Not that there are many, but of the cult followings to which I happen to belong, none has given me more pleasure than the one around Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–2011), who is held by his admirers to be something like the Shakespeare of travel writing. Over the years, I’ve met and corresponded with several dozen of my fellow aficionados, and they strike me as a superior lot. Of course we’re bound to think highly of those who share our tastes, but usually we’re appalled and disconcerted by some of the blokes. In my experience, the discovery of a common enthusiasm for “Paddy,” as he’s known among initiates, serves as a Masonic handshake of the best kind, a prelude to wide-ranging discussions full of historical curios, and often to friendship. That this kind of bonding is very Leigh Fermorian adds to its appeal—one feels that one is, even if at a far lower level, participating...


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