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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It seemed to me to be a very honest book – the person telling the story does not try to make himself seem better than he is. And this brings me back round to The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.

We journey in search of him through the fictions he put up as defences. According to Wikipedia, he was not a man with a reputation for scrupulous adherence to boring facts when there was a better story to be had by using some creative license. This work established his reputation as a travel writer.

Jun 03, Rebecca rated it did not like it Shelves: Lists with This Book. InChatwin interviewed the year-old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted. And The Songlines presents unforgettable details about the kinds of disputes we know all too well from less traumatic confrontations: The focus of the book is on the culture of the native Australians, and the essential relationship of ecology to culture.

Did they find something to admire or abrogate the memory of the place which was missing in my own observations? Some of the material is loosely relevant to the book if The Songlines is viewed under the the larger theme of nomadic peoples; some of it is interesting but largely irrelevant, such as his rambling discussion of paleontologists’ discoveries about the evolution of early man.


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The Songlines – Wikipedia

So, is the book worth reading? He knew where there were tubers underground. Nel suo bagaglio i suoi taccuini di appunti, presi nei suoi soonglines in Straordinario diario di viaggio alla ricerca dei miti degli aborigeni.

There was plenty in this book that irritated me, and at times, yes things that fascinated me.

The storytelling and anecdotes are most entertaining for anyone interested in this side of Australian history and life. All of them were Moors except for myself and a person covered in a sack. Going back to Cain and 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 b Chatwin invests everything in this moving account of his research into the Songlines of Australia.


The very melody and rhythm of the song can mark direction and distance. The main Songlines in Australia appear to enter the country from the north or north-west from across the Timor Sea or the Torres Strait — and from there weave their way southwards across the continent.

Set in almost uninhabitable regions of Central Australia, The Songlines asks and tries to a In this extraordinary book, Bruce Chatwin has adapted a literary form common until the eighteenth century though rare in ours; a story of ideas in which two companions, traveling and talking together, explore the hopes and dreams that animate both them and the people they encounter.


People who don’t live in Australia think it is a song,ines place than it actually is – it is actually as big as the USA without Alaska. She was beginning to wonder whether language itself might not relate to the distribution of the human species over the land.

The people could find their way unerringly across vast territories simply by “singing” the ancient stories of the Dreamtime creatures. The last white man who attempted to talk to him — WELL!

The Songlines

I wish Chatwin hcatwin written more text like that. Under the surface, it’s none of these things and so much more. He had agreed to travel with Chatwin and act as intermediary with members of the Aborigines that they might encounter on the quest.

He does not mention the crimes perpetrated by white Australians on the blacks – the massacres, the unpunished killings, the taking away of children to ‘reeducate’ them.

Indeed after Chatwin’s death it came out that parts of In Patagonia had been either invented or substantially misrepresented. This book is three things: Ironically, neither of us proved to be very good nomads.

And the book continues what appears to be his life-long thesis: For The Songlinesa songines combining fiction and non-fiction, Chatwin went to Australia.