W. H. Hudson, His Thinking Machine and Idle Days in Patagonia (1893)

  • Heidi LiedkeEmail author


This chapter retraces Hudson’s idea of idleness as he presents it in his recollection of travels to Patagonia. Idleness in Hudson’s “practice” takes on a mixed form. Initially, it is of a purely physical, external nature when he is forced to stay in bed after an injury. Yet it then becomes a part of his persona and is internalized and this development is significantly influenced by the Patagonian landscape—a landscape that can create, as Baudrillard claims, “the phantasy of disappearance.” In his writing, idleness mainly manifests itself as having occurred in silence and solitude and is recollected in the shape of fits and strangely poetic bursts (or “speed humps”). Liedke differentiates between explicit and implicit forms of experienced and textual idleness and shows that Idle Days in Patagonia is embedded into the natural history discourse of that time


  1. Baudrillard, Jean. 1993. “Radical Exoticism.” In The Transparency of Evil. Essays on Extreme Phenomena, translated by James Benedict, 146–55. London and New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. “Two Books of Natural History.” 1893. Saturday Review (23 September): 361–62. ProQuest.Google Scholar
  3. Brickell, Herschel. 1946. “W. H. Hudson—Bridge-Builder Between the Americas.” Hispania 29 (1): 98–101. JSTOR.Google Scholar
  4. Cahoon, Herbert. 1949. “Herman Melville and W. H. Hudson.” American Notes and Queries 8 (9): 131–32. EBSCOhost.Google Scholar
  5. Darwin, Charles. [1871] 1981. Descent of Man. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. [1839] 1909. Voyage of the Beagle. New York: P. F. Collier & Son.Google Scholar
  7. Dewar, David R., ed. 1951. Letters on the Ornithology of Buenos Ayres by W. H. Hudson. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dixie, Lady Florence. 1880. Across Patagonia. London: Bentley & Son.Google Scholar
  9. Figal, Günter. 2018 [in print]. “Muße und Einfachheit. Henry David Thoreaus literarisches Lebensexperiment.” In Muße und Moderne, edited by Tobias Keiling, Robert Krause, and Heidi Liedke. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar
  10. Gosse, Philip Henry. 1851. A Naturalist’s Sojourn in Jamaica. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  11. Haase, Jenny. 2009. Patagoniens verflochtene Erzählwelten. Der argentinische und chilenische Süden in Reiseliteratur und historischem Roman (1977–1999). Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  12. Hudson, W. H. 1893. Idle Days in Patagonia. London: Chapman.Google Scholar
  13. James, Joseph F. 1893. “Idle Days in Patagonia by W. H. Hudson.” Science 21 (535) (5 May): 247–248.Google Scholar
  14. Kernahan, Coulson. 1923. “W. H. Hudson: A Memory.” In Celebrities: Little Stories About Famous Folk, 237–40. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  15. Liedke, Heidi. 2016. “W. H. Hudson and Bruce Chatwin in Patagonia. The Phantasy of Disappearance.” Textus. English Studies in Italy (At the End of the World: Extreme Places of the British Imagination) 29 (2): 95–107.Google Scholar
  16. Madox Ford, Ford. 1936. “W. H. Hudson.” The American Mercury: 306–17.Google Scholar
  17. Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel. 1951. El Mundo maravilloso de Guillermo Enrique Hudson. México: Fondo de Cultura Economia.Google Scholar
  18. McCusick, James. 2000. “Introduction.” In Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology, 1–33. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  19. Miller, David. 1990a. Introduction. In W. H. Hudson and the Elusive Paradise, 1–21. Houndmills et al.: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. ——–. 1990b. Conclusion. In W. H. Hudson and the Elusive Paradise, 173–75. Houndmills et al.: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  21. Morgan, Eluned. 1907. Dringo’r Andes. Newport: Southall & Co.Google Scholar
  22. Moss, Chris. 2008. Patagonia. A Cultural History. Oxford: Signal Books.Google Scholar
  23. Newman, Lance. 2005. “William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, and the Poetry of Nature.” In Our Common Dwelling: Henry Thoreau, Transcendentalism, and the Class Politics of Nature, 83–95. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  24. Nietzsche, Friedrich. [1882] 2013. Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. Hamburg: Meiner.Google Scholar
  25. Nouzeilles, Gabriela. 1999. “Patagonia as Borderland: Nature, Culture, and the Idea of the State.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesia 8 (1): 35–48.Google Scholar
  26. Peñaloza, Fernanda. 2008. “Appropriating the ‘Unattainable’: The British Travel Experience in Patagonia.” In Informal Empire in Latin America: Culture, Commerce and Capital, edited by Matthew Brown, 149–72. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. Pound, Ezra. [1920–1921] 1967. “Hudson: Poet Strayed into Science.” The Little Review. W. H. Hudson Number VII (1): 13–17.Google Scholar
  28. Richter, Virginia. 2009. “Darwin in Patagonia: Descriptive Strategies in the Beagle Diary and The Voyage of the Beagle.” In British Narratives of Exploration: Case Studies on the Self and Other, edited by Frédéric Regard, 167–78. London: Pickering & Chatto.Google Scholar
  29. Roberts, Morley. 1924. W. H. Hudson. A Portrait. London: Eveleigh Nash & Grayson.Google Scholar
  30. Roberts, E. J. 1936. “W. H. Hudson, Naturalist and Author.” The Baptist Quarterly 8 (4): 191–99.Google Scholar
  31. Robinson, David. 2004. Natural Life: Thoreau’s Worldly Transcendentalism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Sánchez, Matilde. 1985. “W. H. Hudson: hombre de dos fronteras.” Tiempo Argentino (20 January): n.p.Google Scholar
  33. Shrubsall, Dennis, and Pierre Coustillas, eds. 1985. Landscapes and Literati. Unpublished Letters of W. H. Hudson and George Gissing. Salisbury: Russell.Google Scholar
  34. Talairach-Vielmas, Laurence. 2014. “Introduction.” In Fairy Tales, Natural History and Victorian Culture, 1–14. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Thoreau, Henry David. 2004. Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Tomalin, Ruth. 1982. W. H. Hudson. A Biography. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  37. “William Henry Hudson.” 1922. Times (19 August): 13. Times Digital Archive.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations