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Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 6 Jun 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books (6 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590171888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171882
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" There is only one complaint I can think of making about Patrick Leigh Fermor' s books: They appear too seldom. When they do appear, they offer that kindest of pleasures open to a reviewer- the chance of unqualified praise." - "The New York Times"
" "Mani" and "Roumeli": two of the best travel books of the century." - "Financial Times"
"" ... Mani" and "Roumeli" remain extraordinarily engaging books. This is partly thanks to Leigh Fermor' s ability to turn an insight into a telling phrase ... and partly thanks to his capacity to weave a compelling story out of sometimes unpromising material. One of the best tales of all is the hilarious digression in "Roumeli" on the attempted recovery of a pair of Byron' s slippers from a man in Missolonghi, on behalf of Byron' s very odd great-granddaughter Lady Wentworth... When you see through all the nonsense about Hellenic continuity, there is, underneath, a much more nuanced account of the ambivalences of modern Greece, its people and its myths (its own myths about itself and us, as much as our myths about it)." - Mary Beard, "The London Review of Books"
Praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor:
" [O]ne 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"

"There is only one complaint I can think of making about Patrick Leigh Fermor's books: They appear too seldom. When they do appear, they offer that kindest of pleasures open to a reviewer-the chance of unqualified praise." -"The New York Times"

""Mani" and "Roumeli" two of the best travel books of the century."- "Financial Times"

"."..Mani" and "Roumeli" remain extraordinarily engaging books. This is partly thanks to Leigh Fermor's ability to turn an insight into a telling phrase ...and partly thanks to his capacity to weave a compelling story out of sometimes unpromising material. One of the best tales of all is the hilarious digression in "Roumeli" on the attempted recovery of a pair of Byron's slippers from a man in Missolonghi, on behalf of Byron's very odd great-granddaughter Lady Wentworth...When you see through all the nonsense about Hellenic continuity, there is, underneath, a much more nuanced account of the ambivalences of modern Greece, its people and its myths (its own myths about itself and us, as much as our myths about it)."-Mary Beard, "The London Review of Books"


Praise for Patrick Leigh Fermor:
"[O]ne 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"

"His greatest book, "Mani," was about a journey through that little-known and, at the time, archaic region....[He] travelled [sic] simply, staying with fishermen and farmers, which enabled him to capture the essence of the region....Almost every page has its own literary tour de force, often with intimidating displays of learning and research mixed with fantasy, imagination and acute descriptions of the scene itself." -- Robin Hanbury-Tenison, "Geographical"
"Patrick Leigh Fermor has written great travel books besides "Roumeli" and "Mani," but I like to think that his extraordinary style is especially well suited to the subject of Greece, that the beautiful cragginess and almost blinding brilliance of his prose correspond particularly to that country's rugged, dazzled landscapes. Here Fermor establishes an ideal of travel writing: no one responds to a people and a place with more erudition and sensitivity." -- Benjamin Kunkel
"A really beautiful book of travel in an almost wholly unknown part of Europe, among people who still belong largely to the tough simple Middle Ages; and it shows not only their charm and vigor, but the delights which still await the explorer of Greece." -- Gilbert Highet "
"Mani" and "Roumeli" two of the best travel books of the century." -- "Financial Times
"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

