The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
About the Book:
‘Songlines’ or ‘Dreaming Tracks’ are what all Europeans call the labyrinth of invisible pathways that meander all over Australia. To Aboriginals, they are the ‘Footprints of the Ancestors’; they are both intricate sources of personal identity and territorial markers.
From such ancient line, Bruce Chatwin has been able to trace a great deal about an Aboriginal culture as complex as it is different from our own.
The conflict between the two ways of life mirrors that within ‘civilised’ man himself.
Disputes over the right to excavate land that is sacred to wandering tribes highlight the importance of myth and instinct in the human psyche. What might in other hands seem theatrically picaresque, Bruce Chatwin transforms into something approaching the scale of Greek tragedy. . .
Read a review here
About the Author:
Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield in 1940. After attending Marlborough School he began work as a porter at Sotheby’s. Eight years later, having become one of Sotheby’s youngest directors, he abandoned his job to pursue his passion for world travel.
Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, before announcing his next departure in a telegram- ‘Gone to Patagonia for six months.’
This trip inspired the first of Chatwin’s books, In Patagonia, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M. Forster Award and launched his writing career. Two of his books have been made into feature films- The Viceroy of Ouidah (retitled Cobra Verde), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve’s On the Black Hill.
On publication The Songlines went straight to Number 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel Award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker Prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight. Read more here.
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Published: 3 December 1998
Format: Paperback, 293p
Category: Classic Travel Writing