Abstract: This article reexamines the construction of Aboriginal Australia in Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines. It explores the ways in which this postmodernist travelogue transforms certain patterns of the literary representation of the Central Australian desert, re-inventing and re-contextualizing the 19th century topos of the unmappable land. The analysis of the figurative language of the novel focuses on its master tropes, the map and the labyrinth, suggesting that they both reflect the traveller’s inclination to appropriate the Aboriginal worldview and at the same time symbolize the landscape’s (and its inhabitants’) resistance to being appropriated.

Keywords: travel writing; cartography; cultural otherness; Aborigines; labyrinth; map

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