A glorious fusion of scholarship, history and imagination: mountainous Greece by the master traveller and writer who brought you A Time of Gifts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I took this book with me on a trip to Sparti in Southern Greece this year (2001). Although this book recollects a journey taken (in the 1950s) before the tourist blitz, it still holds true in many of the subjects discussed...especially the undying village myths that combine pagan and Christian elements. Paddy does a great job melding history with his travels, and relates the present-day to what happened during the Byzantine era and Turkish occupation. His imagery is very complex, but his portraits of the Greeks in the Mani are very insightful and entertaining.
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MANI ... It is not for nothing that Patrick Leigh Fermor is generally considered the greatest living travel writer in English. Reading any one of his books, always a smooth, elegant and intellectually exciting undertaking, is to accept an invitation to the private world of a master observer of places and manners who is also pretty sharp in such areas of human endeavor as history, architecture, music, theology, psychology, mythology, and languages both classical and modern. He is extremely erudite - an autodidact, he says - and his approach to travel writing is strictly literary and sometimes sublimely so. This book, doubtless conceived as a companion volume to ROUMELI, which deals with Northern Greece, takes us to the southernmost part of the Peloponnesus. Unfortunately, the world of rocks and rustics and supreme beauty it describes is now largely vanished, so it is therefore of great value to have a traveler's vision and memory of it as it was about sixty years ago. Always subtle and elegant, the story takes on a heightened aesthetic and intellectual intensity at certain points and in particular locales. For example, the opening paragraph of the book's final chapter describes the writer's arrival at Gytheio by means of an extended metaphor comparing entrance into a city with the act of coitus, and if any reader should miss this metaphor let me point out the author's use of such words as maidenhead and deflower. A further adornment of the metaphor, conceptual and literary, is provided by the revelation that the little island a few yards off the coast, now named Marathonisi and now connected to Gytheio by a causeway, but called Kranae by Homer, is in fact the island where Paris and Helen spent their fist night after the famous elopement.Read more ›
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The subtitle of this book is a little misleading for it is hardly a travelogue, more of an excuse to roam - philosophically, mythologically, historically, anthropologically - with a hundred and one red herrings using the Mani as a useful backdrop.

The Mani is the central tine or peninsular of the Southern Peloponnese where the Taygetus mountain range dies down into the sea. From reading these pages you might assume this area to be all but continental in size; fortunately a map with a scale is included and it will be noticed that the Deep Mani, about which this work is chiefly concerned, measures barely 20 miles down with an average width of six.

Not everyone will find this opus their ideal cup of Lapsang Souchong. I am thinking in particular of Chapter 13 on Gorgons and Centaurs where I all but fell asleep and surely the proof reader by page 182 had really keeled over ! To be quite frank I cannot share with PLF the same enthusiam for the more abstruse elements of Greek mythology and folklore. Nereids, sirens, gorgons, dryads, oreads, tritons, satyrs and the Evil Eye leave me cold - I would rather be discussing aspects of the limited slip differential of a vintage Jaguar XK150 ! However, there are plenty of other interesting digressions; one of the most fascinating concerned Eastern versus Western iconography where it is explained that while the first looks to the transubstantial quality of Christ Western Renaissance art focuses more on His human nature.

What is mind-stopping, as always, with PLF is the quality of his writing combined with the breadth of his knowledge. It never fails to amaze me how this school drop-out became such a distinguished man of letters, an authority on Greece, a multi-linguist par excellence, apart from achieving fame as a war-hero.
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I love this book. It sat in my dad's library for years until I was old enough to properly read and appreciate it.
You take the journey with Patrick Leigh Fermor and view an old fashioned Greece, rare glimpses into the community and wonderful old customs, habits and mannerisms.
Having grown up in Greece and written my own books about the country and people,
I can vouch for the authenticity of this brilliant book. A gem.
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I knew about this book for years, but was only prompted to read it when we went on holiday to the Mani last year, staying in one of the fabled tower-houses which Leigh Fermor writes about with such gusto. His visit to the region was in the early 50s, before there was a road down the peninsular. The Mani is the central rocky spine of the three great fingers which reach down towards Crete from the near-island of the Peloponese in western Greece.
Its terrifying mountain remoteness and harsh landscape meant that throughout history, this part of Greece was almost completely undeveloped. From ancient times, the Cretans, Hellenes, Romans, Turks, Venetians, Greeks, French, British, Germans, etc all just went round it, and it became a haven for runaways, bandits, pirates, ruffians, warlords and fighting men. It was never really conquered, being too difficult and 'not worth it'.
The resulting breed of truculence and resourcefulness, violence and pride was remarkable.
One outcome of this was the construction of houses in which families sought to out-do each other by routinely smashing their neighbours' dwellings in any way they could. Apart from periods of truce, such as harvest-time or weddings, and safe passage for doctors, women and children, any man seen out of doors at any time of day was fair game to be shot at, stoned or otherwise violently attacked.
It was always an advantage to have your house taller than your neighbours, so you could rain rocks down onto their rooftops. No-one would have an ordinary door into their house - rather, the entrance would be a tiny hidden ingress, giving into a narrow or low space, so that enemies could not storm in. Getting upstairs to the sleeping quarters or cool rooftops would be by rope ladders, which could be drawn up for safety.
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