Chatwin's qualification of interaction

Jamie Effros '03, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2002

In In Patagonia, the structure of Chatwin's prose does much to inform the meaning behind his various accounts. His multitude of personal experiences are woven together purely through the narrative thread of human connection, and it is especially poignant when that connection is not made. In chapter 7, Chatwin's prose launches into list-form, comically highlighting his interaction with the prince and his lack of connection therein.

"On a drizzling November afternoon, His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Araucania and Patagonia gave me an audience at his public relations firm on the Faubourg Poissoniere. To get there I had to pass the Marxist daily L'Humanite, a cinema showing 'Pinocchio', and a shop that sold fox an skunk skins from Patagonia." [16]

This inane, disconnected list of things he happened to pass only reflects the meaningless list of objects that the Prince shows to him during their encounter. He is shown, in no particular order, "a long manuscript in search of a publisher; a photo of two Araucanian citizens holding up their tricolour, the blue, white, and green", and "a court order allowing M. Phillipe Boiry to use his royal title on a French passport", among other things (16).

How does this interaction differ from many of the others in the book? Is Chapman making a commentary on the bland meaninglessness of public office in comparison to the living citizenry? How is his form of listing similar or different than McPhee's?


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Last modified 11 April 2002