Hot Best Seller

Imperium

Availability: Ready to download

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, in German New Guinea. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to establish a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourish 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, in German New Guinea. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to establish 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 pitiable, misunderstood outsider 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 such as Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant. His allusions are misleading, his historical time line is twisted, his narrator is unreliable--and the result is a novel that is a cabinet of mirrors, 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.


Compare

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, in German New Guinea. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to establish a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourish 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, in German New Guinea. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to establish 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 pitiable, misunderstood outsider 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 such as Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant. His allusions are misleading, his historical time line is twisted, his narrator is unreliable--and the result is a novel that is a cabinet of mirrors, 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.

30 review for Imperium

  1. 5 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Naked people have little or no influence on society. Mark Twain If Christian Kracht had invented this tale he would have been accused of all sorts of things, none of them flattering. (As it happens, he was accused of all sorts of things, but I'll come to that later.) The main character, August Engelhardt, really did set out to German New Guinea in 1902 in order to live exclusively from coconuts and eschew clothing, even attracting several apostles to become sun worshippers and cocoivores, includin Naked people have little or no influence on society. Mark Twain If Christian Kracht had invented this tale he would have been accused of all sorts of things, none of them flattering. (As it happens, he was accused of all sorts of things, but I'll come to that later.) The main character, August Engelhardt, really did set out to German New Guinea in 1902 in order to live exclusively from coconuts and eschew clothing, even attracting several apostles to become sun worshippers and cocoivores, including the musician Max Lützow. Lützow (sitting) did not stay long, which might explain his wiry physique. Engelhardt shows signs of the swollen belly that is associated with malnutrition, since coconuts, whether or not they are the pinnacle of creation and grow closest to the sun, heaven and all things godly, do not constitute a balanced diet in anyone's book, except Engelhardt's I suppose. I did vaguely remember that there had been a bit of a spat amongst the chattering classes when Imperium came out in 2012, but did not investigate further until I had read it myself. The novel I read was playful, full of artfully concealed references to the great and the good of the time so that Engelhardt, Forrest Gump like, encounters Hermann Hesse in Florence and Thomas and Katja Mann on the Baltic shore, (view spoiler)[Albert Einstein was in there too, somewhere, I forget precisely where (hide spoiler)] ; his first apostle to arrive on the island of Kabakon has had an abortive affair with Kafka, (who really did go to Helgoland on a cure). There are knowing nods and winks to literature of the sea adventure, to Moby Dick, to Joseph Conrad, to Somerset Maugham, to Robinson Crusoe. I was intrigued by the narrator, hard to pin down, light on his feet, who can whizz us round the archipelago, round the world, skip around in space and time with another knowing nod and wink to how he does it, and who makes some outrageous statements, so outrageous that I took them as satire, whose description of many of the characters evoked a feeling of disgust, so much so that I took it to be a persiflage, who reflected the racist attitudes so prevalent at that time which I took to be accurate for that time. With another wry smile, this narrator points out that in this story of a Romantic, who like so many was a failed artist, there may be parallels to another well known German Romantic and vegetarian who maybe should have stuck to painting; he then exposes Engelhardt's lunatic credo which smacks more than a little of sophistry, portrays him as idiotically naive when it comes to business, and all in all a completely paradoxical figure: one who believes he has found the key to the clean and pure life and engages in it with missionary zeal, yet cannot stand the proximity of disciples, so how could his ideas ever spread? So having had rather a nice time with a playfully ironic novel, I then went to the old internetty thing and found that back in 2012 Georg Diez in Der Spiegel had read a completely different novel to me. Based on other works by the author, he doubted Kracht's good intent, felt that what I saw as irony was liken to the proverbial lead balloon. But this is the only novel by Kracht that I have read, and I will take it as I found it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecka

