Utz (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Utz, like Bruce Chatwin’s previous books In Patagonia (1977), The Viceroy of Ouidah (1980), On the Black Hill (1982), and The Songlines (1987), reflects his travels about the world. Utz takes place mostly in Prague, and it features the life of Kaspar Utz, a minor Saxon baron, part Jewish, who has amassed a valuable collection of Meissen porcelain. The story begins with Utz’s death in 1974. The narrator, on a research trip to Prague in 1967, spends a little more than nine hours with Utz, meeting his servant Maria and his paleontologist friend Dr. Vaclav Orlik, and fills in the rest of the story.
Utz’s passion for rare porcelain dates from his childhood, when he acquires his first piece, a Harlequin, from his Jewish grandmother. During the 1930’s, thanks to the sale of family farmlands and the money his mother and grandmother have left him, he travels about Europe and adds to his cache of expensive porcelain.
Then the war comes. Utz weathers it on the family estate in Czechoslovakia. His Nazi cousin Reinhold, a witless racial purist, tries to get him to join the German army, but Utz demures. Under the Nazi regime of Reinhard Heydrich, Utz’s racial background is questioned, but he makes a show of the medal his father earned fighting for Germany in World War I, and is left alone. To...
(The entire section is 1951 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
The Atlantic. CCLXIII, February, 1989, p. 83.
The Christian Science Monitor. January 27, 1989, p. 13.
Library Journal. CXIII, December, 1988, p. 131.
London Review of Books. X, September 29, 1988, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. January 22, 1989, p. 3.
The New York Review of Books. XXXVI, February 2, 1989, p. 6.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI V, January 15, 1989, p. 3.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIV, October 21, 1988, p. 48.
The Times Literary Supplement. September 23, 1988, p. 1041.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, January 22, 1989, p. 1.
(The entire section is 68 words.)