As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
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He writes like an angel, and conveys the pride and vitality of the humblest Spanish life with unfailing sharpness, zest and humor. - The Sunday Times (UK)
For Laurie Lee, as for much of the world, 1936 was the end of innocence. Lee recalls the first great journey of his young life, in which he walks through Spain and becomes entangled in the passionate, bloody struggle that was the Spanish Civil War. This memoir (a sequel to the beloved Cider with Rosie), written with the excitement and wonder of a twenty-year-old, is also infused with the prescience of a young adult who sees what lies ahead.
Following the enthusiastic reception of Godine's reissue of Cider with Rosie, we are pleased to announce the second book in Laurie Lee's autobiographical trilogy, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning.
"I was nineteen years old, still soft at the edges, but with a confident belief in good fortune. I carried a small rolled-up tent, a violin in a blanket, a change of clothes, a tin of treacle biscuits, and some cheese. I was excited, vain-glorious, knowing I had far to go; but not, as yet, how far."
So starts the adventure of the young Laurie Lee, who walks from his tiny village in a remote corner of Gloucestershire, to London and into the twentieth century. Knowing one Spanish phrase, he decides to take the ferry to Spain.
Unbeknownst to Lee, Spain in 1934 was on the verge of war, and, inexorably, he becomes entangled in the passionate, violent and bloody confusion that was the Spanish Civil War.
Praise for As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
Twenty years before Jack Kerouac set off On the Road, Lee left the safety of his rural English home and embarked on a wondrous adventure...Lee masterfully evokes the ambiance and tension of Europe on the eve of World War II. Lee's narration is like curling up on one's grandfather's lap and listening to stories of being attacked by wolves, hounded by the police, romanced by idealism, and seduced by beauty. This is a fine nonfiction complement to Ernest Hemingway's From Whom the Bell Tolls [sic]. Highly recommended. Library Journal
The new edition is a welcome addition to the memoir genre, especially for those who've never discovered Lee before. His gentle descriptions of seeing the world in a new way, and transforming his life as a result, will ring true for anyone who's stood in a foreign landscape, and felt a great gust of cool air through the mind because of it. ForeWord Magazine
He writes like an angel, and conveys the pride and vitality of the humblest Spanish life with unfailing sharpness, zest and humor. The Sunday Times (UK)
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning offers a new edition of Laurie Lee's classic account of involvement in the Spanish Civil War, offering an unexpected blend of humor, coming of age, and social observation. It's a sequel to his Cider with Rosie but stands well alone as a fine memoir observing Europe on the brink of World War II, and is a top recommendation for both its social observation and its lyrical, literary prose. Midwest Book Review
spiritual chores, and could be seen in the morning going off to Mass, veiled and modest as shadows, and so native in appearance that when I met them in the street I often forgot and addressed them in Spanish. When they returned from their devotions they would come back transformed, light-footed and chirpy with gossip, their early silence now swept away, and their eyes sparkling, as though they’d been to a party. One evening, to keep my hand in, I played for an hour in the streets and made over
tongue-blistering smoke flavoured with the juice of sugar cane and some hot harsh root from the hills. The only people with jobs seemed to be the village girls, most of them in service to the richer families, where for a bed in a cupboard and a couple of pounds a year they were expected to run the whole house and keep the men from the brothels. As elsewhere on the coast, the villagers were infected with fatalism, a kind of subdued and deliberate apathy. Only sometimes in the eyes of the younger
clear blue sky scarred with a new foreboding above a mass of upturned faces. Many felt, till that moment, their village to be secure and forgotten; now the eye of war had spied them out. Throughout the afternoon nothing happened. Families ate their meals in the street, seeking the assurance of one another’s company. Once again the fierce sunlight obliterated everything it fell on, burning all colours to an ashen glare. When people stepped out of their houses they seemed to evaporate for a
what they did.’ ‘Can we get back?’ ‘Not with this gang, never.’ El Gato gave Manolo some brandy, then stripped off his cartridge belt and tossed it into a corner. An air of absolute exhaustion settled down on the bar. ‘We’re finished before we started,’ said Manolo. His companions sat round in silence staring at the blank bare walls. El Gato went to sleep again. About midnight, we got through to Radio Sevilla, and heard Queipo de Llano exulting in the fall of the city. The rebel general was
in her arms; two others lay clasped together in silence, while a bearded doctor, in a dingy white coat, just wandered up and down the platform blaspheming. It was a small, brief horror imposed on the sleeping citizens of Valencia, and one so slight and routine, compared with what was happening elsewhere in Spain, as to be scarcely worth recording. Those few minutes’ bombing I’d witnessed were simply an early essay in a new kind of warfare, soon to be known – and accepted – throughout the world.