Teaser Tuesday: Laurie Lee

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of ‘˜Should Be Reading’.

I’m currently reading As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee, his autobiographical account of what he did after he left home in the Cotswolds in 1934 and walked through Spain. (He tells the story of his early years in Cider With Rosie, which I read and wrote about over three years ago.) Initially he had travelled to London, where he worked as a labourer on a building site, then knowing just one Spanish phrase for ‘Will you please give me a glass of water?’, he decided to go to Spain.

This passage shows how that phrase came in useful in one of the hottest days of that Spanish summer when he set out in the morning to walk to Valladolid:

After a while, being out-doors became a hallucination, and I felt there was no longer any air to breathe, only clinkered fumes and blasts of sulphur that seemed to rise through cracks in the ground. I remember stopping for water at silent farms where even the dogs were too exhausted to snarl, and where the water was scooped up from wells and irrigation  ditches and handed to me warm and green.

By mid-morning I was in a state of developing madness, possessed by deliriums of thirst, my brain running and reeling through all the usual obsessions that are said to accompany the man in the desert. Fantasies of water rose up and wrapped me in cool wet leaves, or pressed the thought of cucumber peel across my stinging eyes and filled my mouth with dripping moss. (page 72)

Just like Cider With Rosie, this book is beautifully written, lyrical and poetic capturing Spain as it was in the 1930s before the Civil War, beautiful countryside, both dazzling and squalid.

A book to savour.

8 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday: Laurie Lee

  1. Is Laurie Lee a popular author in England? Would you recommend his books? I have Patrick Leigh Fermor and John Morton books which I enjoy reading.

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    1. I really don’t know how popular Laurie Lee is, but I love his writing, so naturally I recommend his books. I haven’t read anything by either Patrick Leigh Fermor or John Morton, so I can’t give a comparison.

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  2. Margaret – What an evocative style Lee had! Thanks for sharing this bit. I’m sure it’s just as eloquent a portrait of Spain as it is the story of Lee’s own experiences.

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  3. I read these books at school and really enjoyed them but was disappointed to read years later that Laurie Lee’s Spanish experiences were almost all fiction. He did like to rewrite his own history apparently.
    Patrick Leigh Fermor’s writing is in a different class altogether I think, and his experiences are real.

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    1. That is disappointing, Katrina. Nevertheless, his books are so beautifully written. Now I want to know more about Lee – but that may provide even more disillusionment.

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