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Bruce Chatwin (1999)

de Nicholas Shakespeare

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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, became an international bestseller, revived the art of travel writing, and inspired a generation to set out in search of adventure. Chatwin became a celebrity, while remaining a conundrum. With little formal education, he had become a director of Sotheby s. An avid collector, he eschewed material things and revered the nomadic life. Married for twenty-three years, he had male lovers throughout the world. And only at his death did his personal myth fail him. Nicholas Shakespeare, who was given unrestricted access to his papers, spent eight years retracing Chatwin s steps and interviewing the people who knew him. The result is a biography that is at once sympathetic and revelatory. "From the Trade Paperback edition.""… (més)
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Competent and very readable biography that tries to make sense of a complicated, contradictory character. Written with the co-operation of Chatwin's widow and his parents, so it tells us a lot more about his early days than literary biographies usually manage to do. On the other hand, we don't necessarily get a neutral picture: Chatwin's wife, whom he clearly treated rather badly, certainly comes across as a complete saint.

Having read this, I'm still not much closer to making my mind up about Chatwin: he was arrogant, parachuted into places for a few weeks and used other people's lives and the results of their work irresponsibly, went in for unscientific theories of everything, and used the label of "fiction" to protect himself against any comebacks. On the other hand, he had a wonderful gift for assimilating abstruse knowledge and presenting it in interesting ways; he wrote and looked like an angel; and by Shakespeare's account he alternately charmed and infuriated a large circle of friends. I suppose you pays your money and you takes your choice.

I've read biographies of both John Betjeman and Bruce Chatwin recently. In both cases it seemed that the really interesting characters, only present on the margins of the story, were the wives. Coincidentally, Penelope Betjeman and Elizabeth Chatwin were close friends who would go off trekking in India together. I must read more about them. ( )
1 vota thorold | Apr 1, 2011 |
This biography held my attention even though I don't think I wouldn't have liked Chatwin - a strange, fey man whose adventures and eye for antiques and art made what could have been a merely eccentric and self-absorbed life into a fascinating one. ( )
  ffortsa | Dec 25, 2009 |
Nicholas Shakespeare: Bruce Chatwin: 1999: 550 blz: The Harvill Press

Voordat ik aan deze biografie begon dacht ik zo'n beetje alles over Bruce Chatwin te weten wat van belang was. Gelukkig pakte het boek me en bleek het een meeslepend geschreven boek te zijn. Alles uit het leven van Chatwin wordt behandeld: zijn jeugd, werkzaamheden bij Sotheby's, als archeologiestudent in Edingburg, zijn geworstel met het manuscript van "The nomadic alternative", als journalist bij "The Sunday Times", de achtergrondverhalen bij zijn boeken, schrijvers die hem hebben beïnvloed, zijn vrouw Elisabeth, zijn homoaffaires, de ziekte Aids. Shakespeare heeft met zo'n beetje iedereen gesproken die Chatwin van nabij gekend heeft. Het resultaat is een prachtige biografie die alles wat Chatwin zelf heeft geschreven in de schaduw stelt.
Uitgelezen vrijdag 6 september 2002, waardering ****

Andere biografieën die de moeite waard zijn:
- James Boswell: The life of Samuel Johnson ****
- Michael Asher: Thesiger ****
- Alan Bullock: Hitler en Stalin ***
- Li Zhisu: Het priveleven van voorzitter Mao ***
- Stephen B. Oates: Let the trumpet sound, over het leven van Martin Luther King jr. *** ( )
1 vota erikscheffers | Sep 3, 2009 |
This biography doesn't offer up a cohesive and satisfying narrative as much as it presents a series of impressions. Chatwin is a strange man, and ordering his life from the outside presents an obvious challenge. That said, 'Chatwin' is an honest effort, and is enlightening on some strange level at least, when it comes to a man whose life was carefully crafted and desperately manipulated at almost every turn. ( )
  alamosweet | Dec 28, 2006 |
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, became an international bestseller, revived the art of travel writing, and inspired a generation to set out in search of adventure. Chatwin became a celebrity, while remaining a conundrum. With little formal education, he had become a director of Sotheby's. An avid collector, he eschewed material things and revered the nomadic life. Married for twenty-three years, he had male lovers throughout the world. And only at his death did his personal myth fail him. Nicholas Shakespeare, who was given unrestricted access to his papers, spent eight years retracing Chatwin's steps and interviewing the people who knew him. The result is a biography that is at once sympathetic and revelatory.
1 vota antimuzak | May 1, 2006 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 7 (següent | mostra-les totes)
His all but week-by-week account of Chatwin's 49 years, plus exhaustive details about parents, grandparents, great-uncles, etc., searches out and amply documents his childhood, school days, life at Sotheby's, marriage, travels, books and his slow and agonizing death, but it does not provide the configuring that biography aspires to. Shakespeare has made a creditable wager, but despite the many virtues of his effort, he has essentially lost it. How could a biographer succeed with a subject compulsively invisible to himself, and whose intimates assert not even the partial truths from which an image might be assembled?
afegit per John_Vaughan | editaNY Times, Richard Eder (Jul 12, 2011)
 
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As you are not unaware, I am much travelled. This fact allows me to corroborate the assertion that a voyage is always more or less illusory, that there is nothing new under the sun, and everything is one and the same, etcetera, but also, paradoxically enough, to assert that there is no foundation for despairing of finding surprises and something new: in truth, the world is inexhaustible.

Jorge Luis Borges, 'Extraordinary tales'.
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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, became an international bestseller, revived the art of travel writing, and inspired a generation to set out in search of adventure. Chatwin became a celebrity, while remaining a conundrum. With little formal education, he had become a director of Sotheby s. An avid collector, he eschewed material things and revered the nomadic life. Married for twenty-three years, he had male lovers throughout the world. And only at his death did his personal myth fail him. Nicholas Shakespeare, who was given unrestricted access to his papers, spent eight years retracing Chatwin s steps and interviewing the people who knew him. The result is a biography that is at once sympathetic and revelatory. "From the Trade Paperback edition.""

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