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Nicholas Shakespeare
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Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin. Elizabeth Chatwin & Nicholas Shakespeare, eds.
Publisher Viking  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 1.75 inches
ISBN 9780670022465
Pages/Publication Date 554/2011
Daedalus Item Code 31232
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The author of such brilliant travel-themed works as In Patagonia and The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin was a nomad whose restless desire for adventure and enlightenment was wholly evident in his writing. Forever in quest of the exotic and the unexpected, he moved at ease within diverse art, literary, and social circles, and his travels took him to the farthest-flung corners of Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia. This marvelous selection of letters—to his wife Elizabeth, to his parents, and to friends, including Patrick Leigh Fermor, James Ivory, Paul Theroux, and Susan Sontag—reveals a passionate man and a storyteller, spinning the narrative of his life from his first week of school to his untimely death from AIDS in 1989.

"It seems that Chatwin is narrating his own life, from the false starts, unsatisfying jobs, unfinished studies and unpublished writing to the precipitate moves, the eruptions of boredom and the infatuations with people, with places, with ideas. These letters burst with affectionate salutations, explosions of rage, sudden enthusiasm."—Daily Telegraph (London)

"A masterpiece of sympathetic and diligent editing, absolutely fascinating and larded with acerbic comments from Nicholas Shakespeare's joint editor, Elizabeth Chatwin."—Spectator (London)

"As Under the Sun poignantly reveals, when he died Chatwin's extravagant writing gifts were gelling into a wider and deeper understanding of the human condition and the world we inhabit."—Daily Express (London)

"Celebrated English travel writer and novelist Chatwin died of AIDS 20 years ago; he was only 48. His letters—from such far-flung locales as Sweden, Afghanistan, his beloved Greece, Turkey, Africa, and, of course, Patagonia—are lovingly compiled and thoroughly annotated, with indispensable narrative (explaining, for instance, Chatwin's sudden conversion to Eastern Christianity) by Chatwin's widow and his biographer. Given to impulsive life and career changes, Chatwin discusses the full range of life from the mundane to the spiritual, from his writing to his dislike of his own 'pretty boy' looks. He charmed or intimately knew such cultural movers and shakers as Christopher Isherwood, Susan Sontag, Jasper Johns, Edmund White, and many others. There were at least two serious long-term relationships with men (one with filmmaker James Ivory). Yet the Chatwins remained married and always intellectual partners; toward the end of his life, Chatwin writes, despite marital difficulties, 'neither of us have loved anyone else'."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Beginning with his first published book, In Patagonia, Chatwin maintained a reputation among discerning readers for his riveting characters—invented or not is unimportant, even in his travel books—and his rigorously precise writing style. Chatwin's wife and his biographer (Bruce Chatwin, 2000) combined efforts over a two-decade period to retrieve more than 90 percent of Chatwin's correspondence from childhood to immediately before his untimely death at 48. Chatwin's many appreciators will see the compilation in its overall significance as a personal visit with one of their literary heroes."—Booklist (starred review)

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