Bruce Chatwin

Your home for news on Bruce Chatwin and literary travel.

Books about walking

Robert Macfarlane offers five books about walking – of which The Songlines is one – over at the Telegraph.
Meanwhile, in the Guardian, William Dalrymple reviews Macfarlane's new, slight volume Holloway. Written with friend and fellow-traveller Dan Richards, and illustrated by Stanley Donwood, Holloway is 'an exceptionally written, gorgeously produced little gem'.




I've been away in Southern China for a couple of months which, coupled with a dearth of recent Chatwin related news, has led to the recent lack of activity.
A few things to catch up on, then:

i. The Australian has a fascinating piece on the relationship between D.H. Lawrence's Antipodean novel Kangaroo and Chatwin's The Songlines. Chatwin read Kangaroo whilst researching his own work, and there are some similarities – not least the fact that both cleave closely to the lived experience of their respective authors whilst in Australia. The assessment in The Australian, somewhat unusually for an establishment from that part of the world, praises Chatwin's work for the manner in which its author was able to see beyond the narrow concerns of those writers and anthropologists more deeply involved with the world described:

"Again, there is in his case the capacity of the outsider to think things that hover almost beyond the range of the local writerly elite, or beyond the scope of what they are prepared to say. Chatwin was the ultimate jaded connoisseur of used-up Europe, the traveller in search of some new language. Above all he wanted a fresh kind of silence, not the overloaded silence of the funerary smoke draped over the old continent. He was in rebellion against standard, sequential forms of narrative: his instincts pushed him towards a landscape that lent itself to portrayal in fragments, in rhymes and patterns and reduplications."

ii. From last month's That's Beijing comes a Chatwin-related interview with yours truly. This was in anticipation of a session at the Beijing Capital Literary Festival, with myself and the New Yorker journalist Evan Osnos, which happened on March 11th, and which should be available soon as a podcast.

iii. Finally, the Guardian has an article regarding the upcoming stock market flotation of the company that make Moleskine notebooks – created in the image of Chatwin's description in The Songlines of the unbranded notebooks that he used for much of his writing life. The potential valuation is an astonishing 600 million Euro.

The NYTimes does Patagonia

The New York Times travel section visits Patagonia, under the influence of Chatwin.

'Since Bruce Chatwin’s days, the world has gotten much smaller and more familiar, and yet Patagonia retains an anachronistic feeling of being truly far away.'

One wonders, in these days of luxury resorts and plane-chartering, how much longer this will be the case.

Read the full article here.


Image: Perfídia