Part adventure, part novel of ideas, part spiritual autobiography, The Songlines is a classic for anyone interested in learning about Aboriginal culture and one of Bruce Chatwin's most famous books.
Set in the desolate lands of the Australian Outback, it tells the story of Chatwin's search for the source and meaning of the ancient "dreaming tracks" of the Aborigines the labyrinth of invisible pathways by which their ancestors "sang" the world into existence.
This singular book, which was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 1987, engages all of Chatwin's lifelong passions, including his obsession with travel, his interest in the nomadic way of life, and his hunger to understand man's origins and nature.
Criticism: The Songlines has been the focus of much criticism, predominantly for its "colonialist" viewpoint, citing a lack of interviews with Aboriginal people in favour of non-Aboriginal sources, and that Chatwin only briefly visited Australia. Note that the book is published as a novel.
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