Harry Mount

Instead of a Book

More Dashing: Further Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor

By

Bloomsbury 460pp £30 order from our bookshop

Patrick Leigh Fermor had the most famous case of writer’s block of the last century. Before he died, aged ninety-six, in 2011, he spent years in agony, trying to finish the third volume about his ‘Great Trudge’ across Europe in the early 1930s. He never did finish it. In the end, the last volume, The Broken Road, was published two years after his death.

But he had no writer’s block when it came to letters: this is the third volume of his correspondence, after the success of Dashing for the Post (2016) and a 2008 selection of letters between himself and Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire. And it is by no means a barrel-scraping effort. It’s clear that, while the incomplete manuscript lay staring at him accusingly on his desk in his achingly lovely home in Kardamyli, Greece, he could write dozens of long, well-thought-out letters at will. You can see the ease of writing in the letters here: breezy, funny and light, a pleasant contrast to the marvellous but heavy, sometimes overwrought prose of his books.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Jane Ridley writes on Who’s In, Who’s Out: The Journals of Kenneth Rose, edited by D R Thorpe ,
    • 'Lucian Freud was never short of confidence. In the 1990s he painted a small head of an especially rich individual… ,
    • Robin Simon's review of Lucian Freud, edited by Martin Gayford and David Dawson ,
    • 'Lenin regularly communicated with his agents in Russia by postcard and Stalin sent girlfriends cards depicting ero… ,
    • RT : Could any book publishing people share with me their route into publishing roles for a sixth former I am working wi… ,
    • Donald Rayfield reviews Greetings From the Barricades: Revolutionary Postcards in Imperial Russia by Tobie Maythew ,
    • 'Citadel of the Saxons manages to turn the slim pickings of the surviving evidence into something like a consistent… ,