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Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – June 6, 2006
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"Recommended to those who admire exotic people, unbookish intelligence and captivating style." — Gilbert Highet
"Here it all is once again: brilliance, the felicitous profusion, the exuberance of learning and information. . . .Roumeli is not a beginning and middle and end book, but a series of pictures loosely related, mainly placed in Roumeli, in the north of Greece. Its unity, however, is not geographic so much as psychological. It deals with secluded ways and people—communities but not minglers—people who either by the necessities of their crafts or the strength of their traditions have kept to their own stream, side by side but not deeply affected by the changes around them….Placed as we are at probably the most sudden turn in history, any writing that deals with what has so short a time of survival ahead adds, as it were, a museum interest to its own intrinsic qualities. These pictures of Greece are things that a coming generation will look for in vain among the realities of their day." — Freya Stark, The New York Times
“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
“[Leigh Fermor] becomes fascinated by the last true nomads of the region, the Sarakatsáns. His description of their wanderings is, for me, the best sort of literary geography lesson, and has even more geopolitical relevance now than when he wrote it.” - Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Geographical
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
About the Author
Patricia Storace is the author of Heredity, a book of poems, Dinner with Persephone, a travel memoir about Greece, and Sugar Cane, a children’s book. She lives in New York.
Top Customer Reviews
In the first chapter we have a description of the author's travels in Trace and in particular the area around Alexandroupolis, which, interestingly, is named for the Russian Czar Alexander II and not for Alexander the Great. The focus here is the people he calls The Black Departers, or the Sarakatsans, a mysterious and little-studies nomadic group who some say are descendants of the original Greeks who came into the peninsula.
Then there is a delightful chapter centered on the monasteries of Meteora and the holy but realistic Father Christopher, the abbot of St. Barlaam, who has a few tales to tell about the foreign occupiers and their mindless cruelty and how the monks outsmarted them on a few occasions.
Chapter three deals with the famous difference between Hellenes and Greeks (or Romios) that has been used as an analytic model by many serious writers who take an interest in modern Greece, including Robert D. Kaplan in his Balkan Ghosts. This is the division or polarity existing within every Greek you meet on the streets and it shows the distinct pulls of the Eastern and Western orientations that still abide in the Greek collective consciousness and which give, sometimes, the impression of a split personality.Read more ›
Leigh Fermor and his wife traveled extensively around Greece during the 1950's and early 1960's, and ROUMELI was written in 1966. Their travels provide the foundations of ROUMELI, but it is not really a travelogue. Rather, it is an account of assorted matters that Leigh Fermor found interesting, and in his discursive description of those matters he explores their historical and cultural context. Among those assorted matters are: the Sarakatsáns, a nomadic sheepherding people whose tribal identity may predate the classical Greeks; the monasteries "in the air" of Meteora -- monasteries perched atop vertical spikes and cylinders of rock hundreds of feet high, some of which are accessed by nets attached to a hook and a cable that is raised or lowered by a winch rigged up on a platform at the monastery's edge; the character and spirit of the Greeks, which Leigh Fermor presents as a paradoxical amalgam of the Hellenic and the "Romaic"; the modernization and destruction of Greece; Lord Byron and his slippers; and the people of Kravara, whose traditional profession is begging.
The book is at once esoteric and fascinating.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great introduction to the culture, history, people, and places of northern Greece from one of the 20th century's masters of travel literature.Published 3 months ago by Piers Montague
Like all of Fremor's books, it is written in a style that can prove beyond the ken of readers younger than a certain age, but it is too their misfortune that they do not expand... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alma Jeanne Carman
Mani and Roumeli are the two best travel books I've ever read.Published 20 months ago by Mark Mellon
His memory is amazing or he has a great imagination to fill in the gaps in his memory. You soon get overtaken by his writing style and enter the world of the Lavant as it as in the... Read morePublished on May 11, 2014 by peter humphries
A book written in the mid sixties but seemingly largely based on his travels, often with his wife (not that you would be too aware if this from reading the book) in the fifties. Read morePublished on April 17, 2014 by Jefroc
This was not my favorite book. I read Mani right before my trip to the Peloponnese and was enchanted. Read morePublished on March 27, 2014 by Ingrid
I found this book fascinating.
I never knew there was so much about Sarakatsaneous to know.
his observation capacity is amazing