Paperback Þ Utz Epub Ú

Paperback Þ Utz Epub Ú


Utz [KINDLE] ❀ Utz ❄ Bruce Chatwin – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk 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 than , pieces, all crammed 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 than , 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 stateA 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.

  • Paperback
  • 154 pages
  • Utz
  • Bruce Chatwin
  • English
  • 09 February 2019
  • 0140115765

About the Author: Bruce Chatwin

Charles Bruce Chatwin was an English novelist and travel writer He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel On the Black Hill In , Chatwin interviewed the year old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted I ve always wanted to go there, Bruce told her So have I, she replied, go there for me Two years later in November , Chatwin flew out to Lima in Peru, and reached Patagonia a month later When he arrived, he left the newspaper with a telegram Have gone to Patagonia He spent six months in the area, a trip which resulted in the book In Patagonia This work established his reputation as a travel writer Later, however, residents in the region contradicted the account of events depicted in Chatwin s book It was the first time in his career, but not the last, that conversations and characters which Chatwin presented as fact were alleged to have been fictionalised Later works included a novel based on the slave trade, The Viceroy of Ouidah, which he researched with extended stays in Benin, West Africa For The Songlines , a work combining fiction and non fiction, Chatwin went to Australia He studied the culture to express how the songs of the Aborigines are a cross between a creation myth, an atlas and an Aboriginal man s personal story He also related the travelling expressed in The Songlines to his own travels and the long nomadic past of humans Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, his novel On the Black Hill was set closer to home, in the hill farms of the Welsh Borders It focuses on the relationship between twin brothers, Lewis and Benjamin, who grow up isolated from the course of twentieth century history Utz , was a novel about the obsession that leads people to collect Set in Prague, the novel details the life and death of Kaspar Utz, a man obsessed with his collection of Meissen porcelain Chatwin was working on a number of new ideas for future novels at the time of his death from AIDS in , including a transcontinental epic, provisionally titled Lydia Livingstone.



10 thoughts on “Utz

  1. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    Living Within the LieHow can one best deal with the reality of power, particllarly power which is obviously arbitrary and tasteless as well as unjust This is an especially relevant issue during the regime of Trump and his vulgarising influence in world affairs Utz is wonderful comedic farce about how to deal with power at a personal as well as a political level not by confronting it but by treating it with utter disdain.The eponymous Utz is a Czech survivor of two world wars and a subseq Living Within the LieHow can one best deal with the reality of power, particllarly power which is obviously arbitrary and tasteless as well as unjust This is an especially relevant issue during the regime of Trump and his vulgarising influence in world affairs Utz is wonderful comedic farce about how to deal with power at a personal as well as a political level not by confronting it but by treating it with utter disdain.The eponymous Utz is a Czech survivor of two world wars and a subsequent communist regime What sustains him is an aesthetic, specifically his appreciation for Meissen porcelainWars, pogroms and revolutions , he used to say, offer excellent opportunities for the collectorHe is savvy enough to understand that power is never permanently held and that its machinations need not impede the life of the true aestheteTyranny sets up its own echo chamber a void where confused signals buzz about at random where a murmur or innuendo causes panic so, in the end, the machinery of repression islikely to vanish, not with war or revolution, but with a puff, or the voice of falling leavesPower is its own worst enemy if we can just leave it alone, it dissipates.Utz is no avaricious materialist Collecting is a spiritual endeavour that involves treating individual pieces as if they were icons that promote entry into another world Such appreciation is impossible in a museum or public gallery where the piecesmust suffer the de natured existence of an animal in the zoo In any museum the object dies of suffocation and the public gaze whereas private ownership confers on the owner the right and the need to touchHis obsession with porcelain is a questto find the substance of immortalityBut a collection of such objects is also a constant reminder of one s own mortalityThese things are the changeless mirror in which we watch ourselves disintegrate Nothing isageing than a collection of works of artThe collection presents both concrete reality and existential hope for the one oppressed by power..Even , the pieces act much as the Golem in the Jewish legends of Prague to protect, if not one s body, at least one s mind from the threats of power which abound in life So, for Utz,this world of little figures was the real worldAnd like the Golem, and for that matter Adam himself, isn t porcelain created from clay and water These precisely crafted fragments of clay are our links to the supernatural which permit us to ignore the minor irritations of bureaucrats and customs officials no matter how expertly appliedSo you see, said Utz, not only was Adam the first human person He was also the first ceramic sculpturePorcelain is a philosophy of primal mankind, of freedom.Nevertheless, an aesthetic obsession, like a Golem, is prone to get out of hand unless there is a control mechanism Utz In fact has two such controls sex and an annual two weeks abroad The first keeps him grounded, the second keeps him sane It s a clever therapy and he recognizes his fortunate luxury This is a luxury which allows him to avoid the main temptation to power, that is to say power as a remedy for power s illsHe knew that anti Communist rhetoric was as deadly as its Communist counterpartIn any case, his annual visits abroad served mainly to remind him of the venality and useless worry that were the essential conditions of living in the West.Thus Utz s aesthetic allows him to live comfortably and without undue stresswithin the lie,not just the lie of Czechoslovakian Communism, but also the lie that there is anything permanent or permanently obtainable in life Not at all a bad way to deal with the power that envelopes one s existence

