The thirteenth day of May marks the birthday of the English writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin, who was born on this day in 1940, and is credited with reviving travel writing.
Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield, completed his secondary education at Marlborough School, and at the age of eighteen he began working at Sotheby’s auction house in London; Which gave him a strong knowledge of art, and later managed the auctions department of antiquities and impressionist art in the house, until he left it in 1966; To study archeology at the University of Edinburgh, and did not complete his studies there. He made writing his profession.
He was hired by the “Sunday Times” magazine in 1972, and he visited many countries of the world; in order to work. He also met with prominent political figures such as: Indira Gandhi, Andre Malraux. He left the magazine in 1974 to visit Patagonia in Argentina, a trip that inspired him to write his first book. He also wrote five other books, including “Song Lines”, in 1987, which achieved the highest sales. And he talks about Australia.
Bruce Chatwin researched various themes in his work, such as: human boredom and aimless wandering, borders and exile, and art and collectibles. He dealt with the issue of human boredom and made it the focus of his writings. In the end, he aspired to study the subject in order to answer what he saw as a fundamental issue related to human existence. He believed that humans were destined to be a migratory species, and that once settled in one place, their natural impulses “found outlets in violence, greed, the quest for influence, or an obsession with the new”.
Bruce Chatwin, in his first attempt to write the book “The Bedouin Alternative”, tried to put together an academic explanation of Bedouin culture, which he believed was unstudied and of unappreciated value. In doing so, Chatwin hoped to discover: “Why does man wander rather than settle?” However, he did not succeed with the Bedouin alternative, and he returned to the subject of boredom and wandering in successive books.
Addressing the topic of boundaries, boundaries, according to Elizabeth Chatwin, “was interested in boundaries, where things were constantly changing, not one thing or the other”. Patagonia, the subject of his first published book, is a region in both Argentina and Chile.
Chatwin returned to the “art and collectibles” theme throughout his career. He wrote his first articles for The Sunday Times Magazine, on art and artists, and many of these articles were included in What Am I Doing Here.
Constantly suffering from conflicting desires to own beautiful possessions and live in a free space devoid of superfluous objects, Chatwin’s distaste for the art world came from his days at Sotheby’s; So some of his recent writings focus on this. This theme appears in the last section of What Am I Doing Here, Tales from the World of Art, which consists of four short stories.
Written by: In Patagonia, Song Lines, What Am I Doing Here.
His novels: Wali Ueda, On the Black Hill, Otz.
Bruce Chatwin passed away on January 18, 1989, at the age of 48, and was buried in Greece.