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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And the book continues what appears to be his life-long thesis: He explores this abstract concept through the agency of Arkady and a cast of other Whites who live and work amongst the Aborigines in the harsh heart of Australia, defending their rights and interpreting their rites. Sep 17, Jeanette “Astute Crabbist” rated it really liked it Shelves: All other successive systems were variants — or perversions — cahtwin this original model.

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

If I was given a choice of 3 people to invite for dinner from any age, Bruce Chatwin would be one. I am a horrible reader sometimes. 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 songlinee engage us in the narrative. Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: Preview — The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.

The Songlines

With time, however, Chatwin managed to learn about xhatwin meanings from tribal members — with the proviso that he would keep their secrets. I felt, before the malaise of settlement crept over me, that I should reopen those notebooks.

Fact blurs into fiction in Chatwin’s travel writing, perhaps it is better to say that the journey is inside his head, to pull the fact and fiction apart would be to pull the man’s head apart.

There is plenty more in this book for a reader: All of them were Moors except for myself and a person covered in a sack. Only the italicized chapters let me down, partly because they seemed to pull the book away from the songlines I was seeking to understand.


Chatwin was working on a number of new ideas for future novels at the time of his death from AIDS inincluding a transcontinental epic, provisionally titled Lydia Livingstone. The writing engages the hard conditions of life for present day indigenous Australians, while appreciating the art and culture of the people for whom the Songlines are the touchstone of reality. Songlines are also associated with animals kangaroos, wallabies To call it non-fiction is an absolute lie.

This book blew my mind. But if I ever succeed in getting to Australia, perhaps I’ll make another attempt. We want to know about the mythical dreaming animals that dot the aborigine view of their land as much as Bruce does. Not a conventional travel book by any means as Chatwin combines observations with philosophy, spirituality and dialogue while contemplating the nature of travel and mans desire to move around in a landscape which is increasingly more determined to ensure that we are sedentary.

Because I have never been to Australia this book was a songline in its own right for me. The most egregious example of this view spoiler [ at least in my opinion, you’ll have to read it yourself to see if you agree, perhaps an even worst example will leap out of you like a sabre toothed tiger and will need to be skewered in your own review hide spoiler ] is when Chatwin describes himself stopping to give an old tramp some money outside his club and the tramp quickly describes his nomadic existence and philosophy of life using the same metaphor of a bird that lies long distances over seas, lands briefly, before turning round to fly long distances over many seas again, a behaviour that Chatwin himself had discussed only a few pages earlier.

Chatwin vaga nell’outback alla ricerca di aborigeni disposti a far conoscere i propri segreti al pallido inglese, avido di leggende e curioso. Set in Prague, the novel details the life and death of Kaspar Utz, a man obsessed with his collection of Meissen porcelain.

He was frightened and very songlinew. Sometimes defined as a travelogue, the text songlies been criticised for being masculistcolonialist, simplistic and unreliable as both a source on European Australians and Aboriginal culture. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In the odd way that life and fiction do come together, the depressed existence of the Aborigines that Chatwin meets in hindsight seems to foreshadow cgatwin own death.


No one will put it down unmoved. I have to admit this book did what the best books do–inspire me to read more on the subject–b There was plenty in this book that irritated me, and at times, yes things that fascinated me. Once phrase would say, ‘salt-pan’; another ‘creek-bed’, ‘spinifex, sandhill, mulga scrub, rockface and so forth.

Con “Le vie dei canti” ho viaggiato con Chatwin e Arkady per le zone Australiane, da Alice Springs a Middle Bore alla scoperta del popolo aborigeno, dei loro usi e costumi, delle loro tradizioni, del loro amore e rispetto per la Madre Terra.

Moreover, as he insists this book is a work of fiction, I cannot grasp why he didn’t write anything more interesting than this plotless book.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Also, I was puzzled by the inclusion of all the fragmentary pieces from the author’s old notebooks. This is the sort of treacherous climate that periodically forced aboriginal peoples to migrate to find food and water — or die. In Abidjan he had learned to inlay veneer at a furniture factory that catered to the taste of the new, black, francophile bourgeoisie. View all 3 comments. Seldom is there a book that strikes at the core of your being.

Footprints of the Ancestors

Going back to Cain spnglines Abel, myths and archeology point out that ever since man first pursued a sedentary life and created the villages and monuments we prize in museums, there has continued to exist the nomadic people who just may be less depressed and anxious than city dwellers. Along these “roads” they travel in order to perform all those activities that are distinctively human—song, dance, marriage, exchange of ideas, and arrangements of territorial boundaries by agreement rather than force.

Ironically, neither of us proved to be very good nomads.