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Bruce Chatwin

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  439 Ratings  ·  39 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 works� strangely compelling combination of research, first-hand experience, myth, and mystification may have been the real substance of his seemingly contradictory life.

Chatwin�s first book, In Patagonia, be
Paperback, 672 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1993)
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Mar 31, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
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
Canadian 135
Oct 11, 2013 Canadian 135 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, 2013-read
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
Jul 14, 2007 Oceana2602 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sophia Roberts
Aug 10, 2012 Sophia Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-writing
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
Dec 12, 2007 Arnold rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
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
Chris S
Feb 12, 2010 Chris S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, travel, walking
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.
Jim Coughenour
Jul 12, 2007 Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
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.

Jun 14, 2008 Stephen rated it it was amazing
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!
Miss Philby
Dec 27, 2015 Miss Philby rated it really liked it
Fundamental para entender la obra de Chatwin.
Patrick Cook
Sep 29, 2016 Patrick Cook rated it really liked it
I've been on a bit of Chatwin binge recently. Since all of his work is in some sense autobiographical, and all of it is more or less fiction, obscuring as much as it reveals, it helps to have a book like this to connect the dots.

This is an exhaustively well-researched biography. That is only in part a euphemism for it being very long, although long it undoubtedly is (at over 600 pages, it is quite a bit longer than Chatwin's most famous books — In Pantagonia and The Songlines — combined).

Feb 04, 2017 Nando rated it liked it
Half end of the book is worth to read.
Dec 28, 2016 Gina rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2015 John rated it really liked it
A big book about a big character. A man of very many parts, Chatwin was essentially a wanderer, as he's best remembered I guess – wandering around the world. From a professional middle class background he attended a fairly modest public school. He was his own person from an early age and had an instinctive sense, even in his early teens, for what was collectable in the world of art and antiques. As a schoolboy he was something of an entrepreneur buying an item for 6d and selling it on for halfac ...more
Jul 28, 2015 D rated it it was amazing
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
May 29, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography of a fascinating man who would have driven me crazy. In what is evidently a painstakingly researched book, which reads like an exciting voyage of discovery, Shakespeare reveals Bruce Chatwin as an exasperating, charming, secretive and self-absorbed man. From childhood, when he started his long walks and bike rides and fascination with curious objects, through his meteoric career at Sotheby's, the self-imposed drudgery of a university course in archeology at Edinburgh to the r ...more
James Marinero
Mar 19, 2015 James Marinero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.
Top rate biography and it's about Chatwin, the enigmatic character. I found the writing interesting, the characters that appear on stage to be fascinating as they are names which I have encountered before. The insight into parts of the Sixties/Seventies British culture (the excesses of the Sunday Times Magazine) are amazingly told.
Jul 27, 2011 Moureco rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
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...
Jun 16, 2007 Ted rated it liked it
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.
May 01, 2012 Bronwyn rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 27, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 04, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
excellent biog of an author whom I find very compelling if at times a bit hard work.
Les Dangerfield
Apr 01, 2012 Les Dangerfield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Patrick Dean
May 19, 2015 Patrick Dean rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 16, 2014 Aileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keepers, geography
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.
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.
Mariano Pallottini
Jan 05, 2011 Mariano Pallottini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel-books
Nicholas Shakespeare, with this biography, confirmed the Myth of Bruce Chatwin. A must read book for the Chatwin's estimators.
Jenny RichmanOliver
Feb 23, 2009 Jenny RichmanOliver rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography
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
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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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