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In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
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In Patagonia (1977)

by Bruce Chatwin

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1,991543,382 (3.77)73
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English (41)  Italian (4)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
This book is the delightful, idiosyncratic tale of Chatwin's trip to Patagonia and at the same time a tour of some of his interests. Initially spurred by a desire to find the source of the mylodon skin acquired by his grandmother's sailor cousin Charley Milward, he also explores the fates of Bruce Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, mostly failed revolutions of various kinds, self-appointed kings, Darwin's travels, native language, potential literary sources for Shakespeare (Caliban), Coleridge, and Kipling, "unicorns," the travels of Charley Milward, and much more. All of this is written in a spare and very readable style; Chatwin is a superb story-teller. (In fact, he may have been more of a story-teller than a journalist, as I have read that some of the people he quoted in the book said it didn't quite happen that way.)

Diverse as Chatwin's interests are, he nonetheless focused on the Europeans in Patagonia -- the remnants of immigrants from Wales, England, Russians, Germans, and even Boers from South Africa, among others. These are people not only removed from the countries of their or their ancestors' origins, but also people living at what could be considered the edge of the world. But there is almost no sign of the native people or even the governments of Argentina and Chile.
4 vote rebeccanyc | Jun 13, 2014 |
Chatwin’s Patagonian journal is far more than an account of the lands he travelled through; instead he captures the spirit of the region, covering history and heritage ranging from the fates of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid through the European origins of the settlers and local wildlife. A fascinating, beautifully written account of why people travel to the ends of the earth and why they stay there. ( )
  JonArnold | Apr 24, 2014 |
Alors que je me réjouissais d'avance de lire ce classique de la littérature de voyage durant un long road-trip en Patagonie, j'ai été déçu par l'expérience. De mon point de vue, cet ouvrage n'est pas mauvais mais sa réputation est usurpée.

Les personnages dépeints sont pour la plupart des expatriés britanniques, et leurs portraits nous renseignent plus sur la culture anglo-saxonne de l'époque que sur la vie des Chiliens ou des Argentins dans leur propre pays. Plusieurs chapitres relatent la fuite en Patagonie des malfaiteurs Américains Butch Cassidy et Sundance Kid, histoire qui m'était indifférente et qui aurait pu tout aussi bien se dérouler en Australie ou au Canada. Cependant, il y a bien quelques références sur les indiens ayant peuplé ces terres - Tehuelches, Selknam, Yaghans, Alakalufs, ... - et ces pages-là étaient celles qui avaient le plus d'intérêt.

Quant aux paysages, l'auteur s'y attarde peu, et si l'on suit ses pérégrinations sur une carte, on se rend compte qu'il franchit parfois des centaines de kilomètres entre deux chapitres sans le mentionner. ( )
  philippenoth | Apr 22, 2014 |
I read in one of the earlier reviews of this book, how this individual had attempted several times to start this novel without success. Finally, coming from a different place and mood, they started, finished and thoroughly enjoyed their reading experience.

Perhaps that has been my issue; and the primary reason why I have not rated or viewed this work of Bruce Chatwin’s as the exceptional or fascinating novel portrayed by most reviewers or critics before me.

I’m currently in a mood for Adventure books, and consequently, have searched various available book lists for ideas on highly rated authors and novels. “In Patagonia” was listed by Outside Magazine as one of the “Top 25 adventure books of the last 100 years.” Having read and been impressed by previous articles, videos, and DVDs on Patagonia, I was anxious to see how Chatwin treated this relatively untouched land of raw beauty, at times harsh living conditions, and limited population intrusion.

The book was interesting but not what I expected or was looking for. It was multi-facetted; part travel log, part search for ancestry heritage, and a fair amount of historical background. It would have been perfect in providing additional background before visiting and touring for several weeks. But the writing was inconsistent in holding my attention. Instances where I was captivated followed by sections that I wanted to just skip over.

To me it was not on the same plane as other novels listed in that top 25; ie, Touching the Void, or Alive, or Wind, Sand, and Stars. Or novels on other lists; such as Man Eaters of Tsavo, or Skeletons on The Zahara for instance.

So I’ll mark this one down as an interesting but not outstanding read. Then try a few others on the list and see if they satisfy my adventure craving.
( )
  whwatson | Mar 7, 2014 |
I’ve just finished rereading Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia. I first read it in 1978 or 79, I forget which, and still have my original Picador paperback copy.

I remember being impressed by the mystic otherworldliness of Chatwin’s luminous text – a journey to the end of the world in search of the skin of an extinct creature – a sort of Anglophone Borges.

Thirty plus years on I find myself still impressed by the quality of his writing and his technique of gluing little stories and events together in a narrative. Today, rather than a mystical journey I would view it more as a journey into a vanished society of English farm managers, Scottish Welsh and German migrants, more as social history than anything else.

When Chatwin travelled there, there were still people who remembered hearing stories of the early days of settlement and who remembered some of the events of the time. Now all these people would be long dead, and Patagonia, is doubtless a very different place – more Argentinian than perhaps it once was.

That said I still enjoyed the writing and the turns of phrase and the near fantastical parts of his story telling, and came away with the feeling that the world is now a more prosaic place than it once may have been... ( )
  moncur_d | Jan 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
If the book were nothing more than a study of how the English maintain quaint customs in remote environments, its appeal would be limited. Fortunately, Mr. Chatwin has an inquiring mind, and part of the pleasure lies in his digressions. Not for him the straight line and the urgent destination. He detours and meanders and circles back, and before we know it we are being told tales of the early navigators, or given an account of an anarchist revolution, or hearing the true story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who went to Patagonia in 1901 on the run from the Pinkertons, started a sheep farm and stayed for five years. Mr. Chatwin's mind, like a crowded attic without cobwebs, produces curios and discontinued models, presented in a manner that is laconic without being listless, literate without being pedantic, and intent without being breathless
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Ted Morgan (Jul 12, 1978)
 
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In my grandmother's dining-room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142437190, Paperback)

An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land, Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Fueled by an unmistakable lust for life and adventure and a singular gift for storytelling, Chatwin treks through “the uttermost part of the earth”— that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome—in search of almost forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy. An instant classic upon publication in 1977, In Patagonia is a masterpiece that has cast a long shadow upon the literary world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land, Bruce Chatwin's exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Fueled by an unmistakable lust for life and adventure and a singular gift for storytelling, Chatwin treks through "the uttermost part of the earth" - that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome - in search of almost-forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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