Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce ChatwinI had no idea who Bruce Chatwin was a writer and nomad who was forever on a quest of the exotic and the unexpected Chatwin died at 48 only a few years ago of AIDS He had a long marriage but was bi sexual He started his career in England, he was British, working at Sothby s, becoming an art expert.As he travelled with his work, he developed a love of travel and really moved easily in diverse art,literary, and social circles His wife was from a wealthy New England family, so his travels also included the U.S He always travelled alone Two people have a defense, but a single person is approachable Chatwin on San Francisco So we went to San Francisco which is so unlike anything else in the U.S it doesn t really bear thinking about It s utterly light weight and sugary with no sense of purpose or depth The people are overcome with an incurable frivolity whenever they set foot in it Kasmin on Chatwin Bruce s biggest problem was where to be He never knew where to be It was always somewhere else Chatwin on Indira Gandhi I was prepared to allow her at least a dimension of greatness, but all you find is a lying scheming bitch. a collection of chatwin s letters, and some to him interesting for the completeist and fascinating look at a brilliant writer, a beastly human, a peripatetic soul Excerpt of letter to tom maschler, head of jonathan cape, chatwin is pitching his book idea about the history of nomads.chatwin never really did write this particular book, but considered a genius of travel writing of latter 20th century Chatwin seems a funny guy, treating his wife and family atrociously, friends too, but also intense, voracious, and he wrote a lot of letters In This particular letter, who knows how long it was, he basically narrated an in depth outline of a future book that he never really wrote to a prospective publisher, and here chatwin winds down the outline idea.From page 139 Now for today We may have enough food even, but we certainly do not have enough room Marshall McLuhan asks us to accept that literacy, the lynch pin if civilization is OUT that electric technology is by passing the rational processes of learning and that jobs and specialists are things of the past the world has become a Global Village , he says Or is it mobile encampments The expert is the man who stays put Literature, he says, will disappear and social barriers are coming down everyone is free for the higher exercises of the mind or spirit One thing is certain the Paterfamilias, that bastion of civilization not the matriarch is right OUT. The Definitive Collection Of The Letters Of The Enigmatic Writer, Providing New Perspectives On His Extraordinary Life Selected And Edited By Elizabeth Chatwin And Nicholas Shakespeare, With An Introduction By Elizabeth Chatwin I Am Most Certainly In The Mood For Writing Letters Bruce Chatwin Is One Of The Most Significant British Novelists And Travel Writers Of Our Time His Books Have Become Modern Day Classics Which Defy Categorisation, Assimilating Elements Of Fiction, Essay, Reportage, History And Gossip, Inspired By And Reflecting His Incredible Journeys Tragically, Chatwin S Compelling Narrative Voice Was Cut Off Just As He Had Found It One Month Before His Death He Lamented, There Are So Many Things I Want To Do Bruce Had Just Begun Said His Friend, Salman Rushdie, We Saw Only The First Act While We Shall Never Know The Surprise Of His Unwritten Works, Chatwin Left Behind A Body Of Writing That Is Striking For Its Freshness An Authentic Conduit Which Allows Us To Return To Him And To Be Rewarded A Wealth Of Letters And Postcards That He Wrote, From His First Week At School Until Shortly Before His Death At The Age Of Forty Eight Whether Typed On Sotheby S Notepaper Or Hastily Scribbled, Chatwin S Correspondence Reveals About Himself Than He Was Prepared To Expose In His Books His Health And Finances, His Literary Ambitions And Tastes, His Uneasiness About His Sexual Orientation Above All, His Lifelong Quest For Where To Live Written With The Verve And Sharpness Of Expression That First Marked Him Out As A Writer, Chatwin S Letters Gives A Vivid Synopsis Of His Changing Interests And Concerns Throughout His LifeComprising Material Collected Over Two Decades From Hundreds Of Contacts Across Five Continents, Under The Sun Is A Valuable And Illuminating Record Of One Of The Greatest And Most Enigmatic Writers Of The Twentieth Century The value in a collection of letters must lie in bringing us closer to the writer, argued the Boston Globe, and therein lay the critics chief complaint though Chatwin infuses these chatty epistles with his charm and sharp wit, he remains elusive Without the editors copious annotations, in fact, readers would be completely adrift in a sea of requests for clean shirts and money Elizabeth s thinly veiled hostility and the book s unnecessary length also drew some critics ire However, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal did detect a progression along professional and personal lines enough to enhance their understanding of him Nevertheless, Under the Sun will probably only appeal to fans and those with an academic interest in Chatwin This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine. Essendo stato pensato da quei due superpettegoli astiosi di sua moglie Elizabeth e del suo biografo puah Shakespeare, non poteva essere altro che un cumulo di pettegolezzi Le lettere sono largamente inutili, ma pur sempre Bruce che scrive, e quindi affascinante anche quando scrive la lista della lavanderia E uno slalom continuo tra le note e le integrazioni, del tutto inutili se non si sa quanto e cosa sia stato omesso Il duo irresistibilmente odioso, soprattutto procedendo nella lettura, quando diventa evidente la selezione effettuata, dove l unico fil rouge la giustificazione del proprio ruolo di moglie meschina e avara che non perde occasione per ribadire che lo ha mantenuto, che si sacrificata il suo povero gregge abbandonato mentre lei doveva soccorrerlo , che i suoi amici mal lo sopportavano Ps per dire, dell infinita piccineria, Shakespeare si cita in una lettera OMG Le cinque sono a Bruce, non alla qualit di questa raccolta The Story You can argue about the truthfulness of Chatwin s travel narratives are The Songlines and In Patagonia on your reading list yet but you can t argue about his intensely nomadic spirit Obsessed with the idea of man as a wanderer, Chatwin spent