The Songlines
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The Songlines

By (author) Bruce Chatwin

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The songlines are the invisible pathways that criss-cross Australia, ancient tracks connecting communities and following ancient boundaries. Along these lines Aboriginals passed the songs which revealed the creation of the land and the secrets of its past. In this magical account, Chatwin recalls his travels across the length and breadth of Australia seeking to find the truth about the songs and unravel the mysteries of their stories.

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  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 22mm | 222.26g
  • 01 Feb 2010
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • English
  • 0099769913
  • 9780099769910
  • 10,783

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Author Information

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. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, 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), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve's On the Black Hill. On publication The Songlines went straight to No.1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight.

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Review quote

"That Chatwin is one of the most distinct and original writers we have is confirmed by the publication of another quite remarkable book" -- Nicholas Shakespeare "The songlines emerge as invisible pathways connecting up all over Australia: ancient tracks made of songs which tell of the creation of the land. The Aboriginals' religious duty is ritually to travel the land, singing the Ancestors' songs: singing the world into being afresh. The Songlines is one man's impassioned song" -- David Sexton Sunday Telegraph "Chatwin is not simply describing another culture; he is also making cautious assertions about human nature. Towards the end of his life Sartre wondered why people still write novels; had he read Chatwin's he might have found new excitement in the genre" -- Edmund White Sunday Times "Chatwin delves into aspects of landscape that are beyond road signs and highways, and into a way of living that is entirely alien to the average European... those who are open to a bit of a wander will adore it" Evening Herald

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Review text

The author couldn't give an account of a trip to the shops without some fantastic embroidering of mundane reality. This blend of myth, observation and outright invention is less an account of Aboriginal mythology than an excuse for the author to let rip. Travel writing has never been the same. (Kirkus UK)

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