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On the Black Hill [Paperback]

Bruce Chatwin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Paperback CDN $16.02  
Paperback, Nov. 11 1983 --  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook CDN $57.20  
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Book Description

Nov. 11 1983 Picador Books
An elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. In depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community, Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

Bruce Chatwin's fascination with nomads and wanderlust represents itself in reverse in On the Black Hill, a tale of two brothers (identical twins) who never go anywhere. They stay in the farmhouse on the English-Welsh border where they were born, tilling the rough soil and sleeping in the same bed, touched only occasionally by the advance of the 20th century. Smacking of a Welsh Ethan Frome, Chatwin evokes the lonely tragedies of farm life, and above all the vibrant land of Wales. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bruce Chatwin reinvented British travel writing with his first book, and followed it with four other books, each unique and extraordinary. He died in 1989. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
All Bruce Chatwin's books seem to have a provincial side to them. Set in outlandish places in all corners of the Earth, they all have a sort of question mark attached to them, perhaps asking: Now, what's going on here? "On the Black Hill," is, I maintain, set in as outlandish a spot as any of them. The Welsh countryside has bred just as odd examples of humanity as the green hills of Kentucky or the wide veldt of South Africa. Yet Chatwin sees through them all, down to some sort of common denominator, and what we have in this book is the most human story to issue from this pen. The story of the twins will not only delight for its old-fashioned setting and eccentric but somehow so British behaviour, it will also draw you into Chatwin's elegant prose with its remarkable tempo (you might almost call it metre) and ability to colour scenes with gouache-like softness and light. In fact, coming to Chatwin through "On the Black Hill" may not be such a good idea. Read "The Songlines" first, and failing that, read "Utz" either before or after. In any case, although this short-lived modern writer has not left us the overwhelming legacy we might normally have expected, there is sufficient material to keep you occupied and thinking about your own and Chatwin's world, for some time to come. And in the end you'll see that Bruce Chatwin's not provincial at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An eloquent celebration of the quiet life. Aug. 18 2000
Format:Paperback
On the Black Hill is an elegantly written homage to the inelegant life of rural Wales, a life in which no one ever strays far from the farm--there are few opportunities and little motivation to do so. Spartan lives are enriched by stories and gossip, slights are never forgotten, feuds reach epic intensity, and bottled-up frustrations simmer till they explode. Through rich and vivid descriptions of the minutiae of daily existence, we come to know twin brothers Lewis and Ben Jones as they grow up and are shaped by their family and their small community. The townspeople become our own friends or enemies, depending on their behavior towards the twins, and we empathize with them as they use their limited resources to struggle with the Big Questions which concern us all--questions of life, love, spirituality, death, cruelty, justice, and ultimately, happiness. By paring life to the bone here, Chatwin gives us a classic example of the adage, "Less is more."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best books July 19 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For me this lacks the spontaneity and originality of his other novels. By his standards it is quite a conventional narrative, seems a little too carefully planned and has too much detail. However it is a well written and often compelling book. If it had been written by an unknown I'd probably have liked it better, but from Chatwin I had hoped for a bit more. Perhaps I was spoilt by the genius of all his other fiction (and faction) and expected too much from this one. He draws some beautiful pictures of the landscape - which is an important character in the novel. As ever, he has a great sense of place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best books July 19 1999
Format:Paperback
For me this lacks the spontaneity and originality of his other novels. By his standards it is quite a conventional narrative, seems a little too carefully planned and has too much detail. However it is a well written and often compelling book. If it had been written by an unknown I'd probably have liked it better, but from Chatwin I had hoped for a bit more. Perhaps I was spoilt by the genius of all his other fiction (and faction) and expected too much from this one. He draws some beautiful pictures of the landscape - which is an important character in the novel. As ever, he has a great sense of place.
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