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In Patagonia (1977)

by Bruce Chatwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,670803,689 (3.75)134
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. Book jacket.… (more)

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» See also 134 mentions

English (66)  Dutch (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Chatwin was one of my favorite travel writers when I was younger, so I went back and read his first book. It's a tale of esoteric European attraction to obscure places, and the mysticism associated with Patagonia including Yetis, bandits, unicorns and whatever else strikes the imagination. The writing is also laugh out loud funny. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
Patagonia defies definition. It sits at the very end of a continent, nudges into the tumultuous Southern ocean, covers two countries and is a place of enigmas. It was a place that Brue Chatwin had longed to visit for years after seeing a piece of 'brontosaurus' in his grandparent's curiosity cabinet. It wasn't a piece of a dinosaur, but another part of an extinct animal that had been found in Patagonia.

The memory of it lived on in Chatwin's imagination and was the spark that made him give up his job and head out there in 1974. The six months that he spent there, become this book. It is not about the landscape or the countries, rather Chatwin spends his time there meeting people, finding out about them and then following the gossamer threads of their lives from place to place and backwards and forwards in time.

To be honest, this wasn't quite what I was expecting. It is often disjointed, it has some very short chapters, people only briefly appear in the narrative, before he heads off to the next location and snapshot of another life. And yet it is a wonderful piece of writing. Even though it is not about the place per se, Patagonia fully permeates the writing, you have a sense of the barrenness of the desert, the relentless wind off Tierra del Fuego, places that have attracted people from all over the world in search of the nomadic existence. He traces the characters backwards and forwards across this land but reveals as much about himself in his writing. Will try to get to Songlines a bit sooner than this now I have found a copy. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Somewhat disappointing, not what I expected. Several notches below classic travel writing like Snow Leopard or Arctic Dreams.

The only parts that really shown were Chatwin's retelling of other's tales, how they came to Patagonia or traveled the world beforehand. ( )
  kcshankd | Mar 19, 2020 |
While being aware that it's a classic of the genre and while enjoying it, I found myself lukewarm to it. Maybe I didn't read it at a propitious time of life. Still recommend it. ( )
  heggiep | Mar 17, 2020 |
This book is a collection of very short travel excerpts based on Chatwin's own wanderings throughout the region. Some of the sections are captivating and others mundane. Even though I read it while en route to the region, not much of the book has stuck with me. It's confusing because it's unclear what in it is based on his actual experiences versus inspired by them. There was apparently some controversy about some of the details he included. I took from this book some feel for the history and culture of the place, but it mostly seems like an experimental work needing more definition about its intent. ( )
  jpsnow | Jan 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (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)

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chatwin, Bruceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hesse, EelcoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kamp, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchesi, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shakespeare, NicholasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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