e99 Online Shopping Mall

Geometry.Net - the online learning center Help  
Home  - Authors - Chatwin Bruce (Books)

  1-20 of 100 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

1. In Patagonia (Penguin Classics)
2. The Songlines
3. Under the Sun: The Letters of
4. On the Black Hill: A Novel
5. Bruce Chatwin: A Biography
6. What Am I Doing Here?
7. The Viceroy of Ouidah
8. Utz
9. Far Journeys
10. Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected
11. Winding Paths: Photographs by
12. In Patagonia
13. In Patagonia: The viceroy of Ouidah
14. Photographs and Notebooks
15. The Light Garden of the Angel
16. Nowhere Is a Place: Travels in
17. Bruce Chatwin : Photographs and
19. Bruce Chatwin. Eine Biographie.
20. In Search of Nomads: An English

1. In Patagonia (Penguin Classics)
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 240 Pages (2003-03)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437190
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In Patagonia is Bruce Chatwin's exquisite account of his journey through "the uttermost part of the earth," that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome and Charles Darwin formed part of his "survival of the fittest" theory. Chatwin's evocative descriptions, notes on the odd history of the region, and enchanting anecdotes make In Patagonia an exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land. An instant classic upon publication in 1977, In Patagonia remains a masterwork of literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Surrealist novel pretending to be a travel book
Bruce Chatwin's grandmother owned a piece of furry skin of a giant ground sloth, which her cousin found in Patagonia. It was Chatwin's childhood dream to go to Patagonia, and as an adult in the mid-1970s he did so, spending six months in southern Argentina and in Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago divided between Argentina and Chile. He met some very weird people there, including an octogenarian nationalist Lithuanian bush pilot, a Russian woman doctor with prosthetic legs who was a World War II displaced person and who was a passionate admirer of Solzhenitsyn, the last living full-blooded native of Tierra del Fuego, Argentinian Jewish hoteliers utterly lacking in any business sense, and a Chilean farmer whose farm was confiscated by a revolutionary committee during the Allende years and whose livestock, including a prize bull imported from New Zealand, was eaten by this committee (which acted similarly to the North American dot-coms a quarter century later). The Wikipedia article on Chatwin says, "Later, however, residents in the region came forward to contradict the events that were depicted in Chatwin's book. It was the first, but not the last time in his career, that conversations and characters that Chatwin reported as true, were alleged to be just fiction." Indeed, the supposedly factual parts of the book sound too wonderfully surreal to be true. The book is also full of historical excursions, from the adventures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in South America to the life of Jemmy Button (the boy native of Tierra del Fuego kidnapped by the English and brought back on HMS Beagle, as recounted by the ship's most famous passenger, young Charles Darwin), and literary researches (Chatwin traces one of the sources of Shakespeare's The Tempest to a description of Magellan's encounter with the natives of Patagonia, and the name Patagonia to a Spanish knightly romance depicting a monster named Patagon, which Magellan may have read, and an English translation of which Shakespeare may also have read before composing The Tempest, as Patagon shares some characteristics with Shakespeare's Caliban).

5-0 out of 5 stars To the ends of the earth...
Bruce Chatwin wrote this superlative travel narrative over 30 years ago. For travelers of the "path less taken," Patagonia carries a special allure - it is one of the few areas that can rightly wear the accolade: "the ends of the earth." Due to the tough climate, particularly the harsh winds of the "roaring `40's," it has always been thinly populated, and those that do, well, they seem to have some different qualities about them, making the chance encounters potentially that much more rewarding.

Chatwin is in a category that is a very small minority among even inveterate travelers: not only does he get his inoculations; far more importantly, he does the research before arriving, so that he has a much better understanding about the nature and historical background of the places he will be seeing. He writes very well; interlacing historical vignettes with his own experiences. The author tells tales of the earlier inhabitants of the area, the Araucanian Indians, who "...painted their bodies red and flayed their enemies alive and sucked at the hearts of the dead." Then Chatwin can effortlessly segue into Charles Darwin's stories in The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches, and on to Butch Cassidy, who disappeared in the wilds of Patagonia, no doubt as he intended. Chatwin's erudition is impressive; he seems to take particular pleasure in describing the unlikely and chance intersections of historical personages in this land, but also shares an equal enthusiasm for tales of those who managed only a passing mention in history, like some of the Welsh who established large sheep farms there.

In terms of descriptive powers, consider: "The unnatural colours gave me a headache, but I cheered up on seeing a green tree- a Lombardy poplar, the punctuation mark of man." Or in describing the work of Bernal Diaz The Conquest of New Spain, Chatwin says that: "His lines are sometimes quoted to support the assertion that history aspires to the symmetry of myth." In terms of observations, consider his comment on Charles Darwin: "Instead he lapsed into that common failing of naturalists: to marvel at the intricate perfection of other creatures, and recoil from the squalor of man."

The only shortcoming that I can think of is the lack of a map that traces Chatwin's travels. Otherwise, it is charming, erudite, dense, richly informative. Chatwin would make a wonderful dinner guest, and I'm sure he has. He died, all too young, of AIDS, in 1989. 5-stars certainly, in memoriam, for travel narrative as it should be.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dreamy
I love this book. I read and re-read it several times. Bruce Chatwin's descriptions of the people he met were magical, and must also have reflected his effect on them. It was at times surreal, much like I imagine traveling through South America and the overwhelming beauty of Patagonia. This is a book that reads like poetry, and you can pick any page and sink into it, or just close your eyes and you are right there. Beautiful writing about a beautiful, mysterious country, and about cats of all stripes. Another favorite travel book of mine is The Beach by Alex Garland, which is an entirely different but also compelling.

5-0 out of 5 stars oddly compelling travel writing
i didn't know what to make of this book when i heard about it.it seemed to be on on eveyone's list of must read travel writing so i added it prior to a trip to south america.it doesn't disappoint.there's a little bit of everything for everyone here.if you like personal vignettes, it's got 'em.if you want a historical perspective on things, it's got 'em.chatwin seems to weave together a compelling read without a well defined travelogue.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MASTER OF TRAVEL
Chatwin captures the essence of Patagonia page after page, and I really enjoyed how he described the bleakness of the land but also how he found and described interesting people along the way. His adjectives were wonderful.He's right up there with best travel writers of all time, including some of the early explorers into lands unknown to Europeans. A classic to be read every couple of years, and also one to have in your packsack when you venturing into Chile and Argentina. Paul Theroux and Graham Greene liked his writing - that's a message in itself. Very enjoyable afternoon read... ... Read more

2. The Songlines
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 304 Pages (1988-06-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140094296
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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.Amazon.com Review
The late Bruce Chatwin carved out a literary career as unique as anywriter's in this century: his books included In Patagonia, a fabulist travelnarrative, The Viceroy ofOuidah, a mock-historical tale of a Brazilian slave-trader in 19thcentury Africa, and The Songlines, his beautiful, elegiac, comicaccount of following the invisible pathways traced by the Australianaborigines. Chatwin was nothing if not erudite, and the vast, eclectic bodyof literature that underlies this tale of trekking across the outback givesit a resonance found in few other recent travel books. A poignancy, as well,since Chatwin's untimely death made The Songlines one of his lastbooks. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (60)

4-0 out of 5 stars Finding their way without a map
The wandering words of a wandering writer.

The "songlines" were a sort of Aboriginal GPS. The people could find their way unerringly across vast territories simply by "singing" the ancient stories of the Dreamtime creatures. The stories contained landmarks, and were meant to be sung at a walking pace of about 4 mph. Thus, as he walked and sang, the singer encountered the sacred sites and knew he was following the correct "line" to his destination. As I came to understand the concept, I was moved by the perfect combination of reverence for the land, remembering the ancestors, and avoiding getting lost in a harsh and unhospitable landscape.

The timeline of Chatwin's experiences was scattered, so it was sometimes hard to keep track of all the people and their stories. Also, I was puzzled by the inclusion of all the fragmentary pieces from the author's old notebooks. Most of the notes had nothing to do with Australia, and a clear connection never formed between the notebooks and the book's topic. Still, The Songlines is an excellent contribution to the ethnographic record of Australia's native people.

5-0 out of 5 stars A species meant to wander
It is what we, Homo sapiens, are made to do: to walk and wander, and to sing of what we see. In "The Songlines" the late Bruce Chatwin posits this and much more, reflecting on the nature of man, on instinct, natural selection, hunting, culture, and why babies cry.

