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Bruce Chatwin

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Award-winning novelist Nicholas Shakespeare has written the definitive biography of one of the most influential literary figures of our time: Bruce Chatwin, whose worksâ strangely compelling combination of research, first-hand experience, myth, and mystification may have been the real substance of his seemingly contradictory life.

Chatwinâs first book, In Patagonia, became
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Paperback, 672 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1993)
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Community Reviews

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Jim
A superb biography of a unique individual. Bruce Chatwin was a superb British travel writer -- though he would contest being called that. He was uncomfortable with his Britishness, and he hated being classified as a travel writer.

What distinguished him from travel writers is that he deliberately (and artistically) took liberties with the facts and embroidered them to suit his own views. So if you were to use, say, In Patagonia as a guidebook, you would probably run into some angry individuals w
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Canadian 135
I have mixed views. This is a stunning biography - absolutely thorough, incredibly well researched, and very interesting, particularly the way Shakespare situates Chatwin's writing within the context of his life. He also talks about the process of Chatwin's writing (which seems to have involved cadging homes from friends all over the world, then overstaying his welcome, being very demanding and self-involved, then flying off somewhere else.) Perhaps you can tell that I ended up absolutely detest ...more
Oceana2602
Jul 14, 2007 Oceana2602 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not to chatwin fans
Nicholas Shakespeare's biography of Bruce Chatwin, praised as "one of the most beautifully written, painstakingly researched and cleverly constructed biographies written this decade".

I agree about the pain.

It is incredibly detailed. Too detailed, if you ask me. But that's not why I stopped reading it half way through. Shakespeare, purely by describing, makes me hate Bruce Chatwin. He portrays Chatwin as a man who pretended to be something he wasn't, who lost himself in a made-up reality. He had
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Sophia Roberts
Shakespeare has used his substantial material with some skill to weave what feels like an eminently fair portrayal of a man who, gifted with a great deal of charismatic charm, was doubtless destined to burn himself out at an early age.

After read this beguiling biography (that once started I couldn't put down), I was able to appreciate how Chatwin used his considerable energy and sheer zest for living - and ‘exploring’- to live out a short, but charmed life. By sheer stint of application Chatwin
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D
I really enjoyed this incredibly long and detailed book! I know a friend of mine who reads copiously but could not cope with it's huge detail and put it down half way through because she thought Bruce was just too hideous a person. I was entranced though.

Bruce Chatwin was indeed a very unique person, very good looking and very interesting but not always very likable and certainly devoid of morals and respect for his extraordinary patient and loving American wife Elizabeth. He was an utterly sel
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James Marinero
I don't read many biographies, but the depth and insight of this book took my breath away. It was no easy read - the content is intense and I could not get through more than a few page at a time. It's a long book too, and I think it took about 3 weeks for me to get through.

Chatwin was an enigmatic character and I have to confess I'd never heard of him until a close friend gave it to me (she is a friend of the family, who lived just a few doors away as a child).

It makes me aware of the struggle
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Chris S
Very detailed and thorough... and enjoyable. Doesn't shy away from Chatwin's faults either. My only criticism would be that Shakespeare dwells a bit too much on BC's illness towards the end. I'd rather have read more about his life than dwelling on his death. But this is minor. 'Bruce Chatwin' is an great biography and I will definitely re-visit it at some point in the future... but more importantly it's inspired me to go back to BC's own writings again.
Arnold
An absolute must companion read to any fan of Bruce Chatwin's books most of which are on my shelves. Deeply misunderstood and a manic depressive he seemed to spend an awful lot of his painfully short life trying to find out who he was. All of his books are difficult to read but ultimately enormously uplifting in their perception and writing. Have to admit to being biased as I was at school with the author although he was one year ahead of me
Stephen
A truly excellent biography of one of the best of the last century's writers - my only criticism was that the bio too easily slipped into hero-worship of Chatwin towards the end. He was a good writer, but also a bastard!
Leland
A wonderful biography of a fascinating person. Shakespeare writes with great admiration for his subject yet renders Chatwin Bruce as a fully-formed, dynamic person. One finishes with a great understanding of the writer, his motives, and his challenges.

