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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He never really pulls his theories together. This page was last edited on 21 Novemberat In aboriginal belief, an unsung land is a dead land: Written a generation ago, in the ‘s, The Songlines has achieved considerable fame in the world of travel literature.

The last white man who attempted to talk to him — WELL! Only the italicized chapters let me down, partly because they seemed to pull the book This book is three things: The reader is led around in these rhetorical circles the same way Bruce is lead around in circles by his aborigine guides.

The focus of the book is on the culture of the songlinea Australians, and the essential relationship of ecology to culture. He does not mention the crimes perpetrated by white Australians on the blacks – the massacres, the unpunished songlnes, the taking away of children to ‘reeducate’ them. 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.

Not a conventional travel book by any means as Chatwin combines observations with philosophy, spirituality and dialogue while contemplating the nature of travel and mans desire to move around in a landscape which is increasingly more determined to ensure that we are sedentary.

All of them sontlines Moors except for myself and a person covered in a sack. 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.

The Songlines

Going back to Cain and Abel, myths and archeology point out that ever since man first pursued a sedentary life and created zonglines 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 songlijes into the Songlines of Australia.


What we had witnessed, he said, was not of course the real Lizard song, but a ‘false front’, or sketch performed for strangers.

Along with In Patagonia, this is one of Bruce Chatwin’s two best-known works. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. The narrative Bruce’s clumsy attempts to interrogate the Australian aboringine’s sacred knowledge smacks of neo-colonialistic cultural tourism.

He knew where there were tubers underground. In the odd way that life and fiction do come together, the depressed existence of the Aborigines that Chatwin meets in hindsight seems to foreshadow his own death. I am sure that most of the paleontology included in the book has been superseded by new data and new theories over the last 30 years, and can be happily ignored by readers who find that section dull.

Did they love it? And the book continues what appears to be his life-long thesis: Straordinario diario di viaggio alla ricerca dei miti degli aborigeni.

The Songlines – Wikipedia

The survival value of these songlines is clear if you consider that Australia is a mostly bone-dry country with irregular rainfall. He also related the travelling expressed in The Songlines to his own travels and the long nomadic past of humans. For the aboriginal mythology, see Songline. Jun 29, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: Moreover, as he insists this book is a work of fiction, I cannot grasp why he didn’t write anything more interesting than this plotless book.

This reminded me of a Nicolas Rothwell book of short stories, Quicksilverwhich I read last year and reviewed: I had no expectations and found a clear account of Australian travels.

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

So, if the Lizard Man were dragging his heels across the saltpans of Lake Eyre, you could expect a succession of long flats, like Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’. To ask other readers questions about The Songlinesplease sign up.

In line with the rest of his life while dying of AIDS he claimed that the symptoms he was suffering from were in fact the result of being bitten by a Chinese bat. I am getting better at putting down boring books, mainly cause I use the library and I don’t have to feel guilty about not finishing them because I didn’t invest any money in the first place. Since Chatwin was an art expert from his early years working at Sotheby’s auction house, he was particularly at home in writing howlingly funny stories about these encounters, as suitable background stories were quickly whipped up by artists and dealers to satisfy the demand of clients for a good, colorful, yet deeply symbolic tale to go along with their newly-acquired art pieces.


The wandering words of a wandering writer.

May 08, Robert Wechsler rated it really liked it Shelves: Two books I picked up from the library a few weeks back are this and The Songlines is one of them. Chatwin combines evidence from Aboriginal songljnes with modern ideas on human evolution, and argues that on the African Savannahwe were a migratory species hunted by a dominant feline predator.

The record of these travels provide an excellent feeling for the philosophy of the Aboriginals and their relationship to the land and their ancestors. The people could find their way unerringly across vast territories simply by “singing” the ancient stories of the Dreamtime creatures.

And of course it doesn’t help when you read in other reviews that he had the habit of inventing some of the stuff he wrote about also in other books. Yet her work on the dictionary had given her an interest in the myth of Babel. I read to just read, not because I like what I am reading, which songilnes this point in my life defeats the purpose of it all.

Sep 03, Gijs Grob rated it did not like it Shelves: There are many words used to describe different Aboriginal groups, but each has a different emphasis on who belongs to it.