The book, which moved up the bestseller list when it first appeared in this country from Britain in 1987, tells at its core of the Aboriginal dreaming-tracks, the "labyrinths of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia." It records Chatwin's encounters with the Aborigines who sing the land and its ancient history into existence as they perambulate over it.

But the book is more, much more than a mere accounting of Chatwin's own protracted walkabout. It stands as a paean to our species' nomadic spirit, and draws from the author's own peregrinations to Sudan, Afghanistan, Timbuktu and Tierra del Fuego. Part travelogue, anthropological treatise, novel, history, and commonplace book, it moves from his Australian narrative to past travels to epigrams from Ghandi, Buddha and Meister Eckhart--and to the author's own search for the meaning of our migrations.

Along the way we see Chatwin seek out Konrad Lorenz at his Altenberg, Austria, home and present to the renowned ethologist his own theories on human aggression and defensive response, rooted in a time, says the author, when Man was the hunted, not the hunter. To which Lorenz responds, "What you have just said is totally new."

Much of what one reads in The Songlines comes as something totally new, as a revelation. In it Chatwin synthesizes years of his own wanderings, both topographical and intellectual, into a compelling tour de force on what it means to be human. We are reminded of the myths--Cain and Abel, the prodigal son, and Odysseus--that expose the radical change in our lives when, after hundreds of thousands if not millions of years as wanderers, we just recently settled down to cultivate the earth.

Reading it convinces one that our nature--like that of birds, fish, or wildebeests--lies in movement. We are walkers, with a four-beat rhythm to each step, which mothers instinctually recreate when they rock their crying babies in their arms, soothing them with the belief that they are on the move, not lying vulnerable to the creatures who stalk us.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, meandering and I suspect entirely fictional
I bought this book having been drawn in by the idea behind it: an exploration of Aboriginal songlines.The first third of the book certainly does this, amongst other things, but Chatwin then wanders off on a tangent of modern-day enigmatic characters and general travelling tales, more anecdotes than anything else.

Halfway through he decides to include around 50 pages (in the Vintage edition I had) of excerpts from his diaries, relating to his travels in other parts of the world.His tangent takes him so far off course, he never finds his way back.If I didn't know any better, I would simply assume he forgot what he was writing about.

Add to this a creeping feeling that the *entire* exercise is pure fiction.It's little things, mainly, based on my own personal knowledge of Aboriginal culture and language, but they add up...it all adds up to one big disappointment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Songlines - a 'must read'
I'm an Aussie living in USA and it was wonderful to re-visit home via "Songlines" and garner an understanding of the first inhabitants of Australia.'Songlines' also offers a deeper understanding of the need to travel.A great story and an informative read about a mysterious and ancient race, and how their customs are universal and timeless.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great subject, poor plot
In "The Songlines," Bruce Chatwin shares his journey through the "arid scrub" of Outback Australia with Arkady Volchock, an Australian citizen originally from Ukraine. Chatwin's wit and intellect shine through. He spills secrets of late nights in bars, exotic women, and corrupt police officers.
The novel combines fiction and autobiography to form a dramatic account of his adventures. The first half is prose but the second half includes quotes, notes and observations about nomadic people and the importance of travel. It would have been less choppy and easier to follow if he included these fragmented notes throughout his story when they related best instead of all of them at the end.
It is important to note that during the time this book was written and published, Chatwin was dying of HIV/AIDS.These stories have extreme sentimental value, as Chatwin describes, "To lose a passport was the least of one's worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe." He wanted to share his stories before he died.
If you are looking for an informational book about Songlines and Aborigine beliefs, there are better options. Chatwin uses Australia as a setting to describe man's desire to preserve his history and defend his tribe instead of fighting for power.
"The Songlines" is written in a simple and streamlined style, which makes it easy to read. Sentences are poetic yet to the point: the perfect balance.
The plot was anti-climatic. As the book progresses, Chatwin deeply develops the characters and the reader shares their emotions. However, there is no real climax despite all of the build up.
The reader should search beyond the book's literal meaning in order to learn about human nature and even his or herself. ... Read more

3. Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin
by Bruce Chatwin
Hardcover: 560 Pages (2011-02-03)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670022462
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The definitive collection of correspondence from a legendary writer, providing new perspectives on his extraordinary life.

The celebrated author of such beloved works as In Patagonia and The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin was a nomad whose desire for adventure and enlightenment was made wholly evident by his writing. A man of intense energy and chameleonlike complexity, he was, in his life as in his art, forever in quest of the exotic and the unexpected. He moved at ease within diverse art, literary, and social circles, and his lifelong travels took him to the farthest-flung corners of Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

This marvelous selection of letters-to his wife, Elizabeth; to his parents, Charles and Margharita; and to friends, including Patrick Leigh Fermor, James Ivory, Paul Theroux, and Susan Sontag-reveals a passionate man and a storyteller par excellence, spinning the narrative of his life from his first week of school to his untimely death. Written with the verve and sharpness of expression that first marked him as a writer of singular talent, Chatwin's letters provide a vivid record of his changing interests and concerns, as well as chronicling his lifelong restlessness and the gestation of his books. Under the Sun is the closest readers will get to an autobiography by this exceptional literary talent. ... Read more

4. On the Black Hill: A Novel
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 256 Pages (1984-02-07)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$8.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140068961
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The tale of identical twin brothers who toil on the family farm in the wild and vibrant land of Wales and experience the oddities, wonders, and tragedies of human experience.Amazon.com Review
Bruce Chatwin's fascination with nomads and wanderlustrepresents itself in reverse in On the Black Hill, a tale oftwo brothers (identical twins) who never go anywhere. They stay in thefarmhouse on the English-Welsh border where they were born, tillingthe rough soil and sleeping in the same bed, touched only occasionallyby the advance of the 20th century. Smacking of a Welsh Ethan Frome,Chatwin evokes the lonely tragedies of farm life, and above all thevibrant land of Wales. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars On the Black Hill
Bruce Chatwin, the writer of this novel, is mainly known for his travel books. Exotic places and reflections on travelling were his specialty. Yet "On the Black Hill" is possibly his best book, though set entirely in as unexotic a locale as possible, the borderlands between Wales and England. Chatwin's evocation of the peculiar atmosphere of a small, backwards farming community in Wales and the odd characters it produces is at once more lively and more tragic than any travel book could be.

The book revolves around a more or less chronological biography of twin brothers in a farmstead in Wales, written in sequential flashbacks. There is something of Xavier de Maistre in this: at the beginning of the novel, the twins are portrayed at the end of their life, living together in their isolated farm with a number of odd and antique items around them. These items then frame the telling of the tale of their life and of the people they encountered in it, so that in the telling each item becomes familiar and takes up its place in the sentimental narrative of the twins' experiences. In this manner, some of the attachment they have for their own place and their few possessions is projected onto the reader, which creates very skilfully a sense of identification with what are otherwise two very obviously highly weird people in a rather backwards and uninviting rural village.

Chatwin's book is remarkable because it is very compelling, a page-turner almost, while almost nothing of significance happens in it. But because the brothers grow up so stunted by their upbringing and environment, and because of the total social and mental helplessness of all people in the community, many events that would normally be considered minor and of little impact in our lives become enormous incursions into the farm life. This gives them a meaning and a tragic nature one would not normally assign them. At no point does the book even leave the direct surroundings of the Welsh borderlands, and yet it is more intriguing than many a story of Patagonia. An accomplishment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chatwin Reconsidered
The conjunction of considerable brouha surrounding release with my place of residence in Central Australia compelled me to read Chatwin's ,'Songlines'. The disappointment with this inaccurate and sloppily structured book deterred further curiosity in his oeuvre. What a loss! 'Black Hill' is a brilliant description of rural Wales, resonant with some of the sweetest nature observations, and the minuatae of rural existence. Chatwin is on the top of his game in this earlier work. No wonder his press expected 'Songlines' to be the magnum that would establish an enduring reputation. The subject matter is generated by the curious tale of geriatric twin brothers who have barely ventured beyond a twenty mile radius of Black Hill. Their 80 years are sketched in without psychologising their inhibitions.For a novel that does explore those dimensions, read Michel Tournier's,'Gemini'. But Chatwin's work has an unhurried pacing spiced with effortless aliterations('spider webs, wavering white with dew, were stitched over the dead grass'...'croziers of young bracken curled up through the cow-parsley')that seem conjured from the mists hanging over the Hill. He's as unobtrustive as the twins, cocooned as they are from the turmoils of the century, beyond their pasture. The years roll on, loved ones and rivals, all pass without Chatwin resorting to Thomas Hardy's melodramatic coicidences to paste the seasons together with wilfull moralising.I mention Hardy as Chatwin refers to him in the text. I did think of John Berger's work at times. And that's fine recommendation from me.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of his best!
Along with 'Songlines,' 'On the Black Hill,' is Chatwin's most accessible work. For those unsmitten with Chatwinitis, these two gems of rich storytelling give an idea of just how talented a writer we lost with Mr. Chatwin's premature demise in 1988.Whereas 'Songlines' attempts to dissect our wandering passions, 'On the Black Hill' tries to answer the opposite:why we stay where we are.

