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Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2015
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Description

An outrageous, fantastical, uncategorizable novel of obsession, adventure, and coconuts In 1902, a radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg named August Engelhardt set sail for what was then called the Bismarck Archipelago. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to found a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourished body was found on the beach on Kabakon in 1919; he was forty-three years old. Christian Kracht's Imperium uses the outlandish details of Engelhardt's life to craft a fable about the allure of extremism and its fundamental foolishness. Engelhardt is at once a sympathetic outsider—mocked, misunderstood, physically assaulted—and a rigid ideologue, and his misguided notions of purity and his spiral into madness presage the horrors of the mid-twentieth century. Playing with the tropes of classic adventure tales like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant—sometimes all on the same page. His allusions are misleading, his historical time lines are twisted, his narrator is unreliable—and the result is a novel that is also a mirror cabinet and a maze pitted with trapdoors. Both a provocative satire and a serious meditation on the fragility and audacity of human activity, Imperium is impossible to categorize, and utterly unlike anything you've read before.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
07/14/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374709860
ASIN:
B00R6AVNXU
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Christian Kracht. (2015). Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Christian Kracht. 2015. Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Christian Kracht, Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Christian Kracht. Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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shortDescription

An outrageous, fantastical, uncategorizable novel of obsession, adventure, and coconuts
In 1902, a radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg named August Engelhardt set sail for what was then called the Bismarck Archipelago. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to found a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourished body was found on the beach on Kabakon in 1919; he was forty-three years old.
Christian Kracht's Imperium uses the outlandish details of Engelhardt's life to craft a fable about the allure of extremism and its fundamental foolishness. Engelhardt is at once a sympathetic outsider—mocked, misunderstood, physically assaulted—and a rigid ideologue, and his misguided notions of purity and his spiral into madness presage the horrors of the mid-twentieth century.
Playing with the tropes of classic adventure tales like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international...

isOwnedByCollections
True
title
Imperium
fullDescription

An outrageous, fantastical, uncategorizable novel of obsession, adventure, and coconuts
In 1902, a radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg named August Engelhardt set sail for what was then called the Bismarck Archipelago. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to found a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourished body was found on the beach on Kabakon in 1919; he was forty-three years old.
Christian Kracht's Imperium uses the outlandish details of Engelhardt's life to craft a fable about the allure of extremism and its fundamental foolishness. Engelhardt is at once a sympathetic outsider—mocked, misunderstood, physically assaulted—and a rigid ideologue, and his misguided notions of purity and his spiral into madness presage the horrors of the mid-twentieth century.
Playing with the tropes of classic adventure tales like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant—sometimes all on the same page. His allusions are misleading, his historical time lines are twisted, his narrator is unreliable—and the result is a novel that is also a mirror cabinet and a maze pitted with trapdoors. Both a provocative satire and a serious meditation on the fragility and audacity of human activity, Imperium is impossible to categorize, and utterly unlike anything you've read before.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle
      • content:

        "Imperium is astonishing and captivating, a tongue-in-cheek Conradian literary adventure for our time."

      • premium: False
      • source: Erhard Schütz, Der Freitag
      • content: "Imperium is, first and foremost, one thing--marvelous literature."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from April 27, 2015
        Kracht's fascinating tale is an impressionistic portrait of a thumb-sucking, mad-for-coconuts German nudist. Set during the early 20th century and based on a real historical figure, the novel opens on a ship headed to the far-flung protectorate of New Pomerania in German New Guinea. Onboard is the shy, idealistic young August Engelhardt, who looks in horror at his "sallow, bristly, vulgar" countrymen as they gorge on heavy meals on deck. Disgusted by German society and its voracious appetite for meat and money, the vegetarian Engelhardt starts a coconut plantation on the remote South Seas island of Kabakon. There he subsists entirely on the "luscious, ingenious fruit," worships the sun sans clothes, and welcomes adherents to join his soul-cleansing retreat. Before descending into madness and revising his diet in a particularly ghoulish way, the lonely and loveless cocovore is repeatedly duped by con men, fakirs, and sensualists who profess to share his ascetic ideals but leave him more isolated than ever. Alternately languid and feverish, the narrative is as nutty as Engelhardt's prized foodstuff. The story bounces around in time, shifts in tone from philosophical to suspenseful to slapstick, features cameos from peculiar historical figures (such as the American inventor of Vegemite spread), and periodically widens its scope to consider the menacing rise of Nazism. Though Kracht, whose books have been translated into more than 25 languages, occasionally flaunts his research and succumbs to an overwrought style, he inventively captures the period's zeitgeist through one incurable eccentric. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Literary.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 1, 2015
        Swiss writer Kracht's bestselling, experimental 2012 novel-based on the life of a real person-gets translated into English. Sick of civilization, August Engelhardt seeks a different kind of living. In the early 20th century, he purchases a coconut-rich Pacific island called Kabakon and, there, hopes to start a colony based on vegetarianism and the healing powers of the sun and coconuts. But Engelhardt is also a nudist, and this doesn't appeal so much to certain people ("no reason to lie naked on a beach," one potential partner tells him) and appeals a little too much to others. Nevertheless, Engelhardt-sometimes mad, sometimes misguided, sometimes prophetic-forms bonds with several of the island's natives and finds a bit of peace...until a famous musician named Lutzow arrives and becomes an acolyte and, perhaps, a usurper, showing Engelhardt that not all attention is good. In this slim novel, Kracht uses the general outline of Engelhardt's life to cram a lot into a small space; the omniscient narrator, in language both formal ("Now that we have endeavored to tell of our poor friend's past") and informal ("to cut a long story short"), tells not only Engelhardt's story, but also the story of the birth of 20th-century science and demagoguery, touching on the world outside Engelhardt and including references to Einstein and Hitler. But what is one to make of this book ultimately? The language, florid and overstuffed with adverbs, harkens back to, and maybe parodies, an earlier style of writing, but to what end? The narrator jumps around in time, gets sidetracked, and sometimes seems barely interested in Engelhardt. "To wit: modernity had dawned; poets suddenly wrote fragmented lines," Kracht writes. Does this account for the novel's trapdoor style? Perhaps-and some of Kracht's doors are more fun to fall into than others. To quote Kracht: "quite literary but somewhat awkward."

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from July 1, 2015

        Kracht, a Swiss novelist, journalist, and screenwriter, here offers a fictionalized tale about August Engelhardt (1870-1919), a German citizen who founded a sun-worshipping, coconut-eating cult named "Order of the Sun." Using a family inheritance he purchased a small island, Kabakon, in Deutsch New Guinea, an island with many acres of coconut trees. Living as a nudist and vegetarian, promoting the healthy lifestyle described in his 1898 publication "A Carefree Future," August extols the benefits of eating the fruit growing closest to the sun and living a life of purity. Madness eventually takes hold of our hero and further isolates him from the few people on the island who care about him. Comparable to the adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, and Daniel Defoe, albeit with a definite philosophical inclination, this amusing, fantastical tale features fabulous language, delightfully concocted descriptions, and an excellent translation by Bowles and should attract award interest. VERDICT Essential reading for those interested in the quirky characters of history, this would be an excellent choice for a book discussion group.--Lisa Rohrbaugh, Leetonia Community P.L., OH

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Fiction of the South Seas
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84
publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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