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Bruce Chatwin Paperback – 6 Apr 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099289970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099289975
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 535,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Bruce Chatwin was the golden child of the contemporary English novel; by the time he died of an AIDS-related illness aged 49 in January 1989 he had produced the startlingly original masterpieces that made his name. Chatwin came late to being a published writer; In Patagonia, his instant classic of what can loosely be termed "travel literature", came out in 1977. In the preceding years this precocious, intense figure had been an art specialist at Sotheby's, a journalist with The Sunday Times, an archaeologist and a restless, questing traveller. By the time his novel of studying the Aboriginal dreamtime in Australia, The Songlines, was published, he had gained a worldwide audience.

An obsessive art collector, Chatwin also acquired people as he did fabulous objects. He took both male and female lovers while continuing to remain married to his wife Elizabeth, seemingly the most enduring relationship of his life. It is her cooperation and tenacity which enabled this biography to come about, as well as Nicholas Shakespeare's exhaustive research (the book was eight years in the making). It is the international span of Chatwin's experiences that makes the reader appreciate his desire to know all cultures and disciplines. There is some excellent, evocative writing here, particularly in Shakespeare's account of Chatwin's last weeks, his disappointment at not winning the Booker Prize for Utz and the detailed passage describing Chatwin's awful, miserable death surrounded by friends and family. There are a plethora of adjectives used to describe Chatwin such as "elusive", "mercurial", and "charismatic". Yet what Nicholas Shakespeare brings across in this immense, excellent life of Chatwin is the complete aloneness of the man. He was a flamboyant fabulist, an unparalleled conversationalist, yet, as the Australian poet Les Murray is quoted as saying: "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


"Of my contemporaries he had the most erudite and possibly the most brilliant mind" (Salman Rushdie)

"An epic piece of work of immense satisfaction... Awe-inspiring" (The Times)

"A fascinating account of the man behind the myth" (Guardian)

"Comprehensively researched, elegantly written, perfectly balanced between the life, the books and the ideas" (Independent on Sunday)

"Quite simply, one of the most beautifully written, painstakingly researched and cleverly constructed biographies of this decade... Original, intelligent and observant" (Literary Review)

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on 9 June 1999
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 August 2000
Format: Paperback
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
11 Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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