The Songlines Hardcover – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Chatwin's wanderings took him to Australia's red centre to explore the origins of these lines, as part of a project he was toying with (but never completed, so far as I'm aware) exploring the roots of man's incessant need to travel.
His prose is as sparse and dusty as the landscape itself as he meets the native and European Australians who inhabit the vast emptiness of the outback. The result is as beautiful and strange as the outback itself.
The book uncovers a little about the Aborigines, a group who have not been often explored in mainstream wirting before, as well as the racism felt by many Australians towards them.
But its main success is opening up the dusty interior itself - a place on a scale that is unimaginable to Europeans. Chatwin's triumph is to reveal the magic that pervades Australia - that a stagnant pond can be as important a spiritual site as Ayers Rock.
For anyone with an interest in Australia, Aboriginal culture or the nature of man's wanderlust, this is an essential read. Highly recommended.
The first parts of this book concentrate on Chatwin's experiences with the people of outback Australia be they Aboriginal or white. He seems to find truly remarkable people, each unique and even wild in their own way. Typical of Australia, it is full of people from all over the world, such as his friend Arkady of Russian extraction. Chatwin has a fascinating background with his experiences of other cultures often allowing him access to other, more conservative, people who are suspicious of the outsider. Using this technique he breaks down their resistance and writes with compassion and depth of his experiences. Unfortunately, two aspects come to light which I believe are not advantageous to the reading of the book. The first is his tendency to both promote and justify the practise of travelling or the nomadic lifestyle which he himself practises. The second is the habit of filling out the rest of the book with too many quotations from others rather than making use of his experiences with their beauty and uniqueness due to the meeting of people as he travels and the sense of the land which formed the backbone and pure joy of the earlier parts of the book.
Nonetheless an exceptional book and a joy to read. A very human book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an enjoyable book, although, for me, not nearly as insightful as it could be. Part of the reason for that is because it's essentially a travel book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
It hasn't worn well, either that or I am a more cynical person now.Published 5 months ago by Elaine V. McGill
A huge book - one of those books that keeps giving. Reading it again after many years, so many new things appear to me.Published 10 months ago by Lise B
Much of Chatwin's writing was a journey to discover why and how nomadic peoples exist in this world and he uses the chance to explore the songlines of the Great South Land as a... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Cynthia Burnett