The Hare with Amber Eyes : A Hidden Inheritance
About the book
A New York Times Bestseller An Economist Book of the Year Costa Book Award Winner for Biography Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award) Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots--which are then sold, collected, and handed on--he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive. And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.
"A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable." --The New Yorker "An extraordinary history...A wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke at its heart." --The Christian Science Monitor "A lovely, gripping book." --The Wall Street Journal "Enthralling . . . [de Waal's] essayistic exploration of his family's past pointedly avoids any sentimentality . . . The Hare with Amber Eyes belongs on the same shelf with Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory." --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World "This is a book Sebald would have loved." --The Irish Times "At one level [Edmund de Waal] writes in vivid detail of how the fortunes were used to establish the Ephrussis' lavish lives and high positions in Paris and Vienna society. And, as Jews, of their vulnerability: the Paris family shaken by turn-of-the century anti-Semitism surging out of the Dreyfus affair; the Vienna branch utterly destroyed in Hitler's 1937 Anschluss . . . At a deeper level, though, Hare is about something more, just as Marcel Proust's masterpiece was about something more than the trappings of high society. As with Remembrance of Things Past, it uses the grandeur to light up interior matters: aspirations, passions, their passing; all in a duel, and a duet, of elegy and irony." --Richard Eder, The Boston Globe "Absorbing . . . In this book about people who defined themselves by the objects they owned, de Waal demonstrates that human stories are more powerful than even the greatest works of art." --Adam Kirsch, The New Republic "Delicately constructed and wonderfully nuanced . . . There are many family memoirs whose stories are as enticing as Edmund de Waal's. There are few, though, whose raw material has been crafted into quite such an engrossing and exquisitely written book as The Hare with Amber Eyes . . . One of the great triumphs of The Hare with Amber Eyes . . . is not just the assiduous way in which de Waal interrogates his raw evidence--scattered articles and newspaper cuttings, old paintings, forgotten buildings--but the way he summons up different eras so evocatively . . . [De Waal] is, too, as you would expect of a potter, wonderfully tactile in his investigations, interrogating the physical feel of the Ephrussis' different buildings, touching surfaces, assessing materials. This sensuality transmits itself also to his prose, which is beautiful to read--lithe and precise, crisp and delicate. The result is a memoir of the very first rank, one full of grace, economy, and extraordinary emotion." --Andrew Holgate, The Barnes & Noble Review "Remarkable . . . To be handed a story as durable and exquisitely crafted as this is a rare pleasure . . . Like the netsuke themselves, this book is impossible to put down. You have in your hands a masterpiece." --Frances Wilson, The Sunday Times (London) "From a hard and vast archival mass of journals, memoirs, newspaper clippings and art-history books, Mr. de Waal has fashioned, stroke by minuscule stroke, a book as fresh with detail as if it had been written from life, and as full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver. Buy two copies of his book; keep one and give the other to your closest bookish friend." --The Economist "What a treat of a book! It projects an iridescent mirage that once was real, a pageant of exquisite fragility, an aesthetic passion somehow surviving the brutalities of history. Mr. de Waal's nostalgia is tart, tactile, marvelously nuanced." --Frederic Morton, author of A Nervous Splendor: Vienna, 1888/1889 and The Rothschilds: Portrait of a Dynasty "A self-questioning, witty, sharply perceptive book . . . The Hare with Amber Eyes is rich in epiphanic moments . . . By writing objects into his family story [de Waal] has achieved something remarkable." --Tanya Harrod, The Times Literary Supplement "A beautiful and unusual book . . . [A] unique memoir of [de Waal's] family . . . De Waal has a mystical ability to so inhabit the long-gone moment as to seem to suspend inexorable history, personal and impersonal . . . A work that succeeds in several known genres: as family memoir, travel literature (de Waal's Japan is the nearest thing to being there, and over decades), essays on migration and exile, on cultural misperceptions, and on de Waal's attempt to define his relationship with his own kaolin creations. His book is also a new genre, unnamed and maybe unnameable." --Veronica Horwell, The Guardian "Part family memoir, part Proustian confession, subtle, spare and elegant." --Hilary Spurling, The Independent "A marvelously absorbing synthesis of art history, detective story and memoir . . . A nimble history of one of the richest European families at the turn of the century . . . Remarkable." --Kirkus Reviews
Edmund de Waal Biography
Edmund Arthur Lowndes de Waal, (born 10 September 1964) is a contemporary English artist, master potter and author. He is known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place. De Waal's book The Hare with Amber Eyes was awarded the Costa Book Award for Biography, Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize in 2011 and Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for Non-Fiction in 2015. De Waal's second book The White Road, tracing his journey to discover the history of porcelain was released in 2015.He lives and works in London.
Early lifeDe Waal was born in Nottingham, England, the son of Esther Aline (née Lowndes-Moir) a renowned historian and expert in Celtic mythology and Victor de Waal, a chaplain of the University of Nottingham who later became the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. His grandfather was Hendrik de Waal, a Dutch businessman who moved to England. His paternal grandmother Elisabeth and great grandfather Viktor von Ephrussi were members of the Ephrussi family, a history of which was chronicled in The Hare with Amber Eyes. Elisabeth de Waal's first novel, The Exiles Return, was published by Persephone Books in 2013. De Waal's siblings include barrister John de Waal, Alex de Waal who is director of the World Peace Foundation, and Caucasus expert Thomas de Waal.
Education and early ceramic workDe Waal's interest in ceramics began at age of five when he took an evening class at the Lincoln School of Art, this early introduction to pottery influenced de Waal's later enthusiasm for pursuing an art practice based in ceramics.De Waal was educated at The King's School, Canterbury, where he was taught pottery by the potter Geoffrey Whiting (1919-1988), a student of Bernard Leach. At 17, de Waal began a two-year apprenticeship with Whiting, deferring his entry into University of Cambridge. During the apprenticeship de Waal made hundreds of earthenware and stoneware pots, such as casseroles and honey pots. In 1983, de Waal took up his place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to read English. He was awarded a scholarship in 1983 and graduated with first class honours in 1986.Following graduation, de Waal began to follow the discipline of British studio pottery, to create inexpensive domestic pots with good earth-tone colours. He moved to Herefordshire where he built a kiln and set up a pottery making functional stoneware pots in the Leach tradition, but the enterprise was not financially successful. In 1988, de Waal moved to inner-city Sheffield and began experimenting with working in porcelain.In 1990 de Waal obtained a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship, under which he spent a year obtaining a post-graduate diploma in Japanese language at Sheffield University and continued an additional year's study. Whilst studying in Japan at the Mejiro Ceramics studio de Waal also worked on a monograph of Bernard Leach, researching his papers an ... Read full biography
|Authors:||Edmund de Waal|
|Publisher:||St Martin's Press|
|Languages:||| English ||
|Illustrations:||Halftones, black and white|
|Publication date:||Aug. 2, 2011|
|First Publication Date:||None|
|Publication City/Country:||New York, United States|