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Chatwin, Bruce - The Songlines - ( Item 113979 )

Published in London by Folio Society. 2010. First Thus. Fine Hardback. No inscriptions or bookplates. Near Fine slipcase. Slight marks to panels of slipcase. Bound in buckram, printed and blocked with a design by Simon Pemberton. Approx. 288 pages; frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations. Size: 9 6 ins. Introduced by Nicholas Shakespeare. Illustrated by Simon Pemberton. Part fictionalised travelogue, part memoir, The Songlines was the book that crowned Bruce Chatwin's unconventional but brilliant literary career. In it, he merges stories of his childhood and of his restless wanderings around Africa, fascinating theories on early man's development and, of course, his passionate evocation of the invisible lines that criss-cross Australia, sacred to the Aborigines and along which they passed their 'dreamings' about the world's creation. Chatwin is not sentimental or idealistic he encounters plenty of drunkenness, poverty and hostility in his travels, as well as continuing racism and exploitation. Neither does he see himself as a saviour of Aboriginal traditions. Rather, he is exploring the issues that have haunted his life: in gaining material ease, what spiritual qualities have we lost? Which characteristic is dominant in human nature - aggression or compassion? And can we change? These are profound questions, but Chatwin handles them with an assured lightness of touch. Salman Rushdie, a friend and fellow-traveller, remembers Chatwin as 'so colossally funny, you'd be on the floor with pain'. From a Sydney art dealer almost falling off her camp stool when the Aboriginal artist she works with reveals he knows the profit she makes, to the moment when Cheekybugger Tabagee passes his songs to his tribal enemies to ensure they will not be forgotten, Chatwin mingles comedy with poignancy, and a robust faith in humanity illumines the book. He ends with the image of three elderly Aborigines who 'knew where they were going, smiling at death in the shade of a ghost-gum'. With a new introduction commissioned from Chatwin's biographer and illustrations from the brilliant young artist Simon Pemberton, this is a book to savour, ponder, and return to again and again.

Price 26.20                 Other items you may like                 Others by the same author

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