Gold: The Marvellous History Of General John Augustus Sutter

by Blaise Cendrars


Fiction from Peter Owen Publishers
Translated from French

Cendrars spent fifteen years translating Sutter’s 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. Originally published in 1924, Gold is a work of breathless pace, fantastic humour and soaring invention: an extraordinary story extraordinarily told.

SKU: 148 Category:


Peter Owen Publishers | Paperback | 128 pages
ISBN: 9780720611755
Publication date: 10 May 2008

‘Cendrars’ first novel remains a minor masterpiece.’ – Times Literary Supplement

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 Sutter’s Californian estate, triggering the Gold Rush that brought hordes of greedy miners from every corner of the world to Sutter’s vast domain.

Translated from the French by Nina Rootes.

BLAISE CENDRARS (1887–1961) was born Frédéric Louis Sauser in Switzerland. He became a naturalised French citizen in 1916, after fighting with the Foreign Legion during World War One. His varied and well-travelled life is chronicled in his three semi-autobiographical novels, The Astonished Man, Lice and Sky. His novels and poetry were of considerable influence in the European modernist movement and greatly influenced writers further afield such as John Dos Passos. He died in Paris in 1961.



‘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 Review

‘Wise, weird and poignant … a wonderful modernist fable.’ – Newsweek

‘Aside from its sheer readability, this “marvellous 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

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