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Bruce Chatwin's Songlines

            "Salmon Rushdie argued that the Songlines has a poetic truth which overcomes the inadequacies of its central thesis. Explaining what you feel is the central idea and analysing the language of the text discuss whether or not you agree with this statement".
             Bruce Chatwin's Songlines, a story depicting a Russian mapping ancient Aboriginal Songlines, is ostensibly a book in the travel writing genre, yet it contains many autobiographical features as well as the central thesis of Chatwin's view of human existence. This leaves the true purpose of the book somewhat a mystery and creates a fascinating allegory. Leaving us with the question "is it fact or is it fiction?".
             Chatwin uses language in order to mask his text as a piece of travel writing. As a travel writer, Chatwin has an excellent evocation of place and uses descriptive language well. "The milky blue rollers flopped ashore, and there were flights of terns, skimming low over the bay, piercing the sound of the surf with thin metallic cries. There was no wind." Pg 73 This creates strong, detailed pictures which give the reader a sense of having experienced the situation.
             Chatwin's tendency towards short, sharp sentences presents a factual account. "His name was Arkady Volchok. He was an Australian Citizen. He was thirty-three years old." Pg 1 This serves to distance the reader from the text, resulting in less emotional connection, as we would expect from a travel book which tries to present an accurate, factual journey.
             Chatwin's garrulousness and penchant for name-dropping reinforce the genre. "The karakul hats took me back to a stifling summer afternoon in Kiev and the memory of a squadron of Cossack cavalry exercising down a cobbled street: glossy black horses; scarlet capes, hats worn at an angle; and the sour, resentful faces of the crowd." Pg 41 Such language demonstrates Chatwin's breadth of knowledge and shows that he has been to other places.

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