Set in the Wye river borderlands between England and Wales, this most complete of Chatwin's works follows the daily toils, sorrows and rare joys of a Welsh farming family.Chatwin guides us through the vicissitudes of Amos Jones and his English wife, Mary Latimore.Yet, the story's real center is the life of their twin offspring, Benjamin and Lewis.The two grew up inseparable from one another. Yet, whilst they share the same hardships of rural life, they differ sharply from each other.Lewis is his father's child: a rough, taciturn man-child whose thoughts and desires rarely stray beyond the farm and the fields.His escape and simultaneously, only connection with the outside world, is his fascination with airplanes.In his few spare moments, Lewis collects articles about the newest innovations in flight.In rare moments, Lewis dreams of flying off to distant lands, freeing himself from the bonds of family, routine and the land.Yet, his alter-ego, Benjamin, always manages to hold him back.Shy, withdrawn, and sensitive, Benjamin takes after his mother, cultivating the more 'feminine' side of farm life: cooking, reading and keeping house.As if Chatwin wanted show the sheer interdependence of both types, Benjamin and Lewis grow into one person as it were, a yin and yang of the human type.Neither can exist without the other for long.When Benjamin gets drafted into the First World War, Lewis feels the torments and humiliations his brother undergoes at boot camp. Likewise, when Lewis 'threatens' to marry, Benjamin falls into deep depression and is saved from death only when his brother comes home again, alone.

From before the Great War to the early 1970's, Chatwin sketches the life of the Jones with incredible detail.As with all Chatwin works, the diamonds are in the pictures he paints, the characters he details.Every level of caste-ridden England and egaliterian Wales is represented with pithy accuracy. The overbearing and decadent English landlords flit away their estates with drink and profligacy while the dour Welsh peasants suffer in dirt and dearth with the hope for a 'better world to come.' The English are all staid High-Church tea drinkers, while the Welsh wander between pub and chapel.Ethnography isn't far from the surface as Chatwin's portrayal of the English-Welsh symbosis mirrors that of the twins.Two brothers so different, yet lost without the other.

Here, like in all Chatwin works, grand meanings are difficult to uncover. Unlike his predecessor of sorts, Thomas Hardy, Chatwin fails to get into the psychological nitty-gritty of why his characters act the way they do. Instead, we're given a canvas of life spread across seventy years and asked merely toobserve, sympathize and maybe see ourselves in one of the faces. In this way, 'On the Black Hill' resembles Kent Haruf's testimony to the American Midwest, 'Plainsong,' another novel about two brothers who chose to stay put rather than set out for something new, different, and better.And perhaps this is the message of the work: life isn't elsewhere, it's right under your nose.Coming from the highpriest of wanderlust himself, I'd say that's quite an insight.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paradoxically, Chatwin at his best in rural Wales
On the Black Hill is, on the face of it, a paradoxically British novel to emerge from the pen of a writer renowned for his curiousity for travel, the exotic and the fantastic. Following on from the Viceroy of Ouidah, a fantastical story set in 19th Century West Africa, 'On the Black Hill' tells the story of two twin boys, Benjamin and Lewis who they spend the entirety of their lives farming in rural Wales.
Chatwin masterfully captures the subtelties of the Welsh countryside - the roughshod agricultural basis to everyday life, the elitism and mannerisms of the gentry, the subtle changes in the weather, the dark, brooding landscapes and the eccentric and intriguing characters of the local community.
For my money, Chatwin is at his best when using his talent for descriptive prose to describe the everyday rather than the fantastic. His eye for detail and story telling enable him to bring the lives of insular rural types to life in a way that sets 'On the Black Hill' apart from the large body of books written about British country life. The plot develops gently and gradually, with events such as the First World War and the development of the motor car affecting the community in realistic and entertaining ways. One emphathises with the characters as their lives are shaped and developed and the 20th Century history of the area is bought to life in a manner that few other rural novels manage.
Chatwin the nomad actually excells when involved much closer to home than one might imagine.

4-0 out of 5 stars An eloquent celebration of the quiet life.
On the Black Hill is an elegantly written homage to the inelegant life ofrural Wales, a life in which no one ever strays far from the farm--thereare few opportunities and little motivation to do so. Spartan lives areenriched by stories and gossip,slights are never forgotten,feuds reachepic intensity, and bottled-up frustrations simmer till they explode. Through rich and vivid descriptions of the minutiae of daily existence, wecome to know twin brothers Lewis and Ben Jones as they grow up and areshaped by their family and their small community.The townspeople becomeour own friends or enemies, depending on their behavior towards the twins,and we empathize with them as they use their limited resources to strugglewith the Big Questions which concern us all--questions of life, love,spirituality, death, cruelty, justice, and ultimately,happiness. Byparing life to the bone here, Chatwin gives us a classic example of theadage, "Less is more." ... Read more

5. Bruce Chatwin: A Biography
by Nicholas Shakespeare
Paperback: 672 Pages (2001-07-17)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$25.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385498306
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Award-winning novelist Nicholas Shakespeare has written the definitive biography of one of the most influential literary figures of our time: Bruce Chatwin, whose works’ strangely compelling combination of research, first-hand experience, myth, and mystification may have been the real substance of his seemingly contradictory life.

Chatwin’s first book, In Patagonia, became an international bestseller, revived the art of travel writing, and inspired a generation to set out in search of adventure. Chatwin became a celebrity, while remaining a conundrum. With little formal education, he had become a director of Sotheby’s. An avid collector, he eschewed material things and revered the nomadic life. Married for twenty-three years, he had male lovers throughout the world. And only at his death did his personal myth fail him. Nicholas Shakespeare, who was given unrestricted access to his papers, spent eight years retracing Chatwin’s steps and interviewing the people who knew him. The result is a biography that is at once sympathetic and revelatory.
Amazon.com Review
Bruce Chatwin was the golden child of contemporary English letters. Paradoxically, however, his books appeared relatively late in his life: until 1977, when the 37-year-old author published In Patagonia, this precocious, intense figure had occupied himself as an art specialist at Sotheby's, a journalist with the Sunday Times, an archaeologist, and a restless, perennial traveler. Once he got started, of course, Chatwin made up for lost time. By 1989, when he died of an AIDS-related illness, he had produced seven books--including two superb novels and his sui generis masterpiece, The Songlines--and won himself a worldwide audience.

As Nicholas Shakespeare makes clear in Bruce Chatwin, his subject remained an obsessive art collector long after he left Sotheby's. He was no less assiduous when it came to the acquisition of human trophies, taking both male and female lovers throughout the course of his marriage. Many a wife might have resented these magpie impulses--and indeed, Elizabeth Chatwin and her errant spouse endured some rocky times. Yet she remained touchingly loyal to him, and it was her cooperation and tenacity that enabled this biography to come about. Shakespeare captures the author's peculiar charisma and his tendency to transform everything--friendships, landscapes, meals, journeys--into aesthetic artifacts. Even when Chatwin experiences a writer's block while working on The Viceroy of Ouidah, he does it with style:

To try to finish the book, Bruce rented a house in Ronda for five months: "an exquisite neo-Classical pavilion restored by an Argentinean architect who has run out of money." He wrote in longhand on 20 yellow legal pads, refilling his Mont Blanc from two bottles of Asprey's brown ink.
There is excellent, evocative writing throughout Shakespeare's biography. The passages describing Chatwin's miserable death are both harrowing and deeply moving, but Shakespeare is no less adept at conveying, say, his subject's disappointment at failing to win the Booker Prize for Utz. (Chatwin cheered up considerably when a friend told him that Alberto Moravia had given the book a glowing thumbs-up in an Italian newspaper.) What comes across most, perhaps, in this immense and excellent life, is the complete aloneness of the man, an almost impenetrable solitude. Australian poet Les Murray may have had the last word when he noted: "He was lonely and he wanted to be. He had those blue, implacable eyes that said: 'I will reject you, I will forget you, because neither you nor any other human being can give me what I want.'" --Catherine Taylor ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat deceptive but vary enjoyable nonetheless
Its fun to read about Bruce Chatwin's alleged 'genius' but you realize that for the most part, Bruce Chatwin had charisma and great recall of facts and tidbits, but analytically he spouted complete nonsense.Maybe that was his allure - his ability to make what is intellectually garbage seem real.In that regard, everything he wrote, and all his big ideas, were pure fiction.He was just great at confidently telling us it isn't, and we liked to believe him.