    Despite the 3 stars (they're really more like 3.5) I really enjoyed this book. It is very well written and well translated, even though sometimes, I think the author takes it a little bit too far with the strange imagery and metaphors. Structurally, it's quite complex. You'll discover this if you try to read the book fast: sentences are far from the basic SVO, and you (or at least I) have to focus to make things out, to connect the pieces of the long, intricate sentences and arrive at the actual Despite the 3 stars (they're really more like 3.5) I really enjoyed this book. It is very well written and well translated, even though sometimes, I think the author takes it a little bit too far with the strange imagery and metaphors. Structurally, it's quite complex. You'll discover this if you try to read the book fast: sentences are far from the basic SVO, and you (or at least I) have to focus to make things out, to connect the pieces of the long, intricate sentences and arrive at the actual meaning (all the while thinking: "poor translator..."). Even though it's a mere 200 pages, it took surprisingly long to read. I think the narrator refers to our coconut lover as a "genius" at one point in the book, but I really fail to see why. More than anything, I liked the last part, where events picked up speed and the absurdities just kept piling up.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    an oddly grownup and old fashioned story of colonialism pre-league of nations 1922 mandate partitions and the 'kinda weird' reactions to modernism and global commerce around turn of century (1900's)...in where a sun worshiper german vegetarian hies off to new pomerania to start a coconut plantation to grow his own super-food, be naked as much as possible, and perhaps start a community of his own of superior, healthy, tanned, people. yup, that is the plot... disasters ensue. a funny, complex stor an oddly grownup and old fashioned story of colonialism pre-league of nations 1922 mandate partitions and the 'kinda weird' reactions to modernism and global commerce around turn of century (1900's)...in where a sun worshiper german vegetarian hies off to new pomerania to start a coconut plantation to grow his own super-food, be naked as much as possible, and perhaps start a community of his own of superior, healthy, tanned, people. yup, that is the plot... disasters ensue. a funny, complex story. here is a great gr review synopsis https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... and here is a wiki overview of german sw pacific colonies (this did NOT turn out well for anyone) German New Guinea (German: Deutsch-Neuguinea) was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australian forces following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups. The mainland part of German New Guinea and the nearby islands of the Bismarck Archipelago and the North Solomon Islands are now part of Papua New Guinea. The Micronesian islands of German New Guinea are now governed as the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau. The mainland portion, Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, was formed from the northeastern part of New Guinea. The islands to the east of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, on annexation, were renamed the Bismarck Archipelago (formerly the New Britannia Archipelago) and the two largest islands renamed Neu-Pommern ("New Pomerania", today's New Britain) and Neu-Mecklenburg ("New Mecklenburg, now New Ireland).[1] Due to their accessibility by water, however, these outlying islands were, and have remained, the most economically viable part of the territory. With the exception of German Samoa, the German islands in the Western Pacific formed the "Imperial German Pacific Protectorates". These were administered as part of German New Guinea and they included the German Solomon Islands (Buka, Bougainville, and several smaller islands), the Carolines, Palau, the Marianas (except for Guam), the Marshall Islands, and Nauru. The total land area of German New Guinea was 249,500 square kilometres (96,300 sq mi).[2] and believe it or not, this new into english novel sharply parallels kracht's new novel The Symmetry Teacher: A Novel which may be the weirdest part of this weird tale

