Anywhere out of the world

The work of Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin's writing career was a litany of success. This book provides the definitive critical perspective upon the literary life and work of this enigmatic and influential author. Though his career spanned merely twelve years, his impact and influence was profoundly felt; Chatwin's first book In Patagonia 'redefined travel writing', whilst his later work The Songlines became one of the literary sensations of the 1980s. All of Chatwin's major themes - besides restlessness, include such related topics as liminality, the psychology of exile, the innate goodness of man, the appeal of asceticism and the anxiety of the collector, amongst others - found their wellspring in the author's life. His tendency to romanticise the manner and motivation behind relatively prosaic life-decisions results partly from his writerly tendency to form narrative from incoherence and ambiguity. The book then presents a linear analysis of the argument of The Nomadic Alternative, and presents fuller citations than would necessarily be the case in the discussion of a publicly available text. In Patagonia relentlessly focusses on the individual story, eschewing the conventions of narratorial reflection or environmental description. The Viceroy of Ouidah is essentially a work about the perils of restlessly travelling in search of illusory goals - and ultimately getting stuck. The opening pages of On the Black Hill, introduces the dualistic framework which Chatwin sets up in the conceit of the characters, Lewis and Benjamin Jones.

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