Bruce Chatwin

“I have been walking on the beach and I have gazed at the forms which the Creator has painted in the sky. I have seen the Chariot of Fire transformed into the arching neck of a swan. Beautiful! The hand of the Creator! One should either paint or photograph his work. But I am not a painter and I do not possess a camera.”

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, Vintage
“In the afternoons she sat on the east porch, out of the wind, and watched the hollyhocks and peonies changing day by day. The living-room hadn’t changed since she came here as a young bride in 1913. The pink walls were the same. The two Sheffield-plate trays – they were wedding presents – were on the mantelpiece, and the two pottery pug-dogs. On either side of the dresser were tinted photographs of her husband’s parents, who came out from Ffestiniog. They had always hung there and they’d hang there when she’d gone.”

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, Vintage

“The wind had polished his nose and coloured it pale lilac. I found him at lunch ladling the bortsch into the ivory orb of his head. He had made his room cheerful, in the Baltic way, with flowered curtains, geraniums, diplomas for stunt flying and a signed photograph of Neil Armstrong. All his books were in Lithuanian, the aristocrat of Indo-European languages, and concerned his country’s plans for independence.”

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, Vintage

“Father Palacios flooded me with information: statistics, radiocarbon dates, migrations of men and animals, marine regressions, upheavals of the Andes or the appearance of new artefacts. Possessed of a photographic memory he could describe in detail every Indian rock-painting of the South: ‘… in the Second Petrified Forest, there is a unique representation of a mylodon … At Río Pinturas you will find a rodeo of palaeo-llamas, the men are wearing phallic caps … a second fresco depicts the use of a decoy as described by Pigafetta … at Lago Posadas there is a mortal combat between a macrauchenia and a smilodon …’

I took careful notes. The father, his soutane flapping, stood by the charred remains of the chair.

‘Qué inteligencia!’ he said. ‘Oh Padre! Qué sabiduría!’”

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, Vintage

“He took from his wallet a crumpled photograph of himself, on leave from military service, long ago, in a palm-filled garden in Valparaíso. The boy in the photo was unrecognizable in the man: the cocky smile, the wasp-waisted jacket and Oxford bags, and the sleek black hair shining in the sun.”

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, Vintage