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Page

    In 1902 August Engelhardt decided he had enough of the restrictive life in Germany and set sail for the south seas to live as a nudist vegetarian in one of Germany’s colonies on the island of Kabakon. Engelhardt worshiped coconuts, saying that because they grew high up in trees, close to the sun, that they were sacred and could cure any ailment. Engelhardt tried to start a cult called “The Order of the Sun” to gather like-minded people on his island. As you might have guessed, many people died. In 1902 August Engelhardt decided he had enough of the restrictive life in Germany and set sail for the south seas to live as a nudist vegetarian in one of Germany’s colonies on the island of Kabakon. Engelhardt worshiped coconuts, saying that because they grew high up in trees, close to the sun, that they were sacred and could cure any ailment. Engelhardt tried to start a cult called “The Order of the Sun” to gather like-minded people on his island. As you might have guessed, many people died. What you may not have guess is that August Engelhardt was a real guy. I learned about Imperium from a segment on NPR and had to read more. The author, Christian Kracht, learned a bit about August Engelhardt and tried to find more. In the NPR story, Kracht notes, “The only thing I could find was a thesis by a student at the University of Auckland. So I went and met him in New Zealand, but somehow it wasn't enough." Engelhardt also published bits and pieces about his coconut community experiment, but not much more is out there. Based on what I’ve read, people don’t agree on many of the details anyway. So, why not fictionalize the story? Imperium is fiction based on the life of Engelhardt. The following is all information from Imperium and not necessarily true details about the life of August Engelhardt. After reading a book encouraging a fruit-only diet, Engelhardt disavows all other food. He gets on a ship leaving Germany and heads for a German colony in the tropical south called Herbertshohe. The characters in Imperium are richly developed, even if they only play a minor role. For instance, Emma Forsayth is a shrewd businesswoman who discusses real estate opportunities with Engelhardt. He needs to find a way to sustain himself in the tropics. Here is her thought process: “So he wished to buy a plantation? She had exactly the thing for him. A little island! Yet wouldn’t Engelhardt perhaps first want to explore the interior and think about whether he might like a larger-scale plantation there, albeit in a hard-to-reach location? Depending on the weather, a four- or five-day journey away, that is, around sixty miles from Herbertshohe as the crow flies, there was a coconut planting of some twenty-five hundred acres whose owner...had gone mad and doused himself, his family, and three black employees with pitch and set them alight. That plantation could be had, considering its size, for nearly nothing, since the planter’s will, written in a state of complete mental barbarism, could not be validated (Kill them all could be read in it) and the estate thus passed to the German Reich, and in particular to the firm Forsayth & Company, the director of which was sitting here before him.” Even though Emma is discussing a business transaction to get Engelhardt set up with his new life, there are so many details revealed here. I believe she can tell Engelhardt is a nutbar; the perfect place for him is 60 miles away from everyone else on an island where another nutbar, who killed his family, lived. Wouldn’t that be great?! Truthfully, I laughed quite a bit when I read the passage. There are other lengthy passages much like the one quoted above. The descriptions are specific and keep going in a strange method of humor that is not common in American fiction. As the years pass, Engelhardt gets crazier. It’s not hard to believe; his body is trying to function on coconuts. He is severely malnourished. Well, except the toenails and scabs he eats. Did I mention that? Never before in my life have I wanted to actually throw up while reading a book, but Imperium almost got the lunch out of me, especially when characters start suffering from leprosy and all those scabs are laying around. Who can tell which scabs are Engelhardt’s and whose are someone else’s? Enjoy! Nom nom nom *heave* Engelhardt also becomes paranoid. The narrator suggests our main character may have murdered some people, and he starts digging huge holes on the island, covering them with sticks and leaves. For who, we don’t learn, but I get nervous every time someone shows up for a visit. According to sources, the real August Engelhardt wanted people on the island with him to start a community. In the book, however, people show up on Herbertshohe looking for Engelhardt, who is, of course, on his island 60 miles away. They lay on the beach for two weeks, getting sick and malnourished. When Engelhardt discovers he has followers, he freaks out and runs away. All followers are sent back to Germany. Sources say followers did try to join the real Engelhardt, but most of them died (there are lots of ways to die in the early 1900s in a tropical environment) and the government made people pay a deposit to join Engelhardt to cover their medical and travel expenses when they needed to be returned to Germany because they were nearly dead. Overall, Imperium is a funny serious book. The sentences are dense (I had to turn to a dictionary many times) and grammatically complex, so it may not be a tale for everyone. However, if you finish the book, you will come away richer for it, and not in the way that people do when they finish Moby Dick only to say they read it. You’ll actually get something out of the experience. This review was originally published at TNBBC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    I've never read anything quite like this short Swiss-German novel about a man who aspires to lead a utopian movement centered around nudist cocovores--which would be nudists who subsist on nothing other than coconuts (although when he gets too famished, the man ends up cutting off and eating his own thumb). It is a short picaresque largely set in the South Seas, distantly reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson's south seas tales, a little Robinson Crusoe, and some T. Coraghessan Boyle and Cervant I've never read anything quite like this short Swiss-German novel about a man who aspires to lead a utopian movement centered around nudist cocovores--which would be nudists who subsist on nothing other than coconuts (although when he gets too famished, the man ends up cutting off and eating his own thumb). It is a short picaresque largely set in the South Seas, distantly reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson's south seas tales, a little Robinson Crusoe, and some T. Coraghessan Boyle and Cervantes. The tone is consistently humorous, even when the novel itself is embedded in Germany history in the first half of the century, including the World Wars which both make brief appearances, and the parallels between the vegetarian protagonist of the novel and future vegetarian leader of Germany. But mostly it is the misadventures of the man and the contrast between his utterly deluded and slightly charmingly naive sincerity with the clear thinking poseur's and frauds he comes across in his journeys. In the end, it reads as somewhat of a critique of the meat-eating, avaricious, expansionary civilization that he leaves behind--but it does not offer any alternative because the "utopia" he creates is one of disease, decay and failure. Just about the only undeluded, noble character is shot by a firing squad--which pretty much says it all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Kracht's language is dense and complex, the story is funny yet thought-provoking. Worth a read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ekel Adolf

