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In Patagonia

   
 

Until the End of the World...

   

 

  

 

From the days of Herodotus travel writing has taken us to places both remarkable and foreign and has often read like the best literature.  The English writer Bruce Chatwin's elegant straightforward prose took the genre to a new level with his acute observations of the truly odd.  A small fragment of mylodon hide on display in a cabinet at his grandparents' house that he had seen as a child sparked his fascination with Argentina.  Years later Chatwin embarked on a remarkable South American odyssey to Patagonia in search of the remains of this semi-legendary creature.  

In Patagonia, Chatwin's 1977 account of this trip, narrates his encounters with the region's hardscrabble and eccentric inhabitants with humor and panache.  Here the weather is arduous and the vegetation sparse.  One of the last regions in the world to be colonized by Europeans, Patagonia once occupied a special place in the imagination of travelers and immigrants alike.  Populated by dangerous outlaws and a ragtag group of fortune seekers and loners, it functioned as an Argentine Wild West, attracting cowboys and adventurers from around the world.  Chatwin's Argentina is a land of remarkable diversity: "The history of Buenos Aires is written in its telephone directory.  Pompey Romanov, Emilio Rommel, Crespins D.Z. de Rose. Adislao Radziwil, and Elizabeta Marta Callman de Rothschild - five names taken at random from among the R's - told a story of exile, disillusion and anxiety behind lace curtains."   The author's voracious cultural appetite samples everything from local folklore to paleontology, the theory of evolution, Peronism, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the suppleness of native Fuegan verbal forms. 

As Chatwin said of his book: "In Patagonia is not a travel book in the usual sense but a Quest or Wonder Voyage.  It is about wandering and exile, and its structure is as old as literature itself: the narrator travels to a remote country in search of a strange beast, and, as he goes along, describes his encounters with other people whose stories delay him en route."

 

Read: In Patagonia, Bruce Chatwin

Travel: Argentina www.i-escape.com

 

Tags:  literature  travel 

 

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