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In Patagonia

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  8,537 Ratings  ·  509 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1977)
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Mar 06, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was the day before I left for my vacation to South America that I learned about this book. It was an offhand mention by a client, "Oh, have you read In Patagonia?" I picked it up on my way home and stuffed it into the already full backpack.

Chatwin's writing got under my skin, and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. At times he can turn a beautiful phrase when describing a sunset or the wind scoured landscape that seems to go forever. In other places I wanted him to move on, his prose
Jan 21, 2017 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
2.5 stars
This is my first foray into Bruce Chatwin. I have always been wary of travel writing of a certain type when it drifts into literary colonialism. It is too easy for wealthy white travellers to go to foreign lands in search of the interesting and exotic.
There is a good deal of myth surrounding Chatwin and even this book. The whole books starts and finishes with a fossilised piece of skin which Chatwin says he remembers from his childhood. Family myth said it was from a dinosaur, but in a
This book was a special treat to me as a unique form a travel writing. In its exploration of people encountered on his trip to Patagonia in the early 70’s, Chatwin makes magic as he uses his series of little quests and the actual places of his travels to make a doorway to imagination. The excellent introduction by someone named Shakespeare highlights the special qualities of the book:

Just as Patagonia is not a place with an exact border, so Chatwin’s “particularly dotty book”, as he called it,
Sep 05, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unexpected, travels
The truly fine-grained books are always impossible to review or describe. Even dragged-out praise leaves most of the best things unnoted. Certainly this is true in the case of In Patagonia, one of those unclassifiable mandarin anatomies whose summarized “action” but barely suggests the innumerable felicities of perception that make the book. A copy of In Our Time packed in his rucksack, Chatwin busses from Buenos Aires into Patagonia, tramps around, meets people and collects their stories--much ...more
Feb 22, 2009 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was published in 1977, and as I read it, I couldn't help but think of Edward Said's Orientalism, published a year later. I admit to fantasizing about Said clobbering Chatwin over the head with a large rock. But not before Said had given him some choice words that could not be reduced to faux-Hemingway dialogue. As in the Songlines, you have a traveler who is more obsessed with traveling than the places he travels to, or the people he meets. There are so many vignettes in this, some with fab ...more
James Barker
Bruce Chatwin baulked at being called a travel writer and reading this I can see why. Part-literature, part-history, the slender volume is packed full of diverse and disparate characters and episodes. Then there is the flying off of tangents- satisfying tangents that entrench you in histories of.. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the Patagonian years), the mylodon and other prehistoric beasts, Simon Radowitzky, the search for Trapalanda (a version of Eldorado), the creation of an extraordinar ...more
Jun 30, 2010 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suffering from emotional bumps and bruises I needed a holiday. My brother Tim sent me a voucher so that I could fly to San Francisco for free. I was grateful. It was cold and gray but I was in San Francisco. One afternoon I found myself footsore and starving. I was heading towards BART stop when I saw a Thai restaurant on the other side of the street. I up a block crossed the street and discovered a book shop. Ducking in, I was pleased with their selection. I bought In Patagonia and went down th ...more
Jul 19, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a travelogue, in any normal sense. It is rather a collection of 97 very short vignettes (almost like 'palm-in-the-hand' stories), many (as is now generally admitted) partially fictionalized, based on Chatwin's wanderings and readings and musings and imaginings about Patagonia, aka 'the end of the world' (geographically speaking), written throughout with a very odd tilt which is quite unique and which is Chatwin's own. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid play as great a role (greater, ...more
Sep 08, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time I have read this classic by the late Bruce Chatwin. While purporting to be an episodic treatment of various past and present individuals who have been drawn into the orbit of Patagonia, it is quite as fictional as it is nonfiction. Although Chatwin has no great love for the literal truth, his transformations of people and events are fascinating.