I've read this biography a couple of times, if only because I ran out of books and love reading all the lurid details about a sexually confused, self destructive narcissist like Bruce Chatwin.

I highly doubt I will read anymore books by Bruce Chatwin after reading (and re-reading) this biography.I will say that Nicholas Shakespeare does give a good read - but he pulled his punches - probably because he knew Bruce Chatwin and both are British writers moving (or least used to move) in the same circles.I really can't fault the biographer for that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well worth your read
Have you read Chatwin's books, and wondered more about the man who wrote them? I certainly did, and Shakespeare's biography of Chatwin is a well-researched, and extremley well-written insite into B.C. Shakespeare has clearly spent a great deal of time interviewing and collecting information about Chatwin, which (given B.C's diverse persona) is no easy task.

Shakespeare helps to reveal the character behind these mysterious books, and taps into the personal life and inspiration of this intrepid travel writer. I am certaint this is the best biography of Chatwin on the market today; and after having read this, it seems that Chatwin's truly restless nature - and his personal insecurities - are better understood than simply having read his works. A majestic and incredible life is revealed in this biography. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant biography- if you are already a Chatwin fan
I loved this book. I thought it was the best biography I have ever read. But, like shakespeare, I am biased, coming into the reading of it already captivated by Chatwin's writings and personality. Those who are of a similar disposition must read this book, each line is carefully researched and laid out to present the complex facets of Chatwin's life in all its glory.

People who are not Chatwin fans will probably find this book so so, and may feel annoyed by the selfish, arrogant, insensitive and, at times, brutal attitude of Chatwin's personality - exemplified over issues such as his explotation of people in Patagonia and Australia to generate his own unique material for 'In Patagonia' and 'The Songlines' and his frequent betrayal of his devoted wife. Some people I know even think Chatwin deserved his premature death in 1989 from Aids.

Although Shakespeare is obviously in the former category- in a review of Utz he calls Chatwin 'the greatest stylist writing in England today'. But he does consider all the sides of Chatwin's remarkable personality and left me at the end shaking my head at what a remarkable life he led, wishing I could have met him in the flesh.

2-0 out of 5 stars Flawed biography
My main beef with the book was with its fawning biographer.I felt as if Shakespeare lost his objectivity, and fell under the star power of his subject.While he discusses Chatwin's flaws, he does so with an aspect of fan-worship, which, if one is to believe the biography, was par for the course - everyone fell under his spell.I would hope for better from the biographer - some more real balance, some real critisism.

By-products of this were some seriously pedantic chapters.For example, the chapter about the cabinet wasn't painstakingly researched, it was painfully boring.I remember a relationship with someone who I loved so intensely that I was able to draw her likeness from memory, which was remarkable, given my complete inability to draw anything's likeness.Shakespeare appears to seek to recreate Chatwin through sheer intensity of concentration, spending inordinate time on irrelevant minutae.At the end of the day, he does his subject a disservice.

2-0 out of 5 stars Flawed biography
My main beef with the book was with its fawning biographer.I felt as if Shakespeare lost his objectivity, and fell under the star power of his subject.While he discusses Chatwin's flaws, he does so with an aspect of fan-worship, which, if one is to believe the biography, was par for the course - everyone fell under his spell.I would hope for better from the biographer - some more real balance, some real critisism.

By-products of this were some seriously pedantic chapters.For example, the chapter about the cabinet wasn't painstakingly researched, it was painfully boring.I remember a relationship with someone who I loved so intensely that I was able to draw her likeness from memory, which was remarkable, given my complete inability to draw anything's likeness.Shakespeare appears to seek to recreate Chatwin through sheer intensity of concentration, spending inordinate time on irrelevant minutae.At the end of the day, he does his subject a disservice. ... Read more

6. What Am I Doing Here?
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 384 Pages (1990-08-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$5.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140115773
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In this text, Bruce Chatwin writes of his father, of his friend Howard Hodgkin, and of his talks with Andre Malraux and Nadezhda Mandelstram. He also follows unholy grails on his travels, such as the rumour of a "wolf-boy" in India, or the idea of looking for a Yeti.Amazon.com Review
This is the last of Bruce Chatwin's works to be publishedwhile he was still alive (he penned the introduction in 1988, a fewmonths before he died). It's a collection of Chatwin gems--profiles,essays, and travel stories that span the world, from trekking in Nepaland sailing down the Volga to working on a film with Werner Herzog inGhana and traveling with Indira Gandhi in India. Chatwin excels, asusual, in the finely honed tale. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars The title is the key
I loved the book; read it years ago and am now re-visiting it. What always struck me was the title - without the question mark (?) - why do I see so many pages about the book on the web where a "?" is included at the end of the title? Adding it just demeans the author and the reader as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too much about people and not enough about travel
Chatwin's stories of Africa, Nepal and Afghanistan of the 1980s were all very riveting, but there were many more essays about his obscure friends I had no interest in.I especially liked his write-up of the civil war he experienced in a small African country.But because this book was mostly a profile of his friends, I only give it three instead of four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Master Stylist
This is Bruce Chatwin's dying opus. He edited the pieces in What Am I Doing Here (a quote from one of Rimbaud's letters, writing home from Egypt) whilst weak, fevered and dying from AIDS in 1988. It is the first and best of the collections of Chatwin's shorter writings, composed of articles written when writing for the Sunday Times Magazine in the early 1970s, other newspaper articles, Granta contributions and other miscellaneous pieces.

This compendium, arguably more than any of his other travel books and novels, gives a good insight into the complex and fascinating life Chatwin lived, always in pursuit of the bizzare, the exotic, the beautiful and a good story. Chatwin's writings cover themes as dispirate as travel, art, politics, people and literature. Always discussed in a terse, erudite style that became his trademark. The breadth and depth of Chatwin's knowledge is incredible, thus these writings are not the most accessible. Some appreciation of art history, literature and anthropology for example is necessary to comprehend some of the more esoteric pieces in the collection.

Readers who give Chatwin the time will be able to unravel a wealth of brilliantly illuminated stories. From personal tales about family members, meetings with fabulously well connected and artistic people - such as George Costakis the Soviet art collector and Madeline Vionnet the French dressmaker, descriptions of his travels to far flung places - Patagonia, Afghanistan, China, searching for yeti in the Himalayas - the list goes on, one never fails to marvel at the rich tapestry that comprised Chatwin's life. Certainly, he lived a life about as far from the mundane as it is possible to get.

How did Chatwin manage to constantly encounter such fascinating and varied people and draw out their stories? Part of the reason lies in his connections from his days working as Sotheby's, another explanation lies in his innate charm that seduced men and women all over the world. Also it should be remembered that Chatwin was frequently liberal with the truth in order to tell a story that fitted with his own remarkable perception of the world and its inhabitants. At times he put the fictional process to work in odd instances - his biographical piece on the artist Howard Hodgkin for instance has been declared innacurate by Hodgkin himself, and this as explained in the bibliographical note was published as a 'portrait of the artist' to accompany the catalogue for the Tate Gallery exhibition 'Howard Hodgkin's Indian Leaves'! How did Chatwin get away with it? The truth will probably never fully out, but I would recommend Nicholas Shakespeare's excellent biography 'Bruce Chatwin' for readers interested in finding out more about Chatwin's life.