  2. Adam Dalva Adam Dalva says:

    I am, among other things, a dealer of 19th century porcelain and some of them Meissen , so this book was unusually close to my everyday life Chatwin s passages on the pleasure and insanity of collecting particularly the intense negotiation scene were some of my favorites, though I don t know how well they d translate to the collective you.But The book s treatment of Czechoslovakia is fascinating, Utz himself is a pleasure of a character, the book is light and funny, and there s a sequence i I am, among other things, a dealer of 19th century porcelain and some of them Meissen , so this book was unusually close to my everyday life Chatwin s passages on the pleasure and insanity of collecting particularly the intense negotiation scene were some of my favorites, though I don t know how well they d translate to the collective you.But The book s treatment of Czechoslovakia is fascinating, Utz himself is a pleasure of a character, the book is light and funny, and there s a sequence in homage to Magic Mountain that was a huge pleasure A touch OVER plotted I don t think Chatwin appreciated the joy of the simplicity of his book s first half , and some really bad hair similes are the only real issues here I read it in 80 minutes Chatwin had an exceedingly interesting life and this is a good introduction to his talents

  3. Maciek Maciek says:

    I ve never read anything by Bruce Chatwin before, but judging from his biography he was an interesting fellow Born in 1940, he was employed by Sotheby s to work at their art department and quickly became their expert on antique and impressionist pieces, known for his ability to discern forgeries he eventually became the director He was later hired by The Sunday Times and published articles for the magazine while traveling across the world and visiting its remote corners he published a travel I ve never read anything by Bruce Chatwin before, but judging from his biography he was an interesting fellow Born in 1940, he was employed by Sotheby s to work at their art department and quickly became their expert on antique and impressionist pieces, known for his ability to discern forgeries he eventually became the director He was later hired by The Sunday Times and published articles for the magazine while traveling across the world and visiting its remote corners he published a travel book, In Patagonia, and several novels Utz is the last of them, published in 1988 one year before the author s death from AIDS.The eponymous Utz is Kaspar Utz, a man of forgettable face but unforgettable passion for porcelain figurines Utz devoted his life to collecting his porcelain treasures, and ensuring their safety throughout the years and wars He keeps all thousand pieces in his small, two room apartment in Prague, permitted by the Czechoslovak regime to do so on the grounds that he will bequeath the entire collection to the state after his death Although Utz is the main protagonist, he is not the narrator the story begins with his funeral, and is narrated by a man who spent a littlethan 9 hours with Utz when he was alive, and collected the rest from his few friends.The narrator first came to Prague to research a book about the psychology of collectors which drew him to Utz, a Jewish man possibly descended from some minor Saxon nobility, and his passion for collecting porcelain His devotion to Meissen porcelains is without parallel during the war, he gave away all his other earthly belongings to secure a Czechoslovak passport and residence in Prague The narrator meets with Utz, who talks with him about porcelain, alchemy and golems much of the book is satire on the absurdity of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, one of which Utz had to live in This is best seen in the opening scene of the book which, by the nature of being a funeral, should have been sad but because the funeral takes place in 1974 in Czechoslovakia, it s darkly humorous A man asks the narrator if he can play the organ, and upon hearing a negation he admits that he can t either, and resignedly goes to do exactly that A cleaning woman refuses to move for the coffin bearers, and they have to go around her and they have to hurry, as the state has ruled that all Christian rituals have to be done by 8.30 AM There are manysuch examples in the book, but I ll leave the fun of discovering to prospective readers Although Utz could have used multiple opportunities to defect to the West, he was always dragged back to Prague not by the government, but by his precious porcelain which he couldn t leave behind He always came back to the city, and this is where he eventually died which is where the book opens, and the narrator reaches full circle learningabout Utz from his friends and acquaintances, he is able to present acomplete vision of Utz as a person But can a person such as Utz ever truly be scrutinized and understood Like Utz s figurines, the book itself is a miniature it reads quickly, but but is packed with a multitude of references and observations from the nature of humankind to specific political and social affairs of the era I think it could be adapted excellently for stage, and for film I m surprised that no one has thought of it yet, given the success of last years s Grand Budapest Hotel If you enjoyed that film, there is a chance that you will also enjoy Utz and even if you didn t, there is little risk in dusting off this forgotten book and discovering the life of a little known Saxon baron who once held the largest porcelain collection in the whole of Bohemia

