Leigh Fermor

Alas, this week’s online New Yorker doesn’t include Anthony Lane’s profile of Patrick Leigh Fermor, so only subscribers will enjoy lines like

As a rule, nature is judicious in the dispensing of talent; we are happy to revere George Eliot, say, secure in the knowledge that she looked like Seabiscuit. (pg 60)

Leigh Fermor’s travel writings have graced my shelves for about 20 years, but Lane’s vivid descriptions of Leigh Fermor’s WWII service in Crete and Egypt add still more dimensions.

Lane chooses his examples well. Here’s a nice bit that quotes Leigh Fermor:

…like many autodidacts, he sees no reason not to throw open to the public the overstocked library of his mind:

The scattered Bektashi and the Rufayan, the Mevlevi dervishes of the Tower of the Winds, the Liaps of Souli, the Pomaks of the Rhodope, the Kizilbashi near Kechro, the Fire-Walkers of Mavrolevki, the Lazi from the Pontic shores, the Linovamvaki –crypto-Christian Moslems of Cyprus– the Dönmehs –crypto-Jewish Moslems of Salonica and Smyrna– the Slavophones of Northern Macedonia, the Koutzo-Vlachs of Samarina and Metzovo, the Chams of Thesprotia, the scattered Souliots of Roumeli and the Heptanese, the Albanians of Argolis and Attica, the Kravarite mendicants of Aetolia, the wandering quacks of Eurytania, the phallus-wielding Buonariots of Tyrnavos…

That is Leigh Fermor on the dispersal of Greek communities. The list covers two pages, includes what could be a line of Edward Lear (“the Shqip-speaking Atticans of Sfax”), and closes with the phrase “to name a few.”

That’s from pages 4 and 5 of Mani: travels in the southern Peloponnese, and I see that I’d marked it in my copy. Strikes me that it ‘s a fine example of my own tastes for anthropogeographies –and in fact I have recordings of the musics of quite a few of those communities.

Addendum: Mercurius Complutensis quotes the whole passage.

This is all very fractal, or maybe it’s hologrammatic. I started looking for more bits to fill in gaps in my knowledge and an hour later was still just beginning. A few links:

George Moran on Touring the Vlach Villages of Greece


Chams, and the continuing controversies –viz. Miranda Vickers’ The Cham Issue: Albanian National & Property Claims in Greece

On Dönmeh

This on linovamvaki:

I seem to remember coming across the term “linovamvaki”, used in Cyprus; sometimes it was used politically (to refer to people who were neither left nor right, but sat on the fence), but I believe that its roots went back to either Greek Cypriots who had converted to Islam or Turkish Cypriots who had converted to Christianity. Does anyone know this term? If so, I’d be interested to know exactly what it meant. ethnic Greek (ethnic Greek 21:21, 2 May 2005 (UTC) The “limnovamvaki” is a small piece of cotton that is worn on the outside and it was used by ethnic Greek Crypto-Christians in Cyprus. It was definitely not used by Turkish-Cypriots who converted to Christianity. Any Turkish-Cypriot who converted to Christianity was severely punished. The millet system saw to that. Anyway, the Greek-Cypriots used the “limnovamvaki” to hide their identity from other Muslims, but at the same time maintain their Greek identity by makiing themselves recognizable only by Orthodox Christian Greeks. ethnic Greek May 4, 2005 3:44 P.M. EST Thanks for this. I’d thought that it was “”lino”vamvaki” meaning “linen-cotton”; I’m not sure exactly what “limnovamvaki” means, though. ethnic Greek (ethnic Greek 21:48, 4 May 2005 (UTC) Yes, linovamvako is a fabric made of linen (lino) and cotton (vamvaki)–see Babiniotis or Andriotis dictionary. Presumably it followed the same sense-development as English “linsey-woolsey”: not just a particular fabric, but also a strange mixture or mish-mosh in general, e.g. half Greek/half Turkish. I don’t know about its ”specific” meaning (Greek language, Muslim religion? Christian mother, Muslim father?), which isn’t mentioned in the dictionaries. The story about the piece of cotton sounds, um, doubtful; the spelling limnovamvaki (lake-cotton?) doesn’t make much sense and isn’t recorded by the dictionaries. Perhaps what it really is is a troll? I am beginning to wonder if Charonite isn’t simply trolling us overly-earnest ns: take a look at the extravagantly implausible theories he propounds on his talk page. As for conversion (apostasy) from Islam, yes, that is punished in principle by death. –ethnic Greek 22:53, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
(buried in

I could continue all day, no doubt.