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Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese by…

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese (1958)

by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (8)  Italian (2)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I bought this book while in Chania, Crete at Mediterraneo bookstore, so there's my endorsement. We didn't visit "Mani", nor any part of the Peloponnese while on our Greek visit, but I had wanted to read something by Fermor. Got around to it back home, and generally enjoyed it. However, this involved many more digressions and reminiscences than I would prefer. As a travel memoir (as I anticipated), this does roughly follow his journey into the rugged terrain and its isolated populace, but the author delves academically into Greek myth, other regions, reveries that go on far too long. Even with a grasp of Greek history and culture, and fully appreciating his guile, I felt his writing to be too undisciplined and in need of editing, The guy was a font of knowledge, and I may read through his trilogy that starts with "A Time For Gifts", and see how that goes. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Nov 22, 2016 |
I have enjoyed reading 'Mani' but it is a dense read. This is not really a review but some notes which I wanted to make so that I could return to them. The writing is interesting and sometimes I have had to re-read sentences several times in order to get the gist. Some of his sentences are extraordinarily long. Take this for example:

'Very often, wandering in the wilder parts of Greece, the traveller is astonished in semi-abandoned chapels where the liturgy is perhaps only sung on the yearly feast of the eponymous saint, by the beauty of te colouring of the wall-paintings and the subtlety with which the painter has availed himself of the sparse elbow-room for private inspiration that the formulae of Byzantine iconography allow him: a convention so strict that it was finally codified by a sixteenth-century painter-monk called Dionysios of Phourna. '( p.212 Chapter 15 Ikons).

On the other hand, they can be short like this- they are brilliantly expressive:

'Scholarship died. Spiritual development fossilized. Falling static at the time of the catastrophe, Orthodoxy became the most conservative of religions. All but rudimentary teaching vanished.' ( p. 218 Chapter 15 Ikons).

This chapter on Ikons is one of the ones I have most enjoyed. What he does really well in this chapter is contrast Greek icon painting with the way in which Christ and the saints are depicted in the Western painting tradition.

I was surprised to find on p.240 of the use of the word 'consubstantial'. This word has been used in the 'new' translation of the Nicene Creed. It is not a word in common usage in the 21st century. PLF writes:

'...and beyond the symbol to its essence, the Transcendent God, with whom, as they themselves had defined, He was consubstantial.'

PLF's use of language is amazingly broad and there are so many new words to learn if one is so-minded to look them all up as one reads. I didn't do that but noted a few such as:

klepht (p.236 and many other pages): an anti-Ottoman insurgent living in the mountains when Greece was a part of the Ottoman Empire.

hispid state (p.282): having stiff coarse hairs or bristles

pard-like stubble (p.282): chap or fellow. It is actually from an Ancient Greek word 'pardos'.

I tended to enjoy the later chapters best?? It really helped to use Google images to search for photos of some of the places that were mentioned such as Gytheion.

I appreciated being reminded on p.238 that the Parthenon and its statues, friezes etc. were all painted in brilliant colours.

On p.282 PLF talks about the 'un-Praxitelean aspect of modern Greeks'. For Hellenophiles it is always tempting to idealise the Greek of today and to expect them to be like the statues and the depiction of Homeric heroes.

A rewarding book even although it needs effort and care in reading.
  louis69 | Sep 23, 2015 |
I regret to say that this book was a disappointment: too many digressions, too many metaphors, too flowery for my taste.
Difficult to read if your mother tongue is not English. ( )
  Hiensch | Aug 8, 2015 |
Though in places over-literary, generally this is a great, readable, very interesting book about a part of the world that is little-known. While travelling in the Mani I had to read this, of course, but it is longer-lasting than that might indicate. ( )
1 vote comixminx | Apr 5, 2013 |
Fascinating,especially from a historical and cultural viewpoint,but in this book Fermor's prose does seem at times to be a bit too much contrived. ( )
1 vote RTS1942 | Dec 4, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Leigh Fermorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eyres Monsell, JoanPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luengo Ferradas, AgustinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The Mani, at the tip of Greece's-and Europe's-southernmost promontory, is one of the most isolated regions of the world. Cut off from the rest of the country by the towering range of the Taygetus and hemmed in by the Aegean and Ionian seas, it is a land where the past is still very much a part of its people's daily lives. Patrick Leigh Fermor, who has been described as "a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Graham Greene," bridges the genres of adventure story, travel writing, and memoir to reveal an ancient world living alongside the twentieth century. Here, in the book that confirmed his reputation as one of the English language's finest writers of prose, Patrick Leigh Fermor carries the reader with him on his journeys among the Greeks of the mountains, exploring their history and time-honored lore. [National Library of Australia: Treasure Trove]
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The author describes his travels through the mountains of southern Greece, exploring the isolated peninsula of Mani, at which time could only be accessed by boat during the early twentieth century.

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