As a final note, I agree with the opinion of Salman Rushdie that the four short pieces at the end of the book 'Tales of the Art World', written in the last year of Chatwin's life are among the best he ever wrote. Four final drops of genius that Chatwin left before departing this world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rocks and diamonds
Whether its following the insufferable Kinski through the jungles of Ghana, tracing the Von Daniken lines through the deserts of Peru or climbing after the mythical Yeti in the Nepalese Himalaya, Bruce Chatwin takes you to the strangest places and introduces you to the oddest folks. In 'What Am I Doing Here,' his hodge-podge collection of stories, travelogues, and portraits, Chatwin once again shows his talent for bringing the odd, the exotic and the extreme to light. Where else could one learn about such unknowns as Soviet art collector, George Costakis or South African composer, Kenneth Volans?During his world-wide wanderings, Chatwin met with more than his share of eccentrics and rescued them from oblivion with the magic of his pen. While one often wonders why we should know about these places and characters, it is Chatwin's masterfully wrought prose and storytelling gifts that keep you reading on.While many pieces skirt the periphery of eccentricity and will only appeal to hardcore Chatwinophiles, his best work centers around the more well-known.His biographical sketches of André Malraux and Ernst Jünger brim with sharp insights and intriguing facts. When it comes to giving you a taste of place, his river journey down the Volga does more in 20 pages then most travel writers achieve with 200.But his tour de force is his scathing and trenchant analysis of the demise of French Algeria in 'The Very Sad Story of Salah Bougrine.'Sad and savage at the same time, it explains the labyrinthian chaos of France's Vietnam better than any history book I've ever read.

Like in all his works, the line between fact and fiction is near impossible to discern, but in the end, it doesn't really matter as Chatwin creates sublime pictures with his words.It's not surprising that this ex-Sotheby's employee and art-fanatic sought to recreate with his pen what others have done with the brush.Often deemed a master storyteller, Chatwin was even more the master of the vignette.Brilliantly colored worlds of exotic people and places all dashed onto the page with a tightly-controlled pen.The best of these leave you with a zesty aftertaste, full of inspiration and quirky knowledge, while the weaker---most of the so-called 'stories' of the collection---often leave you hanging for more, searching for a point.

But maybe Chatwin wrote them with just that intention in mind: that there is no point, no underlying theme that might glue these disparate pieces into one congruent whole. Instead, one should revel in the chisled and stark sentences that hide much behind their austere exterior. Chatwin lures you in with his deceptively simple prose, then opens up a world full of rich imagery and insight.

If you are looking for an armchair escape to faraway lands, or for encounters with strange figures, then take a chance on Chatwin and dive into a world where you too will soon ask, 'What Am I Doing Here?'

4-0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
I wasn't familiar with Bruce Chatwin when my girlfriend gave me this book for Christmas. I really like his casual, captivating style. I doubt that he was able to write anything that I wouldn't find interesting. ... Read more

7. The Viceroy of Ouidah
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 160 Pages (1988-06-07)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140112901
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In this vivid, powerful novel, Chatwin tells of Francisco Manoel de Silva, a poor Brazilian adventurer who sails to Dahomey in West Africa to trade for slaves and amass his fortune. His plans exceed his dreams, and soon he is the Viceroy of Ouidah, master of all slave trading in Dahomey. But the ghastly business of slave trading and the open savagery of life in Dahomey slowly consume Manoel's wealth and sanity.

"This is Conrad's Heart of Darkness seen through a microscope." --The Atlantic Monthly

"Dazzles and mystifies, with its lush anger, its impacted memory, its gorgeous desolation." --The New York Times ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Much bigger than it appears to be
Bruce Chatwin's The Viceroy Of Ouidah masquerades as a small book. In 50,000 words or so, the author presents a fictionalised life that has been embroidered from truth. History, hyper-reality, the supernatural and the surreal and the cocktail that creates the heady mix through which strands of story filter. Overall the experience is much bigger than the slim book suggests.

We meet Francisco Manuel da Silva, a Brazilian born in the country's north-east in the latter part of the eighteenth century. We learn a little of his background and then we follow him to Dahomey in West Africa, the modern Benin. He finds a place in society, consorts with kings, encounters amazons and conjoins with local culture. He also becomes a slave trader, making his considerable fortune by moving ship-loads of a cargo whose human identity is denied, as if it were merely the collateral damage of mercantilism. Francisco Manuel survives, prospers and procreates with abandon. He fathers a lineage of varied hue, a small army of males to keep the name alive and further complicate identity, and a near race of females who inherit the anonymity of their gender.

But The Viceroy of Ouidah is much more than a linear tale of a life. Bruce Chatwin's vivid prose presents a multiplicity of minutiae, associations, conflicts and concordances. Each pithy paragraph could be a novel in itself if it were not so utterly poetic. A random example will suffice to give a flavour.

"Often the Brazilian captains had to wait weeks before the coast was clear but their host spared no expense to entertain them. His dining room was lit with a set of silver candelabra; behind each chair stood a serving girl, naked to the waist, with a white napkin folded on her arm. Sometimes a drunk would shout out, `What are these women?' and Da Silva would glare down the table and say. `Our future murderers.'"

Within each vivid scene, we experience history, place, culture, and all the emotions, disappointments and achievements of imperfect lives. A jungle vibrates with untamed life around us. Treachery sours and threatens, while disease and passion alike claim their victims. It is a book to be savoured almost line by line. It provides an experience that is moving, technicoloured, but, like all lives, inevitably ephemeral. Like the outlawed trade that endowed riches, it eventually comes to nought, except of course for those who are inadvertently caught up in its net and whose lives were thus utterly changed if, indeed, they survived.

I read The Viceroy Of Ouidah without a bookmark, always starting a few pages before where I had previously left off. Each time, I read through several pages convinced that it was my first time to see them and then I would reach a particularly striking phrase and realise I had been there before. The extent of the detail and complexity of the images present a rain-forest of detail that is completely absorbing. The Viceroy Of Ouidah is thus surely a book worth reading several times.

5-0 out of 5 stars A formidable fictionalised biography of a slave trader
In only 101 pages, Bruce Chatwin (BC) evokes the life and times of Francisco Manoel da Silva (FMdS), who was a Brazilian slave trader in the African kingdom of Dahomey from 1812 until his death in 1857. His brilliant novella starts with a powerful description of the annual celebration of his passing away in Benin by his many present-day rather impoverished descendents, who today form branches of a true Diaspora. They hope, some are convinced that somewhere, somehow the supposed tremendous richness accumulated by the founder of the dynasty, is hidden, buried somewhere. BC's novella is a dazzling piece of reading and in today's terms politically incorrect, as it should be: each character is simply an extension of the era's principal protagonists' world views about the need for human sacrifice, for warfare, for profit from dealing in human bodies.
E.g., the Dahomey king argues: tradition rules there shall be war every dry season. What to do with captives? Behead them to reassure the elders, the Dead Kings that I have not gone soft in the head, or sell them in one piece to FMdS to live on in Brazil? There is a lot of madness in this book.
BC's previous job at Sotheby's guarantees total authenticity for the novella's visual impact by effortlessly naming the artefacts en vogue at the time, the imported brands, fabrics, household items, luxuries, tools, pieces of dress, etc. Similarly, BC has done exhaustive archival and field research in Britain, Brazil and Benin, as Dahomey is called today. In fact, during his early research there, he was mistaken for a mercenary after a failed coup and almost executed. In his posthumously published collection of journalistic writing called What Am I Doing Here, he admits the incident delayed the writing of this truly fabulous novella.
In 1988 Werner Herzog turned the novella into a movie called Cobra Verde, with Klaus Kinski playing FMdS. Director and star made four previous films and this (final) cooperation was not rated their best. Which proves that the book is always better than the film.

4-0 out of 5 stars Destroyed by the night
I came to Chatwin's The Viceroy of Ouidah by way of Werner Herzog's (very loose) film adaptation of it, "Cobra Verde."Herzog's film doesn't quite work.At the end of the day, it's rather fragmented.Chatwin's novel does work.

The storyline is simple, and ultimately, I think, not as important as the mood the novel creates.Francisco Manoel da Silva is an early 19th century Brazilian sharecropper who sails to the west African kingdom of Dahomey, makes a fortune in the slave trade, but is eventually brought low and dies penniless and mad.His descendants, wanting desperately to think of themselves as white and Brazilian, fetishizing their ancestor's memory, and nostalgically harkening back to the day when the da Silva name meant something in Dahomey, congregate annually to commemorate him.At the annual gathering that opens the novel, Eugenia, the only suriving child of Francisco, is dying.She's well over 100 years old.

None of this is remarkable.What's so powerful about The Viceroy of Ouidah (not an especially good title, by the way) is the mood it creates.Even better than Joseph Conrad, Chatwin draws a portrait of the dark and unfathomable forces of nature--both human and nonhuman--that we "civilized" folks who confront them can't even begin to imagine.We may think for a while, as Francisco does, that we're their master.But in the long run, to cite an unsettling scene in the novel, the night will slay us.The night will destroy us.

