Patrick Leigh Fermor

  • I found my mind wandering at games; loved boxing and was good at it; and in summer, having chosen rowing instead of cricket, lay peacefully by the Stour, well upstream of the rhythmic creaking and the exhortation, reading Lily Christine and Gibbon and gossiping with kindred lotus-eaters under the willow-branches

    Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • I never heard communism seriously propounded or argued; perhaps I was too deeply preoccupied with my own dissipations; and, as it turned out in the end it was a way of thought that I was denied or spared by a geographical fluke. From the end of these travels till the War, I lived, with a year's interruption, in Eastern Europe, among friends whom I must call old-fashioned liberals. They hated Nazi Germany; but it was impossible to look eastwards for inspiration and hope, as their western equivalents--peering from afar, and with the nightmare of only one kind of totalitarianism to vex them--felt able to do. For Russia began only a few fields away, the other side of a river; and there, as all her neighbours knew, great wrong was being done and terrible danger lay. All their fears came true. Living among them made me share those fears and they made stony ground for certain kinds of grain

    Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • Mental discipline, prayer and remoteness from the world and its disturbing visions reduce temptation to a minimum, but they can never entirely abolish it. In medieval traditions, abbeys and convents were always considered to be expugnable centres of revolt against infernal dominion on earth. They became, accordingly, special targets. Satan, issuing orders at nightfall to his foul precurrers, was rumoured to dispatch to capital cities only one junior fiend. This solitary demon, the legend continues, sleeps at his post. There is no work for him; the battle was long ago won. But monasteries, those scattered danger points, become the chief objectives of nocturnal flight; the sky fills with the beat of sable wings as phalanx after phalanx streams to the attack, and the darkness crepitates with the splintering of a myriad lances against the masonry of asceticism

    Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • The notion that I had walked twelve hundred miles since Rotterdam filled me with a legitimate feeling of something achieved. But why should the thought that nobody knew where I was, as though I were in flight from bloodhounds or from worshipping corybants bent on dismemberment, generate such a feeling of triumph? It always did

    Patrick Leigh Fermor
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