Before his early death at age 47 in 1989, Chatwin's obsessive theme in both his life and his work was the tug-of-war between human restlessness and acquisitiveness, between the urge to wander and the urge to settle and collect. Chatwin's life embodied both extremes. As a young man in his twenties, Chatwin worked at Sotheby's in London, becoming an expert collector. But, as Chatwin tells the story, one day he woke up blind; his doctor recommended wider horizons. Regardless of whether this story is real or apocryphal, Chatwin quit his job in the art world and became an inveterate wanderer, preferring the dry places, going "alone, travelling light."2 Yet, he never really stopped collecting. His books are compendiums of portraits, encyclopedias of ideas. How he resolves the apparent differences between collecting and wandering, and how he manages to create a dialogue between those who stay and those who go are central to his vision as an entirely original travel writer.