A Time to Keep Silence (New York Review Books Classics) by Patrick Leigh Fermor

By Patrick Leigh Fermor

Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his approach throughout Europe, as mentioned in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of international warfare II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a couple of extra inward trip, describing his a number of sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and so much venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, an exceptional repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, recognized for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place priests take a vow of silence. eventually, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.

More than a historical past or trip magazine, even if, this pretty brief ebook is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an life whose quietness is just assorted through the silent nutrition, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the bothered waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and masses that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a country of peace that's unthought of within the usual world.”

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Wandrille. I had spent an abominable night in Rouen in a small hotel near the station where a procession of nightmares had been punctuated by the noise of trains arriving and leaving with a crashing and whistling and an escape of steam and smoke which, after a week’s noctambulism in Paris, turned my night into a period of acute and apparently interminable agony. Even the misty windings of the lower Seine, the fat green fields and Indian files of poplars, among which the bus had travelled next morning, could not dispel my mood of sluggishness and depression; and now, climbing the hot road through the late summer woods, I wondered if my project had not better be abandoned.

As I looked round the white box of my cell, I suffered what Pascal declared to be the cause of all human evils. The history of the Abbey of St. Wandrille typifies French religious and secular life through nearly three-quarters of the Christian era. Early chronicles still in existence, and the famous Gesta Abbatum, tell of its beginnings when the north of France was divided up into the shadowy realms of Neustria and Austrasia, regions of forest and swamp which only the wolves and wild boar inhabited.

It is impossible for anyone who has had even this slight experience not to feel, at the sight of empty monasteries, a sorrow sharper than the regret of an antiquarian. Something of this elegiac sadness overhangs the rock-monasteries of Cappadocia that I have tried to describe. But, for us in the West, because of all such relics they are the most compelling mementoes of the life that once animated them, the ruined abbeys of England that have remained desolate since the Reformation will always be the most moving and tragic.

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