Bruce Chatwin’s classic essay on the classic travel writer Robert Byron from 1980, as poignant and relevant as ever. After travelling through Persia and Afghanistan, Byron published his Road to Oxiana in 1937 and died in 1941 at the age of thirty-five when the ship he was sailing on was sunk by a German submarine en route to Egypt. Chatwin’s own travel experiences in Iran and Afghanistan closely shadowed those of his idol, making Chatwin’s reflections on Afghanistan under Soviet occupation both profoundly sad and weirdly prescient. Since it’s hard to imagine repeating such a feat in the political climate of today, I suggest in the piece’s brief audio intro that this circumstance represents the true end to the great Age of Travel (as opposed to ordinary tourism).
A Lament for Afghanistan, by Bruce Chatwin [19:03]