By (author) Bruce Chatwin
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Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Book DescriptionThe songlines are the invisible pathways that criss-cross Australia, ancient tracks connecting communities and following ancient boundaries. Along these lines Aboriginals passed the songs which revealed the creation of the land and the secrets of its past. In this magical account, Chatwin recalls his travels across the length and breadth of Australia seeking to find the truth about the songs and unravel the mysteries of their stories.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099769910
(198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 28-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Bruce Chatwin
Under The Sun, Paperback (September 2011)
Bruce Chatwin is one of the most significant British novelists and travel writers of our time. Comprising material collected from hundreds of contacts across five continents, this title includes Chatwin's letters that are a valuable record of one of the greatest and most enigmatic writers of the twentieth century.
Songlines, Paperback (May 2001)
Part adventure story, part philosophical essay, this extraordinary book takes Bruce Chatwin into the heart of Australia on a search for the source and meaning of man's restless nature.
In Patagonia, Paperback (January 1999)
Beautifully written and full of wonderful descriptions and intriguing tales, In Patagonia is an account of Bruce Chatwin's travels to a remote country in search of a strange beast and his encounters with the people whose fascinating stories delay him on the road.
Utz, Paperback (January 1999)» View all books by Bruce Chatwin
Traces the fortunes of the enigmatic and unconventional hero, Kaspar Utz. Despite the restrictions of Cold War Czechoslovakia, Utz asserts his individuality through his devotion to his precious collection of Meissen porcelain.
UK Kirkus Review » The author couldn't give an account of a trip to the shops without some fantastic embroidering of mundane reality. This blend of myth, observation and outright invention is less an account of Aboriginal mythology than an excuse for the author to let rip. Travel writing has never been the same. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Chatwin, British author of books that blend travel, memoir, history, and philosophy (In Patagonia, The Viceroy of Ouidah), now goes to Alice Springs, Australia - for an investigation into Aboriginal culture, run-ins with assorted Aussies, and a fragmented meditation on larger anthropological issues. Chatwin's inquiry focuses on the Aboriginal "songlines": a labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia, the routes taken (according to Creation myths) by legendary totemic beings as they sang the world into existence. Each clan has its own elaborate, largely secret story-song, linked to a particular animal-totem; and the "songlines," which include numerous sacred sites, give rise to complex taboos and rituals (e.g., the "walkabout"). So Chatwin mostly tags along with Arkady, son of Russian immigrants - a local "Do-Gooder" among the Aboriginals who's been hired by railway officialdom to help prevent the desecration of sacred sites (invisible to white eyes) during railway construction. And, in and around the Outback via Land Rover, there are encounters with a wide range of quirky sorts: unpleasant redneck racists (the ugly flip-side of Crocodile Dundee); Aboriginal artists in the totem genre, with their white agents (one zesty, one greedy); sophisticated Aboriginal activists, arguing land-claims against the Church and mine-owners; even a teen-age rock-group - part-Aboriginal - whose first big concert has to be scheduled around circumcision/initiation rites. Though individually fascinating, however, these vignettes never accumulate shape, drama, or even much weight. In the book's second half, in fact, the pokey narrative more or less fades away - as Chatwin offers almost 100-pp. worth of disjointed notes taken for a book on mankind's essential nomadic quality. There are quotations from Pascal, Buber, the Bible, Darwin, etc. There are anecdotes from Chatwin's travels in India, South Africa, Mauritania, Niger, Afghanistan, China, and London (lunch with a worldly panhandler). Chatwin muses on evolution and war, arguing - not very persuasively - that man's basic nature is migratory, defensive, not aggressive (contra K. Lorenz and others). And though this idealized view of nomadic life is also seen in the Aboriginals (who are sometimes romanticized), the interplay of theme and specific subject-matter is awkward, blurry, repetitious. The least satisfying of Chatwin's explorations, then, but occasionally provocative in its ambitious reach - and crisply, vividly engaging as long as it sticks to first-hand Australia reportage. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Bruce Chatwin
Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield in 1940. After attending Marlborough School he began work as a porter at Sotheby's. Eight years later, having become one of Sotheby's youngest directors, he abandoned his job to pursue his passion for world travel. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, before announcing his next departure in a telegram: 'Gone to Patagonia for six months.' This trip inspired the first of Chatwin's books, In Patagonia, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award and launched his writing career. Two of his books have been made into feature films: The Viceroy of Ouidah (retitled Cobra Verde), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve's On the Black Hill. On publication The Songlines went straight to No.1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight.
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