With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer

Overview

Susannah Clapp was Chatwin's first editor, and she describes in detail her work with him on In Patagonia, a book that changed the idea of what travel writing could be. Her account skillfully describes his life from a series of oblique angles. We move from his childhood through the years at Sotheby's in London - years rich in the machinations of the art market - to his studying archaeology at the University of Edinburgh and the beginnings of his writing at the London Sunday Times Magazine, to his travels and the ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (48) from $1.99   
  • New (1) from $45.00   
  • Used (47) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$45.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(139)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

Susannah Clapp was Chatwin's first editor, and she describes in detail her work with him on In Patagonia, a book that changed the idea of what travel writing could be. Her account skillfully describes his life from a series of oblique angles. We move from his childhood through the years at Sotheby's in London - years rich in the machinations of the art market - to his studying archaeology at the University of Edinburgh and the beginnings of his writing at the London Sunday Times Magazine, to his travels and the six strikingly different books that he wrote before he died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 48. She gives us unique insight into how Chatwin thought and wrote and where he did it, whether in forts or towers, in Wales or Rajasthan, always with a Mont Blanc pen on American yellow legal pads, taking the material from his 85 moleskin notebooks (now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford), bought in a shop on the Left Bank in Paris. Clapp subtly brings to life the writer behind the work.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Peter Kurth
When the writer Bruce Chatwin died in 1989, word got around that he had succumbed to a rare exotic illness, "a fungus," as he told people, that he "must have picked up by inhaling it in the dust" on a trip to China. That Chatwin had AIDS was a fact known to lots of people in spite of his dissembling, but he still talked about a fatal condition "caused by Chinese eggs ... or by a visit to the Hong Kong bird market. He also spoke about a disorder caused by bats in caves," says Susannah Clapp, his editor in London and the author of this memoir, the first book about Chatwin to appear since his death. When Chatwin finally did permit the letters "HIV" to pass his lips, Clapp tells us, it was only to declare that he was "arranging an expedition to Africa to find a stable form of the HIV virus -- the Aga Khan was to be approached for funding."

"The word AIDS is one of the cruelest and silliest neologisms of our time," Chatwin had remarked in a letter to the London Review of Books the summer before he died: "'Aid' means help, succor, comfort, yet with a hissing sibilant tacked onto the end it becomes a nightmare." To a man whose reputation in life as well as letters rested firmly on his being a perpetual enigma, who prided himself particularly on his fastidious tastes and "hardly wrote a confessional line in his life," according to Clapp, AIDS must have seemed banal, colloquial and ultimately uncivilized.

"Chatwin occasionally sported a beret with his sharp suits," Clapp remembers, "and was given to entertaining his colleagues with imitations of Bea Lillie and with his rendering of 'A Bar on the Piccola Marina' -- the Noël Coward song which describes how love came to Mrs. Wentworth Brewster and sent her round the bend." When he wasn't quoting Coward it was Robert Louis Stevenson, who had written his mother in 1874, "You must remember that I shall be a nomad, more or less, until my days are done."

