Start your review of The Songlines Write a review Shelves: favourites-adult , chcc-library , politics-culture-social , fiction-adult , indigenous 4. One by one, he had watched the young men go, or go to pieces. Soon there would be no one: either to sing the songs or to give blood for ceremonies. In aboriginal belief, an unsung land is a dead land: since, if the songs are forgotten, the land itself will die. Bruce Chatwin was a highly regarded English writer and traveller with a deep curiosity about nomadic people. He was fascinated by the idea of songlines around the world that tell the story of the 4.
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Chatwin, who reinvented travel writing with his seminal book In Patigonia, was a restless soul. He travelled much of his life, which was sadly cut short in early middle age. In the opening pages of The Songlines he offers one plausible origin for this inveterate wanderlust in a childhood spent constantly on the move.
My mother and I would shuttle back and forth, on the railways of wartime England, on visits to family and friends. He feels that the need to travel is much more deeply engrained in us than mere childhood experience. For Chatwin the origin of our wanderlust goes right back to the dawn of human life on Earth.
For Chatwin to be a human is to be a traveler… Into the outback For his book the writer went to Alice Springs to find out more about about Australian Aboriginal culture. The reason he chose Aboriginals was because he felt they were the best-preserved nomadic culture still in existence. Before that and, for most of our history since we evolved from apes, we followed the migratory herds, living constantly on the move. The Songlines are a metaphor for this nomadic spirit.
They are a labyrinth of invisible paths that criss-cross the Australian outback. According to Aboriginal Creation myth ancient beings walked over these paths literally singing the land into existence.
As well as being a beautiful concept, for thousands of years the Songlines also served a very practical purpose. Since the songs contained an index of the geographical features of the land along a particular path, an Aborigine who knew the song could use it to navigate the land.
On his journey to learn more about The Songlines Chatwin butts heads with the darker reality of the contemporary condition of Aborigines. They are being egged on by a clientele of truckers and construction workers who call them names and hand them smashed bottles to attack each other with. I think part of the reason for this is that Chatwin had already made up his mind about Aboriginal culture and its place in his theory of life.
Because of this he often feels less concerned with learning first-hand from the local than with impressing on them his own vast stores of knowledge. In one fairly typical encounter he meets an old Aborigine, Father Flynn. At first the man has no interest in talking to him. Then Chatwin starts telling him about gipsies. The world is their hunting-ground.
He quotes from the likes of Rimbaud and Baudelaire as well as including relevant snippets from his own travels. His notes are fascinating and persuasive but, like the whole of The Songlines, also a form self-justification.
Chatwin was addicted to travel and he needed a way to understand that addiction. Ever the storyteller, he got round the taboo surrounding the disease at the time by claiming to friends he was suffering from a rare fungal infection picked up on a trip to China. He was just Latest Videos.
The origins of travel: A review of The Songlines (Bruce Chatwin)
Photograph: Bettmann Archive Nevertheless, judging by the sums I scrawled in the margins, I reckon we eventually cut between a quarter and a third of the typescript. The result was a swifter and consistently sleek volume: short phrases, short chapters, short book. Not much that went was wasted. Some of the cut material bobbed up in later work, in The Songlines , his baggiest and probably most famous book, and in On the Black Hill.
[PDF] The Songlines Book by Bruce Chatwin Free Download (304 pages)
They would remain in one place until Margharita decided to move, either because of concern for their safety, or because of friction among family members. Travelling in Patagonia , Milward had discovered the remains of a giant sloth, which he later sold to the British Museum. The skin was later lost, but it inspired Chatwin decades later to visit and write about Patagonia. He was forced to consider other options. His parents discouraged the ideas he offered — an acting career or work in the Colonial Service in Kenya. An interview was arranged, and Chatwin secured a job there.