Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

under the sun cover image Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

by Bruce Chatwin
Penguin Books

Bruce Chatwin was an enormously complicated man and, as these letters reveal, not terribly likable. He was pretty much A.D.D. in terms of relationships and a serial back-biter regarding friends and foes alike. None of this takes away from the fascination of this chronicle of letters that date from his boarding school days up until just before his death at 48 years old. His best known works – In Patagonia and The Songlines - remain the standard for what is commonly known as “travel writing,” but for him the conventional boundaries of the genre are way too confining. His correspondence helps put his work in context as well as reveals the mind behind the pages of the books. His wife Elizabeth (with Nicholas Shakespeare) selected and edited the letters and provides a running footnote commentary that is, at times, interesting, but, at others, simply catty.