First Edition of A Time To Keep Silence; Warmly Inscribed by Patrick Leigh Fermor to Deborah of Devonshire

  • A Time To Keep Silence.
  • A Time To Keep Silence.
  • A Time To Keep Silence.

A Time To Keep Silence.


Item Number: 93645

London: John Murray, 1957.

First edition of the author’s third book, regarding his experiences in various monasteries, inscribed by Leigh Fermor to Deborah of Devonshire. Octavo, original blue cloth. Illustrated by John Craxton. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the dedication page, “For Darling Debo written in great haste! (always) Paddy Leigh Fermor.” Deborah Devonshire began life as the youngest of the legendary Mitford sisters, but she unexpectedly became the duchess of Devonshire when her husband, Andrew Cavendish, inherited the duchy from his brother. Leigh Fermor first met Deborah when she was still a young debutante and eventually formed a deep friendship, as well as a correspondence that would last for more than half a century. Their letters were published in book form in 2010 with the title In Tearing Haste. When something caught their interest and they knew the other would be amused, they sent off a letter—there are glimpses of President Kennedy’s inauguration, weekends at Sandringham, filming with Errol Flynn, the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, and, above all, life at Chatsworth, the great house that Debo spent much of her life restoring, and of Paddy in the house that he and his wife designed and built on the Mani in Greece. There rarely have been such contrasting styles: Debo—smart, idiosyncratic, and funny—darts from subject to subject, dashing off letters in her breezy, spontaneous style. Paddy, the polygot and widely read virtuoso, replies in the fluent polished manner that has earned him recognition as one of the finest writers in the English language. Near fine in the original dust jacket with a chip to the crown of the spine and tape repair to the back panel. Jacket design by Peter Todd Mitchell. A remarkable association copy.

Patrick Leigh Fermor was a travel writer who became a war hero by kidnapping the commanding German officer on the Nazi-occupied island of Crete. (The movie "Ill Met by Moonlight" is a fictionalized account of his experience.) In A Time to Keep Silence, Leigh Fermor writes about a more inward journey, describing his several sojourns in some of Europe’s oldest and most venerable monasteries. He stays at the Abbey of St. Wandrille, a great repository of art and learning; at Solesmes, famous for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of La Grande Trappe, where monks take a vow of silence. Finally, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike landscape, where he seeks some trace of the life of the earliest Christian anchorites. More than a history or travel journal, however, this beautiful short book is a meditation on the meaning of silence and solitude for modern life. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an existence whose quietness is only varied by the silent meals, the solemnity of ritual, and long solitary walks in the woods—the troubled waters of the mind grow still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a state of peace that is unthought of in the ordinary world.” "More than a history or travel journal, however, this beautiful short book is a meditation on the meaning of silence and solitude for modern life" (New York Review of Books). "His shortest book (and to my mind his best)its hammered terseness is a good match for the sobriety of the subject" (Anthony Lane, The New Yorker).

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