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    Gold brings misfortune.  If I touch it, if I pursue it, if I claim what is mine by indisputable right,
    shall I not be damned in my turn...

This one is a real curiosity and you may have trouble finding an English-language version of it in print.  Cendrars was a poet and leader of the avant-garde in Paris in the teens and twenties.  Though born in Switzerland, he traveled widely, almost restlessly, and his poetry is distinguished by its focus on action.  Gold, also known as Sutter's Gold, which is perhaps his most famous prose work, seems at least partly autobiographical, as the story of John Augustus Sutter so closely resembles the basic pattern of the author's own life.  Sutter too was Swiss, but he abandoned his family and emigrated to America, pulled ever westward, he eventually became extremely wealthy and one of the founders of modern California.  But then gold was discovered at the site of his famous mill, and his land was overrun by hordes of 49ers.  He spent the rest of his life trying to recoup his losses, through lawsuits and pleadings to the U. S. Congress, but died without ever receiving a penny.

Cendrars relates this tale in a brisk and lively manner, taking us through Sutter's life at breakneck speed.  The style is almost telegraphic as he dices 121 pages of story into 16 chapters of 74 sections.
That doesn't leave him much time to develop any grand themes; the most I came away with was the rather silly notion that, though eager Europeans fled to America seeking opportunity and wealth, even if they struck it rich they were ultimately ruined.  France may only have been his adopted country, but this attitude reflects the bitter, envious soul of a native.


Grade: (C+)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Cendrars, Blaise (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001)
    -Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961 - pseudonym of Frédéric Louis Sauser) (Kirjasto)
    -POEM : Contrasts by Cendrars
    -ARTWORK :  Ink sketch of Blaise Cendrars by Yves Brayer
    -ARTWORK : Blaise Cendrars 1918 - Oil on Cardboard
    -ESSAY : High Decoration:  Sonia Delaunay, Blaise Cendrars, and the Poem as Fashion Design (Carrie Noland, Spring 1998, Journal X)
    -ESSAY : Blaise Cendrars and Donkeys (Ignacio Schwartz, Ralph Mag)
    -ESSAY : A TASTE OF ASHES (Jay Winter, Nov, 1998, History Today)
    -ESSAY : THE WORLD 1920-1929 : THE MOST EXPENSIVE ORGY IN HISTORY : Modernity truly came of age in the 1920s - that decade of flappers and fliers, the Charleston and the cocktail - which were to the first half of the century what the 1960s were to the postwar years, writes Peter Conrad (Irish Times)
    -ESSAY : A double-edged infatuation :  In the 20s, Bohemian Paris fell in  (Petrine Archer-Straw, September 23, 2000, The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES : cendrars (NY Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES : cendrars (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : cendrars (Mag Portal)
    -REVIEW : of Manifesto : A Century of Isms by Mary Ann Caws (Gary Kamiya, Salon)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : Blaise Cendrars (
    -INFO : Moravagine (1989) (TV) (

    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : John Augustus Sutter
    -Virtual Museum of Sutter's Fort
    -Life of John Augustus Sutter 1803-1880
    -ESSAY : The courageous were those left behind. (Mary Lou Beatty, Humanities, 01/01/98)
    -ARCHIVES : Sutter + gold (Find Articles)