Bruce Chatwin



i'm reading this biography about Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare.

i think, at one point or another we've all wanted to be Bruce Chatwin. before he died from AIDS in 1989 it seemed as if he would live forever. you thought he would become part of the aborigines that he so adored in the australian outback and somehow find the key to immortality in their mythical tribal traditions. it was difficult to imagine death coming to chatwin, who was so effervescent and bursting with life. yet at the same time he seemed almost too precious, like this world was always too small or too pale or too complicated for him. in the end only death could contain him.

what chatwin had was not a simple case of wanderlust, and it was certainly not something a trip to a southeast asian island could cure. he was at patagonia (he was at many other places, but patagonia was an important place to him & eventually to us, i guess) and from there he filed stories, short notes, journalism. he left a great job as curator at soethby's and went on the road for good, preferring the rugged over the posh, the magical over the mundane.

he was obsessed with nomadism, archaeology &, eventually, i think, collecting places, although shortly before his death he had claimed that he was tired of it all. i like to think that it was a final defence against the death that would soon come to him. he could deny the one thing that made him complete in life & maybe he could succumb to the inevitable with that much less resistance.

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