"Ovid's Tristia"
Ovid Banished from Rome - Turner
GNU Free Documentation LicenseOvid Banished from Rome - Turner - Credit: The Athenaeum/Joseph Mallord William Turner

The books on The Maestro's desk don't just reflect the poet's personal tastes, but reveal Chatwin's own interests and summarise the concerns of the Patagonia settlers:

 Tristia is Ovid's poem of exile, following his banishment from Rome.

 Virgil wrote his Georgics as an examination of the trials and tensions of the 'land' and agriculture.

Henry David Thoreau lived for a while as a virtual hermit at Walden Pond in Massachusetts, resulting in his exploration of self-sufficiency and exile.

Antonio Pigafetta travelled with the Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on the first recorded circumnavigation of the world. His Voyage of Magellan provides much of what we know about the journey.

Walt Whitman
Public DomainWalt Whitman - Credit: Bayley Collection/Samuel Hollyer

Walt Whitman's ambitious collection of poetry, Leaves Of Grass, provides a detailed insight into the vigour, process and effects of urbanisation in America.

W.H.Hudson set his adventure, The Purple Land, in Argentina and Uruguay. The story of an English adventurer who elopes to Montevideo after marrying a young Argentine without her father's permission, it's strong on accounts of gaucho life.

And William Blake's poems in his ambitious Songs of Innocence are a masterful paean to the joys and innocence of the natural world.

Given Chatwin's tendency to embellish, it's tempting to speculate that these books were selected for the pages of In Patagonia quite deliberately.