It is very much like the old joke about the patient who tells his therapist some made up stories, to which the therapist says, "Th
May 02, 2012 Kua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, b-3-4
In questo libro mi aspettavo stratosferiche descrizioni di paesaggi selvaggi, avventurose pennellate di grandi spazi, pagine coperte dalle emozioni di Chatwin di fronte a un viaggio così avventuroso... invece, a parte pochi cenni qua e là, la Patagonia passa sullo sfondo per tutto il libro. In compenso Chatwin ci fornisce un ritratto particolareggiato di tutti i personaggi che incontra durante il viaggio e delle storie a loro collegate. E se all'inizio è interessante conoscere i retroscena della ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Trelawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2016
A really enjoyable read. From stories of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to tea with Welsh ex pats Bruce Chatwin keeps up an interesting narrative as he travels through Chile and Argentina in the 1970s. His fascination Patagonia stems from a piece of Sloth skin that was in his grandmothers glass cabinet, sent home by her brother Charlie Milward. Chatwin goes in search of stories of his uncle Charlie and hopes to find a piece of Sloth to replace the one his mother diaposed of when his grandmot ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Patagonia is that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, the major part of which is Argentina and the rest, Chile. In the 501 Must Read Books list this is included as a travel book. I think this is a bit off. The title gives a hint. It's "In Patagonia." The preposition "in" makes a lot of difference. Bruce Chatwin did not make a lot of description of the various places he had been in Patagonia when he started travelling there in 1974. At least not as much as the people--both livin ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the best way to represent my experience with this book would be to include all that I learned and researched as I read it. I just need to transfer them from my written notepad.
Questo racconto di viaggio narra delle vicende di un uomo che si trova a viaggiare in Sud America, dando di volta in volta conto delle personalità più particolari che incontra, di alcuni degli accadimenti che gli capitano, mescolando la sua quotidianità con aneddoti del passato che coinvolgono personaggi importanti e peculiari che hanno a loro volta attraversato quelle terre.
La premessa mi sembrava interessante, poiché ero curiosa di leggere una sorta di autobiografia di viaggio e l'ambientazion
Jan 17, 2016 Joseph rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Blends the history of Patagonia, and the region, with the author's contemporary encounters and observations. The story focuses on eccentrics and adventurous people, suggesting that the remote and wild country attracts and breeds them. Published in 1977, and written during the US- organized fascist junta of Pinochet, Chatwin discusses that elephant in the room in a highly selective and oblique manner, through his interview with a large landowner, dispossessed of her land, during the short-lived A ...more
Even though I am a lover of travel and adventure literature, I have never picked up this classic by Bruce Chatwin. It was interesting to read the introduction and learn how controversial the book has become. Chatwin fudged a few facts and many of the people he wrote about weren't too happy with their treatment.

For myself, I thought the book was very interesting and it kept me reading and not wanting to put it down. Each chapter, some as short as 3-4 paragraphs, are recollections or observances
Rex Fuller
Feb 26, 2014 Rex Fuller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is many things. A kind of dream. A nostalgia. A picture of the titular place. And an investigation into what happened to Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Most of all it is a string of stories, strung in fact in most instances by a colon at the end of the chapter. It's best to read it with a map of the place in hand. It mixes time periods and jumps around the southern tip of South America naming places on the assumption the reader knows where they are. And it is chock full of names of places ...more
Readable and pleasant. The author, allegedly inspired by schoolboy ponderings over the safest place in a post-nuclear war world and childhood atlas voyages, travels to Patagonia and travels around Welsh settlers, hunts for prehistoric mega beasts said to survive in the wilderness and generally comments on the history and cultures of the region.

Complaints from people mentioned in the book revealed that the literary result was fictionalised.

In adolescence I read this and The Songlines and a few
Jun 19, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
IN PATAGONIA. (1977). Bruce Chatwin. ****.
This is a re-read of a book I first read about thirty years ago. From the Sunday Times (London):
“We are lucky to have so many travelers among us with the gift of sharing their experience, enhancing ours: Freya Stark, Laurens van der Post, Graham Greene, Eric Newby, V. S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux spring to mind. Amplified in particular by a newcomer deserving instant inclusion: Bruce Chatwin. A splendid book.”
From the author:
“In Patagonia” is not a travel bo
Mar 23, 2010 brook rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Forced myself to finish this book. The book starts out with a rambling, skipping history of Argentina, dipping into popular lore to talk about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. From there, it dips into short anecdote after anecdote, divided up roughly by chapters, chronicling the narrator's trip through Argentina to find remains of a great giant sloth that made the papers around the turn of the 20th century.
You've got 3 interesting possible subjects:
1. The history of outlaws fleeing to Argent
Ho ripreso in mano questo bel libro di viaggio in questi ultimi giorni di agosto del 2015, dopo averlo letto e assaporato negli ultimi giorni di aprile del 2007, quindi otto anni fa. Stava nella mia libreria e ogni tanto, in questi anni, gli davo un'affettuosa occhiata. Forse annoiato da questa nuova sessione di esami, forse desideroso di viaggiare, l'ho riletto e sto per terminarlo per la seconda volta. Che potrei aggiungere? Mi fa svagare dall'ordinarietà della vita, riesce col suo stile inimi ...more
Ale Vergara
Aug 07, 2014 Ale Vergara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Qué cosa tan maravillosa. Leyendo un poco sobre el libro, me encontré con que en algún momento acusaron a Chatwin de falsear información: qué soberana burrada, qué corta lectura. Si bien es un libro de viajes que, supuestamente, habla de lo vivido por el autor en su viaje a la Patagonia, quedarse únicamente en el terreno de lo "real" y lo "inventado" es no darse mucha cuenta de nada.

