María José Solano: "Patrick Leigh Fermor was a boy playing war in Crete"

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Among all the contradictions, one indistinguishably perfumes the heroes: the desire not to be one. There is no hero by vocation, but by destiny. Some left a furrow, others pass without a trace. The best are those who erase the traces in their path and put an end to the confusion. Patrick Leigh Fermor is a unique specimen: British, cultured, writer, soldier, traveler, somewhat atrabiliary. He was born in 1915 and died in 2011. He began his mythical itinerary touring Europe on foot and ended his days learning to type in his nineties. In between, a thousand adventures, a thousand skids, a thousand lives accumulated in his slender anatomy. He played a decisive role behind the lines in the Battle of Crete during World War II, organizing the resistance until the expulsion of the Nazis from the island. He never hesitated to come and taste the raw meat on the tiger’s plate.

Far from the romantic figure of Lord Byron, Patrick Leigh Fermor expands the contour of the Homeric hero, with the complexity of Mediterranean myths. A species of eel that is difficult to catch. Highly attractive due to the untamed darkness of his vast biography, spread over a thousand events, it was a writer who died with the melancholy of not having achieved literary glory, perhaps the only for which he insisted on trying all the liquors. Leigh Fermor’s most epic time occurred in Greece, and the writer María José Solano traveled there to search for what remains of him between the golden legend and the vestige. Write a greek adventure (Debate). An exploration that took her to Crete, Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Sparta or the island of Hydra… There where Paddy was sowing shadows.

Who is Patrick Leigh Fermor. «If I had to define it in one fell swoop I would say that it belongs to the lineage of mythological heroes. But at the same time he was a big boy playing at war in Crete. And a seducer. And a suggestive rogue,” says Solano, co-founder of Go and columnist for Abc. «This is a book of absolute admiration and to talk about it I did not feel like hiding it. This is an individual very much from his generation, which also includes writers such as Robert Graves, Henry Miller, and Lawrence Durrell. They all found better shelter outside their countries. And some of them around the Mediterranean.

The freedom with which Patrick Leigh Fermor exercised is another of the axes of Solano’s fascination with this man who seemed to live in all times. «Paddy lived the end of one world and the birth of another», Explain. «And that is what makes him a timeless subject, although the 20th century seems made for him. And his destination had to be, for that very reason, Greece. Much more than Italy, which is the other source of fascination for the people of his time. Why Greece? “For the freedom to imagine, to build, to build landscapes, while Italy gives you everything done.”

It happens with the life of Leigh Fermor that when narrating some of the twists and turns everything sounds like a novel. Even fiction. The narrative pulse of María José Solano adapts to that beautiful confusion, to the areas of light and shadow, to what is extraordinary, to the suspended silences. A splendid literary journey. Exactly a journey to the other to go a little beyond oneself. “If I had to define happiness I could summarize it in a library and a trip,” says the author. «Traveling and reading are the same for me: a search and an encounter.» Probably the only certain way to escape. (The publication of a greek adventure It coincides with the release of another book signed by Solano with drawings by the painter Miki Leal. A tour of Jerez -as it is titled- published by the exquisite Tintablanca publishing house).

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