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Utz

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,125 ratings  ·  169 reviews
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 preciou ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published December 1st 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,125 ratings  ·  169 reviews


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BlackOxford
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british
Living Within the Lie

How can one best deal with the reality of power, particularly 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
...more
Adam Dalva
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
piperitapitta
La collezione proibita.

Strano romanzo questo Utz, breve quanto intenso, multiforme e cangiante.
Non avevo mai letto niente di Chatwin, ma per sentito dire o per articoli letti qua e là mi immaginavo viaggi avventurosi in terre lontane oltreoceano.
Mi sono ritrovata invece a Praga, «la più misteriosa tra le città europee», a viaggiare nella mente indecifrabile di Utz, un ricco collezionista di porcellane settecentesche della casa Meissen di Dresda; di origine tedesca, ebreo per parte di madre, Utz
...more
Maciek
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 ...more
arcobaleno
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avevo sentito accennare a Bruce Chatwin e l'avevo collegato mentalmente ad uno scrittore di viaggi e avventure. Incuriosita, ho voluto assaggiare... e ho scelto, non so per quali motivi inspiegabili, "Utz". E mi sono ritrovata non in luoghi di possibili mete, né in posti esotici, né a conoscere gente per il mondo, ma, inaspettatamente, a percorrere un viaggio a ritroso per alcuni anni dell'ultimo secolo, tramite le porcellane Meissen.
Il barone Kaspar von Utz ne possiede infatti, a Praga, una sp
...more
Roberto
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
"Le cose, riflettei, sono meno fragili delle persone. Le cose sono lo specchio immutabile in cui osserviamo la nostra disgregazione. Nulla ci invecchia più di una collezione di opere d'arte"

Il barone Kaspar von Utz, discendente da una nobile famiglia di proprietari terrieri, si rifugia nel collezionismo quasi maniacale di porcellane, che inizia ad acquistare pian piano fin da giovane. La sua collezione, composta da un numero esorbitante di pezzi importantissimi, grazie alla sua perspicacia ed at
...more
Jan-Maat
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) ...more
Andrew
Nov 10, 2013 added it
Shelves: british-fiction
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
...more
Roberta
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.
Graychin
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 of more serious 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’
...more
Matt


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
...more
Francesca
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Amico mio, penso che lei sappia molte cose" disse con un sorriso. "Ma molte ancora non le sa".
Utz

* ATTENZIONE SPOILER *

Si amarono tutta la vita senza mai sfiorarsi, lui e la sua bambolina di porcellana. Così, quando giunse la fine, dall'insolito custode, "[...] per un dedalo di corridoi" polverosi, nel luogo in cui i vivi non vanno si fece condurre, in una stanza piena di ossa, pezzi di individuo, pietre levigate dal tempo. Si fece condurre lì per ritrovare la sua bambolina. La scoprì a pezzi.

"
...more
Vince Donovan
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rumored to have an incredible collection of Meissen china. What
...more
Elisa
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britannici
Se Fredrik Sjöberg dice che esistono altri libri in cui compaiono collezionisti di mosche, io devo recuperare subito quei libri.
Utz però è un collezionista di ceramiche e forse è ancora meglio, la sua ossessione sinistra, inquietante e malata lo porta a spostarsi, a mercanteggiare, a giungere a compromessi, a mentire ed imbrogliare, a nascondersi e a scappare. Utz è un personaggio estremamente affascinante e, seppur esplorato attentamente nei meandri della sua mente, non del tutto comprensibile
...more
Anfri Bogart
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una perla questo ultimo scritto di Chatwin, che ci dà un'idea di quanto fosse colto e curioso. C'è anche l'opportunità di imparare qualcosa sulla storia delle porcellane di Meissen, da farne buon uso nelle conversazioni al bar (per stupire gli amici).
Laura
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simona
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bruce Chatwin, che è noto soprattutto per il romanzo "In Patagonia", si allontana dai territori del Sud America e trasporta il lettore in una città europea, per la precisione a Praga. La raffinatezza, la bellezza della capitale è la meta ideale per raccontare e descrivere una storia che si basa su un fatto realmente accaduto ( la collezione di porcellane del proprietario reale, creduta perduta, è stata invece ritrovata nel 2001) e che diventa lo spunto da cui partire per descrivere l'amore l'oss ...more
Marc
Aug 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Very entertaining, easy-read novel about a seemingly unworldly collector of Meissen-porcelain: the fanatic Utz, living in Prague under communism. But, don't be misled, this is a portrait of the cultural desert in the former East-european bloc, and an introduction into the alchemistic search that leads to the development of European porcelain, and a subtle psychological portrait of people in search for love and immortality, and the story of a naïf author (presumably Chatwin) who tries to solve th ...more
Trelawn
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
On the surface this is a story about an obsessive porcelain collector in Prague whom the narrator encounters in the 60s. But this short novel explores the idea of art and people who collect. It also examines the idea of perception and whether things are ever as they seem. An interesting and thought provoking work by an author I recently discovered and am thoroughly enjoying.
Sue
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable novella about a collector living in Prague who remains an enigma until the end. He collects porcelain, is obsessed by it. Lots of information in the story about porcelain and mythology. A really interesting read.
Karla Huebner
I finally got around to reading this. I recall there being quite a stir about it when it came out; various friends were sure I'd love it because I had been to Prague.

