Translated from the French by Nina Rootes
In January 1848 John Augustus Sutter, the first
American millionaire was ruined by one blow of a pickaxe.
That blow revealed gold in one of the streams in Sutters
Californian estate, triggering the Gold Rush that brought
hordes of greedy miners from every corner of the world to
Sutters vast domain.
Cendrars spent fifteen years translating Sutters life-story
into fiction, departing (often radically) from the known historical
facts to reshape the story of one of the great American pioneers
with the pure gold of his own imagination. Published in 1924,
Gold is a work of breathless pace, fantastic humour
and soaring invention: an extraordinary story extraordinarily
told. In 1936 Cendrars went to Hollywood to work on the movie
version, Sutters Gold.
Cendrars winds the history
of Europe, the Spanish Empire and the United States around
his hero like a cloak of flames that throw a light on a terrifying
history . . . The brevity of Gold is deceptive; its
language is the work of a poet who can conjure up the world
and its bewildering people in a paragraph. – New York Times Book
Cendrars first novel remains a minor masterpiece. – Times
Wise, weird and poignant . . . a wonderful modernist
fable. – Newsweek
Aside from its sheer readablity,
this "marvelous history"
is an essential work in discovering how Cendrars combined
the terseness of his poetry with his poetry with his idea
of what the novel form could do. "Hinge novels are
often of historical interest only, Gold is
of interest for its own sake." – Contemporary Review
BLAISE CENDRARS was born Frédéric Sauser in
1887 of mixed SwissScottish descent. A legendary adventurer,
his life in Moscow, Peking, New York and Paris inspired his
brilliant, action-packed narratives. The author of more than
twenty books, his works have been translated into eleven
(including Braille). A founder of the modern movement in
literature, he inspired poets from John Dos Passos to Patti
died in Paris in 1961.