Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969-1989

Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969-1989

Bruce Chatwin

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0140256989

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Although he is best known for his luminous reports from the farthest-flung corners of the earth, Bruce Chatwin possessed a literary sensibility that reached beyond the travel narrative to span a world of topics—from art and antiques to archaeology and architecture. This spirited collection of previously neglected or unpublished essays, articles, short stories, travel sketches, and criticism represents every aspect and period of Chatwin’s career as it reveals an abiding theme in his work: his fascination with, and hunger for, the peripatetic existence. While Chatwin’s poignant search for a suitable place to “hang his hat,” his compelling arguments for the nomadic “alternative,” his revealing fictional accounts of exile and the exotic, and his wickedly en pointe social history of Capri prove him to be an excellent observer of social and cultural mores, Chatwin’s own restlessness, his yearning to be on the move, glimmers beneath every surface of this dazzling body of work.

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Old people naked. Gens de soixante ans tous nus. Doing things you can’t imagine. Then they invite us to sing a hymn to the Queen. And in Hyde Park, my God, under the trees! Feet, my God! Que des pieds!’ The men fed the juke-box and played Togolese rock. The legionnaire stumbled to his feet and dragged Mamzelle Dela by the arm and tried to dance. She put on a long-suffering look and winked at Jeb. He winked back. ‘You have loved an Africaine?’ asked Annie. ‘Never,’ Jeb said in an even voice.

the Frogs,’ said the Major. ‘Niggers are much less foreign to me than Frogs. I’ve lived with niggers all my life. Bright, some of ’em. Really bright.’ ‘Very bright,’ I said. ‘Not like the Moors. Gimme a nigger any day over a Moor. Less stuck on religion.’ ‘Much less stuck.’ ‘You can work with niggers, but the Moors give an awful lot of bother.’ ‘How’s that, Major?’ ‘They won’t work and they don’t want anyone else to work. Government owns half this mine and doesn’t even want it to pay.’

airborne. These irises were the only blue flowers in the valley. Otherwise, the vegetation consisted of white willows, white-margined aralias, silver whitebeams and the tansy-leaved thorn. Among the flowers were a white eremurus, Moutan peonies, the Mount Omei rose and the waxy pagodas of the giant Himalayan lily. Or else the plants were black, black trilliums, black-stemmed bamboos and the Black Knight Fritillary from Kamchatka. The spathes of the Cretan Dragon Arum peopled a grove of willows

stay put. My motives, then, are materially irrational. What is this neurotic restlessness, the gadfly that tormented the Greeks? Wandering may settle some of my natural curiosity and my urge to explore, but then I am tugged back by a longing for home. I have a compulsion to wander and a compulsion to return – a homing instinct like a migrating bird. True nomads have no fixed home as such; they compensate for this by following unalterable paths of migration. If these are upset it is usually by

shorts, sou‘wester, or anorak, appears as the venerable, white-bearded naturalist, the Nobel Prize Winner who has never lost his capacity to marvel at the wonders of nature. When wild geese answer his call, he feels he has stepped back into a ‘paradise of peaceful coexistence’ with his fellow creatures. On the other hand, his knowledge of evolution has earned him the right to preach sermons that will be understood by anyone who takes the trouble to read between the lines. In the postscript, he

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