  4. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    Set during the last years of Czechoslovakia before the end of communism this short novel is based around a meeting between the author, who descends down into his own novel view spoiler rather as in his travel writing there is an interplay between the potentially real and the probably fictional so to there is an uncertain shifting between the two as though the author was seeking to both expose and cover his nakedness at the same time and blurs the difference between fiction and non fiction, ins Set during the last years of Czechoslovakia before the end of communism this short novel is based around a meeting between the author, who descends down into his own novel view spoiler rather as in his travel writing there is an interplay between the potentially real and the probably fictional so to there is an uncertain shifting between the two as though the author was seeking to both expose and cover his nakedness at the same time and blurs the difference between fiction and non fiction, instead in the end there is neither, just Chatwin himself, or maybe there isn t hide spoiler and the character of Utz, a collector of porcelain and their discussion around his collection and the nature and history of European porcelain view spoiler which is moderatelyengaging than it sounds hide spoiler The rest of the story view spoiler featuring what happened to his collection and his sexual tastes view spoiler which don t involve porcelain view spoiler if as in Chatwin s travel writings, the theme of the book is Chatwin himself hide spoiler then it is not surprising that revelation is slow, through conversation with many people, there is a display of hidden depths by means of the history of porcelain and the necessity of hiding, Utz needs to hide his collection from the authorities while Chatwin needs both to hide himself and reveal himself to potential hostile and unknown others through plausible fantasies, which test our acceptance of him hide spoiler hide spoiler is reconstructed after the death of Utz Reaching for the effect of a feature in the Sunday supplements view spoiler but without the full page colour photographs hide spoiler , a couple of hours worth of reading from a dead author about a vanished country and a lost world of European porcelain.Coming back to this book and reading it again for the first time in years it strikes me how much the depiction of the main character, Kasper Utz, is a self portrait of the author there is an emphasis on bending and accommodating to the world as it is and against it not resisting by maintaining a layered private life, and in Utz s wish for museum collections to be broken up and regularly made available for private collectors to buy and horde I sense Chatwin the former Sotheby s man Ostensibly the novel is Chatwin s discovery of this curious person, the Baron Utz, living with a servant and an extraordinary porcelain collection in communist Czechoslovakia, but it emerges that within that meta fiction parts are imaginative constructions by the in story author the construction of the book is also layered I am not sure if there are words in English to describe the varieties and realities of actual lived human sexualities, and perhaps that is for the best as it obliges us to engage with realities rather than always beginning able to shelter behind the safety of nouns, Chatwin was as far as I understand mostly gay but was married to an American woman I suppose her passport was not particularly relevant to the relationship , he died eventually of AIDS, but, if I remember correctly view spoiler of which I am no longer sure hide spoiler spent some time claiming to be suffering from some kind of illness which was if not unique but very rare and while contracted adventurously it was from his persona as an explorer, dipping in and out of caves in search of buried treasure or curious manuscripts, ahem He managed his public persona very carefully, and this is what we see Utz doing too the great narrative shift is when he moves from being a canny survivor to being a collaborator, and I wonder if this reflected some guilt on Chatwin s part too by not being open about his sexuality wasn t he too perpetuating the need to wear masks and tacitly enforcing the intolerance in 1980s Britain Perhaps the novel says that it is improper to make such judgements Perhaps it is just a delicate and balance piece of writing

  5. Andrew Andrew says:

    Chatwin s sentences are as chiseled little jewels in museum cases He s part of that wonderful tradition of chilly literary craftsmanship that counts Borges, Sebald, and Nabokov among its members.Utz is the first of Chatwin s fiction works I ve read, and it bears much in common with his travel writing To be, like, ultra lame, I would make the comparison between his prose and the Meissen porcelain he writes about, but I m not Instead, I ll say that it is brilliantly, deceptively simple He just Chatwin s sentences are as chiseled little jewels in museum cases He s part of that wonderful tradition of chilly literary craftsmanship that counts Borges, Sebald, and Nabokov among its members.Utz is the first of Chatwin s fiction works I ve read, and it bears much in common with his travel writing To be, like, ultra lame, I would make the comparison between his prose and the Meissen porcelain he writes about, but I m not Instead, I ll say that it is brilliantly, deceptively simple He just says things with as straight a face as you can imagine And the effects stay with you for a long time after, especially on that lonely train ride home, especially on that return to an empty apartment

  6. Roberta Roberta says:

    Don t get fooled by the shortness of the booklet the story is quite rich We meet this self centered mr Utz on the day of his funeral, through the memories of an acquaintance of his Mr Utz has been a spoiled child and an eccentric adult, a bourgeoisie in a communist country He s a collector, and an addicted to porcelain But the is also delusional I get the sophistication of the story, but I don t get the story I ve been indifferent to Utz s struggling and suffering.

  7. Graychin (D. Dalrymple) Graychin (D. Dalrymple) says:

    I don t know why or when I began to be suspicious of fiction, but somewhere along the line I came to look on the reading of novels as a guilty pleasure, a distraction from the business ofserious reading This is an absurd notion, of course, and it embarrasses me to write it down The undergraduate English major still lurking somewhere deep within me is really quite shocked But I make no excuse for myself I only admit the fact.I ve read a lot of Bruce Chatwin and enjoyed all of it, but I I don t know why or when I began to be suspicious of fiction, but somewhere along the line I came to look on the reading of novels as a guilty pleasure, a distraction from the business ofserious reading This is an absurd notion, of course, and it embarrasses me to write it down The undergraduate English major still lurking somewhere deep within me is really quite shocked But I make no excuse for myself I only admit the fact.I ve read a lot of Bruce Chatwin and enjoyed all of it, but I ve so far limited myself to his ostensibly non fiction works Admittedly, the line between fiction and non fiction is a hazy one with Chatwin, but I m thinking here of his travelogues like In Patagonia Curiously, then, it was a work of non fiction, Frederik Sjoberg s The Fly Trap, that sparked my interest in Utz as an example of Chatwin the novel writer.I simply loved this book I read it in two enraptured sittings and was tempted to start over again from the beginning Chatwin s eccentricities are all there the story includes memorable discursions on Renaissance alchemists, the origin of central European porcelain manufactures, and the true nature and powers of the Prague golem but they re given fresh shape and breath in the memorable characters of Utz himself, his friend Orlik, and his housekeeper Marta What s , I can t remember Chatwin s prose ever reading better than it does in Utz And while there s a certain pathos to the story, it s also very funny as in I actually laughed out loudthan once I don t know what to compare it to, except maybe a Werner Herzog movie In the end, Utz may feel like a guilty pleasure, but only because I suspect it was written with me personally in mind

  8. Matt Matt says:

    About 3 4 of the way in and I m finding it really easy to read It s sneakily subversive, witty, elegant in a quiet way and really gets its hooks into you Absorbing, slightly absurd, legitimately funny and slyly knowing It was pressed on me by a drunken friend who insisted that I check it out It was also among the 5,000 books namedropped by Hitchens in a personal essay, though, and I think he probably knew the author well so that s always a plus So far at least it s the kind of book tha About 3 4 of the way in and I m finding it really easy to read It s sneakily subversive, witty, elegant in a quiet way and really gets its hooks into you Absorbing, slightly absurd, legitimately funny and slyly knowing It was pressed on me by a drunken friend who insisted that I check it out It was also among the 5,000 books namedropped by Hitchens in a personal essay, though, and I think he probably knew the author well so that s always a plus So far at least it s the kind of book that feels longer than its actual page or plot length, but not in a lugubrious, dragging kind of way I m savoring it and am trying to finish it with a suitable mindset hushed, receptive and open LikeI don t knowa collector of antique porcelain might be Sorry if you already know what I m talking about, I had to do it In an effort to really explain what I mean about how great this book is, here s some wonderful quotes and scene setting The story opens with the titular character s funeral The bearers employees of a rubber factory who worked night shift and doubled for the undertaker by day had shouldered the coffin and were advancing up the main aisle to music that reminded Orlik of the tramp of soldiers on parade Halfway to the altar the procession met the cleaning woman, who, with soap, water and a scrubbing brush, was scrubbing at the blazon of the Rozemberk family, inlaid into the floor in many coloured marbles The leading bearer asked the woman, most politely, to allow the coffin to pass She scowled and went on scrubbing The bearers had no alternative but to take a left turn between two pews, a right turn up the side aisle, and another right to pass the pulpit Eventually, they arrived before the altar where a youngish priest, his surplice stained with sacramental wine, was anxiously biting his fingernails They set down the coffin with a show of reverence Then, attracted by the smell of hot bread from a bakery along the street, they strolled off to get breakfast leaving Orlik and the faithful Marta as the only mourners The priest mumbled the service at the speed of a patter number and, from time to time, lifted his eyes towards a fresco of the Heavenly Heights After commending the dead man s soul, they had to wait at least ten minutes before the bearers condescended to return, at 8.26 So the nondescript, enigmatic mister Utz is a somewhat obsessed collector of antique porcelain, which is to say he suffers fromPorzellankrankheit,and is a sort of a Bartleby the Scrivener in Communist Prague, and we and the narrator visit him and learn a bit about his whys and wherefores such as they are, and they are indeed, as we slowly discover and come to understand, though Utz remains essentially ungraspable throughout including his living situation The room, to my surprise, was decorated in the modern style almost devoid of furniture apart from a daybed, a glass topped table and a pair of Barcelona chairs upholstered in dark green leather Utz had rescued these in Moravia, from a house built by Mies van der Rohe It was a narrow room, made narrower by the double bank of plate glass shelves, all of them crammed with porcelain, that reached from floor to ceiling The shleves were backed with mirror, so that you had the illusion of entering an enfilade of glittering chambers, a dream palace multiplied to infinity, through which human forms flitted like insubstantial shadows The carpet was grey You had to watch your step for fear of tripping over one of the white porcelain sculptures a pelican, a turkey cock, a bear, a lynx and a rhino modelled either by Kaendler or Eberlein for the Japanese Palace in Dresden All five were scarred with fissures caused by faults in the firing Utz had chosen each item to reflect the moods and facets of the Porcelain Century the wit, the charm, the gallantry, the love of the exotic, the heartlessness