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On the Black Hill: A Novel by Bruce Chatwin
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On the Black Hill: A Novel (original 1982; edition 1984)

by Bruce Chatwin

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1,292309,003 (3.72)110
Member:silvia.badulescu
Title:On the Black Hill: A Novel
Authors:Bruce Chatwin
Info:Penguin Books (1984), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (1982)

Recently added byMikeFARoberts, pdp, private library, jenniferw88, tywchoo, brenpike, BlueGuitar, blackhornet, TaraWood, TedQ
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English (24)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
An emotionally intense, beautifully written novel that's lyrical and sad. Check out this verse from chapter X:

"They lay on their backs and gazed at the clouds that crossed the fretted patches of sky; at the zig-zagging dots which were flies; and, way above, the other black dots which were the swallows wheeling."

At times it's also very funny. A subtle and cheeky humour.

One thing that impressed me from a technical standpoint is the lack of dialogue. There is reported speech but never really whole conversations. Virtually the entire novel is in authorial voice. Chatwin may simply be playing to his strengths, but it impressed me that a novel so successful could be written without using one of the novelist's main tools. ( )
  Lukerik | Aug 18, 2017 |
Not sure what to say about this book. An oddly compelling story of twin Lewis and Benjamin Jones who have spent their lives on their farm in Wales. Odd family dynamics; a little magical realism; beautiful descriptions of the land. I found it sad, others may not. I think it's fair to say that I prefer plot-driven fiction. ( )
  piemouth | Sep 30, 2016 |
An oddly compelling book about Lewis and Benjamin Jones who have lived for decades on their parents' farm in Wales from 1900-1980. If you liked Who Has Seen the Wind and Wolf Willow then you will enjoy this book. Grinding poverty and people who live lives of quiet desperation with flashes of beauty. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Reading this book is like taking a trip to a farm on the English-Welsh border. There isn't much happening and the everyday things that are normal happenings to us are a big deal at The Vision Farm. Chatwin's writing is very gentle and gives us a feeling of adoration for the two brothers that have such devotion to each other. Without much of a plot, the book is place driven and character driven. I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read about rural nature. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
On the Black Hill Bruce Chatwin


I found the first few chapters of this story really hard to get into however when we went back in time to how it all started I became engrossed.

Essentially the story follows the lives of twins Benjamin and Lewis who with the exception of a few short breaks have always lived at the Vision Farm and have always lived together, at 80 years old they are still sleeping together in their long dead parents bed.

Despite the fact that the twins lives are near enough confined to the Vision Farm the book has plenty of scope for community stories, the twins refuse to leave the Black Hill so the action comes to them.

During the course of the narrative we encounter feuds with neighbours, a murder, a suicide, family estrangements, both world wars and how they effect the Welsh community and of course the special link shared by the twins.

Chatwin beautifully captures the always hard and sometimes bleak existence of those who make a living farming in the Welsh hills. Like the landscape the language is sparse however everything that needs saying is said and by the end of the story I was left captivated by the characters and the land.

As for the question of whether this belongs on the list my copy of 1001 does not explain what criteria they consider this meets for inclusion and I cannot find a specific category I could fit it into. At a push perhaps they consider it captures a specific place and time, the Welsh hills in the 1900's however it is too early to see if this stands the test of time. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
While I read ''On the Black Hill'' with unflagging interest and with small shivers of astonishment or delight at the author's skill, I was never profoundly moved by the human story. The novel's impact - and it is considerable - derives mainly from Mr. Chatwin's ability to mount his vividly imagined scenes of graphic, almost visionary, intensity and from what I would call the poetic dimension of his language.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Robert Towers (Jul 12, 1983)
 
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Epigraph
Since we stay not here, being people but of a dayes abode, and our age is like that of a flie, and contemporary with a gourd, we must look some where else for an abiding city, a place in another countrey to fix our house in... Jeremy Taylor
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Für Francis Wyndham und für Diana Melly
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For forty-two years, Lewis and Benjamin Jones slept side by side, in their parents' bed, at their farm which was known as 'The Vision'.
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Book description
In this novel, published in 1982 and written in the tradition of Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence, Bruce Chatwin revives the almost forgotten genre of the pastoral, introduces readers to the Welsh-English border country, and follows the lives of identical twins, Benjamin and Lewis Jones, who have been born in 1900 and have been sleeping in their parents' bed for 42 years. On the Black Hill is a chronicle of the Jones twins' lives, beginning with the courtship and marriage of their parents to the death, at the age of 80, of Lewis. Influenced by the tensions between their parents — a literate, imaginative, and well-traveled mother (Mary), a missionary's daughter, and a sedentary, bad-tempered, and rather inarticulate father (Amos) — Lewis and Benjamin are literate and passionate, but also innocent and chaste, drawn to experience the world outside their regional isolation but also comfortably locked into place at their farm, “The Vision”. They are psychically interdependent, feel each other's joy and pain and will be separated by neither love nor war. Benjamin, generally the more contemplative brother, cooks and sews, tends to the birthing of lambs, and manages the farm business. Lewis, who seems bolder and more decisive, tills the soil but is at the same time fascinated by tractors, aeroplanes, and certain women.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140068961, Paperback)

Bruce Chatwin's fascination with nomads and wanderlust represents itself in reverse in On the Black Hill, a tale of two brothers (identical twins) who never go anywhere. They stay in the farmhouse on the English-Welsh border where they were born, tilling the rough soil and sleeping in the same bed, touched only occasionally by the advance of the 20th century. Smacking of a Welsh Ethan Frome, Chatwin evokes the lonely tragedies of farm life, and above all the vibrant land of Wales.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:21 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Lewis and Benjamin Jones, identical twins, were born with the century on a farm on the English-Welsh border. For eighty years they live on the farm??sharing the same clothes, tilling the same soil, sleeping in the same bed. Their lives and the lives of their neighbors??farmers, drovers, clergymen, traders, coffin-makers??are only obliquely touched by the chaos of twentieth-century progress. Nonetheless, the twins?? world??a few square miles of Welsh countryside??is rich in the oddities, the wonders, and the tragedies of the human experience. In this extraordinary novel Bruce Chatwin has captured every nuance of the Welsh landscape and of the lives and souls of the people who lived there.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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