The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927

Book Reviews and Notices

Sutter's Gold. By Blaise Cendrars. Translated from the French
by Henry Longan Stuart. (Harpers, New York.)
It may be that in "Sutter's Gold" Blaise Cendrars never intended
to write a genuinely historical tale. If he only desired to supply
his readers with a sort of literary rhapsody it would be manifestly
unfair to ascribe to him a motive to which he laid no claim. Were
it not for the fact that the publishers of the English translation
evidently regard the book as containing a faithful and authentic
picture of the famous pioneer and his times the historical reviewer
should feel no urge to express himself about it at all.
However, one should not place all of the responsibility upon the
shoulders of the publishers. There is reason to believe that
Cendrars himself attributed to his tale historical qualities, and
surely the author's opinion of the character of his creation may
safely be considered as relevant. In the foreword Cendrars is
quoted as of 1918 as promising somebody or perhaps the world
that "one day" he would write also the history of General Sutter.
Assuming, then, that the publishers are sincere in their belief
that they have printed a book of undoubted historical merit and
that Cendrars himself regards the same as the fulfillment of his
alleged promise, it is only reasonable that the historical reviewer
should be permitted to participate in the feast and to avow his
opinions thereof.
It has been the privilege of the reviewer to peruse faithfully
the available material concerned with General Sutter and his life
in the days of forty-nine and before, much of which is to be found
in Bancroft Library of the University of California. Through the
examination of documentary materials and of contemporaneous
accounts the reviewer has gradually formed an estimate of Sutter's
character, personality and adventures so completely at variance
with Cendrars' that he finds it difficult to entertain coinciding
on even converging views.
Cendrars deserves to have it said of his tale that it is interesting
and absorbing. It is not unreasonable to believe that its reading
will supply enjoyment and even delight to many shut-in souls who
have only been able to sip vicariously of the cup of adventure, and


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 26, 2014.