Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969-1989by Bruce Chatwin
Although he is best known for his luminous reports from the farthest-flung corners of the earth, Bruce Chatwin possessed a literary sensibility that reached beyond the travel narrative to span a world of topics—from art and antiques to archaeology and architecture. This spirited collection of previously neglected or unpublished essays, articles, short stories
Although he is best known for his luminous reports from the farthest-flung corners of the earth, Bruce Chatwin possessed a literary sensibility that reached beyond the travel narrative to span a world of topics—from art and antiques to archaeology and architecture. This spirited collection of previously neglected or unpublished essays, articles, short stories, travel sketches, and criticism represents every aspect and period of Chatwin’s career as it reveals an abiding theme in his work: his fascination with, and hunger for, the peripatetic existence. While Chatwin’s poignant search for a suitable place to “hang his hat,” his compelling arguments for the nomadic “alternative,” his revealing fictional accounts of exile and the exotic, and his wickedly en pointe social history of Capri prove him to be an excellent observer of social and cultural mores, Chatwin’s own restlessness, his yearning to be on the move, glimmers beneath every surface of this dazzling body of work.
There is a little something here for everyone: short stories of smoky debauch, like "Milk," or "The Attractions of France," with its quick slap at racism; singular takes on place, from Timbuktu to the venues in which Chatwin liked to writea mud hut, a signaling tower in Tuscany; a wicked social history of Capri during the early part of this century, featuring the exotic figures of Axel Munthe, Baron Jacques Adelswärd-Fersen, and Curzio Malaparte; an essay renouncing possessions and collecting (an interesting sidebar to his novel Utz); a critique of the "second-rate" Robert Louis Stevenson; a history of the doomed efforts of Antonio Soto to bring anarchism to Patagonia; formal essays on nomadism, pilgrimage, and the traveler's experience of returning home. He allows readers into his London bedsitter, though it is evident that he is more at home on the road, persistently drawn to strange landscapes and weird personalities (all the better if they are touched by evil or asceticism). The writing is tense, wound as tight as a clock's spring, the author seeming by turns sinister and superior and often on a very ragged edge, constantly testing his power of endurance, obsessively seeking a measure of himself in each piece. He crawls all over his topics, gets immersed, so much so that he has been labeled by some with his subjects' qualities: fascist, dilettante, deeply strange. But he is too fast-footed to fall for smoke and nonsenseconfrontational and oblique, wry and enthralled, uneasy and opinionated, snob, amateur, always originaland specious categorizations simply don't stick.
Even posthumously Chatwin remains, in a word, awesome.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 5.02(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.60(d)
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- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989) was the author of In Patagonia, The Viceroy of Ouidah, On the Black Hill, The Songlines, and Utz. His other books are What Am I Doing Here and Anatomy of Restlessness, posthumous anthologies of shorter works, and Far Journeys, a collection of his photographs that also includes selections from his travel notebooks.
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