Books: The Man Who Writes with His Feet THE SONGLINES

by Bruce Chatwin; Viking; 293 pages; $18.95

The word travel, Bruce Chatwin reminded an interviewer in a recent issue of the British literary journal Granta, is related to the French travail. "It means hard work, penance and finally a journey," he explained, noting, "There was an idea, particularly in the Middle Ages, that by going on pilgrimage, as Muslim pilgrims do, you were reinstating the original condition of man. The act of walking through a wilderness was thought to bring you back to God."

. Chatwin, 47, does not claim to be devout, although he appears, as was said of James Joyce, to have rejected religion while preserving...