I'm not entirely sure what I think of it. It's well written and I might have been quite taken with it had I read it in 1989. Unquestionably I would have liked it very much had I read it earlier in the 80s (but of course it wasn't yet written then). Now, however, I'm not particularly taken with the title character (which is perfectly
...more
Shevaun Ruby
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
'I will order trout.'

'There are no trout,' said the head-waiter.

'What can you mean, no trout?' said Utz. 'There are trout. Many trout.'

'There is no net.'

'What can you mean, no net? Last week there was a net.'

'Is broken.'

'Broken, I do not believe.'

The head-waiter put a finger to his lips, and whispered, 'These trout are reserved.'

'For them?'

'Them,' he nodded.

Four fat men were eating trout at a nearby table.

'Very well,' said Utz. 'I will eat eels. You also will eat eels?'

'I will,' I said.

'There ar
...more
Moureco
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Ao preservar da colectivização a sua colecção particular de porcelanas de Meissem, Kaspar Utz encontrou um refúgio contra os horrores do século XX. Comparadas com a delicada realidade das suas figuirinhas, salvas e seguras na mágica cidade de Praga, a Gestapo e a polícia secreta eram para Utz de somenos importância. Confinado ao pequeno apartamento onde as preciosas figurinhas ocupam todo o espaço, servido pela fiel criada Marta com a mesma cerimónia de outrora, Kaspar Utz tem o supremo snobism ...more
Fatih Balkış
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chatwin'den öğrenecek çok şeyi var yazarın.
Kendisini, deneyimleyen ve gözlemleyen bir olay adamına çevirmesi ve tam da yaşamın içinde olduğu gibi dünyasının bu sürüklenmelerde yeniden ve yeniden biçimlenmesi gibi.
İkincisi; Chatwin'in olaylar, kişiler ve nesneler arasında kurduğu bağı dikkatle gözlemlemek gerekiyor. İnsanlar kendi dünyalarından koparılmadan betimleniyor. Sözgelimi Utz'un evi. Atmosfer aslında Chatwin'in gözlemlediği gibi değil, Utz'un hissettiği biçimde aktarılıyor.
Üçüncüsü; bir
...more
Nell Grey
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of original writing...
Shelves: modern-fiction
Bruce Chatwin considered Utz to be a work of fiction, but it's written in such a way that it feels true. The narrator's voice is identical to that of the author's in In Patagonia, a journal of his travels (although one with more than a hint of the surreal and bizarre), and stylistically Utz follows a similar structure.

The story centres around the character of Kasper Utz and his amazing and valuable collection of Meissen porcelain, both trapped in Czechoslovakia during the turbulent and dangerou
...more
dv
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
Leggere Chatwin era molto in voga nei primi anni '90, quelli immediatamente successivi alla sua scomparsa. Benché fossi nei miei anni più formativi quanto a letture (e benché qualcuno mi avesse regalato una maglietta con la scritta "what am I doing here"), ho sempre snobbato Chatwin archiviandolo nella categoria della letteratura di viaggio. A lui arrivo oggi grazie a Fredrik Sjöberg che in L'arte di collezionare mosche cita Utz per via dell'enfasi sul collezionismo e di una battuta su un menu ...more
James
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this beautiful little book with the Lincoln Park Book Group and fell in love with the writing of Bruce Chatwin. More recently it was included in a class I took at University of Chicago on the literature of Prague. Fundamentally it is the story of Kaspar Utz, who lives in Prague and who is consumed by collecting figurines and living a quiet life under the communist system. Utz is painted as a prisoner to his dolls while he lives under a totalitarian regime, so when he leaves on his annual ...more
Angela
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Utz is the story of Utz, a collector of fine porcelains. I have to admit the story was bizarre and somewhat hard to understand. The basic premise is before the war, Utz was a baron with a large estate. As a young child living with his grandmother, he took a fondness to porcelain figurines, using his money to purchase pieces. As he got older, he refined his tastes to learn between those pieces which were great and those which were fakes or sub-par.

With the onset of World War II, he packaged up h
...more
Kevin Argus
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bruce Chatwin is one of my favourite authors. He educates richly regarding each book's context as he writes. This book provided insight into how humans seek to control their world, (and for men) motivated by a fear of death. His main character collects porcelain objects (a very wealthy man), and when the Soviets took control, he remained the custodian of his now Soviet owned collection. It turns out that his motive for collecting porcelain figurines, was that they retained their beauty, never ag ...more
Paolo Gianoglio
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una rilettura. Non ricordo in che anno ho letto Utz per la prima volta, ricordo solo che poco dopo ho visto il film tratto dal romanzo, e da allora per me il Barone Kaspar Joachim von Utz ha le fattezze di Armin Mueller-Stahl.
Dopo tanti anni, questo libro mantiene la magia che mi affascinò la prima volta. In poche pagine, con una scrittura delicata e magistrale, Chatwin ci racconta la storia di un personaggio improbabile e della sua lotta contro il mondo per mantenere la sua collezione di porce
...more
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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 (1982). In 1972, Chatwin interviewed the 93-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 ...more
“Anything was better than to be loved for one's things.” 7 likes
“Он с глубочайшим уважением относится к тем, кто, рискуя угодить за решетку, публикует свои стихи в иностранном журнале. Но ему кажется, что подлинными героями этой невероятной жизни являются все-таки другие люди - не те, кто без конца поносит партию и правительство, а те, кто молчит, оставаясь при этом полноправными представителями европейской культуры и цивилизации.
Их молчание, - заявил мой друг, -это настоящий плевок в лицо государству, потому что для них его просто не существует.”
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