'Songlines' or 'Dreaming Tracks' are what all Europeans call the labyrinth of invisible pathways that meander all over Australia. To Aboriginals, they are the 'Footprints of the Ancestors'; they are both intricate sources of personal identity and territorial markers.
From such ancient line, Bruce Chatwin has been able to trace a great deal about an Aboriginal culture as complex as it is different from our own. The conflict between the two ways of life mirrors that within 'civilised' man himself. Disputes over the right to excavate land that is sacred to wandering tribes highlight the importance of myth and instinct in the human psyche.
What might in other hands seem theatrically picaresque, Bruce Chatwin transforms into something approaching the scale of Greek tragedy . . .