Thirty years on, what should we make of Bruce Chatwin’s song to the songlines? “Epic of Gilgamesh” is Google’s answer to “what is the oldest known literature”. The Songlines. by Bruce Chatwin. pages, paperback, Penguin, The Songlines is a beautiful meditation on the importance of travel to knowledge and . The publication of Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines in transformed English travel writing; it made it cool. For the previous half century, travel.

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T The Songlines is, on the surface, an auto-biographical travel narrative. This article needs additional citations for verification. This book is so loved and well worn His book, devoted to the latter, is a brilliant evocation of this profound optimism: For The Songlinesa work combining fiction and non-fiction, Chatwin went to Australia.

I had passed the test. When Chatwin kept to his personal observations of the people of the Outback, whether of European extraction or Aboriginal, I was riveted. I underlined almost the entire copy. For example, between chapter 14 and 15 there’s a beautiful creation myth. There is a huge difference between bad and boring.

With time, however, Chatwin managed to learn about their meanings from tribal members — with the proviso that he would keep their secrets. The Aborigines’ way of navigating, communicating and negotiating by ‘Songlines’ is absolutely intruiging, and I thank this book for shedding some light on this subject.

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

The real song would have named each waterhole the Lizard Man drank from, each tree he cut a spear from, each cave he slept in, covering the whole long distance of the way. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. There is one obvious reason why this should be so. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. The Songlines is a book written by Bruce Chatwincombining fiction and non-fiction.


Questo spinge il lettore a sforzarsi di esprimere una propria opinione personale al riguardo di molti episodi particolari. Thanks for telling us about the problem. It seemed to me to be a very honest book – the person telling the story does not try to make himself seem better than he is. I’m curious that Chatwin considered this book fiction; perhaps by today’s standards we’d brand it “creative nonfiction” the “creative” part being perhaps invented or doctored dialogue, some bending of facts to get at a more truthful narrative, etc.

He had hoped, if possible, to apprentice himself to a Parisian ‘master’, assuming that such a person existed. To end, a great book; only thing I found jarring was the sudden shift from the narrative of his travels to the philosophical inquiry into his notebooks.

Thus, as he walked and sang, the singer encountered the sacred sites and knew he was following the correct “line” to his destination. I am picky when it comes to travel literature. Indeed after Chatwin’s death it came out that parts of In Patagonia had been either invented or substantially misrepresented.

He had agreed to travel with Chatwin and act as intermediary with members of the Aborigines that they might encounter on the quest. Chatwin paints a vivid, if very shallow picture of the inhabitants of the outback, but is often close to simplification racist white trash vs.

Lists with This Book.

InChatwin interviewed the year-old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted. According to Wikipedia, he was not a man with a reputation for scrupulous adherence to boring facts when there was a better story to be had by using some creative license.


I am in love with the structure of this book; initially, it describes a series of encounters with black and white Australians living in the nearly uninhabitable Central Australia. The idea of songlines is fascinating, that by learning a song you are learning a map that might be enough to show you the way half way across a continent. The record of these travels provide an excellent feeling for the philosophy of the Aboriginals and their relationship to the land and their ancestors.

This article has multiple issues. Reading this book we are not objective observers of the words on the page instead the author uses the format of travel writing and the illusion of reportage to engage us in the narrative.

Our narrator, Bruce, teams up with Arkady Volchok, a young man of Russian background who is working in the various remote, hot Aboriginal communities, where he knows and is trusted by the people and their families. Yet her work on the dictionary had given her an interest in the myth of Babel.

Two books I picked up from the library a few weeks back are this and The Songlines is one of them.

The Songlines

However, most of the book is not about the songlines, but about Chatwin himself, eating vhatwin drinking with Australians, most of which have nothing to do with the Aborigines and their plight. The storytelling and anecdotes are most entertaining for anyone interested in this side of Australian history and life. Did they love it?