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Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
The definitive collection of correspondence from a legendary writer, providing new perspectives on his extraordinary life.

The celebrated author of such beloved works as In Patagonia and The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin was a nomad whose desire for adventure and enlightenment was made wholly evident by his writing. A man of intense energy and chameleonlike complexity, he was
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Hardcover, 560 pages
Published February 17th 2011 by Viking (first published 2010)
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Carl Rollyson
The best introduction to Chatwin's beguiling travel writing is still Nicholas Shakespeare's eponymous biography. As Shakespeare acknowledges in his introduction, collections of letters tend to be zigzags, messy and repetitive, no matter how brilliant the writer. Although Shakespeare does his best in introducing Chatwin, the newcomer to Chatwin's prose is likely to come away from this volume with the impression of a rather smug and snobbish chap--a literary traveler trying to shine for literary b ...more
Bloodorange
3,5 stars, rounded up. I consider teaching Songlines, and, unwilling to spend money on Nicholas Shakespeare's biography of Chatwin, picked up this collection instead. It turned out to be a good resource, tracing the development of Chatwin's ideas, especially On the Black Hill and Songlines (the latter was, as it turns out, an incarnation of Chatwin's earlier unpublished project on nomadism).

Since my first exposure to Chatwin, I have failed to see the romance in nomadic lifestyle - one I found ea
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Mark
Feb 20, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines in 1990 after picking it up in the Seattle Public Library shortly after moving to Seattle. I don't remember now how I heard of Chatwin or why I picked it up, although my memory of it thinks that I just happened upon it on the shelf and was drawn to it, but how knows. I did however love it instantly for it's spare but evocative description of the Australian outback and it's portrayal of movement, walking or travel as a basic human need. Since then I've r ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 06, 2011 Bookmarks Magazine rated it liked it
Shelves: may-june-2011
“The value in a collection of letters must lie in bringing us closer to the writer,” argued the Boston Globe, and therein lay the critics’ chief complaint: though Chatwin infuses these chatty epistles with his charm and sharp wit, he remains elusive. Without the editors’ copious annotations, in fact, readers would be completely adrift in a sea of requests for clean shirts and money. Elizabeth’s thinly veiled hostility and the book’s unnecessary length also drew some critics’ ire. However, the Ne ...more
Tuck
a collection of chatwin's letters, and some to him. interesting for the completeist and fascinating look at a brilliant writer, a beastly human, a peripatetic soul.
Excerpt of letter to tom maschler, head of jonathan cape, chatwin is pitching his book idea about ‘the history of nomads”….chatwin never really did write this particular book, but considered a genius of “travel writing” of latter 20th century. Chatwin seems a funny guy, treating his wife and family atrociously, friends too, but also
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Stephen Tuck
I've never read any of Chatwin's actual books, but I was intrigued by a review of this volume of his letters in the Spectator (http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/6227...) a few years back, so when I noticed this volume in a bargain books store I picked it up.

My strong feeling is that collections of letters are best opened at random and read from whatever looks interesting. This book certainly repays that approach. For one thing, you get some idea of what the writer was like at various stages in hi
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Joy
Mar 28, 2011 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea who Bruce Chatwin was -- a writer and nomad who was "forever on a quest of the exotic and the unexpected." Chatwin died at 48 only a few years ago of AIDS. He had a long marriage but was bi-sexual. He started his career in England, he was British, working at Sothby's, becoming an art expert.
As he travelled with his work, he developed a love of travel and really moved easily in diverse art,
literary, and social circles. His wife was from a wealthy New England family, so his travels a
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Jeff Burdick
Jul 02, 2013 Jeff Burdick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of letters is fascinating for those who have read Chatwin's books. Many of them are simply postcards; a few are extended discussions on topics about travel and the meaning of things. What is interesting to me is how charmed Chatwin's life seemed: he had a wife who clearly loved him despite his many affairs and long absences; he made connections with interesting people no matter where he went; and opportunity seemed to leap at him. He was always broke (often because he bought art ...more
MARTA
Feb 08, 2017 MARTA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting to find out what was going on inside the writer's mind
Adrian
This volume covers the correspondence of the enigmatic British writer from schooldays in the '40s, through his years at Sothebys, past years of busy travelling when he produced terrific books right up to the sad, horrible end by AIDS in early 1989. Not easy to love, wife Elizabeth pays Bruce a great tribute here. For whatever reason Chatwin left an imprint on many people he met sometimes only briefly. I've read three of his books, a biography and now his letters so he made a mark here as well. F ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Letters and diaries are often like slipping into a warm bath. To be in the company of his words once more was a great pleasure.

As a letter writer Chatwin tended towards gossip rather than the deliberately insightful. One picks up the impression that he preferred conversation as a way to share and develop his ideas amongst his intimates.

What they do imply is a personal selfishness of some boundless magnitude. Even as a fan of his writing one cannot help but side with his long-suffering wife, Eliz
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Anne Braudy
I found Bruce Chatwin and his letters after reading Priscilla by Nicolas Shakespeare (wonderful book) and seeing Shakespeare wrote a biography of Chatwin, found my way more interestedly to the collected letters of Chatwin than the biography.

I read this book of letters over months of stationery cycling indoor - coffee, letters of Chatwin, and cycling - a lovely combination. Chatwin a very interesting fellow and now I might even check out out one of his book.
Jonathan Gill
Feb 08, 2016 Jonathan Gill rated it it was amazing
Really interesting insight into the life of one of my favourite authors. From his letters home to Mum & Dad from prep school, his early career and metrioric rise at Sotherbys, working for the Sunday Times on to his writing career which sees him travel the world researching and never being in the same place for more than 5 minutes. Read The Songlines or In Patagonia if you interested in his travel writing, On the Black Hill if you prefer fiction.
Massimo Monteverdi
Aveva un'ossessione per il nomadismo, ne ricavò almeno due libri, ma soprattutto ne incarnò lo spirito fino al suo ultimo giorno. Questa sterminata raccolta di lettere, cartoline e telegrammi, per quanto talvolta sia inconsistente, talaltra solo irrilevante, testimonia l'inesauribile virus del viaggiatore che contagiò presto Chatwin e da cui mai guarì. Appassionerà (moderatamente) solo i fanatici.
RBick
Dec 14, 2015 RBick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my absolute faves. So crammed full with the most specific richly coloured detail. Cleverly edited to paint sensitive and subtle relational narrative. One to keep coming back to and back to for travel (and all sorts of) inspiration. A wonderful collection of letters from a truly individual talent.
Philippe Malzieu
Chatwin died of the AIDS at 48 years in Nice. It is an immense writer traveller like Stevenson, Cleizio David-neel. His death tetanized many of its faithful readers. One thought it immortal with his teenager's face . One expected the next work to have his news. And one days no more book.
Difficult
Gill
Jul 14, 2014 Gill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
incredibly tedious and repetitive. comes across as self absorbed and,impatient and highly judgmental. ironic that he is easily bored as that's how I felt when reading his
letters which are probably only of interest to his friends and family.
Emma
Jul 19, 2014 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful as the letters are, I find Chatwin the person to be less likable with each letter I read. Pompous, manipulative, cold with a personality that seems far too artificial to be able to identify with. Still the language is melodious and passionate, a worthy read.
Teague
Jan 02, 2012 Teague rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
the editor needed a heavier hand.
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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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