and light hearted gaiety before they were swept away by revolution and the tramp of armies And then you get this No He was not a spy As he explained to me in the course of our afternoon stroll, Czechoslovakia was a pleasant place to live, providing one had the possibility of leaving At the same time he admitted, with a self deprecating smile, that his severe case of Porzellankheit prevented him from leaving for good The collection held him prisoner And, of course, it has ruined my life Ah, sure, and our obsessions do begin to wall us in a little bit, indeed, butas we read the porcelain begins to take on a different meaning Are you trying to tell me that Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo were cermaic figures They could have been, he answered They certainly survived the fire I see, I said So you do think the porcelains are alive I do and I do not, he sniggered Porcelains die in the fire ,and then they come alive again The kiln, you must understand, is Hell The temperature for firing porcelain is 1,450 degrees centigrade Yes, I said Utz s flights of fancy made me feel quite dizzy He appeared to be saying that the earliest European porcelain Bottiger s red ware and white ware corresponded to the red and white tinctures of the alchemists To a superstitious old roue like Augustus, the manufacture of porcelain was an approach to the Philosopher s Stone If this were so if, to the eighteenth century imagination, porcelain was not just another exotic, but a magical and talismanic substance the substance of longevity, of potency, of invulnerability then it was easier to understand why the King would stuff a palace with forty thousand pieces Or guard the arcanum like a secret weapon Or swap the six hundred giants Porcelain, Utz, concluded, was the antidote to decay The illusion was, of course, shattered by Frederick the Great who simply loaded the contents of the Meissen factory onto ox carts and sent it, as booty, to Berlin But Frederik, Utz fluttered his eyelids, and with all that musical talent was really an absolute philistine Going a little further here, pointing out the individually realized Grecian Urns of Utz s massive, world spanning collection I have said that Utz s face was waxy in texture , but now in the candlelight its texture seemed like melted wax I looked at the ageless complexion of the Dresden ladies Things, I reflected, are tougher than people Things are the changeless mirror in which we watch ourselves disintegrate Nothing isage ing than a collection of works of art One by one, he lifted the characters of the Commedia from the shelves, and placed them in the pool of light where they appeared to skate over the glass of the table, pioting on their bases of gilded foam, as if they would forever go on laughing, whirling, improvising Scaramouche would strum on his guitar Brighella would liberate people s purses The Captain would swagger childishly like all army officers The Doctor would kill his patient in order to rid him of his disease The coils of spaghetti would be eternally poised above Pulchinella s nostrils Pantaloon would gloat over his money bags The Innamorata, like all transvestites everywhere, would be mobbed on his way to the theatre Columbine would be endlessly in love with Harlequin absolutely mad to trust him And Harlequin The Harlequinthe arch improviser, the zany, trickster, master of the volte facewould forever strut in his variegated plumage, grin through his orange mask, tiptoe into bedrooms, sell nappies for the children of the Grand Eunuch, dance in the teeth of catastropheMr Chameleon himself And as I recalled, as Utz pivoted the figure in the candlelight, that I had misjudged him that he, too, was dancing that, for him, this world of little figures was the real world And that, compared to them, the Gestapo, the Secret Police and other hooligans were creatures of tinsel And the events of this sombre century the bombardments, blitzkriegs, putsches, purges were, so far as he was concernedm so many noises off And now, he said, we shall go We shall go for a walk If hope, if you re reading this, you ve gotten an idea of what a wonderfully wry, subtle, knowing and beautiful book this is, and I sincerely hope you read it Do it for the collectors I mean, come on, if you re on this site, you probably fit the bill , do it for the porcelain, do it for Utz