his whole life chasing ideas and artifacts to remote locations After giving up a promising career at Sotheby s Auction House, he moved from job to location though gay, he remained married to his wife an impassioned novelist, he died of Aids before finishing off a number of what might have been the world s best in literature This is life, in his own words.The Destinations If ever there were a case of clinical restlessness, Chatwin suffered from it Unable to remain content in any location for than a few weeks, he moved constantly circling the UK from London to Oxford to Edinburgh and the Welsh border then on to the distant horizons of New York, Patmos, Niger, Cameroon, Spain, India, Nepal, Italy, France, Australia, the West Indies, Botswana, South Africa, Argentina eventually claiming a brief home in every continent The Review It can be a dangerous thing, reading into the personal lives of our literary icons And Under the Sun s format which links in comments and memories from Chatwin s wife and friends, as well as interjectory explanations from the editor, Shakespeare offers multiple sides to every story Chatwin tells.Turns out he s a bit of a needy, selfish child The man who I ve adored for over decade read The Songlines RIGHT NOW had an admirable adventurous spirit, but a pitiable ability to handle real life For all that, I m still glad I got to know him better. 3.5 5 or 7 10 I ve never read any of Chatwin s actual books, but I was intrigued by a review of this volume of his letters in the Spectator a few years back, so when I noticed this volume in a bargain books store I picked it up.My strong feeling is that collections of letters are best opened at random and read from whatever looks interesting This book certainly repays that approach For one thing, you get some idea of what the writer was like at various stages in his career helpfully, these letters arranged chronologically, with the collection broken up mostly into the periods in which books were being written As a result, I now have a bit of a yen to read On the Black Hill.Interestingly, the writer who emerges from the letters is not a wholly appealing one That is, Chatwin seems to have been a person who would be an interesting dinner guest, and a good correspondent On the other hand, after a prolonged exposure one suspects he would have been fairly self centered, a spendthrift, hopelessly committed to sponging off his friends AND OH LORD WOULD HE HAVE BEEN A KNOW ALL The tragedy seems to have been that the first time he ceased to be dazzled by the glare of his own brilliance was with his own approaching death from AIDS in the late 1980s One imagines that, had he survived longer, a rounded, appealing person would have been found. 3,5 stars, rounded up I consider teaching Songlines, and, unwilling to spend money on Nicholas Shakespeare s biography of Chatwin, picked up this collection instead It turned out to be a good resource, tracing the development of Chatwin s ideas, especially On the Black Hill and Songlines the latter was, as it turns out, an incarnation of Chatwin s earlier unpublished project on nomadism.Since my first exposure to Chatwin, I have failed to see the romance in nomadic lifestyle one I found easy to champion by a bisexual, childless male Yet Chatwin s letters told me he also frequently professed hatred for England, didn t want to come out as a bisexual to his parents and brother, and seemed to suffer genuine discomfort whenever he stayed anywhere longer than a month a condition that could have been traced back to his wartime childhood On the whole, I was surprised by how the letters, with their natural dramaturgy, affected me Chatwin s descriptions of the art world, which, in the seventies, looked positively like Wild West to me his puzzling approach to art objects, especially towards the end of his life, when his health declined, due to a rare fungal infection AIDS, and his behaviour grew increasingly erratic his unorthodox, long distance marriage to his wife, Elizabeth they would meet for brief spells of time in remote corners of the world and he would try to postpone these meetings most of the time.I wasn t bothered by the things which irritated other readers the selection could have been careful, I admit, as Chatwin, responding to his letters in batches, frequently used the same phrases to refer to the same situations, but I think this was natural Shakespeare s commentary provided the much needed background I know people some readers referred to Elizabeth s comments as resentful but she would have to be an oblivious saint in order to feel none. I first read Bruce Chatwin s The Songlines in 1990 after picking it up in the Seattle Public Library shortly after moving to Seattle I don t remember now how I heard of Chatwin or why I picked it up, although my memory of it thinks that I just happened upon it on the shelf and was drawn to it, but how knows I did however love it instantly for it s spare but evocative description of the Australian outback and it s portrayal of movement, walking or travel as a basic human need Since then I ve read his other major travel book In Patagonia he was not a prolific author and his two biographies by Susannah Clapp and Nicholas Shakespeare Chatwin s life fascinates me because he was a curious traveler who went wherever he wanted on any lark He was curious, a lay academic, a lover of life and of people and a collector of things, people and experiences He lived the life I would loved to have lived never too late I guess This collection of his letters from 194 to 1989 when he died of HIV related illness showed me a couple of things 1 He was a very funny man, which doesn t come across as much in his writing and 2 He is very witty and smart in small doses like letters and postcards Having read so much of his life I feel sort of like a literary stalker But having read his letters I now feel like I actually know him.

Charles Bruce Chatwin was an English novelist and travel writer He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel On the Black Hill 1982 In 1972, Chatwin interviewed the 93 year old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted I ve always wanted to go there, Bruce told her So have

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  • Hardcover
  • 560 pages
  • Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin
  • Bruce Chatwin
  • English
  • 10 January 2019
  • 9780224089890

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