    Christian Kracht's fourth novel was attacked upon publication for promoting anti-democratic and right-wing world views, primarily if not solely by author Goerg Diez in the magazine Der Spiegel. Diez, in retour, was critisized for a remarkable lack of irony, in my opinion with some justification. What is the plot of Kracht's scandalous work? Imperium is a historical adeventure novel that takes place at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. The main protagonist, August Engelhardt, a nudist and veg Christian Kracht's fourth novel was attacked upon publication for promoting anti-democratic and right-wing world views, primarily if not solely by author Goerg Diez in the magazine Der Spiegel. Diez, in retour, was critisized for a remarkable lack of irony, in my opinion with some justification. What is the plot of Kracht's scandalous work? Imperium is a historical adeventure novel that takes place at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. The main protagonist, August Engelhardt, a nudist and vegan from Nuremberg, is heading to the German colonies in the Bismarck Archipelago. His goal: To establish a colony of cocovores, people who live off a strict diet of coconuts. In Engelhardt's world view, coconuts, which are the fruits growing as near to the sun as possible, are the perfect nourishment for human beings and will equip them with super-human and even godlike abilities in the long run. August Engelhardt, as well as most dramatis personae in Imperium, is in fact a real historical figure, although Kracht uses a fair amount of artistic freedom in his narration. There are a several "empires" mentioned in Imperium: Beside Engelhardt's dream empire of cocovores, there is of course the second German Empire (1871 - 1918), which is right at the zenith of its glory at the beginning of the novel. Another empire, the Third Reich, also plays a minor role in the story. In Kracht's own words, the 20th century, until roughly its first halftime, appeared to be a German one. Imperium can be considered to be a humorous requiem for the lost German century, a beautiful, tragic and amusing panorama of this strange and lost age and is, in this aspect, easily the best German-languaged novel of the decade. Keep in mind that Christian Kracht, a cosmopolite from Switzerland and therefore not a German in the strict sense of the word, has a refreshing uninhibitedness in dealing with difficult topics as the German mentality and is not to shy to use a decent amount of mockery. As far as I know, Imperium has not been translated to English yet. Beside the German original, there are Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Swedish, Norwegian, Korean, Russian and Czech translations available.

  8. 4 out of 5

    gaby anne

    I'm pretty tired and don't want to spend any more time thinking about this book so here are my quick thoughts: 1) pacing is super uneven, part one is slow as hell and then part three just becomes a barrage of strange and sad events 2) because of the unevenness, you never really get to spend time with a character 3) point 2 would be all well and good if the point of the novel was a sort of slapstick comedy kind of thing, but I guess I expected the novel to be more on the.......I dunno, explorative I'm pretty tired and don't want to spend any more time thinking about this book so here are my quick thoughts: 1) pacing is super uneven, part one is slow as hell and then part three just becomes a barrage of strange and sad events 2) because of the unevenness, you never really get to spend time with a character 3) point 2 would be all well and good if the point of the novel was a sort of slapstick comedy kind of thing, but I guess I expected the novel to be more on the.......I dunno, explorative side? In terms of characterization? I liked Slütter the best but we spent so little time on him that I felt either cheated or duped (the latter being because maybe he was meant to be portrayed that way) 4) it was just a frustrating read 5) the narrator seemed to be talking at me, which didn't really help in terms of sympathizing with the characters 6) also, maybe my unwillingness to be pulled into the exoticism of the island is because I come from one. That's probably just a small part though. 7) i'm not sure how much the translation has to do with it, since it seems to be getting rave reviews 8) it's not a bad book and i can see some people enjoying it. If you're like me, you probably have a tendency to read too much into GR ratings -- in any case, try it out. I will say, however, that if you don't like part 1 then maybe you should just quit while you're ahead.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zoli

    This book caused some controversy. If you want to know why, or if you want to read a hilarious (in my humble opinion) novel, you should go for this one!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Iris Bratton

