermor's great classic is extraordinary. His language is immensely beautiful, but I believe that the secret to understand the book is that he is actually painting pictures with words. There are some great set pieces in this second volume such as the Easter ceremonies in Hungary, his unforgettable aristocratic hosts and the chateau life he began to lead after Munich while still camping out from time to time. His descriptions of those country houses, and their denizens, particularly once he crosses into Romania, are like small jewels.

The great glory of this book is the trip he makes in Transylvania: it shows a world which no longer exists (Romanian, Hungarians, Swabians etc all living together in one area) and makes one wish to go there immediately.

Leigh Fermor is a polymath and the book is not really travel literature at all, or if it is, it is of a totally different order to anything I have ever read.

Will Leigh Fermor write the promised third part of the great trilogy?
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While precise memories of events must have faded in the fifty years between the journey and the book, the context benefits from the breadth and depth of the man's reading. It made me want to read all his other books (done that) but also to read all that he has read (no chance). I have never come across a better descriptive writer. My son, who is a well read engineer and a harsh critic of pretty much everything, was impressed with this quality. In one of his other books, about the Mani, he mentions, in discussing his home there, that every home should have at least two shelves of reference books. I bet he had a lot more than that.

Buy it, read it, and then go buy his other books.
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I read both of Fermor's books of his trek from UK towards Instanbul in sequence, and enjoyed both hugely. It was a great pity he never produced the projected 3rd volume! This (2nd) volume covers his travels through Hungary and Romania, largely by being befriended by local people and being in turn passed on to their friends, so he had the enormous luck of not only their open-handed hospitality but also of their local knowledge. Many of these characters are compelling: I especially loved the studious land-owner who opened the conversation by asking what was Fermor's special research topic. He was clearly disapproving that the 19y old had not got one, and was only mollified by his evidently wide classical reading. Fermor writes perceptively and sympathetically, but his beguiling account is bittersweet as one knows that he is describing a region and people who are on the brink of the horrors of WWII and the dead hand of prolonged totalitarianism. The book ends with an exciting ferry ride through the Danube's Iron Gates gorge - which seemed so spectacular that I decided to visit the place asap, only to discover that it had since been submerged by a dam put up in later more utilitarian times!
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I revelled in "A Time of Gifts", the first volume in a trilogy that recounts Patrick Leigh Fermor's extraordinary journey, which commenced in 1933, when he was 18 years old, and during which he set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. At the end of "A Time of Gifts" we left Paddy in Hungary, and this is where "Between the Woods and the Water" picks up the journey.

In "Between The Woods And The Water", Paddy travels to Budapest and thence across the Great Hungarian Plain, before travelling through Transylvania and the upper Carpathian Mountains, variously walking, riding on horseback, by car, on a boat, and by train,

Paddy continues to share his enthusiasm for life, language, history, nature, religion, people, music, food and anything else that piques his interest. His gift for making friends knows no bounds. In this volume, alongside the usual array of aristocrats, Paddy befriends two communities of Gypsies, young women harvesting, Transylvanian shepherds, an Orthodox rabbi and his sons, and various other people and groups he encounters. It appears there is no one with whom he cannot find common ground despite the differences in language, circumstance and culture.

This book was published in 1986, nine years after "A Time Of Gifts", however both books share the same vivacity and freshness that belies the gap between the original experience and when the books were written. What elevates this book, and its predecessor, is Paddy's gorgeously poetic descriptions, which vividly bring his journey to life.

Another beautifully written travel book, that also variously serves as a book about European history, social history, relationships, youth, lost worlds, and all in the company of the most charming, erudite and enthusiastic travelling companion imaginable.
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