777 – Bruce Chatwin


Parts of the article A TRIBUTE by Kerry Ross Boren about Chatwin relation with the mountain and orthodoxy.

He has been called the greatest novelist since Hemingway, and the foremost travel writer of modern times. The American novelist John Updike has described his style as “a clipped lapidary prose that compresses worlds into pages.” It is no exaggeration; there were worlds within Bruce Chatwin.

He hated Greece and wasted no opportunity to say so. Plante met him in the walled town of Lucca, in Tuscany, Italy, on his way to Greece. Yet he told Plante, “I don’t know about Greeks – and I have very, very little interest in Greece, and that only during the month of February.” In Greece, he went to the monastery on Mount Athos, the sacred mountain where no women are allowed. When he returned to London, all he said to Plante about Mount Athos was, “My dear, those priests!”

It was only after his death in 1989 that it was learned even by his closest friends that he had been guarding another secret: he claimed to have had some sort of vision on Mount Athos and shortly thereafter he had converted to the Greek Orthodox religion, telling no one. According to his final wishes, he was given a funeral service in the Greek Orthodox Church, in Moscow Road, London.

According to his biographer Nicholas Shakespeare Bruce Chatwin found God before his death. This was on top of Mount Athos, after which he left for Katmandu. Chatwin visited Athos together with Patrick Leigh Fermor. (Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece Harper 1966).

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