    Good in concept, but lacks feeling. Man, I feel like I've been so savage with my ratings lately. I think I'm becoming more difficult to please. Anyway, this novel's description was so intriguing. It's loosely based on a real madman before the beginning of WWI, so I thought it would be promising. But honestly, I was so bored. This book was roughly 180 pages, bit it took me so long to get through. I feel like the narrative style is the cause of it all. It's told from an outside perspective which fe Good in concept, but lacks feeling. Man, I feel like I've been so savage with my ratings lately. I think I'm becoming more difficult to please. Anyway, this novel's description was so intriguing. It's loosely based on a real madman before the beginning of WWI, so I thought it would be promising. But honestly, I was so bored. This book was roughly 180 pages, bit it took me so long to get through. I feel like the narrative style is the cause of it all. It's told from an outside perspective which feels very impersonal. Plus, the narrator alludes to scenes and climaxes before they occur rather than letting the reader experience it for themselves. This is an issue I also had with The Princess Bride. I'd much prefer to see things unfold and I'm robbed of that opportunity. I honestly didn't get a look into Englherst's mind which is really what I hoped for. I wanted to see the progression of madness. But, I felt it to be very abrupt with time not permitting a more in depth look. I was disappointed. i found the most interesting point to not even be about the protagonist. You know there's a problem when a cultish, coconut-eating madman isn't the most interesting plot point. I hoped for more. In analysis, this book is very interesting. It pieces together holes in history during a time when war was eminent and people longed for escapism. But the format made it lackluster. Perhaps if I reread it knowing what to expect, I may enjoy it more. But as of now, I'm sticking to my rating. Am I the only one? I would love to know everyone's thoughts on it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    It's an interesting premise, and the English edition is well written at the sentence level. As for the intriguing relationship between colonial Germany and this vegetarian cultist, it might have been too understated and sly for my taste. My sense after finishing it is that the book relies on a kind of detached and ironic perspective to avoid creating either a really deep character study or a serious engagement with German imperial culture.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Micha Goebig

    It’s a well crafted book but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as his other writing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    deep

    PW Best of 2015: An oddball masterpiece that begins with thumb-sucking nudist August Engelhardt fleeing Germany in 1902 to establish a South Seas utopia—one in which coconuts are the only food. Disaster predictably strikes the idealistic, naïve Engelhardt (a real historical figure) in this strange, engrossing tale, by turns slapstick, philosophical, and suspenseful. PW Starred: Kracht's fascinating tale is an impressionistic portrait of a thumb-sucking, mad-for-coconuts German nudist. Set during PW Best of 2015: An oddball masterpiece that begins with thumb-sucking nudist August Engelhardt fleeing Germany in 1902 to establish a South Seas utopia—one in which coconuts are the only food. Disaster predictably strikes the idealistic, naïve Engelhardt (a real historical figure) in this strange, engrossing tale, by turns slapstick, philosophical, and suspenseful. PW Starred: 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. (July)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Clay Brown

    Short (192 pages) Biographical novel pertaining to radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg, August Engelhardt. The book can be read very quickly actually and is somewhat dreamy as Engelhardt moves into his oasis in German New Guinea, Kabakon. The book wisely focuses on the number of men who meet up with Engelhardt, most of them who end up either dead or as living crack-ups. Engelhardt himself is described with the barest minimum, Kracht allows our imaginations free reign, and we can only im Short (192 pages) Biographical novel pertaining to radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg, August Engelhardt. The book can be read very quickly actually and is somewhat dreamy as Engelhardt moves into his oasis in German New Guinea, Kabakon. The book wisely focuses on the number of men who meet up with Engelhardt, most of them who end up either dead or as living crack-ups. Engelhardt himself is described with the barest minimum, Kracht allows our imaginations free reign, and we can only imagine this German man, alone on this island worshipping coconuts and living free, during the height of WWI and WWII, Engelhardt though doesn't feel to the reader as all that enlightened by his amazingly monastic life, instead he is often described as nearly feral and diseased. Such is a likely outcome to anyone who leaves Reason and the mass hysteria of 'ordinary' existence, more so today than at any other time. Engelhardt's journey is certainly not the usual one, and is spiritual more than extremism as the description of the novel touts as foolish. Indeed the foolish, the homeless, the insane, those are the only ones that break any new ground, spiritually, it's ground that a majority who have long ago cashed in their chips (Capitalism)would abhor. In the end August Engelhardt, sadly is only a man... but at least he lived uniquely and is remembered at least as a trailblazer. Imperium is a fine fiction, then, of a man proudly lost to his culture and man and woman, both of which Engelhart Abhorred.