Paralleling the wild, insane, destructive forces of nature in the novel is the equally destructive slave trade that Francisco engages in.One reviewer has remarked that we gain no insight into Francisco's psychology, and I think this is an accurate statement.He remains opague to the reader.But this may be intentional on Chatwin's part:in his own way, Francisco is part of the very darkness that destroys him, and that darkness is too inky, too swamp-like, for clarity.

An extraordinary allegory.Not as rich as the author's later Utz, but well worth reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars difficult read
very hard to get into; it reads like a college literature assignment that you are supposed to decipher (not fun); not recommended

2-0 out of 5 stars Shining, but ultimately unsatisfactory
I am not a great fan of this novel. For me, this is Chatwin at his most show offy. This book followed hot on the heels of his thumpingly successful debut 'In Patagonia' and Chatwin was clearly garnering a reputation for describing far flung places in an original and inventive way. This he does in the Viceroy of Ouidah, a short biographical novel about the Brazillian Manoel de Silva who rose from poverty and obscurity to become the head of slave trading in Dahomey, now Benin in West Africa. A potentially brilliant framework for Chatwin's prose style to let rip you might think, but I think he goes overboard on the lush descriptions of the geography, climate and people of the regions he illuminates and loses sight of how to really engage the reader in the novel.

This novel was not all that well received when it first came out. His next work 'On the Black Hill' reveived the 1982 Whitbread Literary Award for Best First Novel, overlooking the fact that Chatwin had alreay published Viceroy previously and I think this is telling. I found the novel lacking in the gripping substance, intangible though that may be that really makes a great novel. Like one of the many works of art Chatwin catalogued when he was working at Sotheby's, it is a glistening gem, but beneath the surface, there is little that stirs the soul and lodges in the memory as passages of great fiction do.

Still worth reading though, as Chatwin at his worst is better than many writers at their best. ... Read more

8. Utz
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 160 Pages (1989-12-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140115765
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Bruce Chatwin's bestselling novel tracesthe fortunes of Kaspar Utz, an enigmatic collector of Meissen porcelain living in Cold War Czechoslovakia. Although Utz is allowed to leave the country each year, and considers defecting each time, he always returns to his Czech home, a prisoner of the Communist state and of his precious collection.

"A triumph." --The Washington Post

"Exquisite. . . One thinks of a Vermeer painting, a luminous miniature disclosing worlds within worlds." --Newsday ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars A collector held hostage by his treasures, or?
In 1998 Bruce Chatwin (BC) selected and edited his best journalistic work. He also lived to see the publication in 1998 of Utz, a work in progress for more than 20 years, which was short-listed for the year's Booker Prize. He did not live to see his collection of short pieces called What Am I Doing Here. He died of AIDS, or perhaps, as he claimed himself, of an extremely rare bone marrow disease contracted in Western China, in January 1989.
Utz is the romanticized life history of a man named Rudolf Just and his affliction, which in German is called Porzellankrankheit, a little-known type of addiction of very rich people.
BC met Utz in Prague in 1967 and they spent altogether 9.5 hours together. The novella is an account of this meeting and BC's subsequent investigations about what happened to him and his collection. Utz died in 1974. Much later BC re-established contact with the tiny cast of people surrounding Utz during their one encounter, and new perspectives emerge...
Kaspar Utz inherits a fortune at a young age when he is already under the spell of Meissner porcelain figures. He rapidly becomes an expert. He uses his considerable assets to acquire ever more items, but unlike the 17th century King Augustus of Sachsen, who surrounded himself with so many porcelain items that his small empire collapsed, Utz manages to keep together and even expand his collection. During WW II he moved his collection in time from Dresden to the cellars of the ancestral mansion. Later, after the communist takeover in 1948 and again in 1952 and after, he made deals with the new rulers of Czechoslovakia. BC wonders what the deals really implied... They did allow Utz to make annual trips abroad and for his collection to stay with him (albeit completely photographed and numbered by the State) until the day of his death, in his two-room flat.
BC's main question, what happened to the collection, is not solved in the novella, but plenty of possibilities are suggested. This meticulously researched and beautifully plotted and written novella is BC's farewell gift to humanity. A very rich and atmospheric book, requiring re-reading upon completion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
An exquisite novel, but Alas, too short!

And yet, it conjures unforgettable characters and evokes Prague in a way that makes you recognize it even if you've never been there.

It isn't just the main characters that are memorable, but all of the characters in this story, no matter how small a space they take up. Characters such as Orlik, the paleontologist who studies house-flies and who asked the narrator to examine Dutch and Flemish still-lifes of the seventeenth century "to check whether or not there was a fly in them", or the temperamentful ex-soprano who lived under Utz's apartment, or the man whose job was emptying garbage trucks, but who spoke English and was a writer, or the Ludvik and Zitek, other "garbage collectors" who were actually poets, writers, philosophers and out-of-work actors.

While most of the characters in the book seem unfazed by the restrictions imposed upon them by the regime in former Czechoslovakia, they do, however, express themselves in constantly enigmatic terms such as "maybe yes, maybe no", "maybe it is, maybe it is not", "maybe they are alive, maybe they are not"... whether that is the only deference to circumspection they are willing to offer, or whether it is
due to a need to inject mystery into their lives to compensate for its grimness and predictability, we do not know for sure..

The world of the story seems divided into several "parallel universes" that coexist side-by-side, that of the characters versus that of the figurines, whom "Utz", the protagonist, regards as living entities, as well as that of the communist regime versus the people, who find ways to navigate around it with the least confrontation and maximum benefit possible.

The question of the fate of the collection remains unanswered in the end, with the narrator offering a wild guess that is neither confirmed nor denied. The story ends at the sight of the one character that could give him the answers. We, however, do not learn what those answers are.

Maybe because the uncertainty of a "maybe-maybe not" is the only answer there is?

There is, however, one certainty about this book: its characters shall remain with you for a long time after you put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars A delightful novel
In this witty and delightful novel the author portrays a character called Kaspar Joachim Utz, an unconventional collector of Meissen porcelain. Despite all efforts to suppress individualism the communist regime of the late 1960s Czechoslovakia allowed Utz to keep a spectacular private collection of porcelain amounting to more than a thousand pieces, all crammed in a small two-roomed flat in Prague. The account of how Utz built up his collection is truly moving and the humour with which Mr Chatwin describes his peregrinations across Europe is irresistible. Wars, pogroms and revolutions offer excellent opportunities for the collector, Utz remarks ironically!
The novel is a sharp account of the history of Middle Europe from the 1850s to the Prague Spring in 1969, of the history of the Meissen porcelain production, of the absurdities of communism and also of the Czech spirit of which Mr Chatwin is a very keen observer.

5-0 out of 5 stars The world in miniature
In 'Utz' Chatwin has created an object that tempts yet resists definitive analysis.It resembles, in effect, a piece of the Meissen porcelain which is central to its concerns.At once exquisitely wrought, yet appealing to coarser interests, it is a paradoxical synthesis of the refined and the grotesque.
It is, in a sense, a piece of travel writing - the travel is not merely geographical, but also through time and through the life of the eponymous protagonist. The minor characters are sparkling caricatures, Chatwin's gleaming words fashioning figures as charming, and as repulsive, as the variously described Meissen figurines. The narrator asks himself, and implicitly asks us too,how much and how little we see and learn of all of this, and how much we invent in our need to make the narrative, and perhaps the world with its baffling cast of beings, coherent and meaningful.
Chatwin's prose possesses grace and clarity.It supports a multitude of learned references effortlessly.The tone has hints of the great European classics, even 'The Magic Mountain' (this being Utz's intended reading on his first venture away from Communist Czechoslovakia), but remains light and readable. Yet this supple style allows Chatwin to speculate over the length of Utz's virile member, and over his fetish for gargantuan divas.It ranges easily from the personal to the political. The style itself is a worthy object for a fetishist, and in its precision and erudition suggests that the author himself finds words his fetish.
The book entertains a feast of ideas - the role of art in at once defeating and heightening fears of death and aging; the sublimation of the desire for physical beauty; the tension between the private and political (was Utz, after all, a spy, or, at the least, a conduit for stolen works of art to be sold in the West for the profit of the Czech state); the fragility and tenacity of acquaintance and friendship; the role of fantasy in lives constantly moulded by hard realities.
All of this is layered within 150 odd pages.What might be said to be missing is the overt portrayal of a complex character - we see Utz, and his offsiders, and indeed Chatwin himself, glancingly.But such glimpses only help to inspire a wonder for the world and all its inexplicable variety - and, for me, for a book to foster such inspiration is a great achievement.
A truly beautiful work of art.

