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Utz
     

Utz

by Bruce Chatwin
 

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Utz collects Meissen porcelain with a passion. His collection, which he has protected and enlarged through both World War II and Czechoslovakia's years of Stalinism, numbers more than 1,000 pieces, all crammed into his two-room Prague flat.

Utz is allowed to leave the country each year, and although he has considered defection, he always returns. He cannot take his

Overview

Utz collects Meissen porcelain with a passion. His collection, which he has protected and enlarged through both World War II and Czechoslovakia's years of Stalinism, numbers more than 1,000 pieces, all crammed into his two-room Prague flat.

Utz is allowed to leave the country each year, and although he has considered defection, he always returns. He cannot take his precious collection with him, but he cannot leave it, either. And so Utz is as much owned by his porcelain as it is owned by him, as much of a prisoner of the collection as of the Communist state.

A fascinating, enigmatic man, Kaspar Utz is one of Bruce Chatwin's finest creations. And his story, as delicately cast as one of Utz's porcelain figures, is unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chatwin is a protean writer ( On the Black Hill , The Songlines ) always capable of surprising and entertaining his readers. In this slim volume, he draws a satirical portrait of life in a Socialist stateand concludes that human nature is the same no matter what political winds are blowing. The last descendent of an old Czech family, the eponymous art dealer Kaspar Utz lives in Prague, where the Russian occupiers allow him to keep his priceless Meissen porcelain collection on condition that he bequeath it to the national museum. To the narrator, Utz represents the quintessential adapter, able to tolerate a repressive government as long as his private life is undisturbed. Obsessed with a passion to preserve these remnants of the bygone days of imperial glory, Utz implies that the figurines are more real, enduring and invulnerable than the gray world of Eastern Europe existing behind the Iron Curtain. But on his death a droll mystery is revealed; the fate of the collection is as much a result of the belated awakening of Utz's romantic nature as it is a joke against the political regime he despised. Befitting his narrative, Chatwin's spare, precise prose takes on a surrealist quality appropriate to the theater of the absurd. 40,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild alternate. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Kaspar Utz has two passions in life: fine porcelain and sopranos. Between them he manages to keep the world at bayno mean feat for a resident of Prague living first under Nazi, then Soviet domination. Utz is not your conventional hero, and his heroismif it can be called thatlies in his determination to maintain and expand his collection of antique porcelain figurines no matter what. It is his way of asserting his individuality, of thumbing his nose at the state. For Utz the figurines are almost living creatures, much like Rabbi Loew's legendary Golem. But as Utz himself points out, golems can be dangerous, by their very nature beseeching their own destruction. In spare but elegant prose, Chatwin slowly chips away at Utz's character to reveal its many facets. Intriguing and original; for most public and academic libraries. David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersbury, Fla.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140115765
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/1989
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,394,600
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989) was the author of In Patagonia, The Viceroy of Ouidah, On the Black Hill, The Songlines, and Utz. His other books are What Am I Doing Here and Anatomy of Restlessness, posthumous anthologies of shorter works, and Far Journeys, a collection of his photographs that also includes selections from his travel notebooks.

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