  15. 5 out of 5

    World Literature Today

    "The story is that of an overzealous pursuit of an idealism so ludicrous that it could come only from actual history—typical of that era of fads and fanaticisms. . . August Engelhardt, a nudist and vegetarian, is filled with the notion that the coconut is the “crown of creation”—it grows so high that it is closest to God and, apart from providing a complete food source, it can be used to make practically everything (furniture, houses, mats, dishes, ad infinitum). Exclusive devotion to it is tant "The story is that of an overzealous pursuit of an idealism so ludicrous that it could come only from actual history—typical of that era of fads and fanaticisms. . . August Engelhardt, a nudist and vegetarian, is filled with the notion that the coconut is the “crown of creation”—it grows so high that it is closest to God and, apart from providing a complete food source, it can be used to make practically everything (furniture, houses, mats, dishes, ad infinitum). Exclusive devotion to it is tantamount to divinity. . . Translator Daniel Bowles has done an excellent job in conveying these qualities in his highly faithful and exacting translation: a thoroughly charming read." - Ulf Zimmermann, Kennesaw State University This book was reviewed in the November 2015 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jos

    On its release Imperium fueled a minor controversy on perceived reactionary tendencies. Personally, I think this was silly. Just because the object of ridicule in this book is the progressive vegan (cocovore) liberal thinker who is revealed as the grandest petty bourgeois of all doesn't give any grounding to such an impression. PC gone nuts! Beside telling an original and entertaining story about a dropout in imperial German times, this book is a testimonial to human hypocrisy. Specifically, poin On its release Imperium fueled a minor controversy on perceived reactionary tendencies. Personally, I think this was silly. Just because the object of ridicule in this book is the progressive vegan (cocovore) liberal thinker who is revealed as the grandest petty bourgeois of all doesn't give any grounding to such an impression. PC gone nuts! Beside telling an original and entertaining story about a dropout in imperial German times, this book is a testimonial to human hypocrisy. Specifically, pointing out the hypocrisy of the ones who blame others to be hypocrits, who deem themselves to be superior, enlightened or whatever is the taste of the season. That doesn't mean that the 'normal' folks aren't hypocrits. Part of the human nature is having faults. All claims to the contrary and all messages of having found some form of redemption should be seen highly critical.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judith Works

    If you like stories about weird people you'll love this book. Based on a real (and very odd) German man who believed that he could survive on coconuts and sunlight, the setting of the islands near what is now New Guinea, gives the reader of picture of German colonialism mixed with tropical madness. We all dream of running away to a tropical isle. Well, after reading this book, I wouldn't think it's a very good idea. The author, who I understand is rather controversial in Germany, is an excellent If you like stories about weird people you'll love this book. Based on a real (and very odd) German man who believed that he could survive on coconuts and sunlight, the setting of the islands near what is now New Guinea, gives the reader of picture of German colonialism mixed with tropical madness. We all dream of running away to a tropical isle. Well, after reading this book, I wouldn't think it's a very good idea. The author, who I understand is rather controversial in Germany, is an excellent writer at least in translation. His depiction of the characters who washed up in the South Pacific when colonialism was the way of the world, is perfect even though he uses few words. How things do fall apart!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Helen Liston

    Brilliant story about crazy power-nuts at the turn of the end of the last century: the things they do, the endings they meet... and based on true events and people. Their eccentricity along with a disorientating prose style (written in many long, multi-claused sentences) put me in mind of a Wes Anderson film, a notion I used as an anchor when things got a bit too slidey. There are paragraphs I found myself reading many times over - I'm not sure whether the syntactic obstacles were intended or do Brilliant story about crazy power-nuts at the turn of the end of the last century: the things they do, the endings they meet... and based on true events and people. Their eccentricity along with a disorientating prose style (written in many long, multi-claused sentences) put me in mind of a Wes Anderson film, a notion I used as an anchor when things got a bit too slidey. There are paragraphs I found myself reading many times over - I'm not sure whether the syntactic obstacles were intended or down to translation. (For me. intermittent authorial intrusion also adds to my feeling of discomfort.) The many hilarious, deadpan, moments kept me going - and I'd still recommend it to certain kinds of reader.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Lopez