5-0 out of 5 stars To live in artistic rapture!

Armin Muller Stahl made a tour de force acting as the patience collector. Art against fashion; cosmic breathe against fashion concerns. These figures are a real visual feast.

The amazing dialogues , the assertive narrative pulse and the ravishing performance of Stahl deserved for him the Best Actor Award in Cannes 1992.

If you are a artwork collector as I do, acquire this unusual movie.

... Read more

9. Far Journeys
by Bruce Chatwin
Hardcover: 160 Pages (1993-11-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$44.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670851485
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
One hundred stunning photographs taken by the late novelist and travel writer complement his journals of the time that he spent in West Africa, Patagonia, Afghanistan, Java, Turkey, and other places, 10,000 first printing. First serial, The New Yorker. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars If you're a Chatwin fan...
Look, if you're a Chatwin fan (which I definitely am), then you just have to have this book, end of story.

I'm not going to say that his photographs changed my life, or that they are the best in the world.But, they are interesting, and they seem to mirror his text and even to enliven it.He seemed to love color and pattern, and even pictures of every-day sorts of things (like doors or a canoe - notice the cover) are vibrant.

I love Bruce Chatwin's writing, and seeing his photographs seemed like a logical step.And, there are great excerpts from his journals in this book, too.Those shouldn't be missed if you're a fan. ... Read more

10. Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969-1989
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 224 Pages (1997-08-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$3.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140256989
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A celebrated novelist and bestselling travel writer, Bruce Chatwin has been called the foremost literary traveler of his generation. In this collection of writings, Chatwin's enduring fascination with restlessness surfaces in every period and aspect of his career. From his wartime English childhood to his far-flung journeys, this collection shows Chatwin as masterful narrator, outspoken reviewer, and audacious essayist.Amazon.com Review
The dangling ends of Bruce Chatwin's writing career wereposthumously tied together by Jan Borm and Matthew Graves in acollection of 17 previously neglected or unpublished essays, articles,short stories, and travel tales. They span 20 years of writing, yetcommon threads emerge: his compulsive storytelling, the endless lureof the remote, and his keen sense of place. Borm and Graves havecompiled a wonderful gift for the many Chatwin fans who miss him. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Nicely mixed bag!
Bruce Chatwin was one of those rarities in the world of English letters.An 'artiste.'A true craftsman of the word. His pristine, illuminous sentences are models of how the English language can and should be used. With nothing superflous, each word and each comma masterfully measured, Chatwin's style beams like an eternal sun amidst the often grey, turbid sky of English prose.Chatwin did for modern English prose what Larkin did for modern English poetry; he slayed the dragon of prolixity. He sped things up, showered them with lots of sun and then sent them on their way. A liberator with the pen.

This sprawling collection of miscellaneous stories, sketches and essays comprise some of Chatwin's best work.Unfortunately, mere beginnings, a glimpse into what could have been had Chatwin lived longer.The bio pieces like 'I Always Wanted to Go to Patagonia,' and 'A Place to Hang Your Hat,' poignantly examine the forces behind this brilliant wanderer.The obsession with exotic places and persons, a lonely, fatherless childhood and his insatiable curiosity are all laid bare with humor and pathos. With his essays on the 'The Nomadic Alternative,'(the strongest part of the collection) Chatwin extends his own incurable migratory needs into a well-argued case for the nomadic lifestyle.Chatwin claims that our most natural---and most desirable---state is that of constant migration, carrying little and not staying for long in any one place.With the building of cities, man became 'thing-oriented' and began to hoard his precious property behind walls to protect against the violent forces from without.Chatwin argues that if we hoarded less, we would evoke less greed, less aggression and thus, cause much fewer problems for ourselves.While Chatwin's arguments have their grey spots, they always manage to challenge the reader with something original.

The other parts of the collection, mostly stories and literary reviews, are enjoyable, even if not on the same level of the other pieces. Yet, Chatwin's style keeps you turning the pages even when the content doesn't.With his terse, energetic sentences, he shows a world virginal and ready for discovery.

While only genuine Chatwinophiles will get worked up about this collection, those interested in quality writing would be wise to take a rest stop here.And for those with pack and pen, ready to conquer the sunset, a finer model couldn't be found.

4-0 out of 5 stars A charming collection of half forgotten Chatwin texts
If you accept the disadvantageous consequences of a collection of disjointed texts, and take this book for what it is, you'll definitely enjoy reading it.

And maybe this collection isn't so incoherent after all.The texts gain coherence from Chatwin's ever returning themes, a.o. restlessness and rootlessness (united in his preoccupation with Nomadism), and above all Chatwin's writing style, which is abundantly present in all texts.All texts benefit from a Chatwin flavour.

I really enjoyed this book. I can't imagine haven't read the autobiographical sketches `I always wanted to go to Patagonia' or `A place to hang your hat', the review `Abel the nomad' orthe three texts gathered in part III "The Nomadic Alternative". These texts are classic Chatwin texts, if you would ask me.

The 'Songlines' might be more epic, 'In Patagonia' more odd, but 'Anatomy of Restlessness' is incontestable Chatwin's most charming book. Very charming, indeed.

2-0 out of 5 stars stick with songlines & what am I doing here
I was happy come across a book by Chatwin and another title that seemed to make sense to me. But - disapointment followed. This book is full of name dropping and references so obscure to a time and age that is really only talking to the gilded ex-pats of yore that were sitting in their chestnut studies in the colonised counties and it doesn;t go much beyond that. I think the basis for better is there in, say, the chapter "the Morality of Things" but published as it is, it is still unformed. The same goes for the Nomad chapters. Basically, these works were left unpublished for a reason. They should have stayed that way. Bruce has died and we should just appreciate his words from his own hand. I suggest you stick with the real Bruce.

3-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Chatwin, but not his best.
Fans of the great journeyman and travel writer Bruce Chatwin will not be disappointed by this collection of essays and short stories.Some of the fiction is quite nice, if esoteric (but very Chatwin); the essays on artare a little more digestable, if a little vague since they are removed fromtheir original context.

Not the greatest of books, but certainly not afailure or something a big fan should miss. ... Read more

11. Winding Paths: Photographs by Bruce Chatwin
by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 192 Pages (1999-10-14)
list price: US$33.05 -- used & new: US$95.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0224060503
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Throughout his travels, Bruce Chatwin took thousands of photographs. They demonstrate his legendary "eye" at its best, showing a sense of colour and surface, an ability to find beauty in the most mundane of objects or prosaic of places. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazon.co.uk Review
Amazon.co.uk Review
Winding Paths, the largest collection of writer Bruce Chatwin's photographs yet published, is a visual feast of an accompaniment to his unclassifiable and unique books--In Patagonia, The Viceroy of Ouidah,On the Black HillThe Songlines and Utz. "Life is a journey through a wilderness", wrote Chatwin, and his extraordinary images record his sojourns in his own particular wilderness. Captured with his masterly eye for colour and beauty, we follow him to the markets of Istanbul, where fish heaped upon fish gleam as if with the freshness of a painter's brushstrokes, to the rich ochres and merciless sun of Mali and the aching, unreproduceable blue of the mosques of Iran where his quest takes him "in the footsteps" of the early 20th-century traveller Robert Byron. Then there is the human element: the black-and-white, almost 19th-century quality of his studies of the Welsh community in Patagonia, Argentina, which inspired his first book; the desert people of Mauritania, the camel drivers of the Sudan. Chatwin was "one of those rare and daring souls" writes Roberto Calasso in his introduction to Winding Paths "to open one's eyes and look is the primordial, irreducible prerequisite of knowledge." These photographs certainly pinpoint the clarity of Chatwin's vision and his belief that "to rediscover his humanity (man) must slough off his attachments and take to the road." --Catherine Taylor

Throughout his travels, Bruce Chatwin took thousands of photographs. They demonstrate his legendary "eye" at its best, showing a sense of colour and surface, an ability to find beauty in the most mundane of objects or prosaic of places. ... Read more

12. In Patagonia
by Bruce Chatwin
 Paperback: Pages (1977)
-- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002CZKNBM
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars I live in Patagonia
I moved to Patagonia, on the Chilean side and have traversed the Andes north and south of here.I read many travel and guide books before hand, and none quite prepared me for Patagonia.I have just now finished his book, and I can tell you...Patagonia has not changed much.The earlier writer who debunked him must have been just a passer through, because life is still very much like "In Patagonia".I'm living and learning it ... still.March 2009.

2-0 out of 5 stars Slow as a sloth
When a book lacks tension and features extensive quoting, it's bound to be boring. This book is boring, and the main reason is that it lacks a narrative thread, other than "been there, saw somebody, told me a long and winding story about somebody who was here some day". All trips are inner trips, but in this case I would say Chatwin looked inside himself, found not a lot, and decided instead to cut and paste from old stories from down south.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Romatic tale of Patagonia
Chatwin's account of his journey across Patagonia in the late 1970's certainly is embellished with all the qualities of a good English romantic.His tale begins with a memory from his childhood about a piece skin that was in the procession of his grandmother.She told him that is belonged to a Brontosaurus and came from the distant land of Patagonia in the south of Argentina.It turns out that the piece of skin in question actually belonged to a Mylodon, an ancient Giant Sloth native to Patagonia, and Chatwin received his fair share of belittlement from his schoolmasters for claiming it came from a dinosaur.Still, he held a special revere for the skin though and hoped to become its caretaker one day.Unfortunately the skin was tossed out after his grandmother passed away.He never lost his fascination with the distant and mysterious land of Patagonia though and always hoped to secure a piece of Mylodon skin for himself one day.

Fast-forward about 25 years and we pick up Chatwin's story as he arrives in Argentina, finally fulfilling his dream to visit Patagonia.His journey takes him all over modern Patagonia, if one can use the word modern in regards to the region, bouncing from town to town in search of old legends and odd tales.He investigates the haunts of the last known days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, visits the beaches the Darwin visited during his famous voyage aboard the Beagle, even visits the famous Mylodon cave where the archaic animal's remains were discovered.

Chatwin tells a remarkable tale and brings a nice mingling of history, myth, travel and local flavor all into one narrative.At several points he takes time to digress on several side stories that have a connection to the place he is visiting or a story that he is in the progress of rooting out.In spite of all this, or perhaps because of it, one gets the felling that all that Chatwin writes is not the stone cold truth.Certainly some areas are embellished to facilitate the flow of the narrative.Due to this it is hard to separate fact from fiction, but in a work such as this it is not especially important.Chatwin conveys the magic and mystery of the land that has for so long held a special place in his mind.He gives us a glimpse of what Patagonia has meant and stood for for generation after generation of seekers and travelers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work
It's rare to encounter such subtle humor as one finds here; the book is not only an adept sketch of life at the bottom of the world, it's a screamingly, if subtly, funny throughout. I borrowed it from the library, read it, and was so entertained and impressed that I sought out and purchased a copy. Simply a terrific book.

4-0 out of 5 stars More interesting than informative.
Depending on what you look for in a "travel" book you may or may not like this.If you're looking for history, natural history, or political developments, this is not the book for you.It is not comprehensive in any way.

If you're looking for entertaining reading set in an interesting location with snippets of odd information this book would be entertaining.Of travel authors I have read, this author most closely resembles Theroux, but without the curmudgeonly judging.Like Theroux, his facts may or may not be correct but he doesn't claim to be writing a textbook, just some stuff that happened to him in this place.

Mercifully, Chatwin spares us deep philosphical introspections so prevalent in much modern "travel" writing.

I read it and enjoyed it and recommend it. ... Read more

13. In Patagonia: The viceroy of Ouidah : the songlines
by Bruce Chatwin
 Paperback: 659 Pages (1997)
-- used & new: US$20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0006R0AJS
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

14. Photographs and Notebooks
by Bruce Chatwin
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1997-01-10)
-- used & new: US$96.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0330333356
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Throughout his travels, Bruce Chatwin took thousands of photographs and completed a number of notebooks, featuring such subjects as Nouakchott shanty towns and Moorish travellers. Chatwin's first book "In Patagonia" won the Hawthorden Prize and E.M. Forster Award. ... Read more

15. The Light Garden of the Angel King: Travels in Afghanistan with Bruce Chatwin
by Peter Levi
Paperback: 230 Pages (1999-10-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$7.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1873429355
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Originally written in 1972, this classic work of travel literature charts the journey of an Oxford scholar and a legendary travel writer through a now–lost Afghanistan.With a new Introduction by the author. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars long on archaeology and art history,
short on good anecdotes and local color.and a rather dry style to boot.I love good travel writing and could not finish this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars To A Lost World-- With Chatwin, Too
Peter Levi is himself a remarkable figure: An English Jesuit who is a poet, art historian, classicist,and sometime archaeologist. "Light Garden of the Angel King" is Levi's account of his travels in Afghanistan in the late 1960s as he looked for remnants of Greek presence and examined the influences of Hellenistic art, and it's a wonderfully crafted piece. Spare, elegant, softly ironic, and informed by a sensitive intelligence and a deep knowledge of the classical world. Levi is able to evoke not only the age of Alexander's Bactrian conquests but the beauties and complexities of Islamic architecture and poetry and the travails of learning Persian. His travel companion here was the young Bruce Chatwin, and Chatwin's presence (and his fascination with nomads) gives this book a wonderful set of stories. The Afghanistan of the book is long gone, shattered by twenty years of invasion, resistance, and civil war, and for anyone who loves Central Asia, "Light Garden" is a reminder of a long-vanished world. It's very different from Newby's "Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" or Byron's classic "Road to Oxiana", but it is a brilliant travel book in its own right. Very much worth owning! ... Read more

16. Nowhere Is a Place: Travels in Patagonia
by Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux
 Paperback: Pages (1995-03)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871563592
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This thoughtful, captivating book presents two of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time recounting their impressions of one of the most remote and haunting places on Earth--Patagonia, the desolate southern region of South America. Includes 100 color photos. Theroux's introduction, "Chatwin Revisited," conveys his late friend's coy but adventurous spirit. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book about a fantastic place.
This book is about Patagonia, the southern part of South America.Windswept, cool, rainy or dry, depending on one's location, Patagonia is the uttermost realm of the Earth.This book, out of many, is the best I have ever seen on the area.

The writers, Paul Theroux, and the late Bruce Chatwin, are both very well acquainted with the region,Each writer has a differing style, and each writer's commentary therefore varies.Yet, both harmoniously intertwine into a fascinating mesh. In addition to each capturing the essence of the land and the harsh climate in his own way, both writers present fascinating vignettes on Patagonian history, culture, and people.

You will learn about the origin of Patagonia's name, its role in Shakespeare's plays, its history of sheltering Welsh nationalism, its ground sloth fossils, Butch Cassidy staying in hiding there, its glaciers and fiords, etc., etc., etc.

All of this is superbly complimented by Fred Hirschmann's stunning color photography.In four-color format, these photographs form the most excellent composite for a book since Eliot Porter's masterpiece on the lost Glen Canyon.Again and again, I return to these photos for their inspiration and beauty.

Most of us will never visit Patagonia and taste the local calafate berry.But if we can't, this book is the next best thing. I prize this book very much and recommend it to the hilt. ... Read more

17. Bruce Chatwin : Photographs and Notebooks
by Bruce; Wyndham, Francis; King, David Chatwin
Hardcover: 160 Pages (1993)

Isbn: 0224036548
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

by Bruce Chatwin
Paperback: 379 Pages (2003)

Isbn: 3150090997
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

19. Bruce Chatwin. Eine Biographie.
by Nicholas Shakespeare
Paperback: 827 Pages (2002-03-01)

Isbn: 3499231484
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

20. In Search of Nomads: An English Obsession from Hester Stanhope to Bruce Chatwin
by John Ure
Paperback: 240 Pages (2005-08-18)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786716509
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
For centuries, settled peoples have contemplated nomads with fascination and envy, or with disdain and fear. Both Americans and the British have had an obsession with nomadic peoples, stemming from their own wanderlust and admiration for the unfettered life. In Search of Nomads centers on four regions that are rich in nomadic culture—the Arabian peninsula with its Bedouin, the Sahara with its Moors and Tuareg, the mountain ranges of southern Iran with its migratory pastoral tribes, and the steppes of Central Asia with its Mongol horsemen and Tartar descendants. Author John Ure has traveled with all of these peoples and provides a brief account of the special characteristics and history of each group. However, one of the most appealing aspects of the book is the insight it provides into the often-eccentric British and American observers who chose to seek out and travel with nomads. Some were exiles from nineteenth-century high society, some were footloose adventurers like T. E. Lawrence; some were distinguished literary figures like Vita Sackville-West, while others were notable scholars like Gertrude Bell. In short, the visitors were often odder than the exotic peoples they visited, and John Ure brings both to life with skill and humor. ... Read more

  1-20 of 100 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.

site stats