Bruce Chatwin

Your home for news on Bruce Chatwin and literary travel.

The Future of Travel Writing?

William Dalrymple writes interestingly on the future of Travel Writing and the golden age of the genre in The Guardian. The full piece can be found here.

"Last year, on a visit to the Mani in the Peloponnese, I went to visit the headland where Bruce Chatwin had asked for his ashes to be scattered.

The hillside chapel where Chatwin's widow, Elizabeth, brought his urn lies in rocky fields near the village of Exchori, high above the bay of Kardamyli. It has a domed, red-tiled roof and round arcaded windows built from stone the colour of haloumi cheese. Inside are faded and flaking Byzantine frescoes of mounted warrior saints, lances held aloft.

The sun was sinking over the Taygetus, and there was a warm smell of wild rosemary and cypress resin in the air. It was, I thought, a perfect place for anyone to rest at the end of their travels.

My companion for the visit was Chatwin's great friend and sometime mentor, Patrick Leigh Fermor, who was Chatwin's only real rival as the greatest prose stylist of modern travel writing. Leigh Fermor's two sublime masterpieces, A Time to Keep Silence and A Time of Gifts, are among the most beautifully written books of travel of any period, and it was really he who created the persona of the bookish wanderer, later adopted by Chatwin: the footloose scholar in the wilds, scrambling through remote mountains, a knapsack full of good books on his shoulder.

Inevitably, it was a melancholy visit."

Japanese Influences

At last year’s Bruce Chatwin conference, we had many wonderful papers delivered, some of which will be published on this site in the coming weeks. One of the most interesting contributions, however, was that of Bruce Chatwin’s friend, Kevin Volans who, despite being unable to make the event itself, kindly wrote a fascinating paper which was delivered at the conference by Elizabeth Chatwin. Kevin is one of the world’s leading modern composers, and was one of Bruce Chatwin’s greatest friends, so it is an honour to be able to reproduce Kevin’s paper here:

‘Some Japanese influences on style and structure in Bruce Chatwin’s writing.’