    I wanted to like this a lot but there just wasn't much there, I mean there was no plot to speak of, and I guess that was my issue with it. August Engelhardt was certainly an interesting person, ahead of his time really (vegetarian, health nut, obsessed with coconuts), but this vaguely-connected series of anecdotes really didn't do it for me. I think I'd prefer an out and out biography rather than a diary that traipsed from one event to another. The writing, however, was very strong--although the I wanted to like this a lot but there just wasn't much there, I mean there was no plot to speak of, and I guess that was my issue with it. August Engelhardt was certainly an interesting person, ahead of his time really (vegetarian, health nut, obsessed with coconuts), but this vaguely-connected series of anecdotes really didn't do it for me. I think I'd prefer an out and out biography rather than a diary that traipsed from one event to another. The writing, however, was very strong--although the translator seemed to rely heavily on the thesaurus (I presume; however, cover blurbs from both Knausgaard and Herta Muller suggest a wordy original, too).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leif

    Angular and acrid, like a permanent bad taste in the narrative voice is just aching to be unleashed. As far as the colonial absurd goes, this is a good representative of the genre. There's also great mileage of of vaguely hilarious concepts: cocovore doesn't sound so irrelevant to our own time, actually. The setting too is great, an underused, frequently forgotten corner of the southwest Pacific that the Germans lost in the first world war. I could never quite shake the wet mockery of the voice, Angular and acrid, like a permanent bad taste in the narrative voice is just aching to be unleashed. As far as the colonial absurd goes, this is a good representative of the genre. There's also great mileage of of vaguely hilarious concepts: cocovore doesn't sound so irrelevant to our own time, actually. The setting too is great, an underused, frequently forgotten corner of the southwest Pacific that the Germans lost in the first world war. I could never quite shake the wet mockery of the voice, however, with its coiled, serpentine clauses and whiplike digressions.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bram

    I should probably pay greater heed to when a wildly popular author I don't particularly like (Knausgaard) compares the work in question to those of another wildly popular author I don't particularly like (Conrad). Still, this fictionalised retelling of a very strange historical footnote is quirky and engaging enough to have you sail (no pun intended) through its short 170 pages even if the prose is as dense and hard to absorb as the mind of batshit crazy August Engelhard himself.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This was an odd book. While it was generally well written the story didn't resonate with me. I have read other novels about early European settlers in the far south pacific which were better tales. In this novel the German protagonist is a vegetarian and a nudist who wants to live exclusively on coconuts and create a colony for the equally minded. A new twist but the rest of the story was not enough for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tad Richards

    With a plot as lackadaisical as a South Sea Island, and no characters that you like very much, how can this be a four star book? It's hard to say, exactly, but it is. The writing is beautiful, the fantastic mis en scene is oddly believable. I can't exactly say it draws you in, because you want to live there, or even visit there particularly. But it does. Don't take my word for it. Well, how could you? Nothing I've said makes much sense. Just give it a try.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie Østvold

    An easy read, about a german man, who travels through Europe and ends at a souhtern pacific island to found religious movement. Wich is the idea that the coconut is as close to god as you can get. It's a adventure story close to Jack London, and with hints of Thomas Mann. Crazy, witty, and relevant.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    An interesting quirky read. It reminded me somewhat of Into the Wild by Krakauer in that both books, one marketed as a novel and the other as "creative non-fiction", take a close look at a real-life visionary person who tries to live an exceptional life and ends up making fatal mistakes along the way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    This was a weird book. I'm glad I read it though. A German guy goes to the South Seas to promote a new way of living consisting of nakedness and eating only coconuts (cocovorism). Aside from the anachronistic narrator, I enjoyed the setting in the short-lived German South Seas colonies. Quick read. Different than most books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I loved the writing, so wonderful and intelligent. Some of the references, metaphors, allegories etc were a bit above my pay grade. Someone with a very good literature or philosophy background would likely have loved this novel. The philosophy was clear to me, not so much the rather obscure literary references.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    This is a very weird book, but it turns out basically the entire plot is a true story. Even in translation the humor comes through very well, but the tone is a little uneven between humor, profound and frankly just gross. A nice interesting quick read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave Klimowicz

    Incredible. Captivating from beginning to end with paragraphs I've read, re-read, then read aloud to others. Beautifully written, with a narration so clever & detailed, yet a single paragraph can act as a story of its own. Hook me up with more Christian Kracht translations, FSG.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    A interesting but somewhat disturbing book about coconut obsessed man who ventures to the South Pacific around the turn of the century to live exclusively on the coconut and intern becomes a nut...A good read and well written..

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.