Paul Theroux, William Dalrymple, Kari Herbert, Colin Thubron and many more writers tell us about the travel book that most influenced their own life and work. Others that one could say are slightly less well-known, and very pleased to be placed into the pantheon of “world’s greatest travel writers” – Mr Jasper Winn 🙂 – are included.
I was very pleased to see two of Eric Newby’s books chosen; no surprises that they were A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush and my absolute favourite, Love and War in the Apennines.
William Blacker chose all of Paddy’s books, including Between the Woods and the Water. Yesterday he sent me an email pointing out some deficiencies in the way the Guardian had edited his submission – Now, what did he really expact from the Grauniad? – , including the quotation from Kim at the end. William’s original submission can now be revealed in all its full and original glory …
It was not just the books of Patrick Leigh Fermor – notably Between the Woods and the Water about Rumania – which inspired me, but also the man. He was the quintessential free spirit. He didn’t bother with university, but at the age of 18 set off into the blue, on foot, across Europe , simply hoping for the best. His journey lasted five years. On the way he picked up a bewildering multitude of European languages, which led on to extraordinary wartime adventures, and then to a series of breath-taking books, which are peerless, and among the great masterpieces of twentieth century literature. The resounding success he made of his special brand of non-conformity should fill all would-be wanderers and fellow free spirits with hope. Read about his life, read his books, and if you are not similarly inspired and exhilarated by Leigh Fermor’s example then, as Kim said, ‘Run home to your mother’s lap, and be safe’.
William emphasises, for those who might miss it, “that I wrote, very deliberately, ‘great masterpieces of twentieth century literature’ and not ‘great masterpieces of twentieth century TRAVEL literature’ !”
The list of choices can be found in this article in the Guardian.