The death of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor on June 10 at age ninety-six has been mourned in virtually every major newspaper in the English-speaking world. He has been celebrated as the last of a magic breed, the Byronic hero, a man of action who was also one of our most vigorous writers. The fuss would have surprised Paddy, who never assumed his contributions were admired and became nonplussed when anyone heaped praise on his head. The long-refused knighthood he finally allowed to be conferred upon him in 2004 did nothing to elevate him above Greek shepherds or the myriad visitors to his villa in the southern Peloponnese. Paddy was youthful and convivial to the end, with an attractive and genuine interest in the world outside himself. People couldn’t get enough of him.

Yet his readers had to learn patience as the books arrived from his pen at a snail’s pace—he didn’t learn how to use a typewriter until in his nineties,...

 
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