I am eager to read more from Nicholas Shakespeare, starting with In Tasmania

I would recommend this book for any who have been inspired by Chatwin's writings and would like to know more about the man.
Winterwade
Whilst naturally not as scintillating throughout as Chatwin's own writings, Nicholas Shakespeare does an excellent job of giving detailed insights into Chatwin's life and what makes him tick.
Patrick Dean
A well-told and intricate biography of a truly eccentric author. I had no idea, when I devoured In Patagonia and The Songlines back in the 80s, what demons drove Chatwin to produce those works of literary art.
Recommended.
Ioanna
Fascinating subject, and well written, a no-one situation
Panayoti Kelaidis
Engagingly written, superbly researched and very haunting depiction of the life and artistic development of one of the greatest English writers of the last century. Chatwin deserved a biography by a "Shakespeare" and Nicholas went to amazing lengths--tracing Chatwin's frenetic travels and tracking down practically anyone who exchanged words with him--and managing to reveal some of the wellsprings of his talent.
Jim Coughenour
A generous, if unsparing look at the life of nomadic storyteller Bruce Chatwin. Shakespeare catches all the contradictions of the man — his charm, beauty and exquisite brilliance as well as his narcissism, deceit and obsessive mania. All-too-human, dying of AIDS at 48, Chatwin was also surely one of the luckiest writers to have ever written, blessed with an inalienable magic.

Ted
An interesting book, if only for the slow, at-times-painful realization that Chatwin was eminently unbiographiable. He was flighty, unpredictable, untrustworthy, distant and encapsulating. But how many times can you write "[blank] was taken in by Chatwin's charms." That's not a direct quote, but rather a pill-sized encapsulation of how I felt reading this book.
Jason
It is a massive tome 550 pages long. But it gets off to a jaunty and engaging start, and has become very addictive to read. Chatwin comes through from the first page, and keeps one reading. He was a fascinating writer and a slippery, mercurial character.

Having finished, I miss reading about him. One of the most engaging biographies I have read.
Stop33
Chatwin's engrossing notes are accompanied by breathtaking photos.
Moureco
Biografia de um homem cultíssimo, excelente ficcionista, aventureiro impar no seu tempo. E como pessoa, um ser humano execrável. Se os seus livros são belíssimos, e são-no sem dúvida, então não leiam isto para que não descubram mais do que a sua escrita deixa transparecer. O que descobrirem pode ser repulsivo...
Bronwyn
Probably one of the best Bios I have ever read - so well written and researched on such a private and eccentric man, that you actually feel that you know him by the time you have finished. It gave me so much insight into the mind of a true maverick and how he tried to live in a world that did not really "fit" him.
Aileen
Bruce Chatwin was one of my favourite travel writers. This coffee table book contains extracts from some of his many notebooks, mostly from the Middle East and Africa. Also a selection of some of his stunning photographs. An interesting selection to look back on.
Les Dangerfield
An incredibly well researched and written biography. I didn't know very much about him before and hadn't even read his books. I can't say the biography made me want to read them either. He was a very self-centred person and, as such, very difficult to like.
VAle
preso in biblioteca

Un omaggio a Bruce Chatwin, alla sua vita, ai sui viaggi.
Insieme alle fotografie, sono riportati appunti dai suoi taccuini riguardanti il viaggio in Mauritania e il terzo viaggio in Afghanistan.
Jenny RichmanOliver
It took me two years to complete this, and I wished I had not read it. Although it was well written, Bruce Chatwin was not likable, which runined my romantic image of him as a great wanderer
Mark
Another must read for serious Chatwinites. I loved the stories and the insight into Chatwin that I never could have gotten anywhwere else.
Mariano Pallottini
Nicholas Shakespeare, with this biography, confirmed the Myth of Bruce Chatwin. A must read book for the Chatwin's estimators.
Di
As is sometimes the case, I enjoyed this account of the author more than some of his actual books.
Russell
For a writer Bruce Chatwin sure had a good eye for a photograph.
Kate Fletcher
What an interesting fella. I enjoyed reading about him!
Ursulawt Willaredt
Fascinating book, and I love writing.
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Nicholas William Richmond Shakespeare is a British novelist and biographer.

Born to a diplomat, Nicholas Shakespeare grew up in the Far East and in South America. He was educated at the Dragon School preparatory school in Oxford, then at Winchester College and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He worked as a journalist for BBC television and then on The Times as assistant arts and literary editor. F
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