  9. Kevin Tole Kevin Tole says:

    Published in 1988, Utz was Chatwin s fifth novel coming after In Patagonia 1977 , The Viceroy of Ouidah 1980 , On The Black Hill 1982 and The Songlines 1987 It was written and published whilst Chatwin was ill and dying from AIDS It made the Booker list Like the previous novels it contains elements of being almost but not quite a travelogue and an examination of aspects of anthropology and sociology, but Utz is most definetly a novel.I have problems with these mytho pyscho ortho meta para ge Published in 1988, Utz was Chatwin s fifth novel coming after In Patagonia 1977 , The Viceroy of Ouidah 1980 , On The Black Hill 1982 and The Songlines 1987 It was written and published whilst Chatwin was ill and dying from AIDS It made the Booker list Like the previous novels it contains elements of being almost but not quite a travelogue and an examination of aspects of anthropology and sociology, but Utz is most definetly a novel.I have problems with these mytho pyscho ortho meta para geographers Their own arguments seem to suggest and build on the idea that if a story is worth telling then it is worth enhancing More than that, some even suggest that it is better than walking Personally I would counter that this is what one naturally does when walking anyway, and that the myth alone is commonly better than the spurious enhancements made by these performance artistes, so what is their great fuss about For these solipsistic charlatans, what is true and what is made up seem to coalesce into some frenzied mind trip of cross connections with a limited set of poetic concatenation allegedly offering a greater and deeper meaning at least in the mind of the mythographers For that reason I find it hard to accept even the beautifully written works of W.G Sebald, the ephemerata of Claudio Magris let alone the facile un readable ness of the faintly risible Cecile Oak Phil Smith Dr, Professor who cares Chatwin comes into this group, far far closer to Sebald than the others Utz is a skinny book Not muchthan a short story Set in Prague it concerns the obsession with Meissen porcelain that grips Utz, our eponymous hero and how his collection drives and directs his life It is full of the ploys of all mythogeographers overloading us, the readers, with obscure factettes, little known locations, procedures and rituals that may or may not be real and that, of course, this is their cue for them to pipe up Who are you to say what is real and what is not At least Chatwin had the good grace to call it a novel rather than a DEEP work of social anthropology Utz too is full of this ephemerata Do we care Well maybe its just me I actually do care enough to google some of the bollix set down as substantive fact Quite often there are elements of truth, commonly misconstrued or disported in a way to suggest an alternative Who IS or WAS the Emperor Rudolf What IS a tazza This is the stuff that makes Google money and sets the wheels of the search engines in frenzied motion More coal in the furnace, Mr Google, We needsteam hereMy friend, he said, you know many things But you have many things to know. Chatwin loves his mittel Europe history He also knew a shitload about art from his years as an art whore with Sothebys So he knows his subject But as the tale proceeds and the coal wagon empties you just get tired of following all the references Borges it is not Despite all the charm that Chatwin has, in my honest opinion, it is NOT great prose Borges it is not, I say again And once you take away all the ephemerata, what you are left with is the bones of an interesting but consomme thin tale on the mania of collection something that Chatwin had observed well from Sotheby s , some politically naive statements on the Prague Spring and the USSR, and the outline of a book on mannerism and behaviours that were rapidly disappearing Stating this I begin to feel like the child in The Emperor s New Clothes It begins after a while to resemble a book of motettes and anecdotes like the report of a long bibulous lunch of some affable, upper class, well educated friends interesting and at the same time both tiresome and tedious How can one INVENT porcelain should that be RE INVENT at least One can rediscover the method of manufacture of porcelain but it s not something you invent ferfuxache And Porcelain as the Body of Christ Jesus wept It is worth reading the wiki on the history of porcelain.I was reminded of a piece from Nic Roeg s excellent film Performance when the ageing rock star Turner attempts to trip up the gangster character of James Fox who is trying to hide out with Turner Fox s character says he is a juggler and Turner regales him with past medieval jongleurs and magicians throughout Europe This book feels just like that scene.So Utz is in the end pretty scanty and skimmily thin But it stands as an excellent piece of Chatwinian camp ephemerata It has an immediacy that is interesting but soon fails with time and excessive consumption The big reveal is the disappearance of the collection on Utz s death and the emergence of the marriage of Utz to his servant Has the collection been smashed or somehow whisked away As an afterthought and observation that life and truth are commonly stranger than fiction, in 2001 Sotheby s tracked down and sold the missing porcelain collection of an obsessive Czech collector

  10. Vince Donovan Vince Donovan says:

    I have a special relationship with this book I read it while I was living abroad and it really sparked something special inside me To me this book is the perfect intersection of language, humor, and intelligence, and I realized that was the same feeling I hoped to stir with my own writing.It s a very simple story and a short one, almost a child s fable The narrator goes to Prague during the iron curtain days to track down a man rud to have an incredible collection of Meissen china What I have a special relationship with this book I read it while I was living abroad and it really sparked something special inside me To me this book is the perfect intersection of language, humor, and intelligence, and I realized that was the same feeling I hoped to stir with my own writing.It s a very simple story and a short one, almost a child s fable The narrator goes to Prague during the iron curtain days to track down a man rud to have an incredible collection of Meissen china What follows is a gentle but intricate investigation into art, collecting, obsession, and love

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