International Bestseller: The famed travel writer and author of In Patagonia traverses Australia, exploring Aboriginal culture and song—and humanity’s origins.
Long ago, the creators wandered Australia and sang the landscape into being, naming every rock, tree, and watering hole in the great desert. Those songs were passed down to the Aboriginals, and for centuries they have served not only as a shared heritage but as a living map. Sing the right song, and it can guide you across the desert. Lose the words, and you will die.
Into this landscape steps Bruce Chatwin, the greatest travel writer of his generation, who comes to Australia to learn these songs. A born wanderer, whose lust for adventure has carried him to the farthest reaches of the globe, Chatwin is entranced by the cultural heritage of the Aboriginals. As he struggles to find the deepest meaning of these ancient, living songs, he is forced to embark on a much more difficult journey—through his own history—to reckon with the nature of language itself.
Part travelogue, part memoir, part novel, The Songlines is one of Bruce Chatwin’s final—and most ambitious—works. From the author of the bestselling In Patagonia and On the Black Hill, a sweeping exploration of a landscape, a people, and one man’s history, it is the sort of book that changes the reader forever.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Bruce Chatwin including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.
“The Songlines is one man’s impassioned song.” —The Daily Telegraph
“Extraordinary. A remarkable and satisfying book.” —The Observer
“His bravest work yet . . . No one will put it down unmoved.” —Andrew Harvey, The New York Times Book Review
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. He worked for the Sunday Times from 1972 to 1975, 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 and directed by Werner Herzog; and Andrew Grieve’s On the Black Hill. On publication, The Songlines went straight to number one on the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread Literary Award for First Novel. Utz, another work of fiction, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Chatwin died in January 1989 at the age of forty-eight.
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