CHATWIN, (Charles) Bruce.


Published: London: Jonathan Cape.

Date: 1988

Octavo, pp. 154, [2 (blank)]. Original publisher’s black boards titled in gilt on the spine, dustwrapper, not price-clipped. (Small mark on top edges of ll., spine slightly leant, very light creasing and rubbing at dustwrapper edges.) A fine copy in a very good dustwrapper.


First edition. Utz, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1988, was based on Chatwin's experiences of working at Sotheby’s and particularly an encounter with a collector. ‘Harbouring his private collection of Meissen porcelains, Kaspar Utz found a refuge from the horrors of the twentieth century. Compared with the exquisite reality of his figurines, rescued and safe in the illusionist city of Prague, the Gestapo and the Secret Police were about to Utz as “creatures of tinsel”. It was the colourful Harlequin, “the Trickster”, with whom nondescript Utz most identified. Utz too was adept at wriggling into positions of advantage, at outwitting authorities – and the love of his own Columbine was nearer at hand than he knew. Being one-quarter Jewish, he nursed a qualm that art-collecting was a kind of idolatry – a blasphemy – and that somehow this very danger was what made Jews so good at it. From his flat and sanctuary of old European images, Utz could see the tomb of Rabbi Loew, legendary creator of the Golem, standing as a mute warning to him’ (dustwrapper blurb).

Utz was Chatwin's last novel, and was published in September 1988, shortly before his death on 18 January 1989.


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