New York: Viking Press, 1987. 1st US Edition. Octavo, publisher's buckram cloth over brown paper, spine gilt, light tan endpapers, top edge stained brown, original illustrated dust jacket.
"If you walk hard enough, you probably don’t need any other god." First US edition of Bruce Chatwin’s bestselling meditation on Aboriginal culture in Australia. Named for the songlines, or Dreaming Tracks, of Australia – the ancestral pathways of the continent’s indigenous peoples – the book utilizes these roads as an extended metaphor for the human impulse to wander. Chatwin was an English travel writer, novelist and journalist who is credited with reviving travel writing, although he considered himself a storyteller preoccupied more with his own restlessness and mortality than with history. Interested in art and archaeology, he left a successful career as a junior director at Sotheby’s to pursue a life of writing about nomadic cultures, beginning with his first book, In Patagonia (1977). He was renowned for a prose style that was stripped, concise, discursive, and wandering, revealing the 18th and 19th-century influences of writers like Pascal and Flaubert. The Songlines was a subject of occasional controversy because of Chatwin’s reliance on white Australians for his information about Aboriginal traditions, but Chatwin himself understood the book as a quasi-fictional work, and Hanya Yanagihara noted in the New York Times Style Magazine that what the book reveals is "not a physical terrain so much as the twisty, dead-endy pathways of the author’s own subconscious." Fine in unclipped dust jacket. Item #3178