The secret histories of secondhand books

The personal dedications one finds in secondhand books are often as fascinating as the text. In honour of this, we’re starting a new series showcasing my most intriguing finds.

This first is written in the front of A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor: From Safei to Dad. The inscription reads:


Dear Dad,

According to Mum (alias the Guru of the Postal Rates) the best way to send a book is as Printed Matter, but then it can’t include a letter – hence this method.

I enjoyed this book (and its sequel) a ‘lot.’ While I was reading them, I thought of you, and wondered what memories you have of any of the times and places he describes. Of course this world, (of central Europe as it was in 19??) vanished before I was born. The mixture of the author’s experiences of it at age 18 and his reflections now (or at any rate in 1978) on a world it is impossible to re-visit, give the book an usual texture, I think.

Don’t feel obliged to read it if it doesn’t “grab” you. You can view this as a short letter with 300 pages attached.

Lots of love


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