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The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos

The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos

Hardback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) Patrick Leigh Fermor

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  • Publisher: NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 362 pages
  • Dimensions: 148mm x 212mm x 30mm | 540g
  • Publication date: 4 March 2014
  • ISBN 10: 1590177541
  • ISBN 13: 9781590177549
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 233,847

Product description

In the winter of 1933, eighteen-year-old Patrick ("Paddy") Leigh Fermor set out on a walk across Europe, starting in Holland and ending in Constantinople, a trip that took him almost a year. Decades later, Leigh Fermor told the story of that life-changing journey in "A Time of Gifts "and "Between the Woods and the Water," two books now celebrated as among the most vivid, absorbing, and beautifully written travel books of all time. "The Broken Road "is the long-awaited account of the final leg of his youthful adventure that Leigh Fermor promised but was unable to finish before his death in 2011. Assembled from Leigh Fermor's manuscripts by his prizewinning biographer Artemis Cooper and the travel writer Colin Thubron, this is perhaps the most personal of all Leigh Fermor's books, catching up with young Paddy in the fall of 1934 and following him through Bulgaria and Romania to the coast of the Black Sea. Days and nights on the road, spectacular landscapes and uncanny cities, friendships lost and found, leading the high life in Bucharest or camping out with fishermen and shepherds-in the "The Broken Road" such incidents and escapades are described with all the linguistic bravura, odd and astonishing learning, and overflowing exuberance that Leigh Fermor is famous for, but also with a melancholy awareness of the passage of time, especially when he meditates on the scarred history of the Balkans or on his troubled relations with his father. The book ends, perfectly, with Paddy's arrival in Greece, the country he would fall in love with and fight for. Throughout it we can still hear the ringing voice of an irrepressible young man embarking on a life of adventure.

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Author information

Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was an intrepid traveler and a heroic soldier who is widely considered to be one of the finest travel writers of the twentieth century. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in "A Time of Gifts "(1977) and continues through "Between the Woods and the Water" (1986) and "The Broken Road "(published posthumously in 2013), he lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek archipelago. His books "Mani" (1958) and "Roumeli" (1966) attest to his deep interest in languages and remote places. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania, and fought in Greece and Crete. He was awarded the DSO and OBE. Leigh Fermor lived partly in Greece--in the house he designed with his wife, Joan, in an olive grove in the Mani--and partly in Worcestershire. In 2004 he was knighted for his services to literature and to British-Greek relations.

Review quote

"By any standards, this is a major work. It confirms that Leigh Fermor was, along with Robert Byron, the greatest travel writer of his generation, and this final volume assures the place of the trilogy as one of the masterpieces of the genre, indeed one of the masterworks of postwar English non-fiction." --William Dalrymple, "The Guardian" "[A]n unforgettable book, full of strange encounters with a prewar Balkan cast of counts, prostitutes, peasants, priests and castrati. The greatest pleasure of all, as usual, is Leigh Fermor's own infectious, Rabelaisian hunger for knowledge of almost every kind. His memory seems eidetic; his eyes miss nothing. He seems to carry within himself a whole troupe of sharp-eyed geographers, art historians, ethnologists and multilingual poets. For anyone who has tried to document a journey, reading him is a humbling and thoroughly inspiring experience." --"The New York Times Book Review" "The descriptions of waking in unfamiliar places are so seductive that even the most home-hugging reader will long to wake somewhere unknown. And some of the evocations of landscapes and views will live long in the memory." --Anthony Sattin, "The Observer" "In the end, it's his moments of joy, his revelling in a young man's moments of epiphany, which stay in the mind." --Neal Ascherson, " London Review of Books" ""The Broken Road" is superb, towering about the usual run of travel books...."The Broken Road" is better than any gleaming capstone: while giving us a more than satisfactory idea of Leigh Fermor's Balkan adventures, it also, in its raggedness, accentuates the seamless magic of the books that came before, and it wraps the whole enterprise in a pathos that humanizes his superhuman gifts." --Ben Downing, "The Times Literary Supplement" "In a lamplit frenzy of mystic dance and song, among Homeric fisherfolk and swains, young Paddy discovers the underground ecstasies of rebetika in all its 'quintessence of fatalism.