Acá unas notitas sobre lo "real" y lo "ficticio" en este libro.

- En la Patagonia empieza con un pedazo de piel q
May 27, 2012 Rozzer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When this book first came out, back in the old days, I subscribed to the TLS and learned about it by reading their review. The review described a book which seemed so impossible that I wrote (from New York) to the reviewer (who turned out to be living on a farm in the Welsh mountains) via the TLS asking whether the review was some kind of April Fool's prank. The reviewer wrote back and told me that no, this was a real book about a real journey that Chatwin (a real person) had actually taken. I o ...more
Alex V.
May 04, 2011 Alex V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a singular, breathtakingly effortless book! I'm in the midst of the final editing of a travel book of my own and I had to put this down for later, lest I start turning my own work into a pale imitation of Chatwin's breezy empathic prose. The way he weaves through the lives of those he meets in Patagonia, the conceit of the piece of brontosaurus skin his grandmother kept in the china cabinet that set him on this journey, even the mild controversy around the veracity of Chatwin's accounts - i ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Chatwin was an 'odd fish.' Happily married for many years and also (in the main) openly gay....maybe that's the secret to a happy marriage!

Legend has it that he quit his job by sending his employer a telegram stating 'Have gone to Patagonia.' And he did to find where the same place his adventurer uncle had been and where he collected a piece of ancient skin and fur.

Chatwin writes of the history, the wild remoteness of Patagonia and most beautifully of the people who have settled there. His
Nov 03, 2016 Rage rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelogue
an interesting, meandering book. as Chatwin explores Patagonia, often on foot, he documents his conversations and investigations, capturing a sense of melancholy and poorly integrated communities. the story starts and ends with a piece of ancient skin, which Chatwin was teased in school for his original belief that it belonged to a brontosaurus. finally, Chatwin tracks down a cave in Patagonia full of mylodon (extinct giant sloth) artifacts. along the way, he explores Patagonia's place in litera ...more
Chris Gager
Jul 15, 2015 Chris Gager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far this is an easy 4* book. Totally engrossing if a bit weird. In a good way... Sort of like a National Geographic article on steroids with ALL the warts included. In place of photographs we get BC's pithy word pictures. What a crazy place this is! All those immigrants and wanderers and visionaries from Europe and North America, including Butch Cassidy and Sundance. He evens meets an old lady who encountered Butch(maybe) as a four-year-old. The indigenous locals seem to be permanently drunk. ...more
Aug 22, 2015 4triplezed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americas, travel
I have enjoyed reading this travel classic. I have, honestly I have. All good travel/ history should have one reaching for google maps and even reading (at worst) wikipedia and I have been doing that. With that I am keen to go to all the exotic places that the author visited, those places with Spanish names that are seemingly full of not only Latins but Englishmen and Germans and Welsh and have strange natives and had the likes of North American outlaws gallivanting around the countryside. What ...more
In Patagonia is one part wunderkammer, one part fantastic colonial history and one part covert tale about the enigma that wrote it. Chatwin, it turns out, is even more fascinating than his works which, given that he was prone to the embellishment of already interesting situations is no small feat. The youngest ever something-or-other at Sotheby's, Chatwin left early to study archaeology only to hook it to the remote corners of the world before too long. He wrote his wife long missives from far o ...more
Nell Grey
Feb 10, 2012 Nell Grey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The curious
Shelves: travel
A difficult book to analyze. The writing style seems simple - composed mainly of short statements - yet the author's eye picks out the oddest details. These details, together with a wide literary knowledge, well-researched history, myth and legend and encounters with strange and sometimes wonderful characters along the way, add up to an unusual read that gives one a peculiar and almost mystical feel for the country.

The story begins with a glass-fronted cabinet in his grandmother's dining room a
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Charles Bruce Chatwin was an English novelist and travel writer. He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel On the Black Hill (1982). In 1972, Chatwin interviewed the 93-year-old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted. "I've always wanted to go there," Bruce told her. "So have ...more
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“I pictured a low timber house with a shingled roof, caulked against storms, with blazing log fires inside and the walls lined with all the best books, somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.” 11 likes
“I climbed a path and from the top looked up-stream towards Chile. I could see the river, glinting and sliding through the bone-white cliffs with strips of emerald cultivation either side. Away from the cliffs was the desert. There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.” 11 likes
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