This is a splendid and honorable book, beautiful, true and faithful to the friendship it describes. As a travel writer, Bruce Chatwin redefined the form, first with his classic In Patagonia, and later in The Songlines, his novel -- or was it? -- about Australian Aboriginal culture. He "delighted in paradox," as Clapp reminds us. His work "hovered teasingly between fact and fiction. It abstained from personal revelation but was full of autobiographical memoir." Chatwin was a gay man contentedly married to an American woman, the son of "Birmingham worthies" who made himself at home in the tents of Bedouins and the beds of art collectors, who decorated his numerous flats and abodes with Swedish furniture, Japanese screens, Athenian reliefs and friezes by Matisse but nevertheless was "an inventive and adventurous traveler" who could sleep on the ground with the best of them. If he was secretive to the last, guarded and "difficult to hug," it was only in keeping with the persona he had fashioned for himself. He owned his own life; it belonged to him. In death, he still has the best of editors. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bruce Chatwin's abbreviated life--he died of AIDS at 48 in 1989--was a performance, his six books of travel writing and fiction included, according to Clapp. Her graceful and affectionate memoir, based on her experience with him as a friend and his British editor, is an informal biography, cutting through his extravagant reinventions of himself. His travel writings about exotic places suggest the adaptable loner, but Clapp reveals that the bisexual Chatwin often included a companion, seldom his devoted wife of 20 years. A compulsive nomad and compulsive talker, he worked out his blend of "fact, fantasy and folklore" in conversations with friends. His impressionistic In Patagonia brought him recognition; his bestselling The Songlines was published when he was already dying. A director of Sotheby's while in his 20s, he charmed clients into buying and selling not only because of his instincts for what was original and exquisite but also because, one critic gibed, he "keeps so many elderly millionaires on heat." Abandoning art because of eye trouble, Chatwin began a career in travel journalism for the Sunday newspaper glossies, then moved into books about isolated places but always returned from his trips to write in the posh pads of the beautiful and wealthy he knew through his genius for friendship, Clapp notes. While the name-and address-dropping begins to pall, the ever-young writer who saw himself as a new Robert Louis Stevenson seems likely from this account to be remembered more as a stylist in both life and art.
Library Journal
Clapp, founding editor of the London Review of Books, writes that Bruce Chatwin wanted an answer to the question: "Why do men wander rather than sit still?" Chatwin, who died of AIDS in 1989, would have appreciated Clapp's attempt at an answer. She not only explores Chatwin's life as a sojourner but also as a wandering connoisseur of all things fine, as a writer of insatiable curiosity. Her book is the first on Chatwin's life and work and reveals much, but never pruriently. Most of Clapp's memoir deals with Chatwin as a personality/celebrity/writer who rose rapidly at Sotheby, studied archaeology in Edinburgh, and then began writing for the London Sunday Times Magazine, which led to travel (nomadism, some would say) and six books (In Patagonia). Clapp examines all six thoroughly, with a creative insight nourished by having known Chatwin personally. What emerges is "Bruce being brilliant and Bruce being batty"and that makes for wonderful reading. -- Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana
Library Journal
Clapp, founding editor of the London Review of Books, writes that Bruce Chatwin wanted an answer to the question: "Why do men wander rather than sit still?" Chatwin, who died of AIDS in 1989, would have appreciated Clapp's attempt at an answer. She not only explores Chatwin's life as a sojourner but also as a wandering connoisseur of all things fine, as a writer of insatiable curiosity. Her book is the first on Chatwin's life and work and reveals much, but never pruriently. Most of Clapp's memoir deals with Chatwin as a personality/celebrity/writer who rose rapidly at Sotheby, studied archaeology in Edinburgh, and then began writing for the London Sunday Times Magazine, which led to travel (nomadism, some would say) and six books (In Patagonia). Clapp examines all six thoroughly, with a creative insight nourished by having known Chatwin personally. What emerges is "Bruce being brilliant and Bruce being batty"and that makes for wonderful reading. -- Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana
Kirkus Reviews
Clapp, who was Bruce Chatwin's dedicated editor at the British publisher Jonathan Cape, offers a delightful remembrance of the celebrated travel writer and novelist, drawing on her own experiences and on those of his closest friends. Blond, bright-eyed, beautiful, and brilliant: Chatwin exuded a mystique (amplified by his own self-mythifying tales) that captivated almost everyone who met him—as well as those who only read his books. Even a Welsh barmaid, observing his "theatrical way," said that if he "had been born in the 12th century, he would have been a wizard." Clapp wonderfully captures the ebullient conversationalist with an impeccable eye for works of art (in his 20s he was a rapidly rising star at Sotheby's) and a taste for immaculate spareness in his surroundings. Many of the facts here will be known to readers of Chatwin's books and collected essays, but Clapp adds much in the way of frank discussion of his bisexuality, along with the impenetrable mystery of his long marriage, and his sad deterioration and death from AIDS in 1989. Along the way, she charts his development as a writer, relating how she worked with him to carve out the slender, elegant In Patagonia from an unwieldy manuscript; how his novel On the Black Hill drew on experiences from his own childhood and on people and places he visited in Wales; how The Songlines finally freed him from his obsessive need to write about nomadism as the central human experience and allowed him to write his final work, Utz; and how that work showed a radical change in a man who had always shunned the accumulation of things and, facing death, became obsessed with the idea of collecting. (Notidealizing her subject, she also honestly analyzes the flaws she finds in his writings.). "There was always a thin line between Bruce being brilliant and Bruce being batty," Clapp notes affectionately. This tribute captures both sides with grace and charm—a must-read for all his fans.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679410331
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/29/1997
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 241
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Susannah Clapp worked as an editor and reader at Jonathan Cape. She helped found the London Review of Books, where she was assistant editor for several years, and is currently theatre critic for BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves. She lives in London.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)