Bruce Chatwin


Bruce Chatwin had a long fascination with our urge to surround ourselves with possessions. Utz is his story of a man who did so more than most of us. Kaspar Joachim Utz came from the minor nobiltiy in Czechoslovakia. With the coming of communism, he ends up in a small flat in Prague, but is allowed to keep in it the collection of Meissen porcelain which he has accumulated. He has money in foreign banks and so has the possibility of building a new life (and porcelain collection) for himself in the west, but somehow he just can't bring himself to do it.

The story is told from the point of view of a journalist (clearly representing Chatwin himself) who met Utz for just one evening. This means that we don't just get a description of Utz's life, rather it is presented as the result of possibly poor memory and of deduction and speculation. Did Utz have a moustache? Did he in fact perform some service for the state on his visits to the west? And what was his relationship with women, in particular his maid Marta? Set against the backdrop of communism (including the Prague Spring), in this novel Chatwin shows that money and politics aren't necessarily the most important things in our lives. Rather he highlights the confusing tangle of circumstances that motivate us to do the things we do.

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Paperback 144 pages  
ISBN: 0099770016
Salesrank: 16535315
Published: 2002 Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random
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Paperback 144 pages  
ISBN: 0099770016
Salesrank: 17314
Weight:0.26 lbs
Published: 1998 Vintage Classics
Amazon price £8.46
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ISBN: 0099770016
Weight:0.26 lbs
Published: 1999 Random House
Amazon price CDN$ 7.32
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Product Description
Bruce Chatwin's bestselling novel traces the fortunes of the enigmatic and unconventional hero, Kaspar Utz. Despite the restrictions of Cold War Czechoslovakia, Utz asserts his individuality through his devotion to his precious collection of Meissen porcelain. Although Utz is permitted to leave the country each year, and considers defecting each time, he is not allowed to take his porcelain with him and so he always returns to his Czech home, a